Beach Volleyball Bikinis
August 9, 2008 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Olympic beach volleyball uniforms: Why are the women wearing bikinis?

I've been watching both men's and women's beach volleyball and can't for the life of me figure out the practicality of the women wearing the skimpy bikini outfits. As a woman who has worn a bikini or two at the beach, in the sand, I am looking at them and thinking it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I'm just imagining them spending hours digging sand out of the nooks and crannies after the matches, thinking about 'sand burns' and other various hazards from being barely covered.

If this is the optimal performance uniform, why are the men not shirtless and in Speedos? I have to wonder if the women are just flaunting their perfect bodies and 6-packs of abs and whether it's merely part of the beach culture rather than a requirement for the sport.
posted by caroljean63 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Higher ratings.
posted by desjardins at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


From my understanding, you (and desjardins) have it right. It's because more people will watch women's beach volleyball the less the players are clothed.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:09 PM on August 9, 2008


If this is the optimal performance uniform

IIRC, it is not. Again IIRC, the governing body for beach volleyball *requires* women to wear skimpy bikinis, and has a *maximum* size that the bikinis are allowed to be.

Presumably, the requirement has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with sponsorship and advertising dollars.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bikinis are actually the required uniform, though at least several teams would prefer to wear shorts and other clothing. (See here.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2008


I have to wonder if the women are just flaunting their perfect bodies and 6-packs of abs

Do you really think the players are picking their own swim suits? The Olympic rules dictate what the players wear. The rules as stated right now state that female beach volleyball players should wear bikini bottoms no wider than 7 cm (2.76 inches) at the hip. Yes, the bottoms of the suits have been made SMALLER. Sex sells. The women do have the option to wear a regulation one piece suit but it seems none of them opt for it.

I am totally with you on the male thing. That pisses me off. Put them in little speedos so we can see some junk, or let the women wear jams and t-shirts.
posted by iconomy at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2008


i'm sure it's mostly for ratings, but i would imagine that a full body suit would be hard to volleyball in - think about it, when you stretch in a full body suit you can feel it pull at your crotch. if i were diving for a ball or jumping for a serve i don't think i'd want my shoulder movements to give me a reverse wedgie.
posted by nadawi at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2008


Oh, I just saw the "maximum size" here:

"Olympic female beach volleyball players wear a top closely fitted to the body and briefs with a side width no greater than 7cm, or a one-piece uniform closely fitted."

I had no idea. How obnoxious.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2008


Don't miss the "Cracking the code" photo gallery at nbcolympics.com, which uses hand signals as an excuse show closeups of lots and lots of bikini clad bums.
posted by ericost at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else is curious about women's beach volleyball uniforms?

In other words, just to make this a helpful answer, it is just to get attention.
posted by chillmost at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


For the avoidance of doubt, it's not only women who use hand signals, right? NBC just chose only to present photos of women giving the hand signals?
posted by grouse at 1:23 PM on August 9, 2008


In line with the commercial motivations behind volleyball kits, FIFA chief buffoon Sepp Blatter suggested similarly skimpy kits for female footballers, to less than wholehearted acclaim.
posted by Bodd at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2008


I can understand the use of a bikini (although the maximum size rule is load of sexist b.s.): I can't imagine getting sand down in the midriff area of a one-piece swimsuit followed by a lot of twisting and writhing around. You'd be rubbed raw in no time.
posted by Heretic at 2:06 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


You've got to feel sorry for the apparently not-so-"attractive" softball players whose sport will be eliminated in the next Olympics. According to an IOC official "....it's important that the Committee keeps on the program sports that are popular, attractive to young people, have an element of entertainment and are attractive to broadcasting,"

Hmmmm.....and I thought people watched it for the athletic performances. How stupid of me. Blech!

Signed,

...someone who enjoyed watching the women's fencing today with my teenage son, even though the young women were wearing big bulky outfits.....
posted by caroljean63 at 2:10 PM on August 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


chillmost, Misty May Treanor offered to let President Bush smack her ass.

The volleyball uniforms are not that different than the women's track and field uniforms.

BMX is the most ridiculous Olympic sport. Why not have tricycle racing?
posted by Frank Grimes at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2008


Misty May Treanor offered to let President Bush smack her ass.

It's good to be the King I guess.

If the beach volleyball players are allowed to wear regulation one-piece suits and they all choose not to, I'm not sure that can be blamed on the Olympics organizers. If they felt they played better in the one pieces I can guarantee somebody would be in a one-piece. These are competitors; they want to win.
posted by Justinian at 2:58 PM on August 9, 2008


If the beach volleyball players are allowed to wear regulation one-piece suits and they all choose not to, I'm not sure that can be blamed on the Olympics organizers.

What can be blamed on the Olympic organizers (or whatever federation sets these rules) is the disallowance, for women, of the same sorts of apparel that the men wear.
posted by grouse at 3:37 PM on August 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


and I thought people watched it for the athletic performances. How stupid of me. Blech!

not sure if this is a derail or not, but your general tone seems to assume that the olympics are motivated by some great dedication to sports. i was under the impression it (the IOC) was a fairly shadowy organisation, that has been dogged by scandals of corruption, run by some very rich people from switzerland, as a money making machine (in which case, bikinis make a lot more sense).

however, although i can find lots of news reports of various scandals, and many people upset about human rights in china, i can't find anything that makes a detailed critique of the ioc as a whole. maybe i'm too cynical - i thought i would post this to see if anyone had any related info (for or against).
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 3:47 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm watching the men's beach volleyball right now, and they're wearing loose tank tops and baggy shorts. If there were a competitive reason to wear speedos, they'd wear speedos.

And it's not like bikinis and full swimsuits are the only options: tank top and shorts? Sports bra and shorts?
posted by rtha at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2008


The same IOC official I quoted above thinks baton ball should be in...whatever that is. I'm sure it's something good and sexy, guaranteed to bring in the ratings.
posted by caroljean63 at 4:27 PM on August 9, 2008


I also wondered that about regular volleyball and was happy to see that the women in the US vs Japan game were wearing slightly larger bottoms than I recall in the past... more like hot pants instead of bikini bottoms. However the beach volleyball players bikinis bottoms have gotten smaller. No Olympic athlete should have to get a Brazilian wax to compete!

I've also found the commentary and news coverage of the beach volleyball very sexist, saying that the ball went of "her manicure" instead of her fingertips.
posted by Bunglegirl at 4:33 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


One Australian volleyballer says it's about the heat, not about being hot.
posted by b33j at 4:49 PM on August 9, 2008


From the sweat dripping off them today, the Aussie may be right
posted by A189Nut at 5:18 PM on August 9, 2008


The heat thing makes sense, sort of. But it doesn't explain why the men wear shorts and t-shrts. If it was really about the heat, wouldn't the men at least ditch the shirts?
posted by Justinian at 5:22 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


One possible explanation: endorsements. I didn't check if the men's t-shirts were branded. If they were Nike or something it's probably about the $$$.
posted by Justinian at 5:23 PM on August 9, 2008


I don't want to endorse this too heartily, but since when did it become a terrible thing for people to pick the lesser of two evils? If the women playing beach volleyball were more fully clothed, fewer people would watch the sport. Showing a little skin is a necessary evil if the sport is to have success. Sad, yes, but that's the way it is.

And lest we get too bent out of shape about softball going away, recall that baseball is also getting cut. I'd guess that it's simply due to the fact that nobody else in the world cares about softball, and very few care about baseball.
posted by sinfony at 6:40 PM on August 9, 2008


I don't want to endorse this too heartily, but since when did it become a terrible thing for people to pick the lesser of two evils? If the women playing beach volleyball were more fully clothed, fewer people would watch the sport.

[citation needed]

Men watch men's sports, and I doubt it's because they want to "see some skin". I'm not sure why people wouldn't be interested in women's sports for the same reasons.

If you want pure sex content, why don't you just watch some porn instead?
posted by jrockway at 10:05 PM on August 9, 2008


As for why people aren't as interested in the women's sport when they're interested in the men's sport, I'd guess that level of play has a lot to do with it.

As for why men don't just watch porn instead of the women's beach volleyball, can't say I know. Perhaps because women's beach volleyball is something you could watch on the television with the wife and kids around? You'd have to ask somebody who actually watches it. Skin or no, I find volleyball pretty dull.
posted by sinfony at 10:12 PM on August 9, 2008


No Olympic athlete should have to get a Brazilian wax to compete!
And yet as Frank Grimes says, don't track and field female athletes have to wear similar things? Things that require some kind of pubic topiary? I mean whilst men are allowed to wear shorts in such events don't women have to wear something all together more skimpy? I haven't seen anyone complaining about those outfits here. Maybe everyone has forgotten about track and field events, or maybe there's a double standard here....
To be clear, I'm nor defending the Olympic clothing standards, I just think it's a point worth making.
posted by ob at 2:22 AM on August 10, 2008


The Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball uniform rule limits how much skin is covered, not how little.

That track and field athletes choose to wear "similar" clothing is irrelevant. A female pole-vaulter can wear a burkha if she wants. A volleyballer can not.

Yes, it's for ratings. But if we're allowed to dictate irrelevant aspects of the sport to increase viewership, I want:

--A shark tank under the uneven parallel bars
--Table tennis with Jaeger shots
--Ski jumping with a mined landing area
--Rhythmic gymnastics with pythons
posted by lothar at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


We had this same conversation at a BBQ last night and many of the women present - rowers, runners and cyclists - said exactly what Heretic said.
posted by fixedgear at 12:41 PM on August 10, 2008


lothar: organizations dictate irrelevant aspects of all sports, not just beach volleyball. Do you think NFL players or whatever generally have a choice about whether the NIKE logo is plastered all over their equipment or uniforms?

So the issue is whether this particular dictated irrelevancy aspect is much more objectionable than other dictated irrelevancies. I'm not sure we have enough information. It's possible the viewership of women's beach volleyball without these apparently ridiculous rules would not be enough to support the sport. I don't think we know whether that's the case or not.

But irrelevant aspects of all sports are dictated to increase viewership and revenue and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.
posted by Justinian at 12:50 PM on August 10, 2008


Anyway, it seems pretty clear that the answer is that the use of swimsuits in women's beach volleyball is to enhance ratings, and the choice of two piece over one piece is made by the players. Possibly because of heat related issues, possibly because of chafing and such from sand in a one-piece, possibly because some players just like the two piece suits, and possibly a combination of all or some of the above.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 PM on August 10, 2008


Also explains why [insert name of any (one exception) predominantly Muslim country] is not an Olympic beach volleyball powerhouse.
posted by webhund at 9:24 PM on August 10, 2008


Men and women wear the same thing they normally wear to the beach. Men wear trunks not speedos, and women wear bikinis, not shorts.
posted by smackfu at 6:14 AM on August 11, 2008


I could care less about the bikinis, but I did notice that there are cheerleaders that go out on the court when they take a time out. I can't think of any other Olympic sport that has anything so ridiculous.
posted by robofunk at 10:32 AM on August 11, 2008


The female players play in leagues that only allow them to wear bikinis, and they practice in them as well, so I suspect that if the Olympics were to allow them to wear whatever they wanted, they would still wear something similar, although perhaps not quite as skimpy. Check out their warm-up outfits for what they might wear (tight leggings, short-sleeve shirt)

The men mostly play without shirts in their non-Olympic play, so they are playing in a more substantial 'uniform' change than the women.

And yes, the other leagues (FIVB and AVP) require the women to wear bikinis for ratings. Men are only required to wear shorts that match their partners.
posted by Four Flavors at 10:53 AM on August 11, 2008


I'm watching the women's beach volleyball now, and they've been talking about the players' WEDDINGS for 5 minutes, for fuck's sake!
posted by tristeza at 9:18 PM on August 11, 2008




It has been the same since the days of Diocletian.
posted by rongorongo at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2008


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