The Tokyo Olympic Games were monumental on many accounts. It was made more so because of the many upsets and surprises that we witnessed throughout the games. For the first time in the last 16 years did our favourite sprinters from Jamaica failed to win the 100 m and 200 m races. But at the same time, India won its first gold in athletics.
Among these upsets, there was also a lesser noticed event of Qatar winning the Bronze in Beach Volleyball. It is that game, now having achieved professional standards, that we will talk about in today’s blog.
Owing to an insane number of beaches, beach volleyball is a fairly popular sport in the Caribbeans. Let us have a look at the game’s origin and journey so far.
In 1915 George David Center played volleyball with his friends on the sand for the first time. He set up a net on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and encouraged his colleagues to play a game of six versus six.
Seven years later the Santa Monica Beach Club was founded and by 1927 five more clubs were established in California. As a result, Southern California is the designated origin of beach volleyball.
In 1927 the new sport reached the “old world”. Nudists from a Parisian suburb acted as pioneers. Beach volleyball was first played in a camp in Franconville. During the 1930s the first beach volleyball games could be noticed in Prague, Riga and Sofia.
THE FIRST TOURNAMENTS
In 1947 the first tournament was organized. One year later in 1948, the winner received his first “trophy money” – a six-pack of Pepsi. During the early 1950s, the first series of tournaments arose, consisting of five single tournaments. The connection between sport, entertainment, sex appeal and the arising marketing trend became stronger and stronger – and “beach mania” was born.
The ever-increasing number of beach volleyball events soon emerged into giant parties. Although aiming to preserve the fun factor the California Beach Volleyball Association released its first regulations in 1965. This standardization of rules and superior entities was required to ensure the quality of the growing number of tournaments being held.
In 1974 the first sponsored tournament took place. The Winston Company invested USD 1,500 which were used as prize money for a tournament held in San Diego. The Olympia Beer Championships at State Beach in 1976 attracted 30,000 spectators and this tournament is still considered to be the origin of the event concept as far as beach volleyball is concerned.
The most important element in sports is the athletes. In the early 1980s, some promoters seemed to disregard this, instead of organizing tournaments poorly and neglecting the players’ needs and proposals. Therefore, the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) was founded in 1983. In 1985 the ‘volleyball trade union’ started organizing its tours. The prize money for their tour equalled an amount of USD 275,000.
In the mid-1980s more and more non-American teams participated in AVP tournaments – with players from Brazil trying to enter the US domain. Then, in 1987 the international volleyball association, the FIVB, established the World Tour, giving players a platform to play at the highest level around the globe in professionally organized events. Different regulations and battling for broadcasting times and sponsors’ funds caused a deep conflict between the FIVB and the AVP, leading to mutual suspensions for the players.
Beach volleyball’s breakthrough was in 1992 in Almeria (Spain), where a demonstration tournament was held as the counterpart to the Olympic Games. The enormous interest led to a nomination as an Olympic discipline at the Games in Atlanta in 1996. The number of international tournaments which took place on five continents rose extremely in the mid-nineties and so did the prize money.
The first Olympic beach volleyball gold medals were awarded to the United States; Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes in the men’s competition and Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires of Brazil in the women’s competition.
In 1997 the first official Beach Volleyball World Championships took place. At this point, the sport was being dominated by some brilliant Brazilians. Para/Guilherme won the men’s and Silva/Pires the women’s final. The championship resulted in an international match between the USA and Brazil as both the women and men had four teams each within the best eight.
Just in time for the new Millennium, the second Olympic beach volleyball championship took place in front of the breathtaking Sydney scenery. At this point, beach volleyball was ranked second in the category of ‘the most loved’ Olympic disciplines.
The story of success continued with the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing, and 2012 in London. Not only did the competitive nature of the sport increase so did beach volleyball’s popularity. At the 2012 Games in London, tickets for the beach volleyball tournament were among the most popular and matches were played out in front of packed crowds at the Horse Guards Parade.
2015 marked the beginning of the Beach Majors Series. The new Beach Volleyball Major Series, a joint venture between Red Bull and ACTS supported by the FIVB as governing body, was introduced with one big goal: to create a new series for the best athletes in the world and a great experience for fans whether on-site or in front of the TV screens.