NWO – New Waterpolo Order

Hallo everybody. As of 1.1.2023 we have some new waterpolo rules that did not exist on the night of 31.12.2022. I don’t know how many rules exactly are in this new instalment of the waterpolo rules, but I am aware of the one rule. A player, if positioned 2 meters outside of the post, is allowed to be inside of the main 2 meter line and receive a ball from a player who is outside of that line. That’s a rough description.

When you think about all the new tactical adjustments that have to be made because of this new rule, it does make you not ignore it. And because it’s just one of the many new rules in the recent times, it does create a certain repulsiveness in my belly. Here we go again type of feeling, but when I got over that I realised that for the first time in a while I see a rule implementation being done the right way. Besides the date of implementation. That one was a bit of weird, but okay. It is what it is.

I guess almost every sport has those small moments where it is somehow agreed that the flow of the game is more important than referee calling every small rule. Even we as viewers have accepted that even though something is a rule, it does not mean it should get called every time. I personally think that whoever made this new waterpolo rule has designed it to eliminate as much of these borderline situations within waterpolo as possible. Most obvious ones were at the Tokyo Olympics in semi-final match played between Spain and Serbia. During the man-up situations, as the players on the wing were either receiving or passing the ball, there were many plays that looked borderline everything. If referee had called the 2 meters, he would have been right. If he hadn’t called them he was again right. In my opinion this rule really does help everyone involved in a waterpolo match.

In a way we can say that this way of thinking is a breeze of fresh air, but this doesn’t explain why was it so hard to change anything for the better about our sport for such a long time. It can’t be only because of VAR. In the last few years, a lot of changes have happened within the bureaucratical infrastructure of our sport. I feel like we lost a lot of old waterpolo politicians and got some new waterpolo politicians. Digitalisation had taken place and it helped to connect waterpolo people from all over the world. Clear example that I see over social media is the connectedness within the community of waterpolo referees. They have realised how touse the possibilities of the social media to make connections, share experiences and gain new knowledges. How they were able to utilize the possibilities of social networks to organize themselves is nothing short of impressive. Even though the digitalization within waterpolo came a bit later then it should have, it is now over. The awareness of the digital market has been implemented within our sport. Before the digitalisation of waterpolo  not many waterpolo related GOs, IGOs and NGOs paid any interest to any of the social medias. Now they themselves are behaving just like any other social media competitor. After the latest burst of the technological bubble, high inflation, higher costs and people being let go, everybody is now just trying to do their job and keep their job. So its understandable that nobody is thinking of the big picture.

I used to think that the acceptance of the digital will help propel waterpolo away from the mediocrity that it was stuck in. It seems like the people who brought this new digital wave, or who were washed out by the digital wave, feel content by just saying that they have updated the waterpolo to this new age. Waterpolo, or whatever that represents, should not be satisfied by just saying “we are keeping it up with the rest of the sports world”. Staying in this frame of mind will only maintain the same old frame of mind that we were trying to escape from. Waterpolo has to start doing something that other sports are not doing.

We all should accept that more changes will come and that more changes should come, but those who make the changes must continue working and improving waterpolo with the awareness of how their changes affect athletes who play the sport. It’s not easy to always adapt to something new and it is not easy to constantly adapt to something new. Let us not nonchalantly make changes for the sake of making a personal political statement which will later be used as a prop to climb this newly formed ladder of waterpolo. Ladder climbing is all fine and everybody is just doing their job. That’s all understandable. Just don’t forget the bigger picture. If somebody is to harvest the possibilities of the modern digital world than it has to understand that the potential of a collective conscious can only be unlocked with a bigger picture in mind. My name is Tomo Bujas and thank you for reading.