by Danny Craig
Leading into this weekend’s national championships at Chaminade University in Honolulu, it is difficult to fathom water polo as a sport that’s history is long and storied. However, with origins dating back as far as the 1800’s, that is clearly the case.
To be exact, it was 1860 when the sport was first played in the lakes and waterways of England. Possessing similarities to rugby, animal intestines were used for balls and anchored boats served as goals on the shallow courts where the game was played. According to information distributed by the Western Water Polo Association, the early stages of the game were as crude as they were barbaric. With no set regulations to prohibit kicking, punching or dunking, players were often seriously if not fatally injured.
A Hungarian influence on the game created a rule disallowing players from letting the ball touch the water when passing. This aspect called for better ball handling which some attribute as an influence on modern play.
The implementation of pool as the playing ground evolved with polo’s growing popularity.