Stanford grad Walsh Jennings not playing in Chicago


The AVP Chicago Open, a beach volleyball event, opened Thursday without Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings, who decided to boycott it, along with husband Casey Jennings, to protest the process of changing rules.

"I am boycotting because of the fact that the AVP ownership decided to change the rules of the game without honestly or meaningfully discussing it with the Player Committee or the athletes on tour," Walsh Jennings wrote on her Facebook page. "It's not about the rule changes themselves, it's about the lack of proper process and athlete input."

Kerri Walsh Jennings/FIVB
Walsh Jennings knew the changes were coming and contacted the AVP regarding her concerns over the lack of athlete input before departing for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

The AVP press release, sent out near the end of June, stated, "Before implementing the rule changes, AVP spoke with the player's committee as well as a group of core officials ensuring that the changes were in the best interest of both the athletes as well as fans of the sport of beach volleyball."

The AVP may have "spoke" with the player's committee but Walsh Jennings, clearly one of beach volleyball's most recognizable figure, didn't feel the committee was allowed any meaningful input.

"Just to be crystal clear, I am not at war with the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour," Walsh Jennings wrote. "There was plenty of time for things to be addressed properly."

Walsh Jennings included a copy of the e-mail she said she sent on July 23, writing, in part, "I'm at the point where I can't support such changes especially considering the lack of player involvement in the decision. I feel like it's a step in the wrong direction in many ways and the lack of a democratic process just puts it over the top for me . . . I want the younger athletes to know that it's a terrible precedent to allow the powers that be to arbitrarily change our game, yet I don't want to start a fight."

Flo Volleyball's Megan Kaplon wrote, as an introduction to the changes, "The decision-makers of the volleyball world seem to enjoy nothing more than tweaking the rules of the game." (Here's the full article).

Further reading: AVPBeach Facebook page

AVP Chicago Open notes: Stanford grad Kristin Richards Hildebrand will be competing at the event. She will be teamed with Brittany Hochevar, a former setter at Long Beach State and former beach volleyball teammate of Cardinal grad Logan Tom.

Further reading: Shake up in Chicago

— Rick Eymer/Palo Alto Online Sports

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