Beach Volleyball Gaining Popularity in Olympics 2012

Beach volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the Olympic line-up this year. In a little more than a decade, it has come from being completely unknown to one of the most sought after tickets of the games.

The venue for Olympic beach volleyball this summer is the Horse Guards Parade,and the first test event of the season is already sold out. Volleyball England estimates that there are 2,000 regular beach volleyballers in the country and the number is growing fast. This fact is obviously a large contribution to the growing olympic interest and interest in the sport itself.

It’s actually a little shocking that the sport hasn’t grown even faster in popularity; the loud music, high‑intensity action, scantily clad female cheerleaders and bikini wearing female athletes all add up to make this a made for TV sport. The International Olympic Committee introduced the sport for the Atlanta Games in 1996 at the behest of the American broadcaster NBC.

“The beach volleyball scene is very much about young people,” says Richard Callicott, chair of both Volleyball England and the British Volleyball Federation. “It’s noisy, it’s colorful, it’s energetic – it’s what 21st-century sport is demanding and what young people are wanting. And it’s very different to most if not all Olympic sports.”

Bikini clad volleyball players don't let their uniforms slow them down.

Brazil and the US have dominated the Olympic beach volleyball games thus far, obtaining the most medals and the most golds, respectively. Other countries, including the host Britain, have only competed in one game, which was Atlanta.

Beach volleyball’s success hasn’t come without scrutiny however. It has often been recognized as a glorified beach party and the administrators of the game haven’t always helped that judgment. Controversially, they made bikinis mandatory in the build-up to the 1996 Games and then reducing their size just before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This year however, in order to encourage all culture’s input, they have changed the rule to include shorts and short sleeved tops instead of only bikinis and body suits. Athlete’s however have seemed to defend their outfits.

There was a real hoo-ha in 1996 because of the costume but as an athlete it makes no difference,” says Cooper. “You have to be incredibly fit to play the sport; you don’t want to be wearing shorts and a T-shirt. A two‑piece is the most practical kit you can have. People talk about the bikinis but there’s a real change in their attitudes once they’ve seen the sport and can appreciate what goes into it.”

The extremely easy rules and only a few mandatory equipment purchases make this sport ideal for a wide cast of populations. However, as the outfits have been argued against, the ease of the sport has gained a dismissing attitude of the sport itself. Often overlooked is the fitness and talent that is needed in order to compete in this competitive sport. Shocking, I know but attractive women in tiny bikini’s can still dominate in the sports world and look good doing it. More power to them.

US double's team celebrate their win with USA pride




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