Almost without exception, when the FIVB makes a rule change I understand the logic behind it. Virtually every rule change in my time in the game, and before, has had at least one of two main goals. The major goal of most rule changes is to make the game more attractive. Most of the time more attractive means making rallies longer as conventional wisdom holds that spectators are most interested in seeing long rallies. The rule changes generally make it more difficult to attack and/or easier to defend. Rule changes that affect the length of the game, i.e. rally point scoring, are also intended to make the game more attractive, in this case mostly for television, by controlling its length. The other main goal of rule changes is to reduce the influence of referees by removing judgement calls. Unnecessary interruptions are therefore minimised, by extension also making the game more attractive. Although not all rule changes work, or work the way they are intended to work, at least I follow and accept the logic behind them. The much derided rule allowing certain net touches, although poorly officiated and poorly explained to spectators and participants, was logical. Even such poorly conceived ideas as the (completely ridiculous) ‘Golden Formula‘ and the (not ridiculous but not good either) 21 Point Set fit into some (more or less) logical construct.
But every now and again they come up with something that defies logic and will indisputably make the game less attractive. The press release proclaims ‘Fans will be closer to the action‘. While an excellent idea in principle, in practice fans may be closer but will actually see less volleyball. To allow fans to be closer to the action FIVB will reduce the size of the playing area (NOT the court) from a free zone of 8m to a free zone of 6.5m behind the court. Superficially that does not seem significant. Unless you have ever watched a high level match. The actions that are most attractive to spectators present in the stadiums are the dynamic actions at the net, and the desperate actions at the periphery of the playing area, i.e. the last two metres of the free zone.
So with this new rule the spectators close to the court will get close up views of players swearing and kicking the advertising boards that didn’t use to the be there but will be deprived of volleyball action. That doesn’t seem like the intention of the rule.
Photo Credit: fivb.org
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