Beach volleyball was once considered a pastime for bored surfers. But California being California, pro beach volleyball leagues were eventually established there, and cable sports networks followed. Pinup bikini hottie Gabriella Reese garnered fans with her, um, uniform, and soon thereafter the sport attracted beer company sponsors -- which in the United States, of course, means instant legitimacy. At this weekend's Gulf Coast Volleyball Association Labor Day Classic in Galveston, both real fans and folks looking for an excuse to check out some hard, sweaty bodies can watch the sport up close. The tournament, which features two-player matches, is one of the biggest of its kind. There will be several levels of play, from levels B up to AA -- where the serious players hang (and where you'll want to plant your beach chair for the championship rounds beginning around 4 p.m.).
If there are any spots left in the B category, you and a friend can enter as a team prior to 9 a.m.; pre-register at www.gcva.net. Play begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, August 31. Stewart Beach Pavilion, entrance at University Avenue and Seawall Boulevard in Galveston. For information, call 832-928-4120 or visit www.gcva.net. $7 parking. -- Greg Barr
The football season brings fierce competition, fancy athletic footwork and elaborate on-field celebrations -- and that's just from the bands at halftime. The 19th Labor Day Classic pits the Prairie View A&M Panthers against the Texas Southern Tigers. At the battle between the two historically black universities, fans get two rivalries. First, there's the gridiron fight for the coveted Durley-Nicks Trophy. Then there's the impassioned competitive showmanship of the marching bands -- Texas Southern's Ocean of Soul and Prairie View's Marching Storm. You'd best grab an extra-large everything at the beginning, because you won't want to leave your seat. 7 p.m. Saturday, August 30. Reliant Stadium, One Reliant Park. For tickets, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. $32 to $72. -- Eric Norvell