As most people know, the City of Manhattan beach has made the extremely controversial decision of adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol at this year’s 6-Man tournament. Having grown up in the South Bay, the 6-Man has always been a guaranteed great time at the beach. 50,000 people gather to watch really good volleyball at the birthplace of the sport- the catch is many people enjoy it so much because they are riding a nice buzz. Passive volleyball fans turn into dedicated onlookers when they’re watching a team full of sexy nurses on an 80 degree day in Southern California, all while sipping on an in ice cold beer. For better or worse (most would say worse), the city has cracked down this year and declared the event a “riot waiting to happen”, claiming the tourney has lost its soul as a community sporting event and instead turned into a raging “frat party”. To put it in perspective, I’ve attended the event for 15 years straight and have seen only 1 small fistfight. Last year, there were 8 arrests out of 60,000 people attending.
That is probably below the average weekend total in Hermosa or Manhattan Beach. It’s a complicated issue and it probably was time for some re-examination, as the event is growing like crazy every year and the alcohol was getting more and more visible. However, to throw the whole event’s vibe under the bus and punish loyal attendees with an iron grip is probably a bit of an overreaction. There were dozens of compromises possible that would’ve retained the soul of the tourney, keeping the focus on the sport while letting spectators enjoy themselves. Wristbands, gating, a small cover charge and many more practices could have been employed to keep control. We’ll see how aggressive law enforcement is on regulating the new policy- as a lifelong resident, I can see both sides of the coin. We just hope the City can as well, and only punish those that deserve to be punished.