Thursday, August 26, 2010

John Stossel plays beach volleyball

by Jason Schock at 10:11 PM

20/20 anchor John Stossel is apparently a hardcore Central Park beach volleyball player. Who'da thunk?

I liked him better when he was trying out pro wrestling, though.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Manhattan Beach Open will be kicking it old skool

by Jason Schock at 8:32 PM

With the AVP out of the picture, the 2010 Manhattan Beach Open will be kicking it old skool: big court, sideout scoring, white leather ball, no let serves.

There will also be no accompanying circus of sponsor tents, vinyl signage, or grandstands that the AVP liked to drag along with them. Just sand, nets, players and fans. Just like Baby Jesus wanted.

It sounds like it's definitely worth checking out. You may not see the Manhattan Beach Open like this again for some time.

Fri 8/20 -  Sun 8/22

More in the LA Times story.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Review: Order on the Court

by Jason Schock at 9:56 PM

Back in 2008, a freelance journalist named Tom Burke published "Order on the Court", a book about the viscera of U.S. professional beach volleyball. He graciously sent me a review copy, which I only skimmed at the time. I promised a full review, but never got around to it because I was busy with one thing or another. (Hey, running a beach volleyball Web site pays even less than playing on the tour.)

So, sorry, Tom. Here's your review.

"Order on the Court" is an easy read -- took me this afternoon -- with lots of juicy facts and a history of the turmoil that has marked the AVP since inception. Burke makes little attempt to mask any disdain for AVP management, but regardless of this obvious bias, it's still a notable work of journalism.

The most interesting chapters deal with the AVP's inner workings, like how sponsorship deals work; management and player attitudes; and the orchestration and costs required to hold just a single AVP event ($1M for a single event!). Perhaps this stuff isn't anything eye-opening to players and others close to the sport, but it was for me.

Most poignant is the final chapter, in which Burke suggests an end to the AVP not much different than the one that came on Friday. The actual shuttering of the 2010 tour reads like the book's unwritten epilogue.

"Order on the Court" gave me more sympathy for the AVP administration, yet even more disappointment at the repeated, costly squandering of the organization's potential and good will. According to Burke, the AVP was already considered "damaged goods" by potential sponsors, so it will be quite interesting to see what -- if anything -- rises from this latest, and most severe, valley in the AVP roller coaster.


The AVP is Dead

by Jason Schock at 2:57 PM

Matt ProsserJust two years after its players swept gold at the Beijing Olympics, the premiere U.S. beach volleyball tour has closed its doors.

On Friday, August 13th, the AVP announced it had run out of money and was shuttering operations, effective immediately; almost all staff have been laid off. See the LA Times story for more.

This doesn't come as a huge surprise to most: players have known the tour was on shaky ground for the past few months. In fact, the AVP has been bleeding out for the last couple years now, only saved recently by investment from a mysterious group called RJSM Partners.

Hans Stolfus, scribe and former player, has written a long, but eloquent, requiem for the AVP, chock full of player quotes, obscure volleyball references, and his typical passion and emotion for the sport. Ironically, it's posted on the AVP Web site.