Every four years (or really, every two, because the winter edition counts too), we get the opportunity to see what are normally obscure sports pushed to the forefront of the athletic zeitgeist in what has become known as “The Olympics.”
That’s right – things like shooting an air rifle, field hockey, and even dumbass horse sports join the other things you’re actually familiar with (basketball, gymnastics, swimming), pitting the best athletes in the world against one another in ritual nationalistic combat.
With all of these great events happening so rarely, you may be asking yourself: “how do I, the average Joe, decide which of these events to care about every four years?” Lucky for you, I have an answer.
Think of all the reasons you watch the other sports: track stars run and jump and it is rad, because they do it better than anyone on the planet. BUT! Track and field sucks and is lame, because ultimately, it is “Run for Fun” when running, in fact, is not fun. Same for jumping, in and of itself.
However, these things can both be bearable when done as part of a larger effort – say, finishing a fast break with a dunk or doing the vault in gymnastics – which is where volleyball comes into play!
In terms of sheer size and athleticism, the closest comparison is basketball (the US Men’s Indoor team averages 6’6”, with five players listed at 6’8” or above and only two listed shorter than 6’4”) – the difference being that all the power and speed of that fast break dunk are on display on almost every play.
Just take a look at these highlights from last night’s USA win over top-seeded Brazil and tell me that’s not a bunch of big, strong men, running and jumping and showing off their power.
What’s more, the US Men are very, very good. Brazil is the favorite, and last night’s match was as good as you’ll see. Our guys, though, are the defending World Cup Champions, so they’ve come ready to play.
If you’ll still need convincing, get a load of one of their best players, Matt Anderson:
Anderson, at 6’9”, has been measured as being able to touch 12’2” when loading up for a spike, giving roughly a 40-inch vertical leap. By contrast, at the 2016 NBA draft combine, only six players charted a vertical of 40 inches or more – none of whom were drafted in the first round. That guy is a freak!
Plus, there are, like, a dozen of those guys on every team (well, kind of – Matt Anderson belongs to us because he is an AMERICAN and therefore THE BEST). Really, isn’t that what the Olympics are about? We tune in to watch our best freaks against everyone else’s – and Men’s indoor volleyball has the freakiest freaks of all the freaks.