colonias ralph lauren hombre Physicality of Water Polo Is Receiving Attention at the Olympics
LONDON With several news media outlets broadcasting or Web streaming every event at the Olympics, it is almost inevitable that water polo will have its share of R rated moments.
At these Games, the most notable transition from tenacious to titillating (and quickly back again) came in the women’s preliminary round match between the United States and Spain last Wednesday. During a particularly spirited passage of play, NBC cut to an underwater camera, hoping to show players thrashing for possession. Instead, the network gave viewers a brief bit of risqué theater as the American Kami Craig pulled at her opponent’s swimsuit and briefly bared a Spanish player’s breast for all to see.
Undeterred, the Spanish player simply grabbed back before continuing on. While the flashing became a hot topic on the Internet and on social media, veterans of the sport were hardly surprised. That sort of thing happens all the time under the water during matches, in the area that one player called a jungle.
“When I first started playing, we just wore regular suits, and I would wear two of them,” said Heather Petri, a veteran on the United States team. “At one point, they gave us the suits that swimmers use, but they’re so thin that the moment someone grabbed them, they would just go rip!”
Asked for her most memorable moment of underwater warfare, Petri said she played about 10 minutes of a game topless at the 2000 Olympics, when an opponent shredded her suit as they grappled for the ball but play continued. Left with little choice, she just kept swimming until the next timeout, when she hopped out of the pool and shimmied into a spare.
Petri laughed as she told the story, and Villa shrugged when the tale was recalled to her, saying essentially that it is just a part of the game. “The person that invents a suit that’s not going to move is going to make a lot of water polo players happy,
” she said.
The women’s players were quick to point out that the underwater fighting is hardly limited to their games. While the men’s teams do not have the same sort of family friendly television issues, the women said, that does not mean the players do not have their fair share of dirty play.
Terry Schroeder, the coach of the United States men’s team, which lost to Croatia, 8 2, in a quarterfinal Wednesday night, shook his head as he thought back to his own playing days. “When I was playing, there was a Hungarian guy and his method of guarding was to reach between my legs and grab me and pull me down,” Schroeder said. “He’d be smiling and have his other hand up in the air, but for me it was a battle just to survive.”
As a center on the American team, Ryan Bailey is often involved in battles near the opponent’s goal. He and the American captain, Tony Azevedo, both said they would be interested in seeing less tussling in the pool because it would promote a freer flowing, more entertaining game.
“Sometimes when it becomes wrestling and fighting, no one wants to watch that,” Bailey said.
Not surprisingly, many of the women’s players feel the same way both because of what a cleaner game might do for the sport over all, as well as the impact it would have on reducing instances of water polo wardrobe malfunctions.
“Everyone likes underwater cameras because you get to see what’s going on, but as players we hate them,” Villa said. “Because you’re being grabbed, you’re being exposed underwater, and we don’t want that on TV.”