If you were to take every bike polo player in North America, sit them down in the largest of rooms, and require each and every one of them to complete a simple survey with the question “how do you define yourself,” I think the percentages would be staggeringly low for the term jock.
One of the biggest differences between bike polo and other sports (besides the other-worldy awesomeness of it) is how off-the-radar it is to typical sportish brutes (jocks), who generally seize on any activity that involves both prowess, competition, and a way of articulating aggression without going to jail.
I’m not drawing a particular judgement here on jocks or on the current/future demographics of our sport–I think that traditional athletes are very good at what they do and at entertaining the masses. Furthermore, having grown up as a wrestler and lacrosse player, I was surrounded by jocks for many a year, and they are truly some of the nicest, most stalwart people you’ll ever meet.
But they aren’t bike polo players yet, and they don’t quite meet the makeup of what a bike polo player is (yet). But I don’t see it being too far along in the future where some people playing hoops nearby a pickup location see bike polo and decide to give it a try.
At this point, I think what stops jocks from picking up bike polo can be attributed to a few things: first, we are a closed community in that we are not a traditional sport, and there is a certain amount of “I know a guy who knows a girl who plays, and that’s how I got started” beginner story. Likewise bike polo players aren’t the same as most other sports players. We didn’t play this as high school students, there isn’t a pro-league, and there isn’t really a widespread legacy within families (though there are some, certainly).
But those aren’t enough to stop what I see as the inevitable inclusion of more sports-minded people into our game. Fundamentally I believe this is also what has stopped a certain amount of progress towards a higher level of organization in bike polo as well, as most bike polo players are content to play well, whereas people who are used to days and days of practicing between games demand to be the very best possible.
When the jocks come I don’t see high level play changing immediately, but I do see it changing. I can see true athletes dominating tournaments after learning the sport simply because they have the discipline to practice and condition (whereas I might hit the ball around and enjoy eating/drinking far too much). Right now there are podium teams who do in fact act as true athletes, but that’s why they are top-shelf teams. I am not taking too much of a risk in saying that, with the inclusion of jocks, there will likely be some more sharks swimming around in our polo-ocean.
Is this good or bad? I guess it depends on where you stand on the care-o-meter. As of this moment it’s easy to come up with a stereotype of a bike polo player, but as the sport continues to grow (if it is indeed continuing to grow as we all say it is), we’ll indeed pick up more people from different walks of life outside of hipsterdom. It will be interesting to see how that changes the game.