Luv Doc Recommends: Pro Beach Volleyball

Auditorium Shores at the Long Center, Friday, April 29, 2005

Though it’s not quite as sedentary as baseball or bass fishing, the sport of volleyball attracts more than its share of drunks, laggards, loafers, and stoners. Maybe it’s the attraction of guarding only a few square feet of real estate – seems manageable enough – or maybe it’s the comforting thought that there’s always someone close by to take the blame for a bad set or a missed volley. A game with such diminished personal responsibility seems tailor-made for contemporary American society. In fact, volleyball was invented in 1896 by a YMCA instructor in Holyoke, Mass., named William Morgan, who felt that basketball was a bit too rigorous for his classes of doughy, red-faced businessmen. So, he set out to create a sport that combined elements of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball, only without all the effort. The result of this ambitious amalgam he called, “mintonette.” Interestingly, Morgan was also a former Springfield College classmate of James Naismith, who in 1891 invented the game of basketball, but somehow avoided the temptation to call it “hoopanette.” Of course, “basketball” wasn’t exactly breaking open the brain bank, but at least Naismith had enough horse sense to avoid making it sound French. Right, so apparently Springfield College didn’t offer Marketing 101, but the sport took off nonetheless – enough to attract a more suitable moniker and, eventually, the legions of layabouts, louts. and degenerates that made Volleyball what it is today. How? By frustrating the living shit out of all the really competitive, in-shape, sportive types who have taken over nearly every other leisure-time activity short of lawn darts (a sport whose inventor wisely had the prescience not to call “kid darts” but which nonetheless proved to be a dismal failure). Yes, it’s a travesty that real drunks have to heave their darts at a wall in a dark, dingy tavern when they could be outside in the fresh air chucking miniature javelins into the neighbor’s dozing housecat, but these are sober times dominated by sober people. Modern volleyball is no exception. It turns out that it’s a real sport. How can you tell? Two sure signs are corporate sponsorship and competitors with washboard abs – an apt enough description of this weekend’s AVP Nissan Series ’05 pro beach volleyball down at Auditorium Shores. Sure, there’s sand, swimsuits, and beer, but the volleyball is all business: two really kick-ass players per side – no awkward oafs from accounting or beer swilling warehouse workers to muck up the game, just graceful, athletic, pile driving spikes and beautiful, balletic, layout saves. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and really, voyeurism is America’s most popular pastime, isn’t it? Plus, if the volleyball gets boring, there are concerts Friday and Saturday night featuring George Clinton and Parliament and Austin’s own I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness – sort of a musical mintonette, if you will.

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