Walsh-Jennings stands her ground


Standing up for what you believe in is truly admirable, even if it means having to let people down as a result. It’s hard for all of us to do sometimes, but it’s especially hard when you have thousands of people counting on your presence and performance.

The decorated Olympian, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, also known by the nickname “6 Feet of Sunshine,” boycotted the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) volleyball tournament held in Chicago Sept. 1 to Sept. 4. Her reason: AVP decided to “test” out two new rules during the championship tournament without consulting the players before they made the decision. The first rule to be tested would, as described by CBS, “give the server another service attempt if their ball hits the net and goes inbounds.” This is very similar to the serving rule in tennis when the ball hits the net. The second rule to be tested would not allow a team to win the match unless it is serving.

When word was released that Walsh-Jennings was not going to compete, people went ballistic. After all, she has just collected another medal in Rio for her amazing performance in beach volleyball. Also, many fans had already bought meet and greet tickets so they could meet Walsh-Jennings at the tournament in Chicago. When they found out Walsh-Jennings wasn’t going to compete, they were angry and disappointed in her. 

However, Walsh-Jennings took to social media to explain her actions and put a rest to any negative rumors about her absence.

She claimed that it was not the actual rule changes that upset her; it was the fact that AVP did not consult the players before making the decision about the rule changes. The decorated Olympian stated, “In my opinion, this is utterly disrespectful of each and every athlete who virtually pays to work for the sport we all love and is utterly disrespectful to the game itself.”

She went on to explain that the “disconnect” between the executive powers of the AVP and the players is the reason she boycotted the event. 

This was an extremely bold move. What I admire most about her choice is that she didn’t just put her head down and do nothing. It would’ve been easier to be a “people pleaser” and agree to compete with the rule changes. I’m sure she feels guilty about having to let so many people down. But she remained strong in her decision which is extremely admirable.

Since reading about her choice to boycott, I’ve been thinking and reflecting on my own choices. I used to care so much about making everybody happy and doing things even if I didn’t agree with them. But in the last couple of years, I find myself saying no to people more often. I’ve learned that saying no is not a selfish action if it’s something you just don’t feel right about. It’s your life. Do what makes YOU happy and stand up for your values and what you believe in, even if it means having to say no to people.

The good news is that Walsh-Jennings has received many supportive comments about her decision. I can only hope that her absence from the famous volleyball tournament will bring attention to the gap and lack of communication between AVP ownership and its players. I’m a fan of her choice and her “6 feet of character.”

Rachel Astleford is a nutrition and dietetics major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].