Bums and beach bums: let the Games begin

All of us sports fans are bitterly divided. Which Olympic event is the most exciting of all? Cycling? 100m finals? Heavyweight boxing?

I say balls to all that. Volleyballs, to be exact. Beach volleyballs, to be even more exact. Beach volleyball gets real sports fans excited the way no other sport does, if you get my meaning.

It’s all about the technical brilliance and deep strategic insights demonstrated by practically naked girls throwing themselves on the sand and then patting each other on their jutting assets. The sport becomes especially exciting when, in a dazzling demonstration of their athleticism and a couple of other things, the girls fling themselves sideways towards the fans, their mastery of the sport for all to see.

The British Olympian Denise Johns claims that the uniform consisting of two narrow strips of fabric is intended to be ‘sexy’ and to draw attention. How little she understands her own sport – off with her head. What does ‘sexy’ have to do with anything? It’s all about the triumph of… well, you know what I mean. 

And how appropriate it is that, like Aphrodite out of the sea foam, this most exciting of sports should emerge out of clouds of marijuana smoke at Santa Monica, California, and migrate to Horse Guards Parade. At this ideal venue it can be watched not only by panting fans but also by the stone eyes of Field Marshals Kitchener and Roberts, looking on from their plinths. They too achieved something in their day; now it’s the girls’ turn. It’s as if a relay baton has been passed from the backward past to our shining present.

But why are we talking about girls only? You may think I’m sexist, and if sexism isn’t an imprisonable offence yet, it will be soon. Before my collar is felt, I hasten to add that men play the sport too, and many people, among whom I regretfully can’t number myself, find the male version even more exciting. It was largely thanks to the beach-volleyball sequence that the 1986 film Top Gun became a ‘gay icon’, and don’t you just love this word combination?

Remember the scene? Tom Cruise misses a hot date with a beautiful girl because he’s too engrossed in fondling the glistening muscles of his partner each time the chap spikes the ball into the golden sand. In an inspired bit of casting, a notorious lesbian played the role of the temporarily jilted girl, thus adding a background hint, nudge and wink for those slow on the uptake.

Citius, Altius, Fortius – Swifter, Higher, Stronger – says the Olympic motto. Why such limitations? What’s wrong with ‘bigger’, ‘rounder’, ‘firmer’? And why did the IOC have to wait until 1996 to make beach volleyball an Olympic sport? Those dinosaurs are behind the times, and something must be done to drag them into our beloved 21st century.

To their credit, they do add new sports to the Games all the time. Curling, for example, is a relatively recent valuable addition – where would the winter Olympics be without it? In the doldrums, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

But this time the IOC missed a trick. They failed to include two international sports rivalling beach volleyball for sheer excitement: mud wrestling and pole dancing. Appropriate venues would have suggested themselves: the Cenotaph in Whitehall or, more daringly, the flag on the roof of Buckingham Palace could function as the pole, while St Pauls’s Cathedral would be a perfect site for the mud pit.

Moreover – are you ready for this? – not only could these sports provide an arena for displaying individual brilliance, but they could all come together with beach volleyball to form a new, truly progressive triathlon. Admittedly some details would need to be worked out, for the two proposed sports tend to be played as singles, while beach volleyball is a doubles game.

Perhaps, and I welcome your suggestions, the two new sports can be doubles as well. We already have synchronised swimming, why not synchronised pole dancing? No reason at all. And who’s to say that four naked girls rolling in the dirt wouldn’t be twice as exciting as two? In a purely athletic sense of course? Nobody.

That’s the problem with members of the Olympic Committee – they don’t possess the same imagination our own Danny Boyle displayed in masterminding the glorious opening ceremony. It wouldn’t have occurred to them, as it did to Danny Boy, to have Her Majesty, her petticoat flapping in the wind, parachuting in upon the Games. So all right, everyone knew it wasn’t really the Queen doing the skydiving, but ingenious make-believe can be more real than reality. And nothing like jumping out of a chopper to bring a monarch, and monarchy, down to earth. It’s this famed British humour, see? Foreigners just don’t get it.

But forget about humour for now. My suggestion of adding two new sports (actually three, if you include the triathlon) is as serious as they come. Oops, wrong choice of word. Call it a Freudian slip.





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