5 Things I Learned at Worlds


Worlds was an eye opener for me. I have seen in my travels some high levels of play, but none so amazing as what I saw on the final day of the championship. It was humbling to say the least, and I want to share with you, dear readership, just a few of the lessons and tips I learned from the biggest event on the polo calendar.

These are just a few of the observations I made, and honestly, in just those three days I came up with more post ideas than what I’ve had in months (not all about Worlds, but about polo in general). At any rate, these are the five that spring to my mind right at this very moment:

Dillman1. The Beavers, Call Me Daddy, Assassins, and Edisons: make anything I do look like goofing off. Seriously. If what they do is bike polo, what I do (and most of us do) is playing dress up and pretending to be polo players. Holy mother mallet, it was just inspiring to watch these teams kick up their play to top gear and keep at it for the championship. I just can’t fathom being at that level, and I wonder what it’s like for anyone on those teams (and others) to wake up and know they are better than most other players. Gotta be something.

Call Me Daddy2. You don’t gotta be fancy: Lomax actually brought this up the last night we were there, and it’s a great point that I wouldn’t have noticed: Most of the top teams don’t do anything fancy with the ball. Okay, you’ve got some pretty spectacular passes and avoidances, but you don’t have people scooping under their BB to catch the ball in the air, and then hit it with their head, and then into the goal (though that does sometimes happen).

What you do have are players who keep the ball conservatively, move it intelligently, and shoot the ball from a million miles away and still get a goal ohmyGodIjustcan’tgetoverit. But mostly to the point,  great players aren’t doing ridiculous stuff with the ball–they are playing intelligent, basic polo. They’re just doing that basic stuff a million times better than us mortals.

Huggles3. The love is still there: Even with people coming from thousands of miles away, we all still got along (off the court) like we were from the same club. It’s good to see that we are maintaining that small-group feel although our sport and our clubs are growing past the point of knowing everyone.

Why is this important? Because it allows for our sport to keep growing. Being friendly means that we aren’t turning on each other, which helps create a positive atmosphere, which brings more people to the sport. I know it’s kind of convoluted, but it’s something I consider to be true, so to hell with you for doubting me.

MILK Mallet shafts4. The polo mallet is dead–all hail the polo mallet: I don’t think I saw a single player who was using anything but polo-specific shafts and mallet heads. I think it’s unreasonable to assume that everyone was using polo-specific equipment, but I didn’t see anyone rolling around with gas pipe or ski poles.

We can’t say that a Northern Standard Shaft or a Magic Head are going to make you a Worlds contender (I’m sure gas pipe in the hands of Call Me Daddy will be just as effective), but we can say that the highest level of bike polo has moved away from borrowed/re-purposed equipment and now depends on off-the-shelf solutions. It’s a good thing, really, because I think polo equipment companies are going to be what sustains the growth of the sport MORE ON THAT IN ANOTHER POST STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.

reftalk5. We need full-time, non-playing refs: There is simply no way around it. We need to have a reffing league who only has one purpose: to ref and enforce the rules set forth by the NAH and approved by the players. Simple as that. Having players who also ref is, by definition, a breech of ethical behavior, and while the refs for the final day did an awesome job, they really should have not come from the ranks of folks who initially came to play. They should have been brought in by the NAH, sanctioned by a reffing league, and knowledgeable in all areas of ruling the game. Again, more on this in another post.


I also learned that not packing your own food whilst in Weston, Florida is a bad, bad move.

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  1. Avril from Florida says:

    Hey Matt! Thanks for coming to Florida!

    I have so many FEELINGS about volunteering during worlds. Can we just talk about number 5 a bit more? First and foremost I had a great time and I was totally stoked to have met some wonderful people; yet I have often asked myself what realm of reality I have stepped into when I offer to help during tournaments. No one ever wants to be insulted and yelled at while they are working for free, yet this can be expected when running a tournament. I know I had a few ass hats during the week and I definitely saw/heard some poor behavior directed at other volunteers, especially refs. Non playing refs wont fly when its still socially acceptable to treat them like garbage. It would be one thing if it was a single isolated incident, but it feels more like pattern to me.

    otherwise.. great stuff! more articles about Joelle!

    • Crusher says:

      First: THANK YOU for being such an awesome host and person, Avril. You and the whole crew down in Florida made a super hectic event seem smooth and wonderful, and I never once felt like I wasn’t welcome.

      On to your statements: You’re hitting on a point that I’ve brought up before over on urban velo (http://urbanvelo.org/crush-polo-the-rise-of-the-ref/), but I think it is reasonable to think of a ref who is a player, but isn’t playing in the tournament they are reffing at, and furthermore not unreasonable to think that a ref will come to a tourney knowing full well that people are going to be jerks (that’s kinda the nature of being a ref, really, is the expectation of people not liking you). But at the root you’re completely correct: there isn’t enough respect given to refs, and that’s the fault of the culture of bike polo, not organizers and certainly not the refs themselves.

      To your last point: I’m already embarrassed enough!

  2. Rosita says:

    I have to agree with Avril. Organizing a tournament of this size is very difficult and time consuming, but rule number one should be to treat volunteers with respect and consideration. Some of us gave up our entire week to make this happen for everybody else, yet I saw and experienced organizers treating volunteers’ time and efforts in a very unappreciative and even rude way.

    My favorite part about this whole tournament was spending time with Avril and getting to meet Joelle. I also saw some amazing bike skills while running around like crazy trying to help make this championship great for everybody.

  3. Lomax's Mom says:

    “while the refs for the final day did an awesome job, they really should have not come from the ranks of folks who initially came to play”

    We agree, Blackburn should stop playing

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