Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Review: Order on the Court

by Unknown 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.



Tom Burke said...

Hey Jason,

Glad to see you're reviving your site. Thanks for the review of my critical, yet amusing story about the AVP's ups and downs since 1983. And yes, my book does ominously predict the current troubles the AVP is facing.