Women’s beach volleyball

I went for dinner to a friend’s place last Saturday and the TV was on in their family room showing the Olympics. What was the event featured during this prime viewing time? Women’s beach volleyball. This event is apparently scheduled at times for maximum exposure. Who would have guessed that buff young bodies leaping around in skimpy bathing suits would draw viewers?

Some have noticed that photographers seem to have special rules for this particular event and wonder how photographs of competitors in other sports would appear if they focused on the same things as in beach volleyball

In fact, there used to be rules that actually forced beach volleyball players to wear skimpy outfits, with tight restrictions on the amount of skin they could cover. The Australian Sports Commission criticized this practice of wearing revealing outfits that did not, as in swimming or track, do anything to enhance performance.

Women’s beach volleyball, on the other hand, has introduced uniforms intentionally to focus attention on the athletes’ bodies rather than for any technological, practical or performance-enhancing reasons. Women must compete in bra-style tops and bikini bottoms that must not exceed six centimetres in width at the hip (men compete in shorts and singlets). [My italics-MS]

It was only under pressure from some countries that the rules were relaxed for the 2012 games.

Under new rules adopted by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), players are free to wear shorts and sleeved tops. The governing body said the move was made out of respect for the cultural beliefs of some of the dozens of countries still in contention to qualify for the games.

But the FIVB doesn’t want the players to get too carried away by modesty. There are still limits.

The modified rule permits “shorts of a maximum length of (1.18 inches) above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops.”

After all, one must maintain one’s standards, no? Otherwise you might have people competing in burkas and what would happen to the TV ratings?


  1. S Mukherjee says

    I liken such rules to a type of ‘reverse Taliban’ mentality. The Taliban forced women to cover up, these reverse-Taliban force women to be nearly naked.
    I just don’t know why beach volleyball has to have this kind of vileness — why can’t they let it just be a sport? Either that, or insist that men players were little Speedos and go topless.

  2. ollie says

    Note: there is another reason they relaxed the rules: it gets cold in London at night; hence some of the players chose to wear the long (and still sexy) spandex tights.

    This is about marketing; one of the top players said that they use the sex appeal to draw fans to the games and hope that the game itself keeps the fans there.

  3. says

    In this one circumstance, it seems that cultural beliefs have given women more options. That’s probably like the single time that ever happens, admittedly.

  4. J. J. Ramsey says

    Some have noticed that photographers seem to have special rules for this particular event and wonder how photographs of competitors in other sports would appear if they focused on the same things as in beach volleyball

    I’m reminded of the mock-up comic book covers where male superheroes are posed in about the same way as the female ones are. Different context, but highlighting the same underlying problem.

  5. Katkinkate says

    Obviously beach volleyball wasn’t included as a legitimate ‘sport’ but as a crowd-drawing and crowd-pleasing entertainment. A spot of soft porn to boost the income of the games for the host nation.

  6. Zhuge says

    Yeah I noticed this in the filming on TV and it annoyed me. In all the other sports they focus on the participants activities and then afterwards normally show a close up on the face (and then pan to someone who lost crying which also seems wrong to me.)

    But in volleyball they have the camera at arse-level looking up on the players, as though their expression of sorrow or joy is somehow in their hips or stomach and not in their faces as in every other sport.

    Clearly sexist.

  7. Christopher says

    OMG! I’ve been following Misty and Kerri over the Olympics. They’re so good and are dominating the competition. You go girls!

    As for their uniforms, most of the time they’re wearing navy tights. I think it is kind of cold there. Certainly, there hasn’t been much skin shown.

    What does annoy me is that one time before their matches, NBC was doing an interview or special about them and specifically drew attention to their uniforms.

    Lots of the Olympic sports have tight or revealing outfits (especially swimming), but they never mention their uniforms or call attention to the sex appeal. I thought that was kind of inappropriate.

  8. Vic Libranda says

    Does anyone remember those 1st Olympians? Look at their statues, they were all totally naked!

    Later, it was obvious that it became necessary to contain certain parts of the anatomy that seem to toss here and there and such whiplash tossings of certain anatomical parts may cause discomfort to the olympian and hamper performance hence the need for pants for the men and the bras for the females.

  9. stonyground says

    Speaking for myself I have little interest in sport but enjoy watching very fit women in skimpy lycra. My particular favourites are sprinters because they always seem to have such superb arses, particularly the black ones. Mrs. Stonyground is very keen on sport but has a particular interest in the male gymnasts who, she says, have the best physiques. Let’s not pretend that the beach volleyball is anything other than really soft porn. But let’s not get all uptight and infuriated about it either. I thought that only religious folk got all wound up about the totally natural aspects of human sexuality.

  10. J. J. Ramsey says

    Let’s not pretend that the beach volleyball is anything other than really soft porn.

    Um, yeah, ’cause it’s all about showing off scantily clad wimmen, right? It’s not like there’s any athleticism involved at all or anything like that.

  11. stonyground says

    Yes you are right, that was a very ill considered remark and I withdraw it. I would also like to apologise to beach volleyball players everywhere.

  12. stonyground says

    Having read that back, I now realise that it appears that I am being sarcastic. My previous post was meant as an honest admission of error, no sarcasm should be inferred.

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