The good folks at 321 POLO! announced to the world that Fixcraft an NAH have developed, tested, and are soon to release the very first hardcourt bike polo ball (pictured). According to the blog post:
The Hot Ball – a collaboration between Fixcraft, one of several player-owned businesses making hardcourt equipment, and North American Hardcourt (NAH), a non-profit, player-run organizing body. Fixcraft initiated the collaboration and financially backed the development of the ball; NAH facilitated the distribution and research by getting prototypes into the hands of players and gathering feedback. The result is a ball that stays harder than any other ball in hot weather and more visible when the lights get low. In addition, further emphasizing the mutually supportive nature of the collaboration, Fixcraft offered to donate a portion of the profits from the ball to help NAH become more stable financially.
When I first saw this post in my news feed last night (yeah, I totally knew about it before this morning ::hair flip::), I was immediately conflicted. Seriously. On one hand, anything bike polo is wonderful. We’ll be keeping money within our own ranks and be supporting the development of the sport. On the other hand, I always get a little worried when something that was Mad Max about bike polo goes and becomes more…controlled, I guess.
On the other hand (that makes three hands), I also really didn’t care. Overall impact might be very small – something for tourneys but not necessarily for everyday play. So I decided the best way to frame my 3 handed weirdness was to come up with some arguments/opinions that may occur in our little sport:
My Take: Yeah, this does just add to the list of polo specific gear – and that’s great. The more legitimate, made-for-polo stuff we can get, the stronger we’ll become as a group.
The DIYer: Keep your rules off my court. This is just another thing that we’ll all be “required” to use in order to be recognized by the NAH. Whatthehell, man! If I want to use a turtle shell to play, that’s my right as a polo player. I don’t need some fancy pre-fab solution to line the pockets of some group of people I don’t even know.
My Take: Ok – I get it. You want to live in your hipster cave and make mallets from bamboo and re-cobbled shoes. That’s great. But think about what this really is: The price ($3.00 each) is right on point with street hockey balls, and the money is staying in the polo world.
And as I always say – what you do in your own court is up to you. Keep on trucking with the turtle shell, man. But when you go to a tournament don’t act surprised when you can’t hit anything.
The Veteran: Thank GOD we’ll avoid the great Red Franklin fiasco! I wonder how it’ll hold up? I wonder if they’ll be affordable. I wonder if those bastards I play with will try to steal these from me faster than the ones I get at the Sports Authority.
My Take: I think this is where the majority of players are going to sit. We are a “prove-it” group of people overall, and are willing to accept developments like this as long as they prove to be useful. The real test of this new ball will be how well it holds up, how well it plays, and how much better it’ll be than what we can get already.
My Take: Yes. Having a “league-approved” ball made within our own ranks is going to assure that a ball you play with in Maine will be the same as the ball you play with in San Francisco. That’s a very important thing.
Overall, I think this is somewhere between a “can’t hurt” and “good!” development. I’m sure we’ll hear about how well they perform in the future (and I know our club will be testing them out as well).
So – think I’ve overlooked something?