“Wooooooo! That’s game…” Top Gun made the sport famous. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, Tom Cruise went shirtless and Maverick, Goose and Iceman all played in a game of sweaty, bare-chested beach volleyball that became a memorable moment in Hollywood history.
A few decades later, the sport lives on. And with the Tokyo Olympics happening now, there’s a perfect chance to revel in it.
Back when the pandemic first began and traditional sports were sidelined, sportsbooks offered action on niche sports (events just like beach volleyball). Wagers and interest in table tennis reached record levels.
The handle for UFC 249 held in May 2020 set a record for MMA that was comparable to an entire weekend of NBA games.
In some ways. the pandemic gave sports outside the mainstream a chance to shine. And now that life has returned to something more normal, many people might overlook them.
But not everyone.
In Colorado, players bet $8.8 million on table tennis in March and $11.8 million in January. Table tennis’ March handle beat MMA betting handle that month. And the January numbers eclipsed both college bowl game betting and NHL wagers as well.
Here in Pennsylvania, the sportsbooks still have odds posted on all kinds of niche sports like table tennis, darts, cycling, snooker and cricket.
In a new feature, we’ll celebrate some of those overlooked sports. “Crossing the Mainstream” will highlight some of the lesser-known options at PA’s sportsbooks and how to bet on them.
Toykyo Olympics women’s beach volleyball betting
With Olympic betting, some people might play it straight. They’ll conduct the research, trust the process and make a wager that lines up with all the data.
Others might simply look for the red, white and blue and suddenly have even more reasons to root hard for the USA.
In beach volleyball, that starts with Alix Klineman and April Ross. Ross has already won two Olympic medals, capturing a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2016. Klineman, a 6-foot, 5-inch, Stanford alum will be appearing in her first Olympics. The duo is third in women’s beach volleyball futures at FanDuel Sportsbook with a price of +600.
Tokyo Olympics women’s beach volleyball gold medal odds
- Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Santos Lisboa (Brazil): +380
- Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes (Canada): +650
- Alix Klineman and April Ross (USA): +600
- Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar (Australia): +650
- Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil (USA): +850
- Full odds listed on app
Toykyo Olympics men’s beach volleyball betting
In men’s beach volleyball, the United States has two teams, but much longer odds.
Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser are +4000 to win the event at FanDuel, while Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb are +5000. The Norwegian team of Anders Mol and Christian Sorum is the favorite at +170.
The American teams also have the distinction of being pretty old. Lucena and Dalhausser are both 41 and Gibb, 44, will be the oldest competitor in the history of Olympic beach volleyball.
Gibb is appearing in his fourth Olympics, but is aiming for his first medal. He’s also a two-time cancer survivor. Dalhausser won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2020. All four athletes are likely competing in their last Olympics.
So, there’s plenty to root for beyond basic patriotism.
FanDuel promos offering extra Olympic cash
FanDuel has a number of promos that can provide some bonus cash. New users who sign up and bet $10 on the Olympics can get $100 in site credit for any FanDuel Sportsbook bet. Those who wager $20 can get $200.
Existing users who make at least $100 in Olympic wagers before July 26 will receive a $1 bonus in site credit for each gold medal the U.S. wins.
Right now, the over/under for the USA’s gold medals is set at 44.5. It will likely only take a few smart wagers to end up ahead.
With the Olympics approaching, there’s a golden opportunity to look outside the mainstream. And check out all the niche sports. Maybe even the one that Top Gun made famous.
Lead photo by Petros Giannakouris/AP