August 13 2008

Olympic Beach Volleyball Uniforms

Yes folks, it’s already time to talk about the Olympic beach volleyball uniforms again.

The other day when I talked about the Olympic women’s baech volleyball uniforms, it was more from the angle of how it was unfair that the men have to play in more annoying outfits, and how they wish they could remove their shirts, but Olympic rules won’t allow them.  Meanwhile, the women are pouncing around in bikinis which allow them the maximum amount of comfort, but Heaven forbid the men take off their shirts!  The horrors!

Well, Luis from BlogD left a comment on the article that said:

I used to visit the Yahoo News Photo page. As I recall, whenever there were sporting events like the Olympics, the women’s beach volleyball always got enormously unrepresentative coverage, but just in photos–and, as you point out, very few action shots. It always struck me as being equivalent to soft porn.

Which, he’s right, it’s always been a bit over-the-top, but the women don’t seem to mind, so I thought, “no biggie, just drop the subject and move on.”

Well, then up pops Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins, one of my coworkers at Mashable, to just throw more fuel on the fire.  It seems NBC is running a 20 picture slideshow entitled “Cracking the code” which is all about helping you figure out the finger code the women use on the court to tell the server what to do.  However, it tells you they use a finger pointing system to do it… but no idea what each signal means.  What follows is the same caption on each of the 20 pictures which add nothing to your knowledge, it is, you guessed it, 20 butt shots.  The caption reads:

Hand signals are frequently used by beach volleyball players to communicate to their partners.  The signals — one or two fingers down, closed fist, etc — generally let their partner know who should attempt a black at the net on their opponents’ return.

Pictured above is Kerri Walsh of the American team, and it is one of the few pictures tame enough to go on this blog.  To the left, also thankfully safe… who knows who she is!  Nowhere does it tell you on each picture who the girl is, let alone what country they play for.  The only time you figure that out really is on picture #20 that the woman is from Brazil as it is written across her backside.  Make no mistake, this is exactly what Luis said it was: soft porn.

This photo set has nothing to do with expanding your knowledge of the game, but everything to do with getting eyeballs on their website and seeing their ads.  I wouldn’t even be that bothered by it if they simply said, “Look!  Very fit women’s asses!”, but I am skeeved out by the fact they tried to mask it under the guise of teaching you more about the game and how it works.

I am glad the women themselves are not bothered by the way they are portrayed in these uniforms, but when even NBC will stoop to these levels, it shows me that these athletes are not being taken seriously, and that is a shame.  There is no doubt these women work just as hard as any other athletes to get where they are, and all you ever see or hear about them is just these blasted outfits.  How many people know that Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are on a run of nearly 100 consecutive wins as a team?  Does that matter?  Oh who cares, slap some more butt shots up there!

Again this brings me back to the question that launched the original post, “why can’t guys take their shirts off?”  Seriously, someone needs to explain to me why the men have to wear uniforms they dislike and would like to see the rules changed, while the women get this treatment.  It honestly is at the point of silly, and makes me suspect that the Olympics are exploiting these women, but that is a personal judgment call for all to make.

In the meantime, shame on NBC for such a thinly veiled excuse for posting all of those photos.  Yes, I know I posted two of the pictures, but I was very careful in the ones I chose, believe me… these are the tame shots.

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