Behind the Scenes at the Olympics

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Behind the Scenes at the Olympics

(***, M/F, Intense, cons paddling)

What was really behind the success of the U.S. volleyball team at the Sydney Olympics? (Approximately 1,445 words. Originally published 2003-12.)

This is a true story. At least it's true to the best of my knowledge, and though it sounds incredible, there's plausibility to it.

It all started the other night while my girlfriend and I were watching the Olympic volleyball semifinal: the U.S. versus Russia. It was women's VB and I wasn't too interested until I saw the uniforms. Or lack thereof, I should say. Take tall, athletic young women and put in them in the tightest, skimpiest shorts you can imagine and make them jump up and down and flop on their belly on the floor without any regard for modesty and you've got a terrific sport.

Anyway, Sherry and I were laughing at the Russian coach: the "Howling Bear" they call him. At every timeout he just screamed bloody murder at his players, sometimes getting right the face of one of the girls and sputtering with rage. It was abusive. The crowd was booing him, but he kept right at it, spouting rabid Russian (which sounds harsh to begin with ;-), and the girls just stood there with stony expressions and looked like they wished they were in purgatory instead of an Olympic gym floor.

I made a comment to Sherry, something along the lines of "I wonder how the American coach coaches." She got an interesting expression on her face.

"I'll ask Eleanor," she said. Eleanor was a graduate student at Stanford, and apparently she knew one of the women volleyballers.

Sherry was being very mysterious, so I prodded, and finally she came clean.

"There's been rumors about the U.S. team," she said. "Eleanor and I were talking about it just the other day. Apparently they've improved dramatically going into the Olympics. Some are saying it's drugs, others a new training regime, others some new coaching technique. Anyway, it's mysterious and no one really knows. But I'll see if I can't get something out of Eleanor."

A week or two went by, and I'd forgotten all about it. Then one night Sherry showed up with an "I've got a secret" smile. It took some doing (including me making my special lasagna for supper), but I finally got her to confess her little tale.

First she swore me to secrecy. On pain of death I wasn't to tell a soul what she told me, as she'd promised not to tell anyone, and I make the same claim to you: don't reveal this story to anyone.

Apparently Sherry had talked to Eleanor, and Eleanor had met with her volleyball friend to get the scoop on the Olympics, and I guess the two had gone out on the town and even gotten a little smashed, because the VB player, who'd at first said nothing, finally began to loosen up and revealed the secret behind the team's unexpected Sydney success.

Turns out the coach had devised a little system of stick and carrot for the team, with the stick part being a literal one: namely a four by twelve wooden board which he applied to the seats of those darling shorts the American players wore.

I couldn't believe it. "Are you serious?" I asked Sherry. "He paddles them? With a frat paddle?"


"No way! That'd be abuse."

"Not if the girls agreed."

"No girl would agree to that!"

"If you wanted to win a gold medal, you might."

I stopped and thought about that one for a bit. I mean, I like sports and all, but those Olympic athletes take things a wee bit too seriously, if you ask me. Like that survey on the news the other day about how a majority of Olympic athletes said they'd be willing die early to win a gold medal. That's a bit nuts. And those athletes are used to pain: perhaps the pain of a paddling isn't any different than the pain of running when you're all gassed out, or gutting through daily training for years just for one chance to win.

"Okay, maybe," I conceded. "But is she sure?"

"Of course. She says the coach started it before the Olympics. Before every match he decides on the 'penalty' and alerts the girls. They go out knowing exactly what will happen if they fail."

"What's the penalty?"

"It varies. He apparently started out with a ten-swat paddling if they lost. Then, at the Olympics, he raised the stakes. Soon it was one swat for every point they lost a game by."

"Ouch," I said, trying to do some rapid arithmetic. "I can't remember the actual scores, but that seems like it could add up."

"Sure did. Eleanor says that they usually got ten or twenty swats after matches: even matches they won still earned them a few swats. Coach also added swats for major mistakes."

"Those shorts don't give much protection," I said thoughtfully. Apparently too thoughtfully, as I contrived to remember exactly what they looked like, and Sherry gave me a wake up kick to the shin.

"Actually," she said with a conspiratorial wink, "according to Eleanor's friend, they sometimes didn't get to wear shorts!"

My heart dropped as much as my jaw did. "You mean... no fucking way!"

Sherry frowned at my profanity, but she nodded. "Yup. Bare bottom. It doesn't really hurt much more, but it's more embarrassing, and for these hardened athletes, embarrassment is more persuasive than pain."

"No wonder they played so well."

"Yeah. They did good, too, until they faced teams that were in a different class."

"Did they get, uh, paddled for losing the final matches too?"

"Worst of all," Sherry said. "The coach really wanted a medal and promised the girls ten swats each for every game lost."

"Ouch," I said. "A match is the best out of five, so that's 30 swats!"

"Uh huh. And for the bronze medal match, he upped the stakes even higher: each game of ten swats would be administered a little differently. The first set was over the shorts. After her paddling, the girl had to strip completely naked and go stand facing the wall listening to the rest of the girls take their swats. Round two was on the bare butt. After the paddling the girl went into the shower. Round three was given with the girl dripping wet after her shower."

Sherry's voice dropped an octave. "That makes it sting more, you know. The wet skin and all."

"Oh?" I said, pretending I had no idea, though I suspect my flushed cheeks gave something away. I could remember my childhood bathtime spankings pretty clearly.

"Eleanor's friend said those 30 swats were the worst of all. She said the girls actually wanted more: they really felt they deserved nothing less. But the coach was fair: he only gave out what he promised before the match and nothing more. But the girls had fought hard and gotten no medal: they really felt lousy and they wanted the pain of the punishment as sort of a purifying gesture."

I was trying not to think of the images flashing through my mind: trim, voluptuous young women, naked, showering with scarlet asses, one by one bending over for wet bottom swats by a big burly coach with a huge frat paddle. Ooooch. It seemed deliciously painful. I could envision those big red asses compacting with the paddle's impact, the skin growing a deeper crimson with every whack.

I gulped and pulled the sofa blanket over me as though as I was cold. Really I just wanted some privacy so I could adjust a certain cramped portion of my anatomy. Sherry grinned and nestled closer.

"Are they going to do it again?" I asked. For some reason, my voice was nearly a whisper.


"The coaching technique: carrot and paddle. Are they going to continue with it?"

"Oh. I don't know. I guess I forgot to ask Eleanor. I suppose, though. I don't see why not. It's consensual -- the girls signed something agreeing to it. And it did seem to help them win."

"Would you agree to something like that?" I teased, sliding my hand down Sherry's back to fondle her ass. "We could set up rules, like if you're late for a date or get a parking ticket or go off your diet, I'd get out my old frat paddle and whack your little tush."

"Bless you for calling it 'little,'" she grinned, winking.

"I asked you a question, young lady," I said in mock sternness.

Sherry tried not to smile. "I'm a modern woman," she said. "I'd be game if your ass was on the same line."

Hmmm. Now that was a proposal worth thinking about!

The End

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