OK, just a note here to say that underwater hockey (or UWH as you'll see it abbreviated) is stone cold freaking awesome. I don't even like competitive sports generally, but I've now played this one for about five months and I wouldn't give it up for anything; I *love* it and I look forward to every single practice. I am learning that the US is generally a very poor location for UWH; Europe and Australia seem to have the really good teams, so if you live in those places, that's even more reason to go check it out! (Though if you live in the US, join and support a local team like I did; they need you! ;)
Since it unfortunately also wakes me up (and no, I don't know why; it's quite exhausting at the time), and I haven't yet wound down from tonight's training enough to sleep, here's the short list of UWH's many awesomenesses:
- Stellar sportsmanship, at least on all the teams I've played with — there's friendly competition, sure, but violence, cheating, and being an asshole to people are uniformly and consistently discouraged
- Nice opportunity, at least, for gender balance — the game is definitely not in any way easier if you're male, and in countries-that-are-not-the-U.S. there are plenty of mixed as well as women-only leagues. (I'm not generally a fan of women-only leagues, because ahem that's called separate-but-equal and it doesn't work, but it's nice that there are enough women players in many places to warrant them.) The teams I play with are all cross-gender, and especially considering the possibility for problems that you'd expect in a swimming sport, they all handle it *beautifully*. I've never seen a single instance of harassment or anything like it.
- Lots of ways to be good at it: Swimming fast, having great endurance, having a long breath-hold, stick-finesse, and having a good brain for positioning can each make you a great player, and whatever you're good at, you've got something to work on, too.
- Freaking awesome exercise. Many recreational sports are actually "eh" when it comes to getting and keeping you in shape, but you can NOT beat swimming your butt off in a fast-paced environment that keeps challenging you to push your limits and is never ever boring.
- Great intellectual challenge! Stick-work is really difficult to get right and amazing to watch when people can do it; and the usual positioning and teamwork of regular hockey is *mega* harder when you're trying to anticipate yours and your teammates breath-hold times and rotations from the surface to the bottom of the pool. Add occasional other twists like pools with "deep ends", slopes, etc., and it's like the fastest-moving chess you ever saw.
…And hopefully that is enough to get me started on my way to bed (having eaten something will help I think; I finish hockey practices hungry, but man the food you get afterwards is some of the best food you'll ever eat — one of my favorite things about swimming in general; do enough of it and you work up the best hunger ever). Hope everybody's having a great week!
[P.S. Because I am insane and the scheduling couldn't be worked out better, I also have my kungfu/taiji lesson early tomorrow morning — so hockey kills my evening nap and then kungfu wipes me out in the morning — augh! This is definitely resulting in my finishing Fridays a bit short of sleep, but I've been letting myself sleep in on Saturday to make up for it, and that's been working. More postage (?) on exercise & napping lately, but this post warranted a note to say "yeah, hockey does sometimes mess with my sleep, but at least so far it's workable".]