Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Curious what I never considered

In the car this morning I heard a preview on NPR for this evening's All Things Considered which would air a profile on the US women's water polo team. How interesting, I thought. I don't know anything about the team. I should remember to go to the website and listen to it.
Of course by this evening I had forgotten all about it. Luckily I happened to be in the car when the segment was running. And luckily there is this really long light in my town where I sat through two cycles which enabled me to hear the whole thing.
And I was really surprised by a few things. No, not that some players have such strong legs and good egg beater kicks (it's described in the segment for the uninitiated) that they can propel themselves out of the water to about their hips. Though that did impress me greatly.
I was surprised that women's water polo has only been in the Olympics since 2000. That fact I learned today. But what the whole segment got me thinking about was that this team--the US national team--is pretty successful winning a silver and bronze in the past two games and is currently favored for the gold in Beijing and that we've never heard of them. US women's national teams get a lot of attention--relatively speaking--in Olympic years. Why hasn't the water polo team been grouped in with softball and soccer and basketball?
And the other thing that surprised me was that these women have not used sex to sell their sport. With other Olympic female athletes capitalizing on their bodies, these women--whose bodies are in incredible shape (see above note about verticality out of the water)--have refrained. At least that is what I think they are doing. You have to believe that if the women of curling have come up with the idea to pose naked to promote their sport, it is not a foreign concept to any female athlete these days.
Team members are hoping these Olympics will shine some light on their sport. I hope they're right because it's a fascinating sport. Not sure how it will play on television but in person it's very exciting.
And I hope that the attention they get will be for their accomplishments and that they will not fall prey to the lure of instant attention that comes when female athletes take some or all of their clothes off.

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