When many people think of women's beach volleyball, the first image that comes to mind is that of tanned and toned female athletes wearing bikinis. Given the sport is typically played during the summer heat, this uniform choice makes sense.
Unfortunately, this uniform also draws more attention than the skills and talent the sport requires and female athletes would like to see this change. As a female that has played the sport and seen many competitions, I know the athletic ability it requires and believe these women need to be given the credit they deserve. Unfortunately, that may take some time to happen.
This fact was recently seen at a press conference in London with Britain's female Olympic volleyball players. One of the first questions presented to the women from a reporter was, "Will you promise you will wear bikinis even if it rains?"
Really? Not, "How are you preparing for your event" or something more related to their sport?
Olympic athlete Zara Dampney answered, "We can't promise anything with the weather. Obviously if it's cold then we'll have to cover up but if the sun comes out then we'll be able to be in our bikinis."
Sadly, the topic of bikinis dominated the press conference. When asked by another reporter if it bothered them to be asked so much about their attire and not their sport, Dampney said she hopes that the bikinis will draw fans in and that they will then be encouraged to learn more about the sport.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling the outfits are going to dominate the sport for some time. Even airline company Virgin Atlantic has high hopes of seeing the women in their bikinis at the London event. According to a press release from Virgin Atlantic, "Virgin Atlantic has come to the rescue of red-blooded males across the UK by offering to provide banks of patio heaters around the courts…so that competing beauties will continue to wear bikini bottoms."
The Olympic organizers have yet to respond to the offer.
Now, just this statement shows that these women are looked to as "beauties" and not as "athletes." As a female and as a former athlete, I can understand the frustration these women are experiencing. These women train as hard as their male counterparts yet are not looked to as athletic equals. Maybe the sport of beach volleyball should consider something like what the sport of curling does. In addition to male and female teams, create a mixed team where there is one male player and one female player. Maybe this would show that, while beautiful, these women are still true athletes.
And if that doesn't work, I suggest the women all come out in those full bodysuits with no skin exposed and refuse to wear bikinis until the focus turns to the sport and not the "babes on the beach." That would teach those "red-blooded males" that these talented women are athletes as well as beautiful women.
Deborah Braconnier is a former athlete and fan of all Olympic sports. Growing up in California and Florida, she has seen many beach volleyball competitions and even played a bit. She loves the sport and follows it as much as she can and is looking forward to the 2012 Olympics.
Follow her on Twitter @fwcdeborah.
- Sports & Recreation
- beach volleyball
- Virgin Atlantic