Major League Volleyball
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The league was launched in 1987 with six teams consisting of nine players per team, most of them former Olympians or college All-Americans. According to Commissioner Steve Arnold, each MLV player made a base salary of $5,500 a season. Bonuses were awarded to teams for each victory and for finishing in the top three, and to players for excelling in one of six statistical categories. For example, the team that won the first league championship got $25,000. A player who was best in serving aces got an extra $3,000. The egalitarian pay scale made contract negotiations unnecessary.
There were no independent team owners during the first two years of competition. There was what amounted to six major shareholders. "It was a concept I developed through having operated pro sports leagues and teams," says Arnold, an attorney who had been a sports agent and was involved with the World Football League, American Basketball Association, World Hockey Association and World Team Tennis.
The MLV draft was open to any American players who did not have collegiate eligibility and did not play for a professional league in another country or on the U.S. national volleyball team. Through a trust agreement with the USVBL, the players retained their Olympic eligibility.
MLV got a contract with ESPN to televise 10 regular season contests on a tape delay basis, and a playoff game and live coverage of the league's championship match. It had a solid start in attendance with crowds between 350 and 3,000 in the opening weeks of competition in 1987.
The league had only two sets of warmups circulating among its teams until two weeks into the first season. And the game uniforms, ordered from Japan, were in quarantine until two days before the season opened.
The content, records, and player information were obtained from a collection of VCR recordings of the original ESPN broadcasts. Commentary on players is credited to MLV sports analyst and host Chris Marlowe.
- Chicago Breeze (1987–1989)
- Dallas Belles (1987)/Arizona Blaze (1988)/Portland Spikers (1989)
- Los Angeles Starlites (1987–1989)
- Minnesota Monarchs (1987–1989)
- New York Liberties (1987–1989)
- San Jose Golddiggers (1987–1989)
- 1987 Los Angeles Starlites (3–2 vs San Jose Goldiggers)
- 1988 Los Angeles Starlites (3–0 vs San Jose Goldiggers)
- 1989 No Champion (Minnesota had the best record at time of disbanding.)
- "Major League Volleyball adding spike to pro sports scene". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, article by Shelly Anderson. March 14, 1987.
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