SBD/July 30, 2012/Olympics

Dig This: Beach Volleyball Hosted On Horse Guards Parade Proving To Be A Hit

Fifties style "swept onto the court for provocative dance routines"
The Olympic beach volleyball tournament at Horse Guards Parade is "already proving to be the Olympics hottest ticket,” according to Damien Gayle of the London DAILY MAIL. LOCOG organizers have “done their best to encourage a sea-side postcard atmosphere to the proceedings, with the Benny Hill theme tune playing during every break in play and an over-excited announcer doing his best to stir up an already electrified audience.” Cheerleaders in “Fifties style swept onto the court for provocative dance routines” (DAILYMAIL.co.uk, 7/29). REUTERS’ Estelle Shirbon wrote the beach volleyball event “got off to a foot-stomping start on Saturday,” as spectators “enjoyed stunning views, not just of the sandy court but also of some of the British capital's most visited attractions such as the Big Ben clock tower and the London Eye, a giant riverside Ferris wheel.” The athletes “unanimously praised the venue, which is the largest in Olympic beach volleyball history, and the atmosphere.” Buckingham Palace is just on the other side of St James's Park, and the announcer told the crowd after a “particularly loud” cheer Saturday, "I think the Queen heard you" (REUTERS, 7/28). SI.com's Luke Winn wrote the "best party for those here in London is at beach volleyball." Even U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron "couldn’t resist stopping by on the opening day" (SI.com, 7/29). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote the atmosphere was English decorum “colliding with the dude-where’s-my-board-wax? vibe of beach volleyball, right there in the air high above Whitehall Road.” It should seem “an odd juxtaposition,” but it is “instead, perfect” (N.Y. POST, 7/29). In Jacksonville, Joe Daraskevich wrote beach volleyball should work in London “about as well as ice fishing works in Miami, but the Olympics have a special way of bringing cultures together and London has done a fine job of providing its own beach atmosphere” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 7/29).

ITSY BITSY, TEENY WEENY...: In Chicago, David Haugh asked, “How were baseball and softball eliminated as Olympic sports before the 2012 Games while beach volleyball was bumped into a prime-time television slot back home? Why do you think the pretty, ponytailed U.S. team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings didn't start its match until the ridiculous hour of 11 p.m. locally? Everybody knows the answer to both questions is money.” Haugh: “Feel free to divvy up blame between NBC and the International Olympic Committee for the ratings monster they have created since beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996 -- or credit them if you enjoy a recreational sport loosening up the Olympics. Indeed, it can be enjoyable to watch, and this was a fun, frolicking way to spend a Saturday night abroad.” The emphasis on “bikinis and prime-time TV perhaps benefits the popularity of the game but not the integrity of the sport.” Haugh: “To objectify female Olympians diminishes their athletic ability” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/29).

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: London Mayor Boris Johnson in a special to the London INDEPENDENT writes a list of the 20 things Londoners can be proud about of the Olympics so far. He writes, "As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers" (London INDEPENDENT, 7/30).

TAKE COVER? 
In N.Y., Frank Isola noted the “frigid weather even forced the participants in the day’s final match to alter their outfits” Saturday. All four players in the U.S.-Australia match “wore sports tops with sleeves to stay warm.” The Australian team “wore tights while May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings kept to their California roots by wearing bikini bottoms.” May-Treanor said, “We warmed up with pants but Kerri said she was getting hot so we took off our pants” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/29). The AP’s Jimmy Golen noted two-piece swimsuits have “long been the standard attire in the sport.” Players say the “skimpy clothes allow less room for sand to get underneath and chafe.” But international rules have “long allowed women to wear warmer clothes when the temperature drops" (AP, 7/28).
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