Thursday, November 20, 2014

#9- Reputations

When it comes to my personal reputation amongst a group of people a specific situation always comes to my mind. I was the captain of my high school's water polo team my junior and senior year and developed quite the reputation amongst the opposing coaches and eventually the referees. Many people do not know to much about water polo but it is surprisingly an extremely physical game and a lot of things can happen underwater out of the view of referees and coaches and spectators. I played football , swam, and played water polo my freshman through senior year of high school so I was pretty active. Because of football we lifted weights almost every day, so that gave me a huge strength advantage over those who never really lifted just swam and played water polo. Over the first three and a half years I played being aggressive and overpowering people lead to me being very successful and to our team being consistently ranked in the top 15 in the state.

However, this reputation of being an aggressive , sometimes "nasty", player actually really hurt me the end of our season. There were only so many water polo refs and between that and playing against the same teams every year, they began to catch on and watch me close and closer resulting in many more fouls against me. Once they were aware of the way I played, and the way the guys on my team around me tried to play in a similar style, it really ended up hurting us as a team. I would constantly get more and more fouls called against me which would have never been called in the past, and even plays that were 50-50 I would no longer get the benefit of doubt and would be whistled.

My senior year we ended up making the state semi-finals but because of all the scrutiny on myself and they way our team played, I became out of rhythm and couldn't perform nearly to the level that i was in the past. The things I would do were not meant to injure people or to blatantly cheat but rather just try and overpower and hold back players slightly more than the rules called for, but that is very much a part of the game itself. But once i was no longer able to do that it really took a toll and threw me off completely.  The last couple of games of the season, after talking with the coaches, I decided to give up on my physicality and "cashed in" you could say, and became more of an outside shooter instead of an inside presence. This did help immensely through out the state tournament because teams we played against were not expecting this at all. But in doing this I was nowhere near as effective as i had been the first three and a half years and I still wonder if I hadn't have pushed the limits so much, we could have won state that year without all those extra eyes on me an my teammates.


  1. This sentence seems to me the heart of the matter:

    "The things I would do were not meant to injure people or to blatantly cheat but rather just try and overpower and hold back players slightly more than the rules called for, but that is very much a part of the game itself."

    I can understand other coaches not liking this at all, but if what you said is completely true then I don't get why the refs would start calling more fouls on you. Put a different way, does the refereeing miss a lot all the time, or is it pretty accurate most of the time? If the referring is accurate, there is something wrong with your story. If it is off the mark, that is more troubling to me.

    Watching how college basketball gets played, couches clearly try to influence the refs. But the refs know this in advance and I believe prepare for it. The home court does matter (probably more than in water polo) but the refs really are not so readily swayed by things, unless they have themselves made an enormous blunder.

    So in your response, you might talk more about the refereeing and how you regarded that. Was it fair or not? You made it seem unfair during your senior year. But were you perhaps bigger and stronger then? If so, things you did as a freshman might not have been a foul, but when doing the same thing as a senior it might have been. I'd like for you to shed some light on this.

  2. I would say that in water polo it is much harder to see fouls since the majority of the things are happening under the water which is very difficult to see/judge what is going on. Usually if nothing is said or complained about they let the game go on as is. There is a very small nit community of refs probably around 30 or so different ones who are always changing groups of whom they work with so aggressive play is usually talked about and they try to put an end to it as soon as they are able.

    I was definitely much stronger my senior year than my freshman year and I would say the gap in strength between me and some of the other players who never lifted increased immensely. It could be the case that if i did the things I did freshman year, but I don't think thats the case as much. It got to the point where the guy I was guarding could do the equivalent of "flopping" in basketball in the water and I would get a penalty for it which was not necessarily called on anyone else.