Thursday 2 August 2012

Selling Sex via Ball Control

China's Zhang Xi shows skin and ball control during [London 2012 Olympics] women's beach volleyball preliminary phase pool B match against Switzerland. Pic AFP.

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Sex sells at the Parade as fans flock to cheer and ogle (SCMP; paywall)
The lure of beach volleyball is not only about athletic ability but also about the scantily clad women who scamper around on the sand
Alvin Sallay
Aug 01, 2012    

Even Nelson perched high above Trafalgar Square would have found it hard to turn a blind eye to all the hype and hoopla going on at Horse Guards Parade. Bikinis and Bermuda shorts was on show at the Olympic sport which draws the most amount of sexual innuendo. And like many thousands of others, it was enough to attract Kevin O'Connor to make the trip to London with his buddies to watch athletic, bronzed bodies throw themselves all over the sun-baked paddock.

"To be honest there is a lot of enthusiasm from us Brits about sports which we know nothing about and what better way to spend a Monday morning than out here in the sun and with a beer in my hand," smiled Kevin, who hails from Gloucester. He was also honest about the fact he and his mates preferred to watch the "girls" rather than the men. Every move of the Chinese pair Zhang Xi and Xue Chun, Beijing bronze medallists as they defeated a pair of Swiss missies, were lustily cheered by Kevin and company, all decked in Union Flag shirts.

When Queen Victoria found no one on duty at the Horse Guards gate one afternoon, she ordered the Household Cavalry - the soldiers who have provided protection for the monarch since 1660 - to parade at 4pm every day for 100 years. The order still stands and the tradition continues. But that parade of horseflesh has been put on hold until the beach volleyball ends, and instead there is another parade on show with 96 athletes - beefcakes and models who could grace the pages of Sports Illustrated's swimwear edition - competing on a beach made of 4,386 tonnes of high-grade sand specially quarried in Surrey.

And the mood at the venue in the heart of London was electric. It is used to pomp and pageantry every afternoon but this was way different. An announcer spurred the crowds on to clap and dance in the aisles much to the horror of Kevin, who suggested that the prancing presenter was probably in love with his voice and the mic. But the crowd responded. Every time there was a break between sets or if a team took a timeout, out came a group of scantily clad girls, of course in bikinis, with a couple of token, bare-bodied guys thrown in who did the Conga and shook their derrieres to tune.

Sexual innuendo? Forget it, this is in-your-face sex highlighted by the sun and sand. You can feel yourself being transported to some idyllic island in the tropics where everyone looks like Raquel Welch walking out of the surf, or in the case of the women fans, a hunk with six-pack abs and straight out of Baywatch.

The closest thing to a well-defined six-pack I witnessed were the glistening, cold beers in the hands of Kevin and his mates. Unlike the women, the male beach volleyball players are covered up, almost to the point of being indecently clad for the beach.

It raised the question if female spectators were hard done by. While the men had their fill gawking over the sweaty, tanned limbs of the girls, the men wore T-shirts or singlets and long Bermuda shorts. So do women watching beach volleyball find it as sexy as their husbands or boyfriends?

For all their grunting the Norwegian and Canadian men hardly stroked the imagination. It seems the sport is sexually biased. The FIVB, the world governing body for volleyball, has all but put its eggs in one basket - believing sex sells and it is the women who should carry the burden. Among its regulations are that for women, there should be "no more than six centimetres of cloth at the hip". But men can wear anything as long as it is not a tuxedo or tights.

Is this sexual discrimination?


  1. aimlesswanderer9 August 2012 at 19:38

    She certainly has assets which one can appreciate.

    I wonder what the female competitors really think?

  2. Do we care what the female competitors really think!? I'd like to know who governs Beach Volleyball and what they think. Old men probably, but old men without much sense of tradition (since beach volleyball doesn't have much tradition compared with say, Wimbledon or Soccer). Hence the skimpy and revealing attire … only for the women.

  3. The administrators are thinking about the money anyway, and more skin from hot chicks means more $$$$. End of story really.

  4. Totally agree. Female hockey players, volleyball players, etc.

    Isn't the double standards obvious when they make the female weightlifters cover up? The administrators don't want to see any bare skin from tubby powerful women when they grunt!