Olympic Preview: Court Sports

The Court sports are another set of sports that sees teams of athletes compete together to win a gold medal. The one difference between these sports and the field sports is pretty simple these sports are played on courts instead of fields. There are many more similarities though as these are also a group of sports with some sense of popularity in the Olympics. Popularity in the Olympics is something that is there for almost every sport if you find the right people. True popularity in the Olympics are those sports where the majority of people watch even if they are not extreme fans of the sport. There are only a handful of these sports in the Olympics and the Court sports contain one of the most popular sports in the Summer Olympics. Another sport in this category can be considered a popular sport as well although it is a growing sport instead of the established sport that goes along with it. The final sport in this category is one of the many sports where the people who like it really like it but it is not one of the top sports in the Olympics. This category of sports spans the gamut of popularity from one of the top to one of the many Olympic sports. This change in popularity has been a large reason as to why major networks lose money while broadcasting the Olympics. It is something that concerns the IOC but is also a disappointment for many of these sports. In the Olympics popularity does not mean that these sports are not great. Although not all of these sports are the most popular they are all played at the highest level making them great to watch at London 2012.

 

Basketball:

 

 

 

 

First Year: 1936

Most Medals: USA, 24 (19 Gold)

 

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the Olympic Program especially in North America and many Eastern European countries. This is largely thanks to the fact that it is yet another sport that allows the top professional athletes in the world compete. This includes athletes from the NBA who come to the Olympics in their offseason to compete for their countries. The majority of these athletes will represent the USA but a new trend has seen a shift in the makeup of most teams. Of course the USA will still be the only team with a full NBA roster, even if some have yet to play in the NBA, making them the favorites as with every year. The change will be that other teams from Europe will see more NBA players than ever as many European teams will have their share of NBA players. As the NBA becomes more international there are more and more players from other countries making their names in the biggest basketball league in the world. With more players coming into the Olympics a lot of countries are paying more attention and the popularity continues to grow. It is one of the most popular tournament sin the Olympics and is a simple game to follow. The rules are the same around the world and are not too different from the rules in the NBA. At the Olympics quarters will be 10 minutes long as opposed to 12 minutes in the NBA which is essentially only difference. Points are scored by throwing the ball through the 10 foot hoop with every basket worth 2-points, 3 points from behind the three-point line, and 1 point from the free throw line. The tournament is much the same as many team tournaments in the Olympics as 12 teams are split into two groups of six with the top four teams from each group moving on. The basketball tournament is one of the most popular sports, at least for the men, in the Olympics and many people will be watching this year. The growing popularity of basketball around the world will be a big reason to why this sport will be a big one in London 2012.

 

Who to Watch:

Team USA (men & women)

– The USA has been the main power in every Olympic basketball tournament for years as the top NBA and WNBA players playing for their country in the Olympics and with the “Dream Team” moniker to live up to all eyes will be on both USA teams

 

Canadian Content:

Canadian Women’s Team

– The Canadians only qualified one team for the tournament as the women will be the only hope for Basketball Canada but they will be in tough against some very good teams ranked above their #11 spot

 

Beach Volleyball:

 

 

 

 

First Year: 1996

Most Medals: Brazil, 9 (2 Gold)

 

Beach Volleyball is a growing sport as it made its debut in the 1996 Olympics and continues to grow in popularity through every Olympic appearance. The sport is essentially the same as indoor volleyball except is more fast paced with fewer athletes playing. It has quickly become one of the top spectator sports in the Olympics, and it has done this for more than just the dresscode. Beach Volleyball is the leader in a new wave of sports entering the Olympics as it represents a new attitude in sports. Unlike the older sports that are simply about the sport, and there is nothing wrong with that, beach volleyball is a party. There is music playing and an atmosphere that is unlike many sports in the Olympics. This makes this version of volleyball an exciting one to watch as it has become a pure spectator sport in the Olympics. The rules are much of the same as the indoor volleyball except it is on a much smaller court with only two players. Teams are made of two players who attempt to score by grounding the ball on the opponent’s side of the net or forcing their opponents to hit the ball out-of-bounds. All teams have a total of three hits to get the ball over the net while not hitting the ball two consecutive times. Games are played in a best of three sets format with sets being determined by the first team to 21 points with at least a two point lead. The third and final set, if required, is eon by the first team to 15 points with a two point needed to win. Teams switch side after ever 7 points, or 5 in the final set, and player alternate serves. It is a wildly entertaining sport as the party atmosphere is just a part of the appeal. The ability of the athletes and the willingness to dive or lay out to get the ball on the sand makes the drama that much bigger. It is not the most popular of all the sports in the Summer Olympics but it is making a run at becoming one of the most popular sports as it continues to draw big crowds. At London 2012 they will continue to draw big crowds and with a backdrop like the Horse Guard’s Parade it will become one of the iconic images of the 2012 Olympics.

 

Who to Watch:

Kerri Walsh and Misty Mae-Treanor (USA)

– They have been the most successful Beach Volleyball tandem in the Olympics as they have ruled the women’s side of the sport winning the last two Olympic Games Gold Medals and looking for a third in London

 

Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti (Brazil)

– They will go into London as the defending World Champions and will be looking to add to the success of the Brazilians in the Olympics as they rep;resent a country that was seemingly built for the sport

 

Todd Rogers and Philip Dalhausser (USA)

– They were not expected to do as well as they did in 2008 but will now enter the 2012 Olympics as the defending Olympic champions and will look to fend off the Brazilians to repeat their Olympic success

 

Volleyball:

 

 

 

 

First Year: 1964

Most Medals: Soviet Union, 12 (7 Gold)

 

The Volleyball competition may not be the most popular of all sports but it is still a very exciting sport played at the highest level. The most striking quality of the indoor volleyball tournament is the amount of strategy and team play required to win. For being a simple sport that can be picked up easily by many people the high level in the Olympics is amazing. Teams need to play together on the court as they look to work the ball up a larger court to the other side of the net. They also must implement strategy in the game as they look to get the ball to the other side of the net in a place where the opponents can’t get it. This requires careful planning in order to get around defences and blocks at the net. The strategy and athleticism make indoor volleyball a great game to watch as teams go for gold. Each team is made up of six players who attempt to ground the ball on the other side of the net. They can also score by forcing the other team to hit the ball out-of-bounds. Teams have three hits to put the ball over the net and no player can hit the ball two consecutive times. Players are also allowed to block a shot at the net which can be a great way to score points. Whichever team scores the point serves on the next point with the same player serving until a point is lost. All other players line up in two rows of three players, including the server, that rotate positions every serve. Every match is a best of five format with the first team to win 3 sets winning the match. In the Olympics there are 12 teams divided into two groups of six with the top 4 teams moving on to the quarter-finals. Volleyball is essentially a basic sport played at the highest level in the Olympics like many other sports. It may not have the party attitude and environment of beach volleyball but the strategy and skill make volleyball and exciting sport to watch in the Olympics. It may not be the most popular sports in the court sports category but they still have a strong and loyal following from those countries who live and breathe the sport.

 

Who to Watch:

Brazilian Team (men and women)

– They have won many medals in past Olympics including the 2008 Women’s Gold medal and the 2008 Men’s silver medal and they are two of the top ranked teams coming in to the Olympics as they both look for Gold in London

 

USA Women’s Team

– They have been ranked as the best team in the world earlier in the year and will be looking to bring their successful yer to the Olympics to win the Olympic Gold medal against some very tough competition

 

Russian Men’s Team

– The Russian team is the defending world cup champions as they were able to be the Brazilian team in 2011 and will go into the Olympics as a favorite to win an Olympic gold as they look to repeat their success

 

Italian Women’s Team

– They are the reigning World Champions as they go in against Brazil as the last two champions in the Olympics and the World Cup and will be hoping to take on the Brazilians to win Gold in London

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