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There is no place like Nebraska

View of attendance record-breaking Volleyball game (85,458 people). Credit: NBC News

On Aug. 30, 2023, the Nebraska Women’s Volleyball team broke the record for the most fans to ever attend a women’s sporting event. Previously held by a Women’s Championship League match in Barcelona with 91,648 fans, the record was broken when Nebraska filled Memorial Stadium with a record 92,003 attendees. The uniqueness of the Nebraska community and fanbase made it possible for them to surpass the allowed capacity of the football stadium for a volleyball game.

Nebraska fans are known for their exemplary attendance records. The rivalry between the Nebraska Corn Huskers and the Wisconsin Badgers provides motivation for each team not just to win, but to surpass each others’ attendance records. After the Badgers played a game in Kohl Center and recorded 16,833 fans, the Huskers knew they had to do something bigger. After countless emails from Nebraska fans determined to reclaim their record, head coach John Cook decided to host a game in Memorial Stadium, Nebraska’s football stadium. The stadium hosted Nebraska’s volleyball game versus Omaha, where the Huskers pulled out a 3-0 sweep. With a performance from country artist Scotty McCreery and a dedicated crowd, the event took over the internet. Nebraska fans claimed the slogan “There Is No Place Like Nebraska” to express their support for the state’s inspiring passion for volleyball.

Throughout America, the record-breaking event continues to inspire those who hear about the game, specifically volleyball players and other female athletes. The Westminster varsity girls volleyball team holds a strong winning record of 9-0, something they attribute to the motivation that the Nebraska game brought them.

“I think it was amazing how the volleyball team sold out an entire stadium and set a world record for attendance”, said junior Lucy Shi. “The fact that this is a collegiate team and not even a professional volleyball team shows how if you give women the stage, they will deliver.”

For girls everywhere, the Nebraska volleyball game and the state’s commitment to support the team gives hope to all female athletes. Currently, women athletes are paid significantly less and garner much less attention compared to male sports. In the Women’s National Basketball Association, the maximum salary a woman receives is about $215,000, whereas in the NBA the average salary is $9.6 million. However, generally, male sports secure more revenue from television and the entertainment industry. 

Nebraska volleyball is starting to change the idea that women’s sports are less interesting than men’s.

“[The Nebraska game] was exciting and important for female athletes because it showed that women in sports are just as talented and entertaining as any male,” said Shi.

The game is not only inspiring young girls, but is also shedding a new light on volleyball as a sport and its increasing popularity. 

“The game was really cool to see and it was an awesome coming together moment for the fans of Nebraska and for the sport which is gaining popularity,” said junior Sam Montag.

Unlike current popular sports like football, basketball, and even baseball, volleyball does not air on mainstream television platforms such as ESPN or SportsCenter. It can only be viewed on extended streaming services like ESPN+ and BTN+. Additionally, men’s sports currently dominate news outlets and programs like Sportscenter, since college sports such as football receive almost as much revenue as the NFL. Female collegiate sports are rarely reported on, and rarely do they appear on television programs. The Nebraska game challenges the idea that women’s sports are less interesting or entertaining.

Around the country, girls are inspired by not only the volleyball players, but the fans’ determination to highlight women’s sports and give appreciation to the skill and hard work of the athletes. If 91,648 people can come together for one volleyball game, fans all over the country can strive to pay more attention to women’s sports.

Edited by Presley Tsang

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