Americans identify strongly with athletes, gaining a sort of secondhand machismo that's often lacking in our own workaday lives. It's funny, then, that the athletes we prop up as modern-day gladiators often are eclipsed on the toughness scale by participants of lesser-known sports, including a select group of athletes that makes even swim caps seem intimidating.We're talking water polo, and no out-of-shape, 350-pound offensive linemen need apply. It's something of a cross between basketball and soccer -- with a whole lot of H2O thrown in -- and its relative obscurity belies a sport with skill and endurance requirements so stringent that even "standing around" in the water takes work. In a country that pays baseball players millions to stand around for nine innings, perhaps a little respect for these polo players is in order.
Pay yours when the Arizona State women's water polo team hosts the Sun Devil Invitational at the 2,000-seat Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, located at Stadium Drive and College Avenue on Tempe's ASU campus. The round-robin format begins at 4 p.m. Friday, April 18, and resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 19. Admission is free. - Craig Wallach
Wiffle ball teams gear up for holey Saturday
While the Beastie Boys shared one idea for adult use of a Wiffle ball bat on their '86 track "Paul Revere" (if you don't know, ask the sheriff's daughter), there are others who use the plastic bat and perforated ball as they were intended. In fact, Arizona is home to two of the top 15 ranked teams in the national Fast Plastic Wiffle ball league. On Saturday, April 19, all are welcome to compete for cash prizes in the Arizona Wiffle ball Regional Qualifier Tournament at Paseo Park, 63rd Avenue and Thunderbird in Glendale. Playing with "ghost runners," teams have two to five members, who attempt to hit the ball into the infield or walls without it being fielded. The action starts at 8 a.m., and the entry fee is $100 per team. See www.members.cox.net/azwiffleball for more information.- Brendan Joel Kelley