Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Water Polo: Soccer with Hands in the Water

The 2012 Olympics are in full swing by now.  And despite promises to show a variety of strange Olympic sports this time around, we have instead seen a lot of swimming, gymnastics, basketball and European Football.  We're not complaining mind you, but there are only so many complaints I can field about swimming before I start to agree with the kids' assessment that swimming is REALLY boring.  And don't get me started about whether the U.S. team has any members on it other than Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

But this morning, we were finally treated to some different sports.  First it was Equestrian, with some cousin who was 40th in line to the British throne winning some sort of medal.  That didn't really pique any one's interest, but then one of my favorite sports came on - water polo. According to FINA, the quick rules are as follows. Teams try to score against a goal keeper, there are a bunch of small, ordinary fouls and players can only use one hand on offense and defense.  Mostly the rules revolve around not mauling players, particularly the player in front of the goaltender - the hole set, I believe his or her name is.

The game we watched didn't even feature the United States, instead it was a classic grudge match between Hungary and Montenegro.  As I was about to confirm that Hungary is a world power in men's water polo (How exactly does that happen?), the boys start asking me questions about this new sport.

"Dad, this looks like Soccer with hands in the water!"  G exclaims as the players start the match swimming after the ball at half court (Is that what they call it?)

"It's not, dumbo!"  My 10 year old chimes in.  Please hold on while I send the 10 year old to his room.  Too bad its 7 in the morning otherwise it would be bed time.

OK, we're back.  I'm personally confused about the green line and the red line.  Not because I don't understand what the meter lines mean, but that they couldn't figure out how to make it un-wavy - isn't there some sort of Physics that they could have performed to make this better.

"I'm just glad that Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte aren't swimming.  Wait Dad, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte aren't swimming on this team, are they?"  I honestly think that my 8 year old would leave the room if Phelps' mug showed up on our screen against.

"Dad, actually it looks like Serbia is the Olympic favorite, not Hungary."  Whatever.  I did mention - since I read it - that Hungary hadn't lost in water polo since 2000.  They are like the Harlem Globetrotters in the water, except that this is real sports.  Interestingly enough, Serbia is also fighting this same Montenegro team for the Gold Medal.  So the favorites for the Gold Medal are Serbia, Hungary and Montenegro?  Seriously?  Three landlocked countries in Eastern Europe are the favorites for the Gold Medal?  The boys look at me like I have two heads as I ask these questions to myself under my breath.  Sorry.

Ultimately, Hungary lost to Montenegro 11-10.  One of the perennial powers in the sport is now 0-2 and in danger of not making it pas the First Round. Off with their heads!

For more information about water polo, I found this site about fan-friendly water polo to be especially helpful.

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