The hardest part of playing beach volleyball

The hardest part of volleyball has nothing to do with the game itself. It isn't the physical drain of training, the abundance of high pressure situations, the constant travel or even the associated cost of all of the above. Those are all cake compared to sport politics. Speaking on behalf of a large majority of athletes in all sports (and probably a lot of  NBA fans at the moment), there's nothing that irks us quite so much as having our fate be manipulated by the higher ups.

One of the main factors that drew me to beach from indoor was the appeal of being in control. No matter who the opponent, the teammates, the coach, or whiny parent's who demand their son get more playing time, when I play beach there is a 100% chance that what I do will make an impact in each and every match I play. Now don't get me wrong, I was extremely fortunate indoors. The teams I was a part of were always top notch, with excellent coaches who had faith in me. Shout out to (in order): Russ Reimer, Rich + Connie McDonald, Art O'Dwyer, Chelsea Sommerville, Tim Masse, Dwayne Wenaas, Ryan Marsden,Tim Smith, Kerry McDonald, Ray Sewell, Terry Danyluk, Dale Johns, Aaron Schulha, Brad Poplawski, and of course Mom + Dad. As far as i could tell, my teammates parent's weren't too bad either, but you'll have to ask my coaches. And I always either felt almost immediately like an impact player, or else worked my ass off to feel so eventually. But even with all the good fortune, excellent support, and achieved successes indoors, it all pales in comparison to the sense of accomplishment of all of the above on the beach. Sure there aren't as many people to share the excitement with, but there's always, without exception, the knowledge that what I contributed was significant.

To sum up the previous overly long paragraph: Indoor is great, but the beach is for me.

In case some of you forgot, this blog is about politics (I forgive you, my background story took a little longer than anticipated.). For someone like me, who chose beach volleyball in large part to have as much control as possible over my own development and results, the foreseeable hardships don't appear as difficulties at all but simply as steps along the path to success. Steps which I will gladly take (thanks goodness for my long stride). It's the unforeseeable and uncontrollable that can really throw a wrench into the works. That's where the politics come in (Finally).

This may come off as over the top, but the greatest purpose served by sport politics is as a distraction to athletes. Of course sport bodies are needed to facilitate administration and organization to help us dumb jocks along. But it never seems to end at that.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord John Acton

No matter how much control over my future own future I'd like to have, there seems to always be someone or some group that insists otherwise. Right when I think things are going right, out of the blue I get hit with all the reasons I don't know what's best for me, or that I can't achieve one thing without participating in another, or tournament point allocation gets changed, or worst case scenario, a rule is mysteriously altered to screw us in a tournament (If you haven't heard about that last one, don't ask, it upsets me). And here I was, thinking that in order to become the best volleyball player I could rely on my own abilities and motivations to accomplish my own goals. Silly me.
I hate politics.

Now what is the best part about playing beach volleyball?

Once the game starts, no more politics. No one can tell me what I can or can't do on the court. It all comes down to me and my partner in the end, everything else gets drowned out in the crowd. Now that's what I signed up for.

Ben Jammin


  1. Good post, Ben. Although I haven't gotten all the details, I know the gist of what happened and although I expect no less from NORCECA, Arnaldo, or whoever is in charge down there (not to name names or anything...) I can't believe what happened. It's a shame.

  2. Now I have to find out the back story to this. I am on my 25th year of playing this year and there is nothing I love more than this sport so it upsets me to hear stories of it becoming just another sport with a bunch of crap in it!