Change in Uniform for Beach Volleyball

Beach volleyball has had the most sexist approach to uniforms of any Olympic sport I am aware of. Men have worn t-shirts and shorts, while women were required to wear bikinis. There were even regulations as to the maximum amount of the body that the women’s uniforms could cover.

Men Volleyball Uniform

For the upcoming Olympics, there will be changes in the requirements for the women uniforms. The push from some of the more conservative countries that have athletes who wish to compete, but would no because of the dress code. The new Olympic rules, that have been in place in the FIVB Fédération Internationale de Volleyball ( IFVB) for a number of years will  allow more flexibility in uniforms at the Olympics.

Under new rules adopted by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), players are free to wear shorts and sleeved tops. The governing body said the move was made out of respect for the cultural beliefs of some of the dozens of countries still in contention to qualify for the games.

“Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible,” FIVB spokesman Richard Baker told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The rule, which will apply to the Olympics, has already been in effect at five Continental Cup qualifying competitions involving 142 nations.

The traditional uniforms looked like this:

Bikini Uniform

The new option look more like this:

Optional Women's Uniform

It is very rare that conservatives add very much positive to any sort of rights or freedoms. In most cases they are much more restrictive than freeing. In they case, they wield a double edged sword. In the conservative countries, the women are prevented from competing because of the uniform restrictions. Obviously, this restricts the freedom of these women. On the other side, women who have been competing at the Olympics have been forced to wear revealing clothing; again restricting their freedom.

It is in a case like this that the concept of freedom gets complicated. Some women will now have more flexibility in what they wear, while others are still restricted. Ever since Beach volleyball hit the world scene in the 1996 Olympics, the sexism in the uniforms was obvious. It is unfortunate that it took the Olympic Committee this long to make these changes, however, it seems that it is a sexist situation for some of the women no matter which way it goes.

Certainly, it was never an issue for the men’s teams as they have always been able to cover themselves.  I guess I do support the rule changes while not agreeing with the reasons.

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