Anyone who is actively involved in Bike Polo can tell you it has its roots deep in the ‘Do It Yourself’ movement. Perhaps this is because of the complete lack of commercial equipment found in any home grown sport, but the fact remained that if you wanted a mallet or wheel cover, you had to pretty much know how to do it or find someone local who did.
Because of this need to rely on your own (or at the very least another polo player’s) know how, Polo became more than a past-time for players. It became a lifestyle shift. Speaking for myself, I almost never look at a gas station cigarette sign or a length of plastic pipe without wondering how well it would work for polo.
But with all good things that pick up in both numbers and interest – people will figure out a way to make money. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all; in fact it’s really great. You can now get a mallet from Eightinch or MKE, Wheel covers from Burro Bags (which alot of LCBP players have) or Fixcraft. I’m happy for it, seriously. All the people I listed above are passionate about the sport, and make really outstanding products.
But a question has been bothering me: are we losing something with this inevitable transition? When will the point be, as with all sports it has been, when new players don’t even Think about building their own mallets? Are we really losing anything at all?
I posed this question to Horse specifically, as he is my Jedi Master of Polo (I’m letting that nerd flag fly). He made a good point: Here in PA, we are blessed with ski shops, friendly gas station managers and quick fingered friends. We can get all the supplies we need and do pretty damned well at looking after our own. But if we lived in, let’s say, Florida or Alabama – where would we so easily get $1.00 ski poles? It comes down to availability.
I understand his point – some people need to get things sent to them online just to even play. But do they really? Necessity is the mother of all invention (more appropriately, perhaps, laziness and procrastination is the mother and half drunk father of invention). I’d love to see what players in those spots come up with to fill the gap.
I guess I’m just a sentimentalist, but I can remember the very first time I made my own mallet – or the first time I cut my own wheel covers from a Grizzly Chewing Tobacco sign. There is something to be said for the uniqueness of lay craftsmanship – of the care and excitement that comes with it. There is also something to be said, however, for buying something that will last you much longer and is created for the sole purpose of Bike Polo. The folks over at Wired think so.
What do you think?