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The CBVA and the City Defend the Manhattan Open

by J Parker Saikley, Mark Leyman & Richard Gill

On Friday the AVP shut down operations and went bankrupt. 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 the City’s letter written to fans regarding their decision to revert to old-school rules for the Open.

Thank you for your input regarding the format of the Manhattan Beach Open – 50th Anniversary. A few of you might know that the Manhattan Beach Open was originally a city event that began in 1960 by a man named Alex Bolianas who worked for the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department. In 1962, in the tourney’s second year, Charlie Saikley (who also worked for the city of M.B. Rec.Dept.) took the reins and successfully directed and grew the Manhattan Beach Open into the most prestigious volleyball tournament in the world. It is during these years of Side Out Scoring and long court that the MBO gained recognition and earned its nicknames like the Crown Jewel of beach volleyball, the Granddaddy of beach volleyball tournaments, or the Wimbledon of beach volleyball.

As the game evolved and the Olympics picked up beach volleyball, there was a need for a shortened game time for television purposes. This ruling to change the game to rally scoring and the short court was decided upon by the FIVB and was not the traditional game of volleyball in the USA. Although different, the new rules have helped the sport grow and find its way into the main stream media. For that, we are all grateful and hope that the sport continues to grow.

This year’s Manhattan Beach Open is unique in the sense that you cannot earn AVP or International points and there is no television contract. It will be an opportunity to honor the legacy of Charlie Saikley and the history of the sport of beach volleyball in Manhattan Beach. In addition, this format will allow spectators to enjoy long, hard fought games which exemplify the competitive spirit of the game of volleyball.

We are moving forward with the traditional style of play and hope that you will be a part of this great tournament, to play for your fans, tradition, the love of the game and having a permanent plaque on the Pier in remembrance of this historic 50th Anniversary Manhattan Beach Open.

See you at the beach,

J Parker Saikley, Manhattan Beach Open CBVA Tournament Director
Mark Leyman, Sports and Aquatics Manager for the City of Manhattan Beach
Richard Gill, Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Manhattan Beach


  • JB says:

    Idiots. There is already a Charlie Saikley Memorial 6-man Tournament.

    This is all about the personal desire of ONE person to push HIS desire to return to the old format. Suddenly Saikley’s desire has become the will of the CBVA?

    There should NOT be a plaque for this year’s tournament if played in the old format.

    I hope the City of MB continues this tradition by forcing the annual bike race to be done on the first bicycles ever invented. Should be just as ridiculous as this tournament being played with the old rules.

  • Marcos says:

    “to play for your fans…”

    I am a fan. I don’t want to watch these players struggle to play the former version of the game.

    As a fan, please, let the players play the game they have trained.

    Danny, please post how fans can voice their opinions to the City of MB.

  • Joe Smith says:

    Is the surf contest in Manhatten going to require 35lb. old style tankers. I hate the old court and rules, Singin did every one a big favor with the new game. Every one at the beaches I play embrace the new rules and ball; the old dinosaurs in the South Bay should step aside and let Karch know what the majority of players prefer. I have no interest in this years Manhatten or Karch’s old style tournament series.

  • Chris Brown says:

    Just to clarify-the above statement was written by the City of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation department-not the CBVA. It is their tournament and they have contracted the CBVA to run it under their direction. In this instance, J is serving as a city employee-not a CBVA T.D. That said, the CBVA has enjoyed a long relationship with both the MBP&RD and the Saikley family. We have the utmost respect for their vision and will do everything in our power to uphold the storied tradition of the Manhattan Open. I have every reason to believe that this year’s tournament will be awesome. At this moment, when the domestic, professional tour has just folded, the beach volleyball community has a unique opportunity to rally around this tournament and show fans and potential sponsors that this is still a thriving, vibrant sport. I hope to see all of you down at the grandaddy this weekend. Chris Brown, CBVA President

  • AJ Mihalic says:

    At this point, there is no prize money. Does it still qualify as a professional event?

  • Dan says:

    Sorry, CB. I will make a note above.

  • Mike says:

    Yes, the event will be awesome, and much of that will be because of the novelty of the old rules. Everyone should be rallying around this event but instead one person has gone rogue and caused even more dissent. Would his father be happy or upset with what he’s done?

    You may be happy with the old rules, but nobody should be satisfied with what this has caused.

    And then there’s the prize money. You (the CBVA) have been given an absolute GIFT. So you double the entry fee and make everybody pay for a membership (from players who have no use for it outside of this special event) and you aren’t going to have any prize money? THAT stinks. Many players hate CBVA and it’s only getting worse.

  • Richard Harris says:

    “Traditional rules”…the current rules aren’t new, they’ve been around for 10 years! On the 100th anniverary of the NBA are they going to play with peach baskets and no 3 point line! Argh!?!…

  • Chris Brown says:

    Wow. Really Mike? FYI, 100% of the entry fees will go to the City of Manhattan Beach-not the CBVA. The CBVA had zero influence in the decision making process and will lose thousands of dollars scrambling to produce this event. Personally, I have worked non-stop since last Friday(when the AVP pulled out). I will not get one penny in compensation. Why would I do that? Because I love the sport and I love the Manhattan Open. What should we have done Mike? Tell the city that we wouldn’t help them and let the crown jewel of our sport crash and burn? We are trying to make the best out of a bad situation. The saying, “No good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind here. As for players “hating the CBVA”, let me tell you from an insiders perspective that everyone involved in our organization is involved for the love of the sport. We put in long hours and get very little in return. We do it because we love the game, we want to see it prosper and, at the end of the day, somebody has to do it. It’s very easy to sit behind your computer screen, lob out anonymous internet posts and complain about the problems. It’s much more difficult to roll up your sleeves and try to be part of the solution. One more thing Mike: it’s my birthday today. A bunch of my friends are out on the beach in front of my house right now crushing beers, playing vball and talking story. I’ve spent all day fielding phone calls, emails and trying to do whatever is necessary to make this thing happen. Some “gift” I’ve been handed…

  • Che Carsner says:

    Chris, thanks for taking the reigns on a thankless and bad situation. Honestly I think the old school rules have a lot over the short court rules. That being said I don’t see how moving to long court rules furthers the sport in any way. The best players in the world play the short court game. Big guys that probably wouldn’t be nearly as good on the long court rule the day. That’s the game that the world plays and that’s the game that is on television. What is the commitment by going to this format? I was playing the A in Manhattan beach this weekend and overheard something like the idea was to take the game back to where it was making money and successful. I don’t think I need to remind anyone that the AVP failed once before and with long court rules. Lets try to keep in mind that until that point the entire world played long court rules. It wasn’t until the AVP failed that short court took over. In other words the short court format isn’t the problem. So if we aren’t trying to get back to what worked, then what are we doing with this? How does this forward beach volleyball? How does having the grand daddy of all beach volleyball tournaments not having the top American players improve our sad position and our failing professional league? If there is a good reason I’d honestly love to hear it. Right now it sounds like someone’s ego is ruling the day.

  • Chris Brown says:

    AJ-As of right now(5PM on Thursday) the tournament will have at least $15,000 in prize money. Obviously, not anywhere near where we all think the Manhattan Open should be, but not bad considering the city had 4 days to negotiate with sponsors. I would say yes, that qualifies it as a professional tournament. Che, I appreciate your point of view. I’m not going to argue in favor of a decision that I had nothing to do with. I think that the debate completely misses the point. It is the city’s tournament. They decided what they wanted to do with it. At that point there were two options as I saw them:1) Tell the city sorry, we’re not going to help you-in which case it is likely that the tournament would have been abandoned completely or 2) Try to make the best out of a bad situation by rallying the vball community, coming together and throwing the best possible tournament. Mike-I forgot to mention earlier that any $ taken in by the CBVA for memberships from this tournament is going to be donated directly into the prize money pool. We don’t anticipate that it will be that much-maybe +/_ $1,000, but it is something. Another way of showing that the CBVA is here to help the sport in any way possible. Believe me, if we were in this for the money, we would have given it up a long time ago…

  • Marcos says:

    It would have been way easier to have simply gone with the original rules. Changing it back will be even easier. Are you going to have referees who have refereed the correct rules for the past 10 years suddenly become capable of refereeing the old rules?

  • The “old rules’ are becoming that: OLD RULES….They had their run and the battle is not only over, it is a distant memory. Its fine to have a tourney with “special rules” but THE MANHATTAN OPEN? At a time like this? I think if you look up the definition of BULLY, you can see some relevance to what is taking place with this rule change and the AVP elite players (BULLY: A person who hurts, frightens, or tyrannizes over those who are smaller or weaker). The AVP is weak. They probably will rise next year but to do something like this really taints those round medals on the pier we all walk by when we visit from Northern California. We can all “get along” as Rodney King said, but you just can’t bully people because you can…….

  • Sean B says:

    Chris Brown. Abandon your claim that you are unpaid and that the CBVA had nothing to do with this. J Saikley is a CBVA tournament director. Did he go rouge? If so, you’ve got some personnel issues at the CBVA. If not, the truth that everyone else sees is that this is part of a CBVA “solution.” Chris Brown, all the event personnel will be paid, and you will not? The whole Martyrdom thing is really sad.

    I loved the old rules. I hated the change. But, I accepted the change as a fan and player. I wanted to play the game like the pros play so that I could understand the competition. During the time of rules changes, I couldn’t play in a CBVA new rules tournament. Why? Because the CBVA “held out” until about 5 years ago. I went elsewhere to play by the new rules. I talked with two CBVA tournament directors asking them to host new rules tournaments back in 2002. I was belittled for my desire to play “junk ball.” In 2005, when the CBVA added “short court” I came back to the CBVA and played in the new rules tournaments. However, I have seen some tournament directors, notably J Saikley, who have held old school tournaments even for Juniors!!!!! The CBVA, in that sense, has maintained the confusion and divisiveness in the sport for the past 12 years. Why choose to flip-flop at this moment in time? My kids play beach volleyball and the CBVA can’t even host 100% new rules events for the Juniors! I’d love for them to play CBVA, but they’ve moved on to AAU and USAV. I just hope there is an organization like GAV or something for them when they get too old for the AAU and USAV.

    C.B.V.A. = Confusion Belittlement Vascillation Association

    And lets clear things up. As an association, it is an association of tournament directors, not an association of volleyball players. That “title” is afforded only to groups that truly function as a whole.

  • Sean B makes an interesting point; Take it from someone who organizes a lot of volleyball in Northern California (Santa Cruz & Campbell): Its the Players…Its the Players….You can dictate all you want, but it should eventually reside with the PLAYERS…all the PLAYERS, not just the good, but the bad and the ugly (I fall into the latter)…Anway, good point that players should dictate MUCH MORE than they do. Businesses fail to realize it eventually rests on the players/customers as they “vote with their feet”….They voted and the AVP lost, but not because of the rules, etc……

  • Chris Brown says:

    OK, now I remember why I try to never get involved with internet chat boards. Once you start, it’s tough to stop. Sean B, I’m not trying to be a martyr. I’m simply pointing out the fact that I am working a ton to make this event happen and I won’t see a penny in return. That’s just a simple fact. Why would I “abandon that claim” when it’s true? And the CBVA is spending thousands of dollars to produce the event-even though the organization will not see a dime. The entry fees will be paid to the City of Manhattan Beach and any membership dollars paid for this event will be donated directly into the prize pool. I’m doing it out of my love for the sport and this event. I don’t think that makes me a martyr, but it’s hard for me to understand why you would come at me with all the hatred. As for J( as I stated above), in this instance J is serving as an employee of the City of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department. It is their tournament. They made all of the decisions as to format and rules. The CBVA had zero input. I went down and argued against going with the traditional rules. I was told the decision had already been made. The letter from the MBP&RD at the top of this page is a summary of their reasoning. James, I completely agree with your point about the players dictating the direction of any grassroots, sports organization. Obviously, if you don’t give the players what they want, they will stop playing in your events. Using that reasoning, the CBVA must be doing a lot right. We have been running tournaments for 49 years(far longer than any other beach volleyball organization) and this year alone, participation is up about 20%. If the players didn’t like what we were doing, those numbers would look a lot different. I sit in the Board meetings, I review player surveys, I talk to our player reps. There may have been a time when the CBVA wasn’t attentive enough to player’s wishes, but those times have passed. The CBVA does everything in it’s power to give the players what they want. Unfortunately, this decision was out of our hands, so if you’re mad about it, you can direct your venom elsewhere. Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to work on putting together the best possible event this weekend…

  • Che Carsner says:

    Hey Chris,

    A couple of things about this that I’d like to address, but I want it to be clear that there is no venom coming from me. I simply want to understand. The defense of long court rules seems to be honoring the history of beach volleyball. That’s a fine idea I think, but it doesn’t seem to add up when the future of beach volleyball is at steak. Should we sacrifice the future for honoring the past? Also, as a player in CBVA who plays in at least one tournament per weekend its a concern to me that so much value is being given to the city of Manhattan beach without the CBVA getting something in return. I’ve had tournament directors tell me the tournaments aren’t being run as well as they could because of lack of funds. I’ve been told by these same tournament directors that the CBVA doesn’t have any money. As a customer it bothers me that money I pay for a good experience is being wasted on a tournament that is honoring the past of beach volleyball over the future. This seems like bad business sense. Unless there is a bigger picture I’m missing. What is the opportunity for the CBVA? What is the opportunity for beach volleyball? Again I want to make sure you know that I’m not saying any of this with anger. I simply want to understand and I’d bet I’m not alone.

  • Chris Brown says:

    Che, Two main points here:1) I don’t think the MBP&RD was thinking about the future of beach volleyball when they decided to use the “traditional” format/rules. I think they were focused only on this particular event. Again, I’m not going to defend a decision that I had no part in making. The CBVA decided that it was in the sport’s best interest to pitch in and help run this event-generally considered to be the crown jewel of our sport-rather than sitting on the sidelines and potentially watching it crumble. You might be interested to know that this view is shared by many of the icons of our sport. Yesterday, we sent out a letter to all AVP players encouraging them to support this event at such a fragile time. The letter was signed by Mike Dodd, Tim Hovland, Eric Fonoimoana, and Brent Frohoff among others. As for the CBVA’s “lack of funds”: Our mission has always been to provide an affordable, positive volleyball experience. If you look at our entry fees compared to just about any other comparable organization, our prices are lower. These low prices translate into very few frills, but that is a conscious decision. We believe it is more important not to “price anyone out” than to provide more bells and whistles at events. Some people may disagree with this point of view, but it has served us well over our 49-years in business…

  • Sean B says:

    Chris Brown,
    You are being disingenuous. You were one of those tournament directors who laughed at my request to have short court lower level tournaments. I was told that you were so opposed to the new rules that you lobbied against holding CBVA tournaments on the short court at those board meetings. Perhaps you could enlighten this posting board with information about how your perspective has changed, or, perhaps you could let us know a different story.

    I have never run a volleyball tournament, yet, I have played in probably 100+ in my life. I’ve played here, there, and everywhere. I’ve lost more than I’ve won and those that I won were rare. At every CBVA tournament where I’ve had a chance to talk with the tournament director, the TD hinted, mentioned, complained, or whined about how they were out here “doing it for the sport” because there was/is no money in running the events. When I’ve had the chance to chat with a tournament director at non-CBVA events in California and out of California, I don’t hear the whine. And it is not for lack of listening. You and the other CBVA TDs I have spoken with over the years wear your frustration and pain on your sleeves. I have found it disrespectful to the participants, to the fans, and to the sport. And here you are, PRESIDENT of the CBVA and you are giving the whole “woe-is-me” and “hey-feel-sorry-for-me” bit because “I’m one of the few chosen people who has been doing this for free and for the sport all these years.”

    Do you see leaders of other organizations out there voicing their frustrations on a public forum? Do you see business leaders doing this? Does the manager of Jamba Juice complain to the customers about the lack of supply-chain for smoothie juice? Does the Platoon commander complain publicly about troops under his command?

    What you, the CBVA, J Saikley, and the City of Manhattan Beach have done to this sport with this one rules change for event has done more to harm the sport than any of us could even imagine. You have less than 24 hours to do the right thing before the first serve in the main draw.

  • Chris Brown says:

    Sean, My sole purpose in commenting on this story was to try and put the facts out there for people who are interested. You are absolutely correct that I was a strong supporter of the traditional game, but that battle was fought years ago. All you need to do is look at the current CBVA schedule to realize that 95% of our events are run on the short court-and it’s been that way for years. That is why I was as surprised as anyone when I got wind of the City’s decision. If you or anyone else, would like to continue this discussion in person, I would love to hear from you. My contact info is listed on our website at CBVA.com. We are always looking for constructive feedback and input. And if you really want to get involved and make the organization better, get involved. Run for a player rep position or become a Tournament Director. As I mentioned earlier, it’s always easy to sit on the outside and point out perceived problems; much tougher to do the hard work and be part of the solution. That’s not whining-that’s fact.

  • Chris: Thanks for keeping Manhattan alive & look forward to professional volleyball returning in 2011. I think the volleyball community will get some time to look at themselves, see how much more they have in common than differences. Its the base of fans and interest that will let this sport rise again at the national pro level and that is fed by the CBVA and anything else “volleyball”….We up here in Nor. Cal will watch Manhattan but know it is a “one-week prep event” during a turbulent time….I’ve organized and setup enough volleyball to know that it usually resorts to “a few people” to get things going and few see it through their eyes. As the old saying goes: “Either make the rules or follow the rules”….well, a bit harsh, but if you’re getting it done up there, as it seems you are, you deserve a pat on the back….Good luck!

  • Kevin says:

    Did you watch the games boring as hell , copared to the short court games , The game becomes a serving game without much defense at all! Lots of aces WOW STUPID FOCKS .Im playing from as far back as any active player and this is rediculous ! The AVP was ran like crap .There is 20 college graduates playn in all the Qualifiers! That would annouce and run and ref and set up the courts, for free or travel expenses.also This sport was stated as a party sport it should be ran thaty way! They should cancel all the events that dont allow the sales of acohol . We should have free drinks for the qualifier women who hang out in the party zone on staduim court and act crazy and cheer ! That way all the money and player and fans would stay / and return,

  • Nicholas Ruiz says:

    All I know is is that J. Saikley and the city of M.B built it and people came… I personally enjoyed myself at this event,…is’nt that the bottom line that people enjoyed it? whether this was a good or bad thing that this event actually happened time will tell,..and let it be judged,..absolutely,.. all I know is that the MBO was represented this weekend,and would like to thank all of the principals involved who made this great event happen,….Happy Birthday MBO!

  • dhughes609 says:

    Thank you Manhatten Beach for hosting an event that can create the passion I see in this blog. I’m a 55 year old living in Oregon that had a few good VB years when I was 25. Nostagia brings memorie, but my main concern is to inspire my teenage daughters to love the sport. Playing with Mom and Dad and old school rules doesn’t frustrate the teenagers, similar to them being able to cross platform Mac and PC. As much as I hate rule changes, I realize that without redefining the sport every year, we risk losing it. SoCal must lead the way, and creating any controversy will benefit all VB


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