Pop Idell Turns 100

The Pop Idell Tournament, first introduced in 1912 and considered to be the first volleyball championship played, turned one hundred years old on April 2, 2011, celebrating a century of revolutionizing the game.

Germantown, Pa., YMCA physical director A. Provost “Pop” Idell was only twenty-three years old when he established the “Philadelphia Open” (later renamed in honor of Idell) in 1912. Idell ran the tournament for forty-four more years before handing the torch to colleague George Berger. Through the years, the tournament has continued to grow, especially after a women’s tournament was added in 1992 (men’s and women’s became a single tournament in 1998).

Though Idell is not a well-known name connected with the birth of the sport, recent research suggests that Idell was instrumental in making volleyball what it is today. Idell was the inventor of the doubles game and encouraged minorities and women to play volleyball. He is also credited with most of the rule changes in the early stages of volleyball and created the first Spalding “balanced twelve-piece bladder volleyball.” He also helped to create USA Volleyball.

Idell’s tradition continued this year as fifteen men’s and fifteen women’s teams, hailing from ten different states, competed in the tournament on April 2. Women’s team pool play winners included Lehigh University, New York City’s Whoosh and Boston’s Trouble. As for the men, pool play winners included New York City’s Creole and Hustle & Flow, along with Legion of southern New England, Whoosh and Legion were victorious in the finals.

The Pop Idell Tournament will head into its second century in 2012.

Originally published in August 2011

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