Letter to the world of waterpolo referees

Greetings waterpolo referees,

I come in peace. Maybe you know me, maybe you don’t. Maybe you know me, but act like you don’t. It’s all good. I have seen that you have published the latest instalment of the new interpretations on the freshly established new approach to waterpolo refereeing. I have not read it, and I assume that I am not the only active waterpolo player who has not read it. Should I?

I haven’t even fully read all of the old ones. I feel like it’s a waste of my time. I feel like by the time I fully understand and adapt my style of play to this new approach you will change something in the rules. A players style of play is not something that we, the players, can change with a click of a mouse or a keyboard and I assume it’s the same with referees. I am not here to critique any of the new rules, interpretation, approaches or actions. I am here to offer a solution or two that might help all of us go through these transit times as smoothly and gentlemanly, or ladylike, as possible.

So here it is. I think that that referees should approach each team separately before the game and talk about the style of refereeing they will enforce on this game. Teams will be allowed to ask questions which have something to do with either their style of play, their tactics, or their preferences and the referees will answer them what calls will they call in which situations, what are their tendencies going to be and why. For example, some important final which is going to be seen by a lot of people is about the be played. At the pregame meeting a referee could say to the teams how today he will not tolerate any hitting or hard play. It’s a big game, we don’t need to embarrass us as a sport. But if it’s a bronze medal match, or 5th place match. Then same referee might come and say how he will allow hard play with less fouls and faster game, so that we are over with the game as soon as possible. And he might add how he will punish any punching immediately and he will reason it by saying that if he is allowing hard and fast play then he can’t take a risk and turn this game into an all-out brawl. This will make referees to develop their own style, but still stay within an expected frame. Not all the rules can be applied at all the times. To make everything transparent I also think that somebody from the opposing team should be present at the pregame referee meetings. Either the head coach, or assistant coach I assume would make the most sense. Then they can also hear what their opponents have asked the referee and what did the referee answered. A meeting with each team should last around 5 minutes if needed. Hopefully it gets done even faster.

And while I am already talking with the referee world. Do any of you people have some online psychologist for waterpolo referees, or something like that? Because I think that some of you sometimes get your roles twisted. Just because some players (maybe me included) are a bit rude to you during the game it does not mean you are allowed to start acting a like a diva. I am sorry to say it, but diva is nicest word I could have used for some of you referees out there. And I don’t hold it against you. I just see that as a coping mechanism, and a way of dealing with the stress that comes with your situation. Can’t speak for every waterpolo player, but me personally, I don’t care as much if a referee makes a mistake. I do mind if there was some clouded judgment behind it. I like a referee with integrity. There are referees out there whom I trust even when I know that they know that they have made a mistake. I trust in their integrity towards the game and their role within a waterpolo game. Mistake of a referee, or a decision that should have been called differently, is an integral part of each waterpolo game just as goals and blocks. And that’s okay, as long we can trust in your integrity.

Thank you for your time and wish you a nice remainder of the day


Tomo Bujas