Does FINA's TWPC Need Some Happy Feet?

Richard Hunkler, PhD
Water Polo Planet

Happy Feet

Have you seen the cartoon movie “Happy Feet”? What a treat because not only is it entertaining (especially if you like tap dancing) but it also presents a timely message. The protagonist is a penguin named, Mumbles, who is born into a flock of  singing penguins. For these penguins, singing, is best expressed by one of Barry White’s song titles, “You ‘re the First, the Last, My Everything!” Actually singing defines these penguins and if you are different and you can’t sing then you are less than nobody; you are the protagonist Mumbles. He can’t sing a lick and he wouldn’t know a tune if it came wrapped in fresh fish. He can’t sing, but, boy, can he tap dance. His tap dancing is not fancy-pancy like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly but down and funky like Gregory Hines or  Savion Glover. 

The fish for the flock are getting sparse and the penguin elders see Mumbles’ tap dancing as a bad omen, and he is ostracized from the flock. Mumbles has been told by several characters that the fish is being eaten up by a bunch of aliens, so he sets out with a band of Hispanic penguins to find the aliens. These penguins are almost more fun than the US winning the Premier League. Mumbles finds the aliens and the aliens are  in the famous words of the comic strip possum Pogo, “They are us!” . The humans place Mumbles in a zoo. When they find out that Mumbles can tap dance they set him free with a radio wave tracker attached to his back and he goes back to his flock . When the humans show up the entire flock starts to tap dance and to make a long story short as the ice cap is becoming in the Antarctica the humans cease fishing in the penguins habitat and the penguins are saved. The penguin, Mumbles, who dared to be different saved the day.

TWPC Give Your Rule Purposes to the Aliens - "They Are Us!"

Let me explain what is meant by the title of this article,” Does FINA’s TWPC Needs Some Happy Feet” . The FINA Technical Water Polo Committee needs one or more members that are different. We need members who believe in transparency and we need members who will place the “good of water polo” over all other goals including exclusive goals for their own nation’s team. Let’s throw away the cookie cutter that produces good old boys and girls for this committee because their same old, same old, is getting just plain old.

For example let us take a critical look at the new rules. It is almost a certainty the members of the TWPC had a set of purposes for the new rules, so why didn’t they share them with the world water polo community. The only reason I can see for exclusivity on the purposes of the new rules would be if the new rules did not meet their stated purposes then no one could fault the TWPC. But you have to remember when you use this type of sword to introduce new rules that this sword cuts two ways and they are 1) you can’t be faulted for the rules not meeting the purposes; and 2) you can’t be praised for the rules actually meeting the purposes either.

Purposes for new rules have to be given to the people in the world water polo community before the introduction of new rules. With no stated purposes many people who have to use the new rules have no idea why some of the rules were created in the first place. Thus, they are biased against some of the rules before they even have a chance to play a game with them. Instituting new rules or laws without general goals in the two houses of congress in the USA is called pork barreling and it helps one’s local constituents but it never helps all the constituents as a whole. The purposes of the new rules were probably given to members of LEN, so the new rules may have helped LEN but what about the rest of the  world water polo community?

Instructions to the Referees Are Poluting Our Game and Secrets Are Dooming It's Fate to Survive

It appears as if the TWPC provided the water polo community with some written interpretations for the new rules. This is a step forward but I also heard the TWPC is still giving referees verbal instructions on how to apply the rules. This to me is two steps backward. Verbal instructions to the referees on how to apply the rules smacks of duplicity on the TWPC ‘s part.. And as we all know duplicity can breed dissention in the ranks of the rank and file. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that if there are no players, coaches, or referees then there will be no need for a TWPC.

Another step backwards, in my opinion, is the TWPC’s lack of transparency. At least one step forward and one step backwards maintains the status quo, but one step forward and three steps backward means we are losing ground in our attempt to attract more people to our sport. If we keep this up then it will be like taking a fast train to oblivion. Moreover, if the world kept an endangered sports list then men’s water polo would probably be on it, especially in the USA. If TWPC doesn’t start involving more people in the world water polo community then water polo is going to be similar to a saber tooth tiger. It is a ferocious and beautiful thing that the sporting world will never get to see live again and  people will only be able to read about it in the history books.

Most people in the water polo world today are tired of secrets because it is very easy to cloak dishonesty and hypocrisy in the opaque vale of secrets. When any world entity is controlled by a handful of people who keep secrets then Nietzsche’s old  practical prophecy will eventual come into play, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  Is there any wonder as to why our sport is not getting more popular around the world. We need a first ever dose of openness from the TWPC. The water polo community besieges the TWPC to involve more people in there decision making. Is a limited democracy really such a hard pill to swallow when in this case it just might lead to fresh and “out of the box” thinking about the game we love so much.  

This Is the Finale - Where We Dance to the Tune of a New Open TWPC or the Water Polo Community!

Folks, this is why we need more people with “happy feet” on FINA’s TWPC. We need people that walk to a different 2 meter player, a two meter player who is not exempt from the rules that everyone else in the water has to follow and a 2 meter  player who is not two nanoseconds away from looking and acting like a Sumo wrestler. We need people who are not afraid to place the world water polo communities’ concerns ahead of those of LEN. We need people that will create rules that allows not just nations but also the game of water polo to win  the Olympics by becoming one of the most popular sports in the Olympics. We need people who will stand up for water polo and you will never hear another person say to them, “What’s the matter? The big cat LEN got your tongue?”

You say Doc, “You need to be somewhat more practical and quit spouting such grandiose ideas.” This can be answered with a story my Daddy told me. “Son if you want to be a great jumper then don’t set the height to the ceiling in this room as your goal but rather set the height to the stars as your goal. Because when you jump for the ceiling and miss, all you do is fall on your butt on the floor, but when you jump for the stars and miss you will probably fall on your feet.(happy feet?) on the moon.”  Finally. we need several Mumbles on the TWPC who will dare to be different and who will dare to place the game of water polo above everything but their family. Maybe, just maybe, then the TWPC might be able to save the sport of water polo?

Email Coach Hunkler at [email protected]