International Volleyball Association

Bump and Spike

The Ultimate Thursday Throwback

What do short shorts, sideburns, an NBA star, the founder of Motown records and drugs have in common? The International Volleyball Association (IVA). 


The best part about diving into the culture and history of volleyball in North America is that there's never a shortage of stories in this world.

Wilt Chamberlain had a short stint in the IVA

Wilt Chamberlain had a short stint in the IVA

The IVA had a short, but glorious run in the 70's. It was a co-ed league with 2 women playing defence, and no-one rotated positions. They brought in big guns like Wilt Chamberlain who 'wasn't very mobile but could hit a heavy ball' and athletes were happy to 'catch some skin' of their female counterparts when celebrating a big play. One of the teams was owned by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown records. They even had prizes for a 'six-pack' - packing a female opponent in the face - the guy would get a six-pack of beer for his triumph. In it's final year, players earned up to $12,000.

Sounds like a sure thing right? Turns out one of the teams got busted at half time during a game for their involvement in a big drug ring dubbed 'Operation Spike' by the Colorado Organized Crime Strike Force. After that the whole thing just fell apart. 

But the best part is, you'd be surprised how close to home this hits. You don't have to look very far to find former stars of the league in our own backyard. Rumour has it UofT / Premier League team Unity coach Orest Stanko was once a player, along with Papa George (Shermer) of Beach Blast. 

The whole thing oozes the unpredictability and raciness of the 70's and though the IVA is long gone and mostly forgotten, you can catch a glimpse inside this world in the new short by Michael Jacobs. It airs on TSN's 30 sports moments under 30 minutes, and was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival

Watch the trailer below:

Photos provided by former player Peter Stefaniuk from Canada