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Usa Beach Volleyball
Information about Beach VolleyballBeach volleyball, or sand volleyball, is an Olympic team sport played on sand. Like other variations of volleyball, two teams, separated by a high net, try to score points against the other by grounding a ball on the other team's court. Competitive beach volleyball teams usually consist of two players, though recreational variations can contain up to six players.
Originating in Southern California, beach volleyball now enjoys worldwide popularity, even in countries without traditional beaches, like Switzerland.
HistoryBeach volleyball players in Hawai'i, ca. 1915 (102 years ago). Duke Kahanamoku is at far right.Though popularized in Southern California, the first recorded beach volleyball games took place on the beaches of Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawai'i at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Originally designed to give bored surfers something to do when the surf was down, the game quickly developed into more organized six-man matches. The most famous early player was legendary waterman, Duke Kahanamoku.
In 1920 (97 years ago), construction of new jetties in Santa Monica, California created a large sandy area for public enjoyment, planting the seed for beach volleyball development in that region. The first permanent nets began to appear, and recreational games were soon being played on public parts of the beach, as well as in private beach clubs. 11 such beach clubs appeared in the Santa Monica area, beginning in late 1922 (95 years ago). The first inter-club competitions were staged in 1924 (93 years ago), marking the first beach volleyball tournaments to be played in California.
Most of these early beach volleyball matches were played with teams of at least six players per side, much like indoor volleyball. The concept of the modern two-man beach volleyball game, however, is credited to Paul "Pablo" Johnson, an indoor player. In the summer of 1930 (87 years ago), while waiting for players to show up for a six-man game, Johnson decided to try playing with only the four people present. The game was forever changed.
Beach volleyball began to appear in Europe in the 1930 (87 years ago). By the 1940s, doubles tournaments were being played on the beaches of Santa Monica for trophies. In the 1960s, an attempt to start a professional volleyball league was made in Santa Monica. It failed, but a professional tournament was held in France for 30,000 French francs. The first Manhattan Beach Open was held in 1960 (57 years ago). The tournament is now considered the "Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball".
In the 1970s, a few professional tournaments in Santa Monica were sponsored by beer and cigarette companies.
At the professional level, the sport remained fairly obscure until the 1980 (37 years ago) when beach volleyball experienced a surge in popularity. Players like Karch Kiraly and Sinjin Smith became household names. In 1987 (30 years ago), the FIVB created the first World Beach Volleyball Championships, played in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The FIVB began organizing worldwide professional tournaments, and laid the groundwork for the sport's Olympic debut in 1996 (21 years ago).
Despite its increased popularity in the 80's and 90's, American beach volleyball suffered setbacks. In early 1998 (19 years ago), the American women's professional tour - the WPVA - closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. Later that same year, the American professional men's tour - the AVP - also filed for bankruptcy, plagued by problems as a player-run organization.
In 2001 (16 years ago), the AVP reemerged as a for-profit, publicly-traded company that combined the men's and women's professional tours, with equal prize money for both sexes.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, who won two consecutive gold medals in 2004 (13 years ago) and 2008 (9 years ago) Summer Olympics, were named "the greatest beach volleyball team of all time". Among female beach volleyball players, May-Treanor has the record of most tournaments won with 103 career wins.
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