Adam Krikorian, 2012 and 2016 United States women’s Olympic water polo team head coach, has some thoughts on how to improve the popularity of water polo.
Krikorian, speaking at the FINA World Water Polo Conference in Budapest last week, said that the game itself is not what needs to change, but rather, the fan experience needs improvement.
“Many people look at the USA for an example of success of sports like basketball and American football. People would be surprised to see that most people are not going to a basketball game to watch the match itself, they also come to enjoy the atmosphere, the dancing, the music. It is a cool place to be and to be seen. That is what we need to create for our sport,” Krikorian said. “It really has to do with the branding and the marketing of the event. The culture is something we need to create.”
However, Krikorian stressed that there is no need to rush into making decisions before Tokyo 2020, and that officials should instead target long-term goals.
“We have to be careful not to rush into making short-term decisions that won’t be sustainable for us and our future. I think we have to devise a plan and operate a plan that goes way past Tokyo,” he said. “It is very difficult to change anything in two years. It takes time.”
One suggestion Krikorian has is to draw in fans by promoting beach water polo and the environment it produces. He pointed to the 2019 Beach Games in San Diego as an opportunity for him to put a beach water polo team together.
“Beach water polo creates this fun, almost this party type atmosphere that not only can draw people in but also new players and new spectators,” he said. “We need to try and create this type of atmosphere at our events. It is just a great entry point, especially with the younger generations. I mean who doesn’t love the beach? Everyone loves to be around the water, around a river, a lake, a pool. Why not take advantage of this a take our sport there?”
View excerpts of his comments below:
Austalian Olympic team member Aaron Younger echoed Krikorian’s sentiments, saying that the sport’s marketing needs to change. View his full interview below: