Hundreds of beach volleyball fans and players will descend upon the quiet city of Delray Beach Saturday and Sunday for the 11th-annual Bud Light Beach Volleyball Tournament.
Instead of the usual Speedo-donning King's Point crowd, expect to see muscular, twentysomething guys wearing fashionable surf-style shorts and cool shades and young, bikini-clad athletic gals -- all positioning their beach towels, chairs, and coolers filled with refreshing sports drinks and nutrition bars around the score of volleyball courts in preparation for the tournament. Instead of the usual elevator music blaring out of someone's cheap old radio, expect a DJ with a professional sound system to be playing some trendy, energetic dance, rock, and reggae beats. And instead of little kids running around in their birthday suits and playing in the sand, expect to see big kids bumping, setting, spiking like mad, and eating sand.
Throughout the day, dozens of teams compete against one another simultaneously, offering the spectator a variety of games to choose from. And there are plenty of bloopers and comedies of errors to enjoy, many beautiful team plays to appreciate, and a good measure of serious, mean spikes to fear.
If you do wish to play, the tournament features a variety of two-person and four-person men's and women's divisions, ranging from B to AA, and offers the chance to win $2000 in cash purses and consolation prizes from Bud Light, Winn-Dixie, Venus Swimwear, and WearEver Chairs.
According to the organizers, the whole idea of the tournament is to offer recreational players the opportunity to participate in a professionally managed event, which means adhering to game rules, having referees at every game, and abiding by the schedule.
But don't let all of this official stuff intimidate you. This is a fun event, and the atmosphere is generally easy-going and relaxed. Since the fees are quite reasonable -- $50 for a two-person team and $70 for a four-person team -- most players are there to enjoy themselves, not to throw McEnroe-style fits at the judges.
For the first time in its history, the event will take place across from the oceanfront sports bar and grill Boston's on the Beach and the Delray Beach Marriott. About 200 men's, women's, and coed teams are estimated to participate. And hey, a 1-in-200 chance at a $2000 prize certainly beats playing the lottery.