As NBC cameras aired the scene live during the network’s afternoon telecast on Wednesday, an American water polo player grabbed the bathing suit of a Spanish opponent, accidentally pulling it down far enough to reveal her nipple.
It was a quick shot and could have been missed by people other than eagle-eyed observers or Janet Jackson fans. There was a ripple over the nipple on Twitter, a sort of “did I just see what I thought I saw?” conversation that’s much easier to have on social media. As recently as Athens in 2004, you could have seen this and been left to wonder by yourself. Now you can go on Twitter and post, “I think I just saw a nipple!” and have it be confirmed by dozens of others. One user wrote, “I didn’t know water polo was so erotic.”
Water polo looks tough enough from above the water. Diving into the depths of the pool reveals a chaotic scene of ferocity. Kicking, grabbing, pulling, punching, struggling — it’s all legal underwater. Players thrive on it. As NBC showed on Wednesday, it might be most dangerous to camera operators.