The focus is also on the women when it comes to one sport in particular: volleyball. In a Wednesday press conference, the Olympic beach volleyball competitors discussed their sport's famously skimpy uniforms, worn by the women but not the men. If Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are wearing teeny bikinis, it was asked, why aren't the men wearing Speedos?
“I’m OK with this. They’re way prettier than us,” player Phil Dalhausser answered. Todd Rogers, a medalist in 2008, concurred: “I think [men wearing Speedos] would [draw attention to the game], but I don’t think it would be a positive effect," he said, according to ESPN. He added:
"It just doesn’t look as beautiful. The reality is men are driven more by their vision and women are not, so I just don’t think it would help. I’ve practiced in Brazil where the Brazilians are wearing Speedos and it just doesn’t look good. To see a guy’s package is just not the same."
Hm. A bit of a double-standard, perhaps?
It doesn't have to be. April Ross, competing for the women, told press, "We argue for [the men to go sans shirts] all the time... Men have such amazing bodies, too. They shouldn’t be wearing tank tops. Give them shorts and make them go without a shirt." Then at least everyone would be exposing their hot bods. Gender equality FTW?
It's a strange topic of discussion but one the players have been having candidly for years. The female beach volleyball athletes have long acknowledged the sex appeal of their uniforms, admitting that it brings extra attention to the sport and draw in more fans. British star Denise Johns told the Sunday Times, "The people who own the sport [the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball] want it to be sexy... I used to play in shorts and a T-shirt and was reluctant to change. But if it gets volleyball attention, so be it."
April Ross echoed her sentiments on Wednesday. "[The uniform] draws them in. Once they see the athleticism of the sport, they’re hooked on it,” she said.
But for the first time, women now have a choice. According to new rules announced in March, female competitors in Olympic volleyball will be permitted to wear shorts and sleeved tops out of respect for the cultural beliefs of some participating countries.
The men, on the other hand, still don't have the option of Speedos. And what a shame it is...