I see some of you decided to give us a chance, and I thank you.
The reason for this post is not to go off and say water polo is the toughest sport (well it is), but I think this article from Eric Neel from ESPN years ago is a great read for those who do not realize how tough the sport is. During the slow sports months a few years back, ESPN's Page 2 decided to rank the toughest sports with water polo coming in at No. 11 and the top sport being boxing and somehow tennis, basketball, gymnastics, soccer and skiing being ranked above water polo.
My argument is that in sports you actually have a solid surface to use to use when you rest or even to shoot the ball, and a rest usually means treading water and playing defense. I know that is something NBA players can relate to.
Here is the beginning of Neel's article:
We're supposed to believe football (3), basketball (4), and tennis (7) are harder than water polo? Please.
Endurance? A water polo player swims 1.5 miles a game, with another player dragging and climbing all over him, pushing his head under the water and saying unkind things about his mamma when he comes up for air.
Strength? These guys egg-beater their legs for 32 minutes in nine feet of water, muscle each other for position and rise up into the air like they're jumping off a trampoline to shoot and block shots.
Agility? They work back-cuts and spin-moves like Kobe and Marvin Harrison. Nerve? They take 50-mph shots in the face and breathe in lungs-full of water. And they keep coming back for more.
Boxing is the No. 1 sport in our rankings, and boxing is brutal. But you know what water polo is? It's boxing plus sprinting plus basketball plus wrestling. With no floor beneath your feet.
Show me the boxer who levitates and shoots a ball with a defender in his face while he's bobbing and weaving. Until then, show me your love for water polo and the amazing athletes who play it.
The rest of the article talks about Neel's experience in the pool with national team players from a few years back and it is a great read.