It was news to me when a friend of mine pointed out last night that bikinis for the female volleyball players were a required uniform until just recently. I thought they did it because honestly, it makes sense to have as little as possible on while playing, and if you have the body for it, then hells yeah.

Until March the International Volleyball Federation ruling was that bikinis were mandatory, but in a world that’s evolving and out of respect for those whose culture and religion don’t allow for such attire, the federation backed down a bit. Now female competitors are allowed to wear “shorts of a maximum length of three centimeters (1.18 inches) above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops.”

Both the federation and women volleyball players have acknowledged that the game is indeed “sexy” because of these uniforms and that’s the initial appeal, but as team member April Ross pointed out: “Once they see the athleticism of the sport, they’re hooked on it.”

If you watched the competition yesterday between United States’ Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor versus Australia’s Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley, that leeway in uniform was already being rocked. The Aussies were covered almost head to toe, while the American ladies stuck to their bikinis. “We need to be wearing bikinis. You don’t want to be wearing baggy clothes and be lost in your clothes… we found something that is functional and sassy at the same time,” explained Walsh.

In contrast, male volleyball players have never been required to wear the male equivalent to a bikini and they even must keep their tank tops on while playing. However, the female players have long argued that the men should be allowed to play without their shirts. “Men have such amazing bodies, too. They shouldn’t be wearing tank tops. Give them shorts and make them go without a shirt,” Ross has said.

While you can’t argue the fact that volleyball is a strenuous sport that requires mass amount of training, the uniforms will probably remain a source of debate for both the men’s and women’s teams. How can it not when the double standard is so obvious? If the women are being allowed to cover up, maybe the next step will be allowing the men to strip down more? We’ll have to wait four years to see the outcome on that.

As for yesterday’s game between the U.S. and Australia, the Americans won. Obviously they have their bikinis to thank.


Photo: PA