Accusations against polo unfounded

To the Editor:

As captains of the Men’s Water Polo team, we feel the need to respond to accusations made in the letter by David Tunick in last week’s Record. Our initial reaction was that Mr. Tunick was understandably disappointed that his son’s team, although seeded number one, did not win the tournament and that his letter was a “sour grapes” response to that fact. However, his letter was so insulting, harsh and filled with misstatements that it deserves a strong response.

Alleged Incident: Mr. Tunick accuses Williams team members of insulting behavior toward a Yale parent.

Fact: If there’s one thing we have been consistently proud of as captains and players, it is the way our team conducts itself both in and out of the water, win or lose. In our tenure as Williams water polo players, we have never heard of or witnessed behavior such as Mr. Tunick describes. If, in fact, that sort of behavior had occurred and were called to our attention, we would have reacted immediately and strongly censured that behavior.

Therefore, we are at a loss to explain Mr. Tunick’s allegation. We can only suggest that either this allegation is false, or that perhaps these Yale parents stumbled upon an individual dressed in one of the three Williams water polo jackets stolen that weekend.

Alleged Incident: Mr. Tunick accuses the Williams team of targeting a certain Yale player for “verbal abuse” over the course of the two-day tournament.

Fact: Williams team members did not attend Yale games prior to the Championship (Yale vs. Dartmouth). This makes Mr. Tunick’s accusation that Williams “verbally abused” the player in question for the duration of the tournament totally baseless.

The only interaction Williams had with the player came in the championship game. The jeering Mr. Tunick describes during this game was done in good fun and differs nominally, if at all, from the sort of catcalls and comments Williams water polo players received from the Yale players during the Williams-Dartmouth game the previous day. This alleged “abuse” proceeding above and beyond the “boundaries of normal partisan rooting” in actuality involved no swearing that we personally heard, and only laughing/jeering references at someone who was obtuse enough to commit numerous flagrant fouls and curse at a referee. In reality, our behavior was but a brief serenade following the player’s ejection from the building and subsequent mooning of the stands.

Alleged Incidents: Mr. Tunick accuses the Williams team, who served as organizers of the tournament, of “manipulating the 35-second shot clock to Yale’s disadvantage” and “providing the refs with false foul counts in order to get certain Yale players ejected.”

Fact: While there were slight problems running the shot clock during the first period due to the inexperience of volunteers (common at club tournaments), it occurred on both ends of the pool and did not have an impact on the outcome of the game. Regarding “false foul counts:” There is no possible way the scorer’s table could have manipulated these numbers. It is the scorer’s job merely to record those fouls indicated by the referees. After the Yale team protested, the referee reviewed the score sheets and concurred that the stats in question, two kick-outs and one four-meter, were correct.

As captains, it is our responsibility to organize and run the tournament. Throughout the season, we must form a budget, obtain funds, negotiate pool time, plan practices, purchase and fix equipment, organize transportation, recruit and communicate with the administration – all in addition to being playing members on the team. We are asked to carry out all these duties and be college students at the same time. The student-run nature of the program is a source of pride for us and thus Mr. Tunick’s unfounded accusations were very insulting. Furthermore, to contend that minor mistakes with the shot clock in the first quarter or untrue allegations of inaccurate foul counts determined the outcome of the game is ludicrous considering the score was 10-3.

Mr. Tunick’s invocation of all of our mentors, Bob Muir and Carl Samuelson, represents a pathetic and embarrassing attempt at giving gravity to his claims. Coach Sam was in the stands for every game during the weekend and he has been an ardent supporter of Williams water polo throughout his tenure. As students of Sam’s, the team absorbed his unique and gentlemanly style of conduct and displays it to the best of our personal and collective ability. Much of Sam’s outlook came in turn from Bob Muir. To suggest that the Williams water polo team has disgraced its role model(s) verges on slander and is plainly conduct not befitting a Williams alum. Finally, Mr. Tunick, not satisfied with shamelessly using Coaches Muir and Sam, encourages the administration to censure the water polo team. Apparently, as college students we are too rude and unethical to address the issue ourselves.

Furthermore, we are disappointed with Mr. Tunick’s decision to use this forum to discuss these issues. Our Email addresses were prominently featured on the programs distributed at the tournament. As fellow members of the Williams family, we wish he had contacted us directly rather than submitting a letter of exaggerations, distortions and half-truths with which he attempts to sway the Williams community.

Sincerely,

Tom Pickard

Alex Poole

David Walfish

Captains, Men’s Water Polo