The Saint Francis Water Polo Team Is No Saint But Neither is the CWPA

Richard Hunkler, PhD.
Water Polo Planet
01/15/09

Do some of the topics on the WPP Message Board remind you of people chumming for sharks? Firstly, one person posts a critical remark about someone or some organization on the message board.  This is very similar to people chumming who throw bloodied meat in to shark infested waters. Then the sharks start circling and they begin to post more critical remarks. Pretty soon there is a frenzy of sharks posting all kinds of critical remarks – some remarks that have to do with the original post and some others that have nothing to do with the original post. Another similarity to chumming for sharks is that the most viscous sharks or posters are anonymous. Granted some of the sharks are tagged but the vast majority are not.

Unlike an anonymous poster I am going to discuss this topic under my own name and hopefully without a great amount of frenzy. Also there will be no one-up-men-ship involved in the discussion. I will not have to write something to try and top what someone else wrote about my post that was about his or her post that was about my other post that was about… ad infinitum. Hey last year didn’t you get reprimanded by the CWPA Commissioner and Board of Directors? How are you going to be fair? I didn’t say anything about being fair but I am going to try with an even hand to explain what I mean by the title of this article, “The Saint Francis Water Polo Team Is No Saint But Neither Is the CWPA”.

The million dollar question is “Was the Saint Francis Water Polo Team Guilty of Misconduct?” In my humble opinion the answer is a resounding, “Yes”. But you say there were mitigating circumstances. That may be true but in a civilized society misconduct for any reason is not acceptable period. Misconduct does harm not only to a person that did the misconduct but it also harms the Team, the School and worst of all the sport of water polo – the sport we all love.

Of what misconduct were they guilty? Many top teams that have played Saint Francis will tell you that when a game gets close the Saint Francis head hunters come out. This means that one or two players will try to use cheap shots to get the best players on the opposing team out of the game. The sad thing about this is it is not always the same one or two players that do this. I have also been told that when the rough housing begins you better be wearing a plastic jock protector or you might have to sing soprano for the next couple of weeks. I am told also both of these things occur when the Saint Francis players become tired.

Wait! There is a reason for all of this. Many of the players are from European countries and this is how they play water polo in Europe. I hate to tell you gang but you are not playing in Europe you are playing in the good old U S of A. When you are in Europe you play the way Europeans play but when you are in the USA you play the way the majority of the Americans play. Expecting to play in the USA the same way they played in Europe is tantamount to US players expecting to be able to play in Europe the same way they played when they played on their college or university teams. When in Rome … I wonder also if they were taught in Europe how to spit on referees and how not to leave the deck when they are red carded?

After saying all of this does it mean that you think the CWPA Commissioner and Board of Directors did the right thing? Wrong! They did the wrong thing and let me tell you why they did wrong. These antics by a few isolated Saint Francis players have been going on for several years and the CWPA Commissioner and Board of Directors have done absolutely nothing about it. Some people think I shouldn’t include the Commissioner because it is the Board of Directors that makes the decision. That is similar to a person saying that in a court of law the Prosecutor has nothing to do with the outcome of a case. (Only in the CWPA there is no comparable Attorney for the Defense.) Give me a break! Better still give Saint Francis a break.

As I said the CWPA Commissioner and Board of Directors knew what was going on and they did nada, zero, nothing! Do you know what that means especially in our sport? It is a green light to continue to do the things you are already doing. In our sport how many times have you heard a coach or parent say comments such as, “Take what the referee gives you”; “Take what the Team gives you”; and/or “Take what the player gives you”. And why not “Take what your League gives you” which in this case was silence. I don’t know about you but I have heard most of these comments countless times. What is the “advantage rule” all about if it is not about taking advantage of what you are given?

Thus, I think that the CWPA Commissioner and Board of Directors are as guilty of misconduct as the Saint Francis players are. (In my opinion the first time a player spits on a referee that player and team should have been placed on probation.) They had the perfect opportunity to do the right thing several years ago and even this year. Because all they had to do was follow the card system in our sport. In most cases and certainly cases in which the referee is not sure of the call, the referee will issue the player or coach a yellow card for misconduct before issuing the red card. The yellow card in this instance would have been to place the Saint Francis water polo program on probation for one year and if the probation was violated a two year suspension. Instead, as usual, the CWPA Commissioner and Board of Directors elected to throw out the baby with the dirty bath water. It is not too late to change the one year suspension to probation. REMEMBER IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO DO THE RIGHT THING!

A Story about Hope

There were two brothers, one was a pessimist and the other was an optimist. For Christmas the pessimist received a new pocket watch in his stocking and the optimist received horse manure in his stocking. When the pessimist pulled out the watch he immediately said that the watch wouldn't last long and that it would break before the day was up. The other boy, the optimist, started digging through the horse manure saying, "I know there is a pony in here somewhere!" Let us hope there will still be a St. Francis water polo team pony after the CWPA wades through all of its horse crap.