In short: no.
There, you can stop reading now and go about your day.
I bring this up based on a conversation that Ted and I were having one dog day of bike polo while waiting for the rest of the club to finish off the novelty films they were watching, put on pants, and pedal out.
Ted, if you don’t know, is pretty much a “let me play my sport” kinda guy. He believes that clubs should play how they want (after all, it’s not like the NAH sends a rep out to officiate our pickup games).
We were discussing the upcoming EighthInch mallet head that he’s planning to review (after his stellar review of the original) and I mentioned how it’s nice that the NAH approved it for tourney play. Ted agreed, though he took some issue with the NAH saying anything about what kind of mallet head people use.
This is where Ted and I differed, and I’d like to flesh out the conversation a bit because I think good points were made.
His argument is this – Ted, feel free to correct this if I have it wrong: by fundamentally limiting what bike polo players can bring on court, you’re limiting the next big invention in the sport. Since people will be apt to buy the “NAH approved” mallet head and shaft, they won’t bother going into the garage and testing out new things.
He continued that thought by stating: “if someone comes up with a piece of equipment that make a technique or a part of the game easier, why should they be penalized?”
I pretty much agree with the first point: limiting what polo players can create is fundamentally against the DIY culture of bike polo.
I think this argument is kind of a young sport debate. The point I brought up was how there is a difference between ingenuity and unfair advantage. Consider corked bats in baseball or a roll of quarters in your hand during a boxing match.
Sure – both of those make an element of the sport easier, but it doesn’t make it very sporting. The equipment and tools we use in any sport need to allow an equal playing ground for all players and an environment where skill itself decides who wins, not just who could afford to put a spring in their mallet for extra power.
The NAH, as I see it, is trying to set the stage that kind of fair play, as far as their equipment rules go. You need a helmet, a mallet head without a huge hole on the side, and a shaft that is carbon or ski-pole metalesque. That makes sense to me.
I don’t want some SOB rolling out with a brick attached to rebar, you know. They’d have the advantage because nobody would want to get close to them, the weird-o.
Ted saw my point (thought I didn’t use the rebar example), but did go on to say that nobody should ever make a rule that forces players to buy “professional” equipment – and I think that is very important indeed. We need to always have room for gas pipe and ski-poles, I think. It’s a part of what makes our sport approachable and different from other sports.
So – where do you weight in? Full rules on what equipment can be used, none at all, or somewhere in between?