JUST IN CASE anybody failed to pick up on that sun-fun-and-buns vibe from the last two Olympics, beach volleyball now features a 12-babe dance team. This is the kind of progress that will make this sport the Games' first pay-per-view event, especially if the babes continue to shake as excitedly as they have in Athens, where the term side-out finally has meaning.

Now in its third Games, beach volleyball was always intended as a sensory smorgasbord, of course, but it now sometimes seems as if the actual playing of the game (and the attendant possibility of boredom) is permitted only out of necessity. The addition of dancers may not be an unfortunate development, oglement-wise, but it's not particularly needed. Last Saturday, in first-round action, 2000 gold medalist Natalie Cook of Australia was gutting it out with a torn rotator cuff, diving and spiking with enough abandon to make you wince in shared pain, even with the balm of the choreography of the baked dozen. It's a pretty good game, even without a dance team, is what we're saying.

Not that there's anything wrong with a dance team. --Richard Hoffer

COLOR PHOTOMAX ROSSI/REUTERS THE BOTTOM LINE The baked dozen (left) cast a visible shadow over the superb play of such athletes as the U.S.'s Holly McPeak.
COLOR PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY AL TIELEMANS     [see caption above] 
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)