Water Polo Isn't a Joke

I can't believe this is even something I have to defend.

Aug 3, 2012 at 6:00pm | Leave a comment

Because I am a freelance writer/editor, I typically work from home. However, I occasionally go into an office for meetings or fine: when I’m feeling lonely and want someone to talk to (aka: laugh at my jokes).

I’ve been going into the same office on and off for over a year and a half, so I have a few friends there, people who say hi to me, chat with me, ask me to go to lunch…*

The incident I am about to share with you, however, did not happen with any of those people. Rather, it happened with a guy I’m pretty sure I’ve never spoken to, who likely doesn’t know my name.**

Let me set the scene:

It’s Tuesday around noon. The U.S. Men’s Water Polo team is playing Romania and the match is showing on the flat screen on the wall across from my desk. I’m pretty much not doing any work and, instead, staring at the players’ amazingly hot bodies watching the television. The U.S. is off to a slow start, trailing 5-3 midway through the second quarter. I am tense. A small crowd has gathered around the television in the office. And then the U.S. goalkeeper blocks a shot with his head and we all let out a gasp of excitement.

“This sport’s a joke,” I hear someone say a few feet away from me.

Since I don’t know him, I let it go, confused as to why he would say that, especially considering the excitement several of us are showing about the game. But then he says it again.

“It’s a complete joke.”

My friends, you may be surprised to learn what happens next since I know you all think of me as a calm ray of sunshine without big opinions or a tendency to rile people up. Kind of like the Mother Teresa of the Internet. But you’re going to have to put that idea aside for just one second. Because you can insult the sport of water polo once without repercussion, but keep doin’ it and I’ll assume you’re asking for a Daisy-smackdown. 

“What are you even TALKING about?” I exclaim, my voice tense with exasperation. “How can you call water polo a joke?”

“Because it is,” he shrugs, as though his simple declarative statement proves everything. 

“You know they have to tread water THE ENTIRE TIME, right?” I ask, effectively yelling at him from 15 feet away so that the whole office can hear our exchange.

“I grew up by the water,” he sighs. “That doesn’t intimidate me.”

“Wow," I say. “I’d LOVE to get you in a pool with those guys and see what happens.”

“Whatever,” he retorts. “I played sports.”

It basically takes all of my will power at this point not to yell “DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS IS NOT A SPORT,” but I somehow manage to refrain and instead tell him that considering his job is to sit in front of a desk all day, he probably shouldn’t comment.

“You sit in front of a desk all day, too,” he spits back.

“Right. BUT I AM NOT MOCKING OLYMPIANS WHO ARE OUT THERE COMPETING AND GIVING IT THEIR ALL FOR MY COUNTRY.”

What happened next between me and my “co-worker” is irrelevant (I may have called him condescending and inappropriate and he may have done the faux “I’m sorry you feel that way” apology and then I may have said “I concur” while sitting at my desk hands shaking and heart pounding).

No, the only thing that matters is that the U.S. cranked up their defense, scored four unanswered goals, and eventually beat Romania 10-8. (And that I’m probably going to work from home for the duration of the Olympic games.)

In 2011, Bleacher Report named water polo “the toughest sport in the world.” It requires speed, strength and endurance, plus the ability to fight off violent opponents who are often kicking and grabbing under the water, all while players propelling themselves out of the water to catch and throw the ball. So unless you consider a bunch of guys more or less trying to drown each other for 32 minutes something to laugh at, I’m pretty sure water polo isn’t a joke.

image

Anyone can do this as long as you "lived by the water."

Plus, when you consider the fact that in many countries water polo is a popular sport where pros can earn six figures or more, but that almost no one in America even remembers it exists until it appears in the Olympics every four years, you’ve got to give these guys credits for dedicating their lives to it and sacrificing more than any of us can imagine. In fact, the U.S. team all decided to forego lucrative European contracts this year so that they could train for seven months together for the Olympic games.

Mostly, I am just over people who think it’s OK to mock Olympic sports. Listen, I’m not saying we can’t joke around about it once in a while, of course. No one commented on the Italian archers’ beer (wine?) guts more than I. But hey: They won and put me in my place. What I am saying is that these athletes are the best of the best. They’ve trained hard to get to this point and they deserve our respect. (Everyone except those quitter badminton players, of course.) And if you can’t muster up a little respect for your country when everyone else is clearly excited about it, then do us all a favor and practice gold medaling in my favorite sport: “Keeping Your Mouth Shut.”

In the meantime, you can root for the Men’s U.S. Water Polo on their quest for gold tomorrow when they face off against Serbia. (They beat Great Britain 13-7 on Thursday.) Do it for our country. Do it for the sport. And do it for the smokin’ hot bodies on those guys. (Objectification: It’s what’s for breakfast!)

image

I'll take one of each, please!

 Want to keep up with all of the trouble I get myself into? Follow @daisy on Twitter.

*No one actually asks me to go to lunch, but it just sounded nice to say it.

**As if.