Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on November 19th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 37 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 37


If water polo was easy, they'd call it football


My wife and I didn’t go to the same high school. Even if we had, we probably never would have met each other. You see, back in high school, my wife and I existed in two very different worlds on campus. My world was ruled by the culture of high school football, Friday night lights, large crowds, helmet to helmet hitting, and pats on the butt. I don’t want to mislead you; I wasn’t actually hitting anyone with my helmet. In reality, I was on the sidelines, using my helmet as a place to sit. But regardless of how much time (or lack of time) I actually spent on the field during a game (which in all honesty was almost zero) I was still immersed in playing the part of a football player jock. Some people on campus sometimes referred to those people as “total jerks.” 

My wife didn’t spend any of her Friday nights at the local football stadium watching kids get head injuries. She had no interest in that scene. She and her friends spent their time on the pool deck playing water polo and swimming. Her group of aquatic pals was oftentimes one of the groups that referred to high school football players as total jerks. This is consistent with historical data that swimmers and water polo players are no fans of football players. Ironically, football players generally don’t even know if their high school has a water polo team, let alone a pool facility. This would be exhibit No. 1 as to why swimmers hate football players.

The aquatics world, a world of tan, in-shape bodies in Speedos, is where my wife spent four years of high school. The pool deck was a safe place for her and her swimmer friends to practice and listen to ridiculous amounts of reggae music. She enjoyed the challenge of trying to beat her fastest swim-time.

Unlike myself, who was a bench warmer of an athlete, my wife was actually really talented and thus ended up a collegiate athlete. She landed at Cal Poly for swimming, an actual Division 1 school, and she was on the team. You didn’t see her in the 1996 Olympics because she gave it all up to hang out with an ex-football player who used the social skills he learned as a high school jock to quickly get her pregnant. Yup, that was me.

Through love (or lust), my wife and I were able to put our different high school backgrounds behind us and somehow be together. The swimmer and the jock were bonded to be together forever. Fast forward 16 years, and my wife and I have our own kid in high school now. The big question for us was: What sport would our son choose? Would he be a jerk football player like his old man, or don a Speedo and traipse around a pool deck half naked like his mom?

Being a non-violent kid, he chose to ignore his father’s football heritage and joined the water polo/swim crowd. His mom couldn’t have been prouder. I couldn’t have been more confused. I didn’t understand the rules of water polo. At first I thought it was sort of like soccer on water, then I decided it was more like hockey on water. After three seasons of watching water polo I decided I just didn’t understand the game. The referees blow the whistle a lot, and I sit in the stands bewildered. No matter how many games I attend, I still haven’t seen a touchdown. How did I end up here?

The answer is simple: I married a swimmer, and she bred a little swimmer baby. Duh. Because I don’t comprehend the game of water polo, I don’t really have an opinion about it. I just sort of roll with the punches, sitting on the pool deck immensely confused by the game. My wife, on the other hand, she has a lot of opinions about water polo. She came from a pool deck background, and she knows the game well. This means she has opinions about the way the game is played, about the coaching, about the referees, about the facilities, about everything. At the games, I sit next to my wife as she deconstructs our son’s entire water polo program. The pool has too much chlorine, the coach isn’t teaching fundamentals, the nacho cheese from the snack shack isn’t hot enough. She isn’t impressed with how things are run at my son’s school. As opposing teams continue to score goal after goal, my wife gets angrier and angrier. She’s not a very happy water polo mom.

I’ve learned that my job at water polo games is to sit quietly in the stands and “handle” my wife as we watch the games. She wants to yell at the coach, she wants to send an email to the athletic director, she wants to go see the superintendent of schools and complain about the pool width being two inches shorter than regulation. She also wants to yell at other parents who are cheering at the wrong times. “We don’t need our parents screaming about fouls right now. Don’t these parents know anything about water polo?”

“Honey, if they’re like me, they probably don’t know a damn thing about water polo.”

“Well, they’re dumb. We need to foul more.”

The good news about all of this water polo fanaticism coming from water polo mom numero uno, my wife, is that my son isn’t affected by any of it. He doesn’t concern himself with all of the idiosyncrasies of water polo. He doesn’t care whether the game is played right or wrong or if his team wins. Because even though he chose his mom’s sport, he chose to play the sport just like his father, and that’s done by sitting on the bench. So while my wife goes crazy over the poor water polo referee, my son just hangs out on the bench. He and I stare at the clock and count the seconds until the whole thing is over.


Right now Rob is at a water polo game watching his son’s team lose 23 to 3. His wife has lost her voice and soon … her mind. If you like Rob’s storytelling check out his new novel Cadet Blues on Amazon.com.

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