“Sometimes you actually shake hands depending. When you do that, the goalie’s usually the first person, then everyone lines up behind them. […] You get out of the pool and do it, walk along the side. Um, I don’t know.”
The informant is a student to the University of Southern California, studying Computer Engineering and Computer Science. She is from the San Francisco area, though her father is from England and her mother from Switzerland. She started playing water polo her freshmen year of high school—though she had enjoyed swimming before that—and she has now been playing for 6 years. She is a member of the recreational water polo team at USC and plays about 4 tournaments a year, along with a few other scrimmages.
The informant was asked if there were any customs of water polo games, like how to thank the other team for playing, and this is the answer she gave. though there are no official rules requiring this shaking of hands, every team knows to do so, be it high school or college. She learned of this custom after her first water polo game in high school.
In almost every sport, there is a certain etiquette at the end of a game, a way to thank the other team for a good game. In soccer, many teams exchange jerseys, but few other sports take it this far. Most have a similar custom to water polo: both teams line up, often with the goalie—if they have one—leading. As the teams walk down the lines, they shake or high five hands, depending on how much time the teams want to spend. Sometimes phrases like “good game” are said.
The purpose of this custom is to prevent the teams from going off with bad feelings at the end of the game. Even if the other team fouled like crazy or played a weak game, both teams must come together and congratulate each other on a game well-played. It shows respect for the other players and the game itself. Though the teams were on opposite sides does not mean they need to have hostile feelings off the field or out of the pool.