Clear the beach!

Volleyball in sand. Skimpy outfits. Americans good. We get it. Can we have a little basketball on TV please?


King Kaufman
August 15, 2008 1:10AM (UTC)

I was going to write an item about how NBC is lavishing way too much attention on beach volleyball but readers wrote it for me in the comments of the Michael Phelps item.

That's what we in the series-of-tubes biz call reader-generated content. Only it's good. Check it out. Or just dig this quick recap, and I hope you saw what I did there with the volleyball pun, which is why I get the big writer dineros. User-generated content indeed:

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Beach volleyball isn't a terribly interesting sport, with most points looking the same -- dig, set, spike, repeat -- and long rallies rare, and it's pretty obvious that it gets so much coverage because of the skimpy outfits on the women and the general youthful Mountain Dew commercial-like vibe, with the sand and the rock and the roll and the Oakley shades. It's not X-Games hip but it's way hipper than, like, fencing.

Also, of course, Americans are really good at it, with May-Treanor and Walsh dominant on the women's side and Rogers and Dalhausser gold medal favorites on the men's.

Indoor volleyball is infinitely more interesting and exciting than beach volleyball. With six players on a side there's enough court coverage to keep points going longer. The action can be furious. And on the hardwood floor the athleticism of the players is more effective and more exciting to see. Soft sand swallows up athleticism.

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I'm not telling you anything you don't know if you remember any 20th century Olympics. Before the rise of beach volleyball, America used to fall in love with what's now called indoor volleyball every four years. Now, good luck finding it. While actively trying to avoid beach volleyball and looking for the indoor variety, I've seen about 10 times as much from the beach.

"I think just the utter randomness of taking an Olympic sport and saying, 'Hey, what if we did the same thing, only at the beach?' is enough to prove how pointless it is," writes reader "pcv2006," who points out that there's an international beach soccer league, but it's not an Olympic sport.

I'm OK with it as an Olympic sport. But a note to NBC: There are others.

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And I don't mean synchronized diving, a sport not one person in the United States has spent 30 seconds thinking about in the last four years, but has gotten more prime-time coverage on NBC than men's and women's basketball combined. Each of those teams has played three games already. I've seen news reports about the men. I have yet to hear Word 1 about the U.S. women's basketball team. I am not exaggerating.

We really need to get over the skimpy outfits, people. This is the Internet age. There's no shortage of easily accessible video of attractive women in bathing suits. Or less. We don't need Olympics coverage for that.

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King Kaufman

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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