First, I want you to fully understand what is going on in my head as I write this post:
Ok – everybody clear now?
I’ve come to decide that there are two schools of thought when it comes to how physically aggressive bike polo should be. In one camp, the motto is “technique over checks” and in the other, “body on body is legal, and fun!”
These aren’t mutually exclusive camps, so don’t try to figure out where you should be pitching your tent. The answer is never in public, by the way – but people do get passionate about what the answer is, and what they want other people to agree to.
For my part, I think it comes down to what the game dynamic is. I by nature am not overly violent while playing, but if someone starts checking me into walls and playing rough (not you’re-a-jerk rough, of course), I am more likely to give it back in turn than try to call the ref on the action or stopping play.
On the other side, you have technique players who think that the days of body on body contact being legal should already be past. When I am out-techniqued (which is quite often, mind you), I generally can’t “give it back in turn”, though I can try to play a smarter game. One thing that I certainly won’t do is try to use a strongarm game against a technical player. There is a reason that they prefer ball control over shoulder control, if you catch my drift.
But, essentially, I want to make the case for keeping some roughness in the sport. The truth is polo can be aggressive and still be safe – the differentiation comes from understanding that the aggressiveness is aimed at the play and not at the player, if that makes sense. Essentially, if pushing a guy into the wall won’t result in injury for either player, I think it’s a smart move. If you’re aiming to knock down players who aren’t invovled with the play, then you’re not being aggressive in a proper way and should be penalized.
To the same point, if you’re being aggressive against a player that is not aggressive back, abide by rule number 1 of polo. As Lomax is so fond of saying, we are all monsters on the court – but that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize what good and bad sportsmanship is.