Quick Intro: Water Polo Olympics History
This quick intro to water polo Olympics history begins with the word "polo." "Polo" is actually based upon the Indian word "pulu," which means ball. There are a couple of sports identified with this origin, including polo, which is played on horseback, and water polo, which is played in water.
Water polo was first introduced into the United States back in 1888 by John Robinson, an English swimming instructor. Back then, a water polo match was carried out similarly to a rugby game, with a ball that looked more like a football than a soccer ball. This American way of playing water polo became quite popular and was seen by thousands of spectators in such places as Boston's Mechanics Hall and Madison Square Garden.
In the early days, water polo in the United States was a rough and tough sport. Fighting was common. The name of the game back then was force versus skill. Many other countries began to adopt water polo as a sport, but for them it was a game more of skill versus force. The ball that was used began to resemble more of a soccer ball as opposed to a football. It wasn't until the early 1900s that the United States developed disciplined rules for the game, making the game of water polo have less violent tendencies.
Water polo became increasingly popular throughout the world, especially throughout Europe. Due to this popularity, water polo was added to the Olympic games by 1900. It was the first "team" sport added to the Olympic program, where it remains today.
Traditionally, water polo Olympics has been dominated by European contenders in terms of medals. Hungarians have clearly overshadowed all other competitors; the Hungarians have never failed to medal in any water polo Olympics game for over 50 consecutive years between 1928 and 1980. The only non-European country to medal in water polo Olympics has been the United States. The United States won gold in 1904 and silver in 1984 and 1988. In 1924, 1932 and 1972, the United States won bronze medals.