Bruce Wigo, USWP Executive Director
In 1931, the legendary New York Times reporter, Bob Kieran, chronicled a bitter argument over water polo in a “Sports of the Times” column entitled “Below Mean Low Water.” “On one side,” Kieran began, “water polo was charged with being a rather rough sport and on the other side water polo was credited with being a rather rough sport.”
Well, that was nearly seventy years ago and the argument is still raging, which goes to prove the old adage that the more things change the more they remain the same.
Fast forward to 1998, the Goodwill Games, New York City and an article on water polo written by New York Newsday reporter Mike Dobie, entitled “Real Action Underneath The Water.”
“See the huffing and puffing and flailing of arms as the players churn from end to end?” wrote Dobie. “That’s the tip. The action below the surface of those roiling waters is the iceberg. We’re not talking water ballet here. This is combat and, God, how they love it.”
“We have more possibility, especially the center-forwards, to do more fight under the water….That’s better for us,” Russian forward Revaz Tchomakihidze said.
“Grabbing suits, a few kicks and punches and knees,” U.S. driver Brad Schumacher said. Then he smiled. “What ends up happening is it’s reciprocal.”
“It gets very physical,” Italy’s Alberto Ghibellini said. “Obviously you have to defend yourself.”