There's fun, mess-around beach volleyball, and then there's hardcore, no-nonsense beach volleyball. You can easily find both kinds on the Alki Beach sand courts. Middle-schoolers hitting the ball at one another randomly, teenagers playing volleyball-related drinking games, and grandmas getting their 10 minutes of exercise can all be seen on the far sides of the courts. But once you cross over to the courts nearest the bathrooms, you had better slick on the sunscreen and hike up your Spandex. That's where the real volleyball goes down, the play-by-the-rules-or-else volleyball. These men and women are glistening, rock-hard gods as they spike, serve, and dig. You really have to know what you're doing to play with them, and you'll quickly find out you probably don't—from their subtle smirks to the blatant 97-mph ball to the face. I encourage it as a spectator sport, though; there's nothing like it, for multiple reasons I'm sure you'll understand.—Britt Thorson 1702 Alki Ave. S.W., alkivolleyballassociation.com.