• Bunce on Olympics

Give me real volleyball, not beach volleyball

Steve Bunce August 2, 2012
The signal that has done wonders for the profile beach volleyball © Getty Images

There are many things that annoy me at the Olympics. There are rude members of the media who complain about the food, the accommodation and the lack of wi-fi. You are in Mile End, get real.

Medal Table

There are the athletes that compete to give a few of us a laugh and to make sure that their tinpot nation gets to send dozens of officials, all of whom bring their kids. And then there are the men who swear that five hours at the beach volleyball watching Miss Bondi Beach slowly get covered in sand, as she and her partner battle against two tanned Brazilian Amazons, is essential. It is not, sorry.

Real volleyball, the one that has been slipping under the radar at the Games since 1964, has a bit of history. The first European Championship was held in 1947 and the first World event took place two years later. It has become even more obscure since a dozen chicks in tiny costumes came on the scene in a blaze of glory and glamour in Atlanta in 1996. I have never seen so much pouting, it was like a commercial for a lip-job company. I sat through that first Olympics watching blondes fiddling with their bums as they each give a signal with their hands; an action that has inspired a thousand picture opportunities. It was not my finest hour as a hack, but was probably better than the nude swimming championships in Amsterdam back in the 1996. There were some Brazilians there too if I remember rightly.

I know that it is hard to play volleyball on the beach, I know that I could not keep the pace up for hours and I'm sure that Miss Ample Boob from California could beat me at press ups (I have been told these things by a member of the British volleyball on the beach gang). We have several words for men that go along to the beach to watch women in bikinis get sweaty and thankfully the men are easy to spot in their macs; it's different here because the connoisseurs of the finer things on the beach have notepads and dribble on about screw shots and burying things in the sand. Yeah, right.

There is also the problem, a serious one, about legitimacy as an Olympic sport. Where is it played other than Malibu, Rio and Sydney? It could double up with Polo - I'm sure the athletes from each could get together and make terrific skiers! Show me the team from Tanzania, that's what I want to see.

There is no way that the volleyball on the beach is going to get dropped like softball, and I admit that the backdrop is stunning, but surely it's time to stop dribbling over bums, boobs and dunks. I get that they are great athletes, honest, but I don't need to see their bums to be convinced!

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.