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Olympics Water polo: beyond the helmets

Nicolae Diaconu of Romania scores a penalty goal

Nicolae Diaconu of Romania scores a penalty goal against Montenegro during their men's water polo preliminary round match at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (August 4, 2012) Credit: AP

Now that I've gotten beyond the dorky Amish bonnets, I'm grooving on water polo.

Most Olympic sports I could do very poorly; water polo I simply could not do.

Put me on a balance beam and I would fall off. From the high diving board I could not even manage a convincing cannonball. My lack of strength, speed, coordination and endurance makes me a track-and-field nonstarter. On the soccer field, I could do little more than stand there in my shorts and jersey.

But here's the thing — I could stand there. Not so in water polo. If I had to tread water while throwing or catching a ball, I would sink and die. That these guys are, essentially, playing a field sport without the reassuring presence of a field is just mind-bowing to me. I could sooner play air polo.

Other things I like about water polo: the swim suits. After a week of watching male swimmers in knee pants while female beach volleyball players cavort in bikinis, it's nice to see a little masculine thigh. Also a little body hair. One shaved swimmer is an attractive novelty, a whole pool full of them (let alone a whole team of them) puts me in mind of cyborgs — or aliens.

So they wear little head bonnets that tie at the bottom. I can live with that.

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