Water polo was devised in England in the 1870s and became popular in the United States in the early 20th cent. It is played mainly by club teams, although it is also popular in collegiate competition. Water polo has been an men's Olympic event since 1900; women's water polo was first played at the games in 2000. A far rougher version of the game, played with a soft rubber ball in a larger pool and known as American or softball water polo, was formerly popular in the United States. However, its extreme violence brought it into disfavor, and today only the international or hardball game is played throughout the world.
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