The Computerization of NCAA Women's Volleyball
Over the past few years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women's volleyball program has branched out in many directions thanks to the technological innovations in the field of sports. By using volleyball statistic software and promoting through the World Wide Web (WWW), NCAA teams have managed to reduce their budgets and attract a larger fan base. The first stage of computerization took place a little more than five years ago, with the introduction of statistic software to replace hand-filled forms. The software was a beneficial alternative, however the volleyball program did not see any drastic change until the second stage of insertion: the software mandates. After this insertion, the NCAA began to reform. The volleyball program currently resides in the third stage of insertion, with new supportive technologies being introduced all the time.
During the first stage of insertion, the old hand-filled forms for keeping statistics were replaced by statistics software. When the NCAA began supporting women's volleyball in 1981, hand-filled forms were used to keep track of match statistics. A sports statistician was needed for each team and close attention had to be paid to get accurate results. The statistician would keep track of every play during the game and afterwards would tally the results. The data would then be inputted into a data spreadsheet and properly printed out so that the team could fax the results over to the conference representative. It was a long, grueling practice, yet there was no alternative since the NCAA required that all matches be properly logged. However, an innovation appeared a few years ago that revolutionized the record keeping in volleyball: statistics software. Several prototypes appeared in the following months, however the most widely used software at the collegiate level was a product from Stat Crew named ìThe Automated ScoreBook For Volleyballî. Screen shots of the program can be found in Figure 1. This program offered sports statisticians a simple alternative to the traditional hand-filled forms. Instead of marking by hand every single play, the statistician would simply type a couple keys to get the same result. This allowed the record keeper to stay on top of the game easier, hence decreasing the number of missed and incorrectly logged plays. The program even tallied the overall match results instantly, saving the statistician time and effort. However, there were no jobs lost during this stage in the insertion of technology into collegiate volleyball. While the software made the statistician's job much easier, a human was still needed to sit and input the plays during the match. There may have been a slight decrease in the amount of work needed after the match, yet the job descriptions were relatively the same as before. As stated above, the first stage of insertion of computerization into collegiate volleyball was very beneficial. The record keeping became much easier, allowing the statistician to stay on track of the play.
It was not until the second stage of insertion that a more drastic result was observed. During this stage several computerization changes took place. Most conferences adopted mandates stating that all participating teams use the same statistical software, and a large percentage of teams began promoting their team through the Internet. While most universities have surpassed this second stage of insertion, it is important to note that there still exists schools belonging to the NCAA that have yet to even join stage one. The changes that took place during this phase radically affected the sport of volleyball. During this stage many human jobs were lost, or were at least changed drastically. Since the conference now mandated that particular software be used, much less computation was needed by the conference. In the past, every university would submit their statistics to the conference at the end of the week by fax. The conference representative would then manually process all the statistics into their own system. Since many universities used different software, or no software at all, this process was extremely tedious. It would take weeks for conference-wide statistics to get compiled, and awards such as ìPlayer of the Weekî and ìRookie of the Weekî were always several weeks behind. This has all changed with the introduction of a conference-wide mandate on software. Most conferences now require that each participating university record statistics during matches using a common software program. Over 800 NCAA affiliated universities now use Stat Crew's product, out of a total of 963 teams. Each university simply uploads their data to the conference system each week, and all the conference-wide statistics are compiled automatically. Employees are still necessary to handle the operation of the system, however their job descriptions are radically different than before. The jobs now revolve around familiarity with computers and computer systems, instead of the strong math skills that were required in the past. The expectations for these jobs have also increased significantly. In the past it was expected that the conference-wide statistics would take weeks to compile. Now, most universities expect full reports on conference standings by the time the weekend is over. This second stage of insertion is also apparent in many other areas of NCAA volleyball. For instance, the use of the Internet for marketing and promoting has appeared. Practically every collegiate institution with varsity sports now has some Internet site describing their athletic program and generally includes specific links for each sport. Fans and parents can go to the website to view the results and match statistics almost immediately after the match has ended. Another significant change that has appeared during this stage of insertion is the effect computerization has had on athletic recruiting. Internet recruiting services are now widely used and many team sites dedicate an entire link of their website to student-athlete recruiting. Electronic mail and instant messaging have also forced the NCAA to modify regulations regarding recruiting. Since these applications significantly increase the ability to contact athletes, the NCAA had to add new rules to control the recruiting process. A pre-arranged electronic mail or an instant messenger conversation now counts as the one contact a school is permitted per week and any college infringing on these regulations can now be faced with severe consequences. As this section has outlined, the second stage of insertion of computers into NCAA volleyball has drastically affected the sport.
NCAA women's volleyball is currently in the third stage of insertion of computerization. Different universities and conferences are exploring new technologies to improve their athletic programs and it is unlikely that this will change anytime soon. NCAA mandates that all matches be recorded and the exchanging of videotapes has been a long-standing process in the sport. By watching a videotape of another team, you can mould your practices and line-ups to fashion the best match possible. However, the cost of processing and shipping the videotapes is quite high. In order to cutback on some of these costs, many schools have opted instead for digital recording equipment. This eliminates the need for videotape and even has the potential for concepts such as Internet broadcasting. Many schools already offer some form of online broadcasting, yet this is still quite simplistic. Most online broadcasting is currently text-based and even less common is audio-based distribution. However, it is quite possible that within the next few years college volleyball games will be distributed in full video format over the Internet. An example of an online broadcasting for a volleyball math between Virginia Tech and Providence can be seen in Figure 2. This change has the potential to drastically affect the sport. Fans would no longer need to travel to the home court to witness the games; they would now be able to watch the game from anywhere in the world. The collegiate volleyball game is shifting significantly with the onslaught of technology. The new exposure is increasing the popularity of the sport, and it can be expected that volleyball and its computerization will continue to grow together as time passes.
Last play: Point VT - (FANNING, Susan) Service error.
## PC K-E AtkPct A DG BS-BA | ## VT K-E AtkPct A DG BS-BA
3 MIELE, Dani 4-2 .133 0 5 0-1 | 1 STINSON, Ch 11-0 .846 0 10 3-2
4 CELLA, Anni 13-7 .102 1 7 0-0 | 2 McPEAK, Kai 0-0 .000 0 4 0-0
8 CADRES, Aya 3-5 -.133 1 7 1-2 | 4 COLLINS, Re 2-1 .167 49 8 0-2
11 FANNING, Su 1-1 .000 33 2 0-0 | 7 LANG, Ana 14-5 .273 1 19 0-0
12 FANNING, Sa 0-0 .000 0 6 0-0 | 14 SPICER, Ann 16-5 .367 1 8 0-2
23 KATINGER, S 16-6 .303 1 16 0-2 | 16 SMITH, Emil 2-4 -.222 1 10 0-1
1 COLLINS, Br 1-2 -.200 1 2 2-1 | 6 SHUBAT, Chr 2-2 .000 0 0 0-1
2 BACKES, Jen 0-0 .000 0 0 0-0 | 8 JEFFERS, El 0-0 .000 0 1 0-0
5 ST. LEDGER, 0-0 .000 0 1 0-0 | 13 MEYER, Jami 4-4 .000 1 1 0-0
7 MALACHOWSKI 0-0 .000 0 0 0-0 | 17 QUINN, Jess 0-0 .000 0 1 0-0
Totals..... 38-23 .112 37 46 6.0 | 21 ROGERS, Sar 7-2 .208 0 0 2-2
| Totals..... 58-23 .265 53 62 10.0
ATTACK/GAME - PC ATTACK/GAME - VT Score-by-Game
Game K E TA Pct Game K E TA Pct
1 16 9 52 .135 1 18 9 47 .191 PC...... 28 20 28
2 8 8 34 .000 2 20 5 39 .385 <*> VT...... 30 30 30
3 14 6 48 .167 3 20 9 46 .239
The computerization of NCAA women's volleyball has had a serious impact on the sport. The new software products for statistic tracking has allowed for increased efficiency and accuracy of volleyball statistics. The Internet has allowed coaches to reach out to far more recruits, contributing to the overall quality of volleyball at the collegiate level. Digital recording has eased the match recording process, while at the same time significantly helping the team's budget. All of these aspects seem positive, however, there are also negative consequences. Errors in the statistical software can often be hard to find and many sports statisticians who are not computer-literate are out of a job. However, a more serious concern is the increase in visibility of the players. Due to the Internet, players are far more accessible to the public than they ever were before these technological innovations. It has become very easy for complete strangers to gather information on athletes and this poses a serious threat in collegiate women's athletics. While the benefits of Internet promoting are very good, precautions should be taken to protect the athletes. As technology continues to infiltrate volleyball, care should be taken to insure that the athlete's safety is of prime concern. In summary, computerization has had a very positive effect on volleyball, however there are concerns that need to be addressed.
During the past few years, technology has had a drastic impact on NCAA women's volleyball. During the first stage of insertion universities were given the option of using statistical software to record the matches as an alternative to the hand-filled forms. This increased the accuracy of the statistics, however did not affect the industry much at all. It was in the second stage of insertion that changes began to be seen. During this stage, conferences began adopting software mandates that required all affiliated universities to use a common product to manage the statistics. This stage also witnessed the introduction of Internet promoting for the sport and radically affected the industry. Many jobs were replaced by technology and even more jobs were dramatically changed to manage the new innovations. NCAA volleyball currently resides in the third stage of insertion. Technologies such as online broadcasting and digital recording are already in practice. With time, these technologies will continue to improve; perhaps to the point that anyone can watch any NCAA volleyball match from anywhere in the world. Through the computerization of the field, NCAA volleyball has grown in many ways. The fan support has increased drastically and the recruiting process has been even more refined. Computerization has had a very positive effect on collegiate volleyball, and it is expected that this growth will continue to be seen over the next few years.
Interviewed Julie Greco, Sports Information Director (SID) for Virginia Tech's women's volleyball on Sunday, October 14, 2001.
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Cheryl Stinson © October 22,
Used with permission.