On the sand in Manhattan Beach on Sunday, Olympic gold medal winners April Ross and Alix Klineman were finally able to play in front of a loud, sold-out crowd with a few watching from the pier. It was a striking contrast from the empty stadium where they played on a manmade beach volleyball court at Shiokaze Park in Tokyo. Shiokaze Park, where the Olympic beach volleyball competition took place, was devastatingly hot compared with the cool overcast Southern California skies.
In 2020, I covered the NBA Finals and the World Series; this summer it was the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Without spectators, every arena seemed like a huge television studio. A huge part of sports is hearing the roar of the crowd and the energy that fans bring to the game. With the return of the AVP Sunday, that feeling returned, and it finally felt normal again.