The mystery of beach volleyball

Those hand signals the women flash behind their butts: They must be explained. Again.

Topics: Olympics,

The Olympics have been going on for a week and a half. Between TV and the Web, I think I’ve seen a half dozen video features and photo essays about the hand signals that female beach volleyball players use.

The up player puts her hands behind her back, see, and flashes signals to her partner behind her. The signals are complex: “1 means go this way, 2 means go that way,” or something. Now that I think of it, the signals are never actually explained. Which is good because who cares.

But their hands are right in front of their butts, is the thing.



NBC’s Olympics site titled its photo essay “Cracking the code.” Get it? They had that one up before the Olympics started.

Do the men use those signals? Don’t know. Never seen a photo essay about that. For that matter, I’ve been paying attention to baseball since 1969, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a generously illustrated feature about the hand signals catchers use.

Catchers’ hands are right in front of their … yeah, never seen that photo essay.

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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