I went to three high schools in my formative years, and during my freshman year I played water polo at Sweet Home High School. I also played soccer, baseball and wrestled my sophomore and junior years and played basketball and threw on the track and field team my senior year.
Water polo is a very physically demanding sport. Good players have a way of ripping their opponents to shreds underwater while maintaining a calm and friendly demeanor above water where the referees can see everything.
That is why you see players constantly go underwater when watching on TV; it isn't because they aren't good enough to stay afloat, it's because they are being mugged.
Those memories of being mugged and my memories of playing soccer are some that stand out the most to me from my time as a high school athlete.
The memories from soccer include running non-stop for hours on end andndash; at least it seemed like it was hours on end to a 15-year-old andndash; and getting told by other athletes that my sport wasn't tough enough.
"Soccer (or water polo) is for wimps," was the mantra I heard andndash; mostly from members of the football team.
Of course, every time we would challenge any of the football players to get in the water or go on a distance run with us, they would decline.
All too often, I hear the same thing today. "Football is the toughest sport," or "wrestling is way harder than basketball," or "underwater basket weaving is much easier than soccer."
OK, that last one might be true, but the mentality still exists.
The truth is, that no matter what sport an athlete is involved in, it is probably the toughest sport.
How many soccer players could andndash; or would want to andndash; survive the pounding that football players give and take on a daily basis?
On the flip side of the coin, how many football players would last the 80 minutes of running required by a good soccer match?
Every sport has its difficult aspects. Aspects that set it apart from every other sport that could be played.
As long as an athlete is giving their all, that is what matters. The sport that they are playing doesn't matter one whit.