The Brutality of Water Polo

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The boys’ water polo team has a laid back practice, but things can get quite aggressive during games. | Photo by Bryan Schiavone ’13

Leah Bitsky  ’12
Staff Writer

Although the boys' water polo team is just practicing here, things can get quite aggressive during games. | Photo by Bryan Schiavone '13

Above the surface of a Staples water polo game, everyone seems to be following the rules, but under the surface is where things get ugly.

“Water polo is a truly brutal sport,” Avery Watterworth ’11 said.

Watterworth explained that there are three types of fouls that can be called in water polo. There are technical founls, minor foul which are considered non-violent, and major fouls which involve things like pushing, pulling, and sinking another player. These are considered brutal fouls with malicious intent.

Although grabbing and pushing are illegal, that doesn’t stop the players from doing it.

“Referees can only call what they see, so fouls under water go unnoticed,” Watterworth explained.

He added that the common underwater fouls are grabbing of wrists, holding another player’s arm under water, pushing, kicking, twisting arms, and pulling legs.

“It got dangerous at Staples was when we played Canterbury at home and many kids got scratched up,” Dan Haroun ’12 said.

One of Haroun’s teammates even had his wrist broken during the game against Canterbury.

Watterworth shared an experience where he was defending a player during overtime, who became very frantic and brought his elbow around which ended up hitting him in the jaw. Watterworth said he was very angry when the referee did not call the foul, and was forced to just play harder defense on him.

“Only teams that are unskilled will resort to violence to help them win games,” Watterworth said.

Even though it may not always be intentional, scratching and pushing still does occur.

“If a person expects to play a game where they won’t leave with a lot of scratches, I don’t recommend Water Polo,” Chiara Pucci ’12 said.

She explained that with everyone swimming furiously to one ball, a person is bound to get scratched and bumped.

However, Haroun adds that you should not be scared of the sport. “I’d say that water polo is an aggressive sport, but not a dangerous one,” Haroun said.

Joosje Grevers ’12 agrees with Haroun, “Sometimes it’s pretty intense, but it’s nothing that’s out of control,” she says.

Grevers, along with Haroun believe that things get pretty aggressive in the pool, but they also pointed out this aggressiveness can be typical of any other sport as well.

“In every sport there is risk of injury and it’s about knowing what is going on, and how to avoid it,” Grevers said.

She also explained that there is always the risk of getting pulled under water, but it just means you have to play harder than the person guarding you.

To the players, water polo is still a fun sport, despite the possible injuries that can occur.

“It’s all just part of the game,” Watterworth said.