Nebraska volleyball — regardless of world record — redefined what’s possible for women’s sports


Share post:

The spectacle was the point.

It wasn’t just that the University of Nebraska canceled classes or sold volleyball merchandise to fans who would otherwise dress in football jerseys to enter those hallowed gates of Memorial Stadium. It didn’t matter only because the crowd was attempting to break a world record. The sea of red was overwhelming and, frankly, more than a bit cathartic.

What 92,003 people did on a Wednesday night in Nebraska won’t soon be forgotten. They showed us that athletic greatness deserves a stage like this — no matter the gender of the participants. They created a phenomenon, a must-see event that we could all marvel at. And marvel we did.


Nebraska volleyball breaks women’s sports attendance record

The viral aerial photos were stunning, and the videos of the volleyball team coming out of the tunnel to thunderous applause made me cry. The noise was more than cheering, it was the sound of support. That is what it sounds like when a team is beloved, cherished and supported. You could hear why it’s so hard to get season tickets to see this program; no one ever gives ‘em up.

Our sports culture continues to lean into women’s sports, finding out that there’s a big audience and opportunity for growth. The reason we’ve seen so many TV networks and athletic departments invest in women’s sports recently is because it’s smart business. These are areas with growth potential. They’re not charity cases.

“Women’s sports are a big deal here, and they got to experience what the men get to experience on the same level as all the greatest football teams that have played here,” longtime Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook said. “(We) were experiencing a big-time event in a big stadium. There are a lot of young kids there that got to see this (Wednesday night). I saw them all. A couple hours before the match, I took a walk and just saw the kids here tonight — young girls. I took about 3,000 pictures with them. That’s how I know.”

Those little girls will now grow up unsurprised by an event like this because it is normal to them. That’s not to say they will be ungrateful, but rather they will be used to the idea that world-class female athletes draw massive crowds. Of course, there aren’t going to be 90,000 fans at every collegiate volleyball match. But this will no longer be an experience solely reserved for the boys — those who play football in college or the pros, and the basketball players who participate in the men’s Final Four. The bar has been raised, which is a good thing.

The spectacle we saw on Wednesday night was not a stunt. Nebraska sold 80,000 tickets to this event in three days back in April; it was an opportunity for tens of thousands of fans to see a program that’s always among the nation’s best … and has sold out more than 300 consecutive matches at its home arena, which seats 8,000. The demand was real, as was the yearning to be part of a special day in Nebraska history. Scratch that — sports history.



Nebraska volleyball aims at attendance world record: ‘No other school could do this’

But smaller, no-less-important versions of what happened in Lincoln happen in small towns and big cities across America, in high school gyms. There are opportunities for female athletes and those in their communities who show up for them. Volleyball is now the most popular sport among young girls.

There is, indeed, an audience for women’s sports. It’s been proven over and over again, by trends in television viewership for women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, and gymnastics. By season-ticket sellouts in places like Lincoln and Iowa City. By merch sales across the country. By the hordes of fans who follow Caitlin Clark seemingly wherever she goes.

Nebraska fans deserve a lot of credit for showing up and making this spectacle as big and undeniable as it became. No casual sports fan in America could ignore it, which is why it mattered so much.

“When you’re little, you have big dreams and big goals,” junior libero Lexi Rodriguez said. “Having this to look up to is something that a lot of little girls will kind of keep in the back of their mind when they’re pursuing the sport of volleyball.”

So, let’s keep dreaming big. Let’s set those goals high. Because on a summer night smack dab in the middle of the heartland, 92,003 fans watching a group of female athletes on a court in the center of a football stadium redefined what is possible.

(Photo: Dylan Widger / USA Today)

Source link

Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

Recent posts

Related articles

USWNT wins friendly vs. South Africa in Julie Ertz’s final match

The U.S. women’s national team earned a 3-0 victory over South Africa on Thursday night in Julie...

Buckley: Self-interests aside, it’s sad we won’t see a certain QB in Pats-Jets game

This is not one of those times. And even without the giving-away-the-plot headline that’s up above, you’re probably...

Oregon State, Washington State leaders discuss state of Pac-12, realignment options

Leaders from Oregon State and Washington State held a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the...

What’s next for Cowboys? Trevon Diggs’ injury a jarring hit to defense, team

The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 and have looked like one of the league’s best teams — if...

Carolina Hurricanes open training camp — perhaps with a draft of a starting lineup

RALEIGH, N.C. — Three days shy of four months since their 2022-23 season ended with an Eastern...

Russo and Smith: ‘A better Kaprizov’? Plus Fleury’s future, Hartman’s injury and more Wild camp Day 1 observations

ST. PAUL, Minn. — If Kirill Kaprizov keeps this up, his translator is going to have to...

Greenberg and Jackson: Overs went nuts last week so let’s bet NFL unders together, as a family

If you’re just joining us, Browns beat writer Zac Jackson and Bears columnist Jon Greenberg like to...

NASCAR playoffs at Texas odds, predictions: Why Denny Hamlin is among the favorites and what’s next for Joey Logano

The Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs starts at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend...