Vincent Cheung

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Racist volleyball


I tried out for nine-man volleyball today. I am now a member of the Toronto Warriors! Oddly enough that matches my snowboard :)

So 9-man is like a complete bastardization of the sport of volleyball. The court is slightly bigger, the net is slightly lower, there are no rotations, and there are 9 people on the court! 5 hitters, 1 setter, and 3 passers. It's not uncommon to see 4-man blocks! You can do all these weird things too, like throwing the ball (looks like you're dunking it), and lifting/scooping the ball. It just feels so wrong doing those things. The weirdest rule is that if you hit the ball into the net, it doesn't count as a hit, and even weirder is that you can purposely throw the ball into the net, and then set it or something. It's bizarre. The game is also played on concrete rather than in a gym. That is not pleasant on the knees when jumping, or skin if you hit the ground...

The whole 9-man thing gets even more bizarre. The big tournament we play in, the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament (the official website is down and there was no Wikipedia entry, so I made my own!) has built-in racism. 2/3 of the players on the court have to be 100% Chinese, and the rest have to be of Asian descent. For those of you slow in math, that's 6 Chinese dudes, and 3 other Asians on the court. That bodes well for me, as I should get more play time because of that :). The girl's team plays regular 6's (not sure if any of the rules are different), but the same racist rule applies.

I wanted to try 9-man b/c frankly, I've tried all the other variations of volleyball (men's, co-ed, reverse 6's, beach in various #s). I also know a bunch of people that play 9-man and they're all really good, so it's good ball. Lastly, it would mean that I would get coached again after a 8 year hiatus.

If you want to see 9-man in action, here's a video of a game between two really good teams. The video is great b/c it cuts out all the crap and it's just serve and play, and then serve and play, no time-outs, no arguing calls, no fetching balls, etc. The funny thing is that I've played with and against a couple of players in this video (Jon So, JP, Jeff Chung). My team is not nearly as good as these teams. Everyone on the team can play, but we don't have any superstars that will just murder the ball or hit over the blocks. It's understandable as the club was just formed this year and the team was built from scratch. The good thing is that since it's new and most people haven't played 9-man before, there won't be a big hazing thing (if any), since almost everyone's a rookie :)

The other interesting story of the day was just trying to get to the try-out...

Subway detour map: Bay is closed and you have to walk across the platform to change trains at Museum


I needed to get to Bloor and Yonge to meet up with Donny to get picked-up by James that who was gonna drive us b/c the gym was bloody far: Scarborough. I figured that I'd take the subway East bound for 3 stops to get from Spadina to Bloor-Yonge, but then at the St. George station, I'm told that the subway is messed and the East bound train is going to start heading South bound... I was like screw this, and I got out at St. George, and just ran the 2 subway stations to Yonge. I later found out that I could've got off at Museum and then crossed the platform to go back "North", which would've taken me "East". It's messed up. Today was the first day of all this crap. It's b/c they've shut down the Bay station to do construction of the tunnel.

The history of the subway is pretty cool. The two main lines used to be intertwined, which is why in some of the stations there are signs that can flip and that say "Finch", "Kipling", "Union", "Downsview", and "Kennedy" so you could figure out which train was which. There also used to be a "Lower" and "Upper" Bay station where the trains would cross between the lines. It was weird and it only lasted 6 months :p. Since then, they closed off the Lower Bay station and now it's used mostly in movies and commercials. Some people snuck into the station a few years ago and took pictures. Since the construction is on the tunnel around Bay station, the trains are being routed through Lower Bay, so you can actually see the secret station now! The subway doesn't stop, but it goes through it. I need to go check it out! Anyone wanna come?

22 Comments:

Bob said...

Cool. Wish I was there to check that out. There's a Lower Queen as well

John said...

i saw the ghost of lower bay station! it looks exactly like bay station, but empty and dirtier. kinda reminds me of dirty newyork subway stations, actually.

jojo said...

funny.. i was searching for the 07 NY Mini and came across your blog. thought i'd put in my 2 cents on your racist volleyball. haha, actually, i am a longtime 9-man circuit player. we are hosting the tournament in SF this year! yes, i agree that the sport can be racist... but what you have missed is the origins, history and tradition behind it. it might help you cope with the whole racist thing a bit better.. =) check it out http://www.torontoflyingtigers.com/node/95 .

Vince said...

I'm actually familiar with the origins, history, and tradition of the NACIVT. I don't have a problem with the racism part of it and understand why it's the case. I just find it amusing and like to call it racist volleyball for jokes.

jojo said...

ha! for whatever reason... searching 9-man on the web takes me to your page. you must get a lot of hits on this blog. anyway, hope you will make it out to our coast then for the big one. www.nacivt-sf.com

Vince said...

Thanks for the link, I've been looking for that!

I'll be down there with my team, just look for the Toronto Warriors :)

ebeezy said...

Another team from Toronto? Where the hell do you guys get all these chinese volleyball players?!? =)

hobbes said...

Just to let you know, that I expanded your original wikipedia article on NACIVT. It now includes the history, origins, past champions and rules of nine man volleyball

Vince said...

Great! The article looks more like a real wiki entry now :)

blah999 said...

Are you guys playing in the Mini? If so, good luck, and see you there. I'll be playing with one of the DC teams.

Vince said...

No, we're not playing in the NY Mini this year since the trip to SF is so expensive. We're playing in the Canada Day Tournament this weekend. It's held yearly in Toronto and it's just all the Toronto teams, with maybe Montreal joining.

Good luck in the Mini and I'll see you in San Francisco!

Dude said...

I am Chinese and play in various USAV volleyball tournaments and when I first discovered NACIVT volleyball I was quite excited. But then I found out that the court is *slightly* bigger, the net is lower, and there's a total of 9 guys on the court. Sorry, but no thanks and here's why:

1. Reinforces negative stereotypes about Asians. Per their rules, everyone must be of Asian descent. Hmmm...lower net, more people on the court. Yea...Asians aren't athletic enough to play regular volleyball.

2. When are carries legal? Sorry but that's just stupid. Period.

3. Playing outside. It's called "knees" and people need them when they get older. Plus could you imagine spraining your ankle on hard concrete? No thanks.

4. Racist rules. Again, back to the whole Asian descent thing for all players on the team.

Vince said...

The NACIVT is just as much a cultural event as a sporting event. There is quite a bit of history to 9-man volleyball and the rules make more sense when you take into account the history of the sport and some of the other rules (when you allow throws, being able to carry the ball becomes quite useful, but for the most part, the game is still "proper" volleyball). I think you have to play 9-man to really appreciate it and I don't think you should be discounting it based on just reading a few things about it. It is actually a much faster paced game than regular 6's (with 5 hitters, you run a tandem and other plays in every possession) and definitely a lot of athleticism is required to play.

Read this article for the history of the tournament.

Anonymous said...

Dude you got some growing up to do...If its such a bastadization, why did you join the team??? and why are you interested in playing? Did you know that such olympic players as Mike Lambert, Kevin Wong, Scott Wong, and some legends of chinese olympic volleyball has stepped on the 9-man court...its a variation of the game. I'm sure you play grass, beach, they are all variations of the sport....adaptations that we made, perhaps because of our physical lmitations back then. I have been playing for over 10 years now...and am proud of the extended family that i have made all over the country. I understand the grandfather rules are a little hard to bear at first but trust me, its for the integrity of the game...sometimes it gets so competitive that teams will hire ringers....i think the rule is to try to keep it pure..although, everyone knows who is breaking the rules....So give it a try kid, you may love the game, as much as i did when i was fresh and green and straight out of High School....See you on the courts in NYC....i used to and hope to still play right side for the NYC Strangers....

Peace
Steve Ling

Vince said...

Relax, it's called sarcasm. I very much enjoy being on my 9-man team and playing this version of volleyball. I understand that the current rules have deep historical roots and I have nothing but respect for the sport and the players that play it. I do however, find myself having a good laugh when I go back indoors and I intentionally scoop or lift a ball just so that I can see the shock on peoples' faces and then I stare back at them and try to claim that it's legal :)

dinky said...

Just responding to "Dude"'s comments.

If you haven't given 9-man a try, then don't judge it. I for one have been playing 9 man for years, and I find 9-man to be helpful for training. 9-man is like "overtraining" so that when you move back to 6's, the indoor game becomes slow motion. You learn so much from 9man because of the triple and qaudruple block you receive all the time. You learn to tool, and to adjust, but also to run plays on every ball. That is something you just don't get from indoors, especially if you're a developing player. The pace of the game is so fast, it develops reaction time so even though you're allowed "scoops", if you're athletic, you'll eventually learn to pass properly, but the added benefit of reaction time is learned from 9 man. And forget the "racism" angle, because it's a cultural game and it gives volleyball (which is traditionally seen as a game for sissies), a "badass edge" by being played outdoors on concrete in the ghettos of chinatown. 9 man to indoor 6's is like And1 streetball to indoor basketball. I love it!

And, did you know that the "quick" attack was developed by a Japanese guy who played 9 man and brought it to the Japanese National team to compete against the powerhouses of vball? Other indoor rules influenced by 9 man include the "libero" (short defensive specialist who only plays backrow - sound familiar?), rally point, and "scoops or chow-funs" (new rule allows double contact on first serve receive to promote more rallies - just not to the extreme like 9 man, but again influenced by it). SO you see, 9 man has it's benefits. Stop being a hater.

C L said...

This is "dude".

Hey...to each his own. I don't have a problem with the game and I gave my opinions on it and I respect yours as well. There are just things I do not particularly agree with and specifically the race rules.

I understand that it's a "Chinese" tradition but as with any sport or social organization, things change at least slightly to adjust to the times. And I'm not sure if the rules changed or not. I tried searching for them but was unsuccessful. At least let one non-Chinese person be on the court so at least when a black or white person says "hey...can I play?", you're not stuck with "Sorry...per rules, you have to Chinese." It's very in-the-face if you know what I mean.

Also, I never joined a team. I was asked to and I did get to see a match and I did read all the rules in detail and I decided against joining. It's a personal choice and I'd thought I would share my opinions to why. I've expressed my opinions in person to my friends about it that's on the team and they accept my opinions - but not without putting up a fight.

I'm actually going to be playing in a Chinese 6-man tournament. Rules are similar except it's 6 man, regular sized court and no "throws". It's what I was looking for but I think the premise of the 9-man was something I just didn't find enjoyable.

Frederick said...

"Racist" is not a good way to say it. More, a "culturally centered" iteration of the sport of volleyball. In the the time in the present that 9vs9 man volleyball tournaments are played and organized by and for Chinese communities, in countries where Chinese and Asians are the visible minority, it is not racist, but more a cultural centric sporting activity. The origins of the players on the court are maintained just to maintain the integrity of the cultural communities and groups organizing the events. However, similar rules in a league such as in an Asian or in a Chinese country instilled to exclude the participation of immigrants and/or visible minorities of the land, would constitute racism. I play nine man volleyball and have been playing for 16 years and enjoy it. I look forward to seeing you on the court in 9vs9 man volleyball tournaments. I did not read all the comments, but should there be sufficient comments after my own, I will make my experience and opinion available to all others by posting my email. So far I have no website designed to expand my experience.

Anonymous said...

I play in the Tournament too. I'm also working in the web marketing field and find it hilarious that your blog post is ranked #1 for the term "9man volleyball". As someone who has a deep understanding of Search Engine optimization, this makes it doubly funny.

Way to make us all look bad. Now when we all explain 9man to coworkers and friends and tell them to check it out online. The first thing they will see in Google results is "Racist Volleyball".

You still playing for the toronto warriors? I want to shake your hand one day...

Keep up the good work. hahaha...
; )

Vince said...

Don't feel bad, I interned at Google for a summer, so I kinda know how these things work ;)

Yup, I'm still playing on the Toronto Warriors and will be in LA this year, so maybe I'll see you at the tournament!

A guy on our team made this video of our team from last year's tournament in New York:
http://www.vimeo.com/4742197

chubthebub18 said...

As a player of the sport for awhile I personally do not approve of the title. I think it's very inappropriate to have the first searched title come up as racist volleyball as it is a turnoff to new players to the sport. Sure it may be a joke to you, but you reduce the number of new players as well. I think that you need to change the title or something because there is no need to put a negative title to a sport you play yourself.

another dude said...

4 years after the last comment... I just watched the 9-Man episode of America Reframed on PBS:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2365480664/

I thought it was really interesting. As a non-Asian who likes recreational volleyball but has no interest in playing 9-Man, here's my opinion: 9-Man looks like a really cool game. However, it is racist by definition, and there is no way around that. Culturally derived and enforced racism is still racism. I understand the much more serious ramifications of historical anti-Chinese racism and Chinese Exclusion Laws. However, I don't think you can use that historical context to justify continued racism today in this sport. I applaud the author of this blog for his objectivity, honesty, and sense of humor.

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