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AVP Legends and Supporting the Manhattan Open

by Tim Hovland, Mike Dodd, Eric Fonoimoana, Brent Frohoff, Scott Ayakatubby, David Swatik, Kevin Cleary, and Chris Brown

Friday the AVP shut down operations for 2010. On Monday CBVA was chosen to host the 2010 Manhattan Beach Open. In a shocking twist of events, tournament director J Parker Saikley convinced the Manhattan Beach City Council to play the event under “old-school” rules, against the advice of CBVA president Chris Brown. “Old-school” rules include the larger court (30′x30′), no antennas, and an all-leather Wilson ball. This is an open letter to AVP players urging them to play the Open despite their personal beliefs.

Dear Players:

This past week has been historical and one we hope to never revisit: The AVP closing its doors and the crown jewel of beach volleyball, the Manhattan Open, scrambling in just a few short days to put together an event. We understand the accumulative frustration you’re experiencing, the end of the 2010 Tour and a change in guidelines for the Manhattan Open. While your frustration is warranted, we as fans and ambassadors of this great sport would like to ask each of you to please support this tournament. We’re not advocating any kind of rule change, only to support the Manhattan Open for this one weekend. Beach Volleyball is in a tough spot and the last thing we need is player division for this event.

With all eyes on the MB Open, the extensive media coverage, potential sponsors and investors watching, the volleyball community needs to come together and rally around this tournament. we need solidarity and a great weekend to give this sport a big shot in the arm.

Please support the Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball.

Tim Hovland, 5 Time Manhattan Open Winner
Mike Dodd, 5 Time Manhattan Open Winner and Olympic Silver Medalist
Eric Fonoimoana, Manhattan Open Winner and Olympic Gold Medalist
Brent Frohoff, Manhattan Open Winner
Scott Ayakatubby, AVP Tour Winner
David Swatik, Manhattan Open Winner
Kevin Cleary, AVP Tour Winner and 1st President of the AVP
Chris Brown, Current CBVA President


  • Richard Harris says:

    Well said gentlemen. I have friends that flew down from Ontario Canada to attend the Manhattan Beach Open. When the AVP folded and thuings were up in the air they were very disappointed to say the least. A|t least some AVP players have commited to playing but all that are not in Europe should be there to do whatever they can to try and keep this awesome sport afloat.

  • Marcos says:

    Lame. It would be easier to support this event if the CBVA, the Saikley family, and the City didn’t collude to change the rules. Completely pointless on the part of the City and the Saikleys and the CBVA should never have supported it.

    Also, please take Chris Brown off of this list or change the title to “AVP Legends and current CBVA president…”

  • Devin says:

    So, spur-of-the-moment decisions made on Monday cannot be changed on Thursday?

  • Sean B says:

    David Swatik signed this? And where has he been? He was so opposed to the new rules, he quit the sport!

  • darren says:

    Lololol Sean B, ur right, these r all old school players who signed this…


  • MAS says:

    I have to ask if the City Of MB or the CVBA will operate a website which will post daily match results, live scoring, or will they truly be old school?

  • Andrew says:

    Wise words from a group of folks who know how to win.

    Play ball.

    Stop arguing. Very little is at stake with this rules controversy.

    This is the worst time to create division in the volleyball community. Unity wins. Divided we fall.

  • darren says:

    Funny how we wouldn’t have to be divided if the CBVA didn’t steal this opportunity to go all bully-pulpit on the rules issue.

  • Andrew says:

    The CBVA didn’t create the division. They are running the tournament, so they (and Manhattan beach) make the rules. It’s still volleyball. I love Kerri Walsh and was really looking forward to her comeback, but i’m very that she’s caused this giant hoopla with a “boycott”. If you absolutely hate the rules there are plenty of tournaments out there that play with different ones.


    Don’t bitch.


    When you play you win.
    When you argue on the lame-ass facebooks and internets you spend less time playing. You lose.

    Argh. I am losing.

  • Allen Foglesong says:

    I have read countless post now about the pros and cons of this year Manhattan Open. Here are some brief thoughts from East Coaster who has followed Pro Beach Volleyball since it was aired as “Pro Beach Volleyball” (not AVP). Nowhere is there a post from anyone who claims responsibility for making the rule change. Where is J Parker Saikley post about why this is a good idea? I would not suggest boycotting the event because we’re all fans on here and I don’t see how that will help. I would however ask that the game be played the way professionals from all over the world play the game. If not the winners will get the most tarnished plaque on the pier and that would be an absolute shame. If the games are played “Old School” I don’t see how you call it The Manhattan Open. It’s just another tournament in MB.

    As a past tournament director in my area I agree that you set the rules you want your players to use. If the players don’t like them they can play somewhere else or start their own tournament (ain’t America great). The attendance will set the grade. And I as I see it CBVA isn’t making the rules call the city is? So my comment would be to them. Please don’t make this tournament a joke. The world is watching.

    I know you Cali guys are on this 25/8 but the distant fans need to be in the loop. Where is Dr. Ono in this mix up? I know you guys follow BVBinfo.com. Mr. Brown, among the million things you are doing right now getting Dennis’s help in listing this event is HUGE to us.

    I’m sure once the balls are in the air and the sun comes out everything will be awesome. Good luck with the tourney. I wish I could be there.


  • AJ Mihalic says:

    Dear CBVA and the City of Manhattan Beach,

    Selfishness is not living how you want to live, it’s expecting others to live how you want them to.

    Not ONE person on this list is playing in the event or has played a professional event in years. Most haven’t played in over a decade. The players who are playing in the event clearly do not want to play by these rules and even more apparently have no legitimate say on the format of the event. The division mentioned is therefore caused solely by the only people who have any control over the event, the City and CBVA.

    This controversy did not exist until the CBVA was given the opportunity to run volleyball’s most prestigious event and decided to introduce a wild format change with the only explanation nostalgia for the tournament director. As those above claim, “if you just do it our way [not how the players want it], there will be no controversy,” they just show the level of blindness they and the event organizers have towards the professional players at large.

    The request above implies that the future of beach volleyball does not need to take into account the desires, needs, or input of the players themselves. Have we all so quickly forgotten the lessons of history? The relationship between the CBVA and AVP over the past 25+ years clearly shows that this behavior is typical. The Association of Volleyball Professionals was formed in the 80′s exactly because of this type of power struggle. A “Players’ Association” was needed. I’ve spoken several times with Kevin Cleary (above) about this time in volleyball history, I’m surprised to see his name on this list. More recently, the CBVA delayed their decision to change open rules (over 4 years) and in the process lost the loyalty and participation of all professionally minded volleyball athletes. In fact CBVA participation overall declined dramatically in this period resulting in many tournament directors recently deciding they could no longer support or run events.

    As many of the players above have claimed in the past, it is absolutely the players’ responsibility to make their wants and desires known. It is the responsibility of both the governing organization(s) and the players to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, their is no open forum. Here we see a group of men making an unreasonable claim that you must do what they say or volleyball will suffer. This is a fear-based threat and it is, as one commenter remarked, the behavior of a bully. The above gentlemen, as most humans, will probably feel the need to defend their position regardless of the fact that their goal (unity) is actually being hampered by the very existence of this memo. This state of affairs makes me feel deeply sad and embarrassed for volleyball, the CBVA, and the players. I am appalled that there is no open communication and no transparency between players and organizers even to this day.

    It is as if this whole event is being run by spoiled children. General truths of life are being completely ignored. Everything changes. No matter how stubborn you are, you can not change that simple undeniable fact. In fact, stubbornness only make it more apparent that attachments and resistance are the source of all suffering. If we want change, we have to stop repeating the patterns of the past. We should accept the reality of now and have a common vision of the future. We should accept that players have an unrealistic view of the present and organizers have an unrealistic view of the past which they, in some momentary lapse of reason, also see as the future. This behavior is completely unacceptable for any adult, and even less so for a non-profit organization who’s mission is to provide volleyball players a place to play the game they love.

    I honestly hope those who are playing this weekend have a great time and the fans enjoy this unique event. I also hope beach volleyball’s rebirth from this time allows it to become what it really can be. I am grateful that the CBVA is choosing to participate in this way. They have helped make volleyball’s current low-point even lower. As much as I like many of those involved in the organization, I am grateful this will most likely be the CBVA’s last involvement with professional volleyball in the United States for a good amount of time. Whatever visionary takes the reigns of the sport into the future can now clearly see the anchor the CBVA is and has been over the past 10 years to the development of the sport. The CBVA, which was once arguably the greatest growth source for the sport, now has organizers who’s thoughts are so deeply entrenched with petty spite and jealousy they no longer care to run events for their customers.

    I appreciate all of the comments you’ve all been making and the contribution to the discussion. I am glad that people are able to voice their opinions in a place where it will be seen by the volleyball community. I think this is a good step in the direction of building the sport.

    Thank you,

    AJ Mihalic

  • MB says:

    AJ is right. The CBVA = dead weight for the sport.

  • Actually last week at first the CBVA did not agree about playing with the old rules but Saikley insisted in having the tourney with the old rules.

  • Sean B says:

    Saikley is a CBVA Tournament Director at the CBVA’s most prestigious location. I think the CBVA had some say, they chose to pretend this was a decision of Saikley and MB Parks and Rec. Because, you know, MB Parks and Rec really have the knowledge and experience to make a decision like this.

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    This event makes a mockery of the MB Open.

    I actually don’t hate the idea of a big court event, but it should be an exhibition. A “1999 style MB open tournament” held at some other time. That would be awesome.

    I hope whoever is about to win is up 13-4 or something ridiculous in the final and then just forfeits when they score 14, claiming “I don’t want my name on the pier in this mockery format. It’s just embarrassing.” The player would then walk away, knowing they won not only the Manhattan Open but a battle of principle for all professional players.

    The City will then have to put up the essentially 2nd place team’s name on the pier and all records would show a double asterisk. This team was not really going to win, and event format changed 4 days before as a practical joke by JP Saikley.

    Man, I hope Phil or Kerri do that, because the awesomeness would far outweigh having your name on the pier (again) and the legend would be immortal. Self-respect and standing up for your fellows goes a long way in my book I guess.

  • Sean B says:

    OH, AJ, If only those high ranked players would read your quote! Print your post, bring it down to the event, and pass it out to the players. I really hope that none of the high rankers play though.

  • Katie says:

    Unfortunately I never met Mr Saikley, however from everything that I have read about him he was all about the integrity, fair play and the community aspect of beach volleyball and in being so passionate about the sport made the Manhattan Beach Open the premier tournament in the US if not the world.

    Because of the misguided format changes only 40 womens and 75 mens teams have registered this year. ( How many teams have registered for Motherlode???) making a mockery of the title the “Wimbledon” of volleyball.

    There seems to be a huge rift developing due to the number of facebook comments, blog and twitter entries on this subject within the volleyball community of not only the Southbay but across the volleyball whole community. These rifts could take quite some time to heal.

    Way to go Manhattan City Council and J Parker Saikley you could quite possibly have managed to destroy many reputations here, the Open tournaments, the Pro’s who don’t play, the pro’s that win ( devalued plaque ) not withstanding the appearance of a divided sport to any potential sponsors or new owners of the AVP.

    Be proud of what you have accomplished.

  • Joe Boken says:

    I wrote this in response to a facebook posting by David Fischer and felt that it also fit in this forum:

    I respect your decision to choose which events you will participate in. I was present at the last long court tournament that Kerri Walsh and Misty May played. Ironically, it was at the Manhattan Beach Pier in a CBVA event. I sat with them and discussed why they were playing. This was prior to their first Olympics and prior to playing in their first AVP event.

    At that time, the jury was still out on the long court/short court debate in the United States. Players still played both styles back then. I, too, was a player at that time and I struggled to attempt to become “good” at two versions of the sport. As the CBVA was not running any short court tournaments, I played in events run by Brian Chapman for short court and played CBVA for long court.

    I can only imagine how frustrating this is for everyone involved. I was just cut from the referee roster as there was not enough funding for a full staff of referees. I made the choice to work the event because I am currently unemployed. I don’t know how they will finish all the games tomorrow with the referee staff that they can afford. My guess is that there will be some games without referees. From a scheduling perspective I feel for the head referee and the event staff.

    I also feel for the event directors. They have been under a great deal of pressure and stress after their decision about the rules and format for the event. With time, all decisions made will be studied and reviewed and there may come new pariahs and others may be respected for the stance they took at the time. I applaud J Saikley, Chris Brown, the City of Manhattan Beach, and the CBVA for stepping up to the plate to run this event. In the past, I was handed some events at the last minute. It would have been easier to have said “no.” Kudos to everyone involved for making the choices they have made and standing by those choices.

    I just hope the sport continues to grow and recover from the past few weeks of confusion. As Kerri Walsh mentioned, the sport is fragile right now. Every decision made will have an impact – for better or for worse.

  • Richard Rosales says:

    I find AJ’s comments amusing. CBVA ran the Manhattan Open years before AVP was ever involved. I know because I was a tournament director at Marine St., AVP player and referee. I did much of the start-up work with Kevin Cleary to get the AVP off the ground including helping Matt Amberson with the 1st computer ranking system. Unfortunately, I watched the AVP get further and further away from its roots. It began to lose the aura that once surrounded the sport. Bleachers went up, antennae on the nets. Then that nasty ping-pong scoring sealed the deal. The sport I loved became unbearable. I returned to the beach today to watch Fro and Ack play brilliantly against opponents 20 years their juniors. To watch the sport in its pure form was a joy. Back was the game of attrition where stamina and fortitude is rewarded. No fake points. Points were earned the hard way. Fans were coutside ten to fifteen deep around the courts. One could feel the aura again as opposed to the contrived hype that has prevailed in the last few years. The buzz at courtside is that the future of the sport is to return to this format permanently. I hope this is so. Then the great sport of beach volleyball can return to the tremendous sport we once knew.

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    First, I’ve repeatedly said I like the sideout scoring. Second, you didn’t address why you think my comments are amusing. Perhaps you think they’re amusing because you agree with me, but don’t realize it.

    Of course you made a comment about antennas too. What about reaching over the net? What about hand-setting? In it’s oldest form, volleyball is played with basketball bladders. It certainly seems like you are only selecting the rules YOU played the most to be what defines this “tremendous sport” as pure.

    The sport is bigger than California now, and to judge the return of an aura by some nostalgic feeling from a very small percentage of the world’s volleyball fans is short-sighted. This is the same type of thinking that makes certain Southern Californians prejudiced against people who move into their state, calling them “transplants” as if it was a negative thing. As if they or their parents or great-grandparents sprouted from California soil.

    To make my point more clear. The CBVA has continued to run “big court” events over the past decade with declining participation. If both options are available and the sport you “once knew” is so much more rewarding for everyone how could this be so? Are you insinuating that all volleyball players and fans (most of them) that adopted the new rules were hoodwinked? They are all “suckers” for a trick some mean-spirited-volleyball-format-stealers were playing on them? Let’s realistic about what happened over the past 10 (or 20) years

    It appears you want a tiny sport that nobody knows about, where bleachers aren’t necessary, and the guys who are playing are people you know, from your town, and you can still somehow will worship their abilities as it they were gods. It’s very difficult to live in only your own backyard nowadays with all this technology – like cars and airplanes and those weird computer-thingys that let you post comments on websites and see volleyball results instantly from anywhere in the world. Well, I suppose results you don’t care about, and players you don’t care about, playing a game you don’t care for. I admire your efforts to do something difficult, but I’m not sure what your motivation is. Why are you posting on this website?

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    Also @Rich:
    I’m sure Ack and Fro did perform brilliantly. They are unbelievably good players. That said, everyone can perform brilliantly on that court. It’s way easier to have offense and “stay in the game.” Of course, nobody seems to care enough to post results from the event, so I don’t know how Ack and Fro did. I assume they are eliminated, by players younger than them who, if as you say 20 years younger, have NEVER played that format, probably don’t have those size lines to train on or any of those balls. Obviously, you think the court size is a significant contributor to the difference in the game. I’d imagine you think this would put these 20-something athletes at an almost insurmountable disadvantage. That’s not to mention that the game is one of mental fortitude. I’m sure you were very impressed at the youngsters that could dismantle these greats with no training for such.

    Who knows, maybe I’m wrong and they made it through the day to Sunday.

    My point? The athletes of today are far better players. Here is Todd’s take on Phil on the big court. A little less complimentary than I would be of Phil, but nevertheless, top 3 players. The big court, from my experience playing, and looking at the results mostly has to do with how well you can hit a jumpserve. It’s actually kinda grueling and boring. There is probably a group of runners who passionately like to watch marathons, but let’s face it, that’s never going to be mainstream no matter how much you appreciate it. Ooooh look, another side-out (20 times in a row). An ACE! (more side-outs ensue). Wow, this action is tremendous!

  • Richard Rosales says:

    AJ your comments are highly speculative and inaccurate. Many of the rule changes that took place were basically mandated by sponsors and TV execs that had little if any knowledge of the game. I was privy to the discussions that took place prior to many of the rules changes. TV wanted a shorter more predictable product. They had no interest in improving the game. Sponsors bowed to whatever TV wanted and pressured the players association. This leads to the reason I am amused by your comments. Many players of today’s game resent the rules change just as many players of the past resented the superimposed rules changes that were in effect until yesterday. There will always be resistance to change, and change is not always good. I was also amused by your disgust of the aforementioned supporters of this format of tournament. There is no one who is more devoted to the game than Kevin Cleary. You said that they weren’t playing while in fact they were. Fro and Ack are almost 50. They will be knocked out of the tourney eventually. I watched them win one but they were down 8-3 in the next match when I had to go. That doesn’t mean that the athletes of today are better. Fro and Ack don’t play any more. Fro lives in Orange county no where close to the beach and plays two or three times a year. And if you think that points are only scored on jump serves you either don’t watch the game or you are unobservant. To insinuate that only points are exciting is ignorant and inaccurate. Some of the best and most exciting plays result in a side out. Volleyball was never about a race to the finish. Volleyball combined skill, athleticism, stamina and mental fortitude. It is my opinion that the rules being played at the 2010 Manhattan Open are the best rules to display these qualities. Let the whiners stay at home. I don’t care if they ever play again if it means the sport can return to the way it was. And by the way the AVP tour existed for many years without bleachers, antennae, ping-pong scoring. We played in Florida, New York, Texas, Arizona, Washington, and Chicago long before the rules changes. Californian players wanted to branch out and were successful in spreading the sport around the nation. Why am I posting here? I am posting here because I have witnessed a tremendous sport go downhill because the AVP leaders sold their souls and lost touch with the grass roots. There is talk that Mr. DeSantis wants to support the AVP with a format that will closely resemble that which is occuring today at MB I wish him all the best!

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    1. Kevin Cleary and most of the above names actually do not support the rule changes for this event. In fact they petitioned the City to NOT run it this way. We posted Dodd’s letter to the City on this site earlier. Their argument above is simply that since the City has control and their say has already been ignored, the event should still be played. These guys respect the event a lot, as they should.

    2. I wasn’t disgusted at the supporters. I was disappointed that their stance on the rule changes and the principles is so easily wavered. I incorrectly interpreted that as them supporting the rule change, but Kevin contacted me and cleared that up. I still personally don’t believe in so easily accepting things as “just the way it is” when there are still actions that can be done. I believe a mass player stand would have resulted in the event rules being forced to change, or no event at all. The City had too much money to lose to not run the event. It’s not like this “tremendous” event is profitable in any way. The City is taking a massive loss, so I’m glad at least you were entertained by it. Of course, they probably make a killing in taxes on all the business that do well.

    3. I didn’t think you seriously thought the old school guys were better. I was somewhat meanly making fun of the excessive adoration of many fans who talk like you do. It’s a pretty easy argument to make that athletes of today are better than athletes of the past…in any sport. There are a million arguments for it, and they are all obvious.

    4. Sinjin Smith explained a lot more reasons for the rule changes then simply fitting in TV slots. he was a big part of those changes. As is often pointed out, TV responds to fan needs and if popular sporting events go over time slots they continue showing them.

    Of course, you should ask Sinjin, Mike, and Kevin their opinions, not just take it from me. I think you may also be interested in Todd Rogers take on the 2010 Manhattan Open too. He’s played both formats even more than I have, so his opinion may be more valid to you.

    I think the new game displays all of those qualities. I think mental fortitude is required more than ever, while stamina a bit less. I think using “ping-pong” is a funny analogy, but really almost all team sports are scored that way except for baseball and cricket, where it would be virtually impossible for the other team to “score.” Any sport where it is possible does score that way.

    We? C’mon now. We don’t want to look that up, do we? Remember that whole internet thing…

  • Richard Rosales says:

    AJ, I was watching the Open with Cleary yesterday. You have to understand that both Kevin and MD support and always support the AVP and have worked for the players. They both wanted to have the best players play in the event I didn’t speak to Mike but Kevin personally prefers the old rules. I suspect that Mike does too. You know that Mike can’t come out and voice that opinion as the leader of the AVP. I don’t think there was anyone more fired up than Kevin about the tournament. The players adjusted easily to the format and seemed to feed off the up close audience. Potential sponsors visited MB Open. You had better believe that the AVP will revert to the old rules if that’s what the sponsors want.

  • Bernard says:

    I think it is amusing that AJ, a guy who devoted his life to playing professionally and never amounted to anything on the AVP is making all this noise on the message boards. I don’t think you need to put an asterisk next to the MBO winners Rosie and Wachtfogel having beaten Prosser and Mayer, a team that made the finals of the AVP Hermosa this year. AJ could have grown a sac and entered the tourny and competed in the watered down Manhattan Beach Open for the love of the game like some of the fine professional athletes that ended up doing so but he still wouldn’t have had a chance as a career scrub whose best known for whining from coast to coast.

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    Hello, anonymous poster Bernard.

    Man, Chris is right. It’s way too easy to get sucked into these comments and spend way too much time here.

    For everyone who knows me, this response is probably unnecessary. However, even a lof of those people probably don’t know that AJ is actually working in NYC to support his family and baby that is due sometime in the upcoming weeks. I am not seriously playing beach volleyball this year.

    Am I known as a whiner? Maybe, but I’ve never heard that. I think I am probably more well known for creating a tour for players in CA (when the CBVA wouldn’t adapt) and for helping create Kinda Good. During the past few years I discussed the future of volleyball in depth with many people including Sinjin Smith, Chris Brown, and Kevin Cleary. I respect all of them as much as anyone involved and am grateful for the opportunity to talk with them.

    I wrote these posts and comments because of my passion for the game of beach volleyball. The theme of my posts is to DO, not complain. The goal of the posts was to petition the players to do something that I think is best for them to still have the opportunity to have a career, scrub or great. I believe all of these things show more love of the game than playing in that event. I support the same viewpoint of Todd Rogers, Kerri Walsh, and many other highly respected players who chose to not play in the event.

    I also believe in the value of discourse, which is why I am “making noise” and we approve a comment which was clearly only posted with malicious intent. I’d love to have seen a little real discourse concerning this event BEFORE any decisions were made. Perhaps this is amusing to you, but it’s important to me.

    Obviously, I think those four finalists are tremendous players. Some of the best in the world. I also really think it was probably an awesome event. However, no Phil and Todd? Different rules? No asterik, really? That’s like saying Barry Bonds shouldn’t have an asterik for homeruns because he’s the best hitter in baseball.

    I’m pretty sure comments about my skill level aren’t relevant, especially since I’ve made no claims. Also, you posted anonymously. I’m proud of my two 9ths in the Manhattan Open and Santa Barbara Open and most of my other finishes and tournament wins.

    “We’re not great, we’re Kinda Good.”

  • Richard Rosales says:

    I agree. They showed up and the level of play was good top to bottom. If you were there you saw hard groveling play. In fact the open 75 team bracket insured that this was well earned. Everyone that wanted to play could. I remember that the AVP wanted to turn the Open into an 8 team exhibition in 2008. Thank god that didn’t happen because you would have had to put an asterisk on that one and that year wouldn’t have had a winner.

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    Excellent point Rich, this is way better than that AVP plan. I remember battling even harder for that to not happen, and made sure I went to the City Council meeting where I also argued against a “lucky loser” format for the qualifier to no avail. Of course, someone’s really bad idea in the past doesn’t make a not-great one a good one now. :)

    A completely open tournament is awesome, and the way it should be. However, 75 teams is pretty lame since just the qualifier for the MBO has approached (exceeded? I didn’t research it much) 100 when they don’t cap it or double entry fees.

    I tried to play a local CWO tourney this weekend, and it may have been the first time in my life I’ve ever felt tired like that on a volleyball court. No, it wasn’t the big court, it was just me not working out because of my hurt back and sitting at a desk for months. Man did I suck.

    Anyway, the differences in scoring, which to me has always been the biggest difference in rules, was glaringly obvious. As most players who play side-out will attest, the 14th point is always the “hardest to score.” In rally, often the game is “won” much earlier than the last point, since often the last point is an easier play. Of course, there are arguments from the rally perspective for pressure situations too. In fact, the whole game becomes a pressure situation because each point “counts” a bit more due to the limited rallies that tend to make up a game. You can no longer be carefree about missing serves, and the smaller court size makes it’s less likely that you’ll win a match by just mishitting a wildly smashed jumpy off the back tape. You’ll more likely have to “earn” a close victory in the short game with a dig, block, or error.

    Additionally, the pressure of a locked game happens in rally too, when two teams are competitively playing each other. Finally, volleyball really began as an indoor sport and indoor has been settled by a rally game for as long as I know. I’m honestly not sure what the scoring was in William Morgan’s mintonette, but it was originally to 21 and back then innings, unlimited touches, and a 6’6″ net ruled the day. Missing your serve could count as removing a point, possibly? Who knows. Even more interesting is that beach volleyball seems to have more polynesian roots than Californian.

  • Jason Olive says:

    The MB Open should always be old school in every way. This would be the single biggest marketing event in the sport. It will generate incredible story lines whether all pros play or not. It also takes the biggest event in the game and it says, ‘ We will never forget our roots. We are proud of them and we want to put them on display. Yo know what crows—- this one’s for you. For free, all week, we as players are going to bust our ass in one of the most grueling sporting events in the world for your enjoyment – THNK YOU.”

    Plus the tight-rope that has to be walked to get the Open accomplished with the city is not worth it.


    The MB open was great!

    Beach volleyball lives.

    But don’t kid yourself, it’s still a tiny niche sport. The more that one small niche (fans of only old-school rules) argue with the other small niche (fans of the new rules) argue, the more beach volley loses.

    It’s all volleyball.

    Rule changes aren’t going to either save it or destroy it.


  • string says:

    Jason, Richard and AJ. Thank you for your posts. It is great to see some good dialogue and debating going on here as we are all concerned. I really hope we can have both old school and new school get along. It would be nice to have Manhattan do the old school rules every year and the other tourneys can have the new school so we have an outlet of getting back to our roots and what made this sport the greatest sport ever in the history of sports. Richard thanks again. I vote that you won by a land slide.

  • Joe Boken says:

    I enjoyed the MB Open. It was a small, local, family event. I grew up in Manhattan Beach and it brought back the feeling of the Open prior to sponsors, television, and scores of fans. I was able to walk freely amongst the courts. I carried my son in my arms and he was also able to walk freely. He even walked right onto the court at one point! No one really minded, as the event was a fun, family event with modest and calm participants. Most of the games were refereed by the players. Without prize money, it was truly an amateur event. I think that if this event were to continue to remain this small with under 500 fans at the event, it would continue to be the cozy, family-friendly event that it was back in the 1960s.

  • volleychick says:

    Sean B, get your facts straight…David Swatik didn’t quit the sport because of the rule changes nor did he sign any letter. In fact he was out of the country when the AVP folded and he didn’t return until Sunday of the Manhattan Open. Where has he been? Who are you anyway? I guess it’s easy to figure out what the B stands for in your name…Barney!!!

  • Trevor Mackay says:

    I’m JUST a fan… I have been for many years. I started watching Synjin/Randy vs Hav/Dodd back in 1986. It was exciting and fun to be able to watch world class players, just a few feet away. That, I guess is what we are calling ‘Old School’ now!
    One thing to consider is that Old School is what propelled the sport to where it was. It was after the rule changes and all the other associated special interest getting involved (NBC, Olympics etc) that changed the old rules to the new rules… Which then, went out of business!!!.

    I’ll tell you, I HATE sitting in the bleachers and being blasted with B.S. hip hop or rap music, and being forced to watch/listen to lame entertainers with mics… I don’t need a tee shirt shot at me, I don’t need inflatable plastics Nissan Sticks to bang together. I want sky balls, jump serves, killer digs, arguments with Refs and players running out in the crowd to save a point. To some extent this may be a David Lee Roth vs Sammy Hager argument. If you liked Van Halen before… Then Hagar Sucks. If you like Hagar, then “He saved the band”. Hopefully we will get away from the Corporate MBA’s trying to make the sport “more palatable” to the masses. It’s Beach Volleyball, with long roots. I’m more interested in the Game itself and the players themselves, then I am, someone trying to extract money out of it! The old way worked and got bigger every year…. The “New” way lost $45 Million dollars in ten years!

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    The “old tour” did not get bigger every year. In fact it went bankrupt first. In the beginning of 2001 there was only the BVA until Leonard bought the AVP and resurrected it.

    The new tour adopted the rules that the rest of the world was playing at the time. It’s been 10 years since a top professional tour anywhere in the world played 6 man style rules for doubles beach. I think “old school” is appropriate verbage and is not insulting to those who prefer that style.

    Good comment though. The bad grammar, spelling and strange comma usage are easily balanced by the Hagar vs Roth comparison, which I love.

  • Biggs (Peter Bigler) says:

    I happened to stumble across these posts after I checked out a video Billy Allen had suggested to watch re: Danny’s recent injury, after further review I had to comment.

    First, I wanna say to AJ, you’re a friend, and I do believe you are interested in the direction of beach volleyball and it’s success.

    However, I have to say that some of your comments are quite goofy and based upon…ehhhh…I have no idea what they are based upon in reality. Actually I know what they are based upon, what you’ve witnessed in your life, which pales in comparison to many of us who have been around the sport much longer.

    I’m gonna puke if I hear another person say how players today are better than those who played in the past. So Kobe and Lebron are better than Michael Jordan? Ever hear of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem, Wilt?

    Let’s talk volleyball now. First of all, you weren’t around SoCal in the 80′s and 90′s watching ALL those players who you disrespected by making those comments. I’m sorry, there were plenty of guys jumping 36″-40″ and higher back in the day who were winning AVP events and playing internationally and dominating the Brazilians and anyone else who challenged them for many, many years. Sinjin Smith, Randy Stoklos, Karch Kiraly, Kent Steffes, Mike Dodd, Tim Hovland, Jon Stevenson, John Hanley, Mike Whitmarsh, Scott Ayakatubby, Brent Frohoff, Jose Loiola, Adam Johnson to name a few.

    OK, I think we can all agree that Phil Dalhausser is a unique specimen, and arguably the best player in the world. 6’9″, jumps out of the gym, long arms, great hands (developed over many years), decent passer. However, he is not invincible. Let’s just talk what some of the little dudes have resorted to when playing Phil and Todd. Perhaps you have seen the famous YouTube video of Adrian Carambula’s skyball vs Phil’s passing and scoring real points on his serve? Or Dana Camacho, who is at 5’9″ hitting shots over Dalhausser’s block and skyballing for points? Adrian is becoming an excellent player, he’s 23 and maybe 6′ (that’s being generous), Camacho is even smaller. Both are friends of mine, but neither one can compare at this point in their careers to any of the guys listed above who dominated the sport at different times during the 80′s & 90s’. Keep in mind that these are the SMALL dudes that play the game NOW, you know, short court, antennas. But let me tell you, they both can play the big court/sideout game because they are extremely quick, agile and can cover the court quite well. I know, they’ve played in several of my events on the corona light wide open tour.

    So tell me what happens to Phil’s passing (Todd’s too for that matter) when confronted with a 30′ x 30′ court to cover and you have the likes of Adam Johnson, Ack, Fro, Stokey, Loiola, Brian Lewis (all in their prime) blasting bullet jump serves past them to the sidelines, corners and up the middle. Can you say “shankapotomus?” Any of those guys mentioned serving the ball would be scoring points like they did against the competition in the 80′s and 90′s when they got on a roll. I mentioned skyballs earlier, guess what, a gentleman who’s a very good friend of mine (yeah I’m name-dropping, but I know all these dudes) named Sinjin Smith had a very lethal skyball of his own. In fact, it used to drive Karch nuts (and his partners) as it caused him fits, many times in finals. Todd Rogers, who I’ve known since he was about 20 yrs. old when he played in some AVA open tournaments I organized (’94 maybe), has been an excellent player for years, but never dominated the sport until he paired with Phil.

    So let’s just compare Sinjin and Randy’s accomplishments, they won over 100 events as a team? That’s playing against Karch, Hovlan/Dodd, Whitmarsh, Ack/Fro all during their prime years and you’re telling me that players now are better? If that’s the case, how come hardly anyone can dig a ball that’s blasted at them, and control the dig so it lands in the court? Why do players miss serve after serve after serve? I’ve watched the sport for many years, and I am always amazed at how few digs there are during matches I’ve seen over the past 5-10 years. Stein Metzger was one of the last guys I can remember that could dig lips, routinely…and he retired. Todd’s very good, Rosie has gotten much better…but then who? The big guys pull off the net and rarely do they control the ball blasted at them. Even the smaller “defender” players can’t defend anywhere near the level of Sinjin Smith, Mike Dodd, Jon Stevenson etc. Sorry, but all those “old school” (by the way I hate that term, its stupid, do they call Michael Jordan old school too, or Kobe for that matter as he’s been playing for 15 seasons) dug the ball much better than the the players who play the game today. Todd Rogers can dig, but he’s average compared to them. In fact, I’ve had more than one player comment to me that they were’t going to play in one of the events I announce (Corona Light Wide Open Tour) because they said they were just getting the “short court” game down (felt they were competitive) and that they didn’t have the skills to play “big court.” Basically, they didn’t want to potentially look silly out there getting aced and/or unable to pull off the net on a block and dig a ball that’s blasted at their throat and hence unable to pull off a transition play etc.

    For the record and comparing athletes: I’ve got photos of Loiola with his chest way over the net, I’ve seen nobody that leaped and delivered like Jose in his prime, and he’s maybe 6’4″. Perhaps you should go on BVB.com and check out some stats, he was 1999 FIVB Tour Champion, won like 20 international events, 35 AVP. Also, if you look up old photos of Karch, you will see him way above the net, snapping balls straight down during huge matches. It’s probably a good idea to check some footage of some matches between Smith/Stoklos vs Hovland/Dodd or Kiraly/Steffes, you’ll see incredible digging, blocking, hitting, serving & setting…incredible beach volleyball.

    If you were to ask anybody that really knows beach volleyball and has watched and/or played with or against the best teams of the 80′s and 90′s, I’m certain they will agree that all of these teams from the past, namely Smith/Kiraly, Smith/Stoklos, Karch/Kent, Hovland/Dodd, Hanley/Stevenson, Stevenson/Pat Powers, Dodd/Whitmarsh, Ayakatubby/Frohoff would have adjusted to the new game and dominated the competition during any given year. All were incredible athletes in their prime and even as they got older they found a way to win as they had incredible drive, intensity, determination and heart…something that seems to be lacking in today’s game.

    Personally, I’m doing what I can to promote the sport of volleyball, and hopefully this time next year we can talk about the positive moves that have been made to develop a national tour that can connect with the masses and once again be the “cool” sport that drove people to the beach. 2010 was a very successful year for the corona light wide open tour, 2011 should be even better…stay tuned! http://www.coronalightwideopen.com

  • Biggs (Peter Bigler) says:

    Billy Boy, you make my point(s) that more valid…excellent video. Stokey only blocked about 12 balls, set butter, sided out consistently. Sinjin dug tons of balls, chasing down deep corner shots as well is straight down heat from Stevenson/Hanley, and then put the balls away for points. Not to mention passing nails and siding out like a machine. Very few errors, consistently high level of play for many, many years. Plus those guys had pulses, which the crowd appreciated. Sweet video.

  • AJ Mihalic says:


    It doesn’t seem like you’re being sarcastic about players of the past. Weird. You can’t possibly believe that all those 40″ verticals simply escaped photography; Or that Wilt would dominate today; Or that the beach volleyball of today isn’t incredible. Sure the athletes aren’t as talented as most high paying sports, but they are good at their sport.

    The reason nobody digs balls is because it’s hard to do when the players are playing really well…almost impossible. In indoor volleyball if you get a 1 on 1 block (the worst blocking situation you can run into on the beach) you’re expected to put the ball away routinely…with 5 other players defending the court behind the blocker.

    It’s not rude to point out that everything evolves.
    Fact: The AVP tour DID go bankrupt BEFORE the short-court.
    Fact: Players of the past generally didn’t train like they do today, for several obvious reasons.
    Fact: Those really awesome players were still really awesome on the short court.
    Fact: Long court games are generally boring for people who don’t love volleyball. OK, maybe not a fact because that could be just me; I love volleyball, but even I don’t really enjoy watching it that much – if it’s not a compelling match. Indoor is the worst. Billy’s video lasted about 12 seconds before I was like “cool, I’d rather do work”…click.

    I think it’s unreasonable for you to believe that I needed to be both alive and in the state of California during the sport’s hey-day to comment accurately on it’s history or current status. However, I’m sure many people who meet that criteria. I’d like to hear Karch or Sinjin say anything that supports your comments.

    It’s apparent that there is currently no pro tour marketable to the non-volleyball fanatic US (most of it) that can make a profit. In the absence of being able to impress people who aren’t immersed in volleyball, you might as well make a tour that makes the die-hard old school volleyers happy. It seems like they (you) are happy with how well you’re doing. I’m glad.

    Joe Boken is funny, and he cares a lot about volleyball. I’m glad he posted here.


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