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Rhetorical Analysis: The Water Polo Ball Throughout History In a pool of blue, the water polo ball stands

out with its bright yellow color. The ball comes in many different colors, but the standard color is yellow, striped with black lines. The ball we play with today is very different from the ball used when the sport of water polo first started. The ball design was changed due to developments in technology and changes in the way the game was played. In the 19th century, when water polo was called Rugby football, the ball was three to four inches in diameter, and was made out of rubber. Players could easily hold the ball in their hand and swim with it, but because the ball was much smaller, often times the ball was lost in the rivers of England and Scotland (where Rugby football originated). Later in the 19th century, Rugby football was renamed to Water polo. The name was not the only thing that changed in the sport of water polo the equipment changed too. Players used a soccer ball instead of a small rubber ball. This meant that players had to dribble the ball above the water while swimming. The soccer ball increased the pace of the game, and made it more exciting for spectators to watch. One of the problems with the soccer ball was that when it got wet, the ball became very slippery and heavy. Naturally, a new water polo ball was designed. The new ball designed very similar to the type of ball that players around the world use today. In 1936, James R. Smith invented a new water polo ball. This new ball was designed to be used in the water, be non-absorbent, and have a rough texture so that it could be easily gripped. Players could now dribble with the ball on top of the water since the ball floated, grip the ball with one hand, and throw the ball above the water. This made the game move even faster, and also allowed for more skillful plays. Smiths water polo ball was made with a cotton bladder (later changed to nylon) and a rubber fabric cover. Smiths ball was a red color, but in 1984, the color was changed to yellow for better visibility of plays. The new ball only became official equipment at the Olympics until Melbourne in 1956. The newly designed water polo ball had a huge impact on the game. As a result, some changes to the rules were made. James R. Smith created new rules to go along with the new ball design. Smith wrote many books on coaching and the mechanics of play. In 1936, Smith wrote a book entitled Playing and Coaching Water Polo. Thanks to his contributions to the game of water polo, in 1990, the United States Water Polo Award was established in honor of Smith. Once a year, the United States Water Polo award is given to an individual or group, and recognizes their contributions to water polo in the United States. The water polo ball used today weighs 400 to 450 grams, so it is relatively light, but not as light as volleyball. A womens water polo ball is 26.5 inches in circumference, and equates to a size four. A mens water polo ball is 28 inches in circumferences, and equates to a size five. For every game, the ball is pumped up to an ideal pressure of 12 PSI. This makes it so that the ball is not too soft that it bends in players hands. The National Federation of State High School Associations Rules Committee and the NCAA regulate official water polo balls. Some changes that have been made

to the water polo ball include adding colored stripes to the yellow and black ball. According to Mikasa Sports, the creator of the color striped ball, the ball with stripes allows players to keep better track of the ball and even helps players detect which way the ball is spinning. Both the NCAA and NFHS recently approved the changes to the ball. For some competitions, specially designed colorful balls are used. While the changes in design of the water polo ball have been approved, teams still may use the traditional yellow and black colored ball. From personal experience, I am thankful that James R. Smith invented the current water polo ball. I could not picture playing with a tiny rubber ball or a slippery soccer ball. The current water polo ball is made perfectly, and achieves its purpose of allowing players to play the game of water polo without the design of the ball hindering the flow of the game. Mikasas ball with color stripes seems as though it would be extremely helpful to players and spectators. The ball would be even easier to spot, and would help players focus on throwing the ball with a straight spin instead of a sideways spin.

Current womens water polo ball

Mikasas ball with color stripes

Colorful ball used for special competitions