Let’s say there comes a day (and this day is surely decades away, right?) where you can’t play polo anymore. You’re just too old, too tired, or too broken apart by the sport to play anymore in the “big leagues” of organized tourneys.
It’s bleak to think about if you’re currently an involved, tourney-active player–but no person remains in peak condition their whole lives. Well, almost nobody. Lumberjack is inexplicably the most fit person I’ve ever met and he’s past the typical age of a polo player. Dude is going to outlive us all.
But let’s say, for whatever reason, you aren’t able to play anymore. Have you considered what you’re going to do? Have you given thought to how you can stay involved, or are you planning to just completely abandon the sport?
Well, my hypothetically retiring friend, let me make a few suggestions to you before you sell off your bike to a museum and start going to your club’s 50 year reunion.
One of the biggest problems we have right now is a lack of professional refs for the NAH tournament tour. A professional ref, in my definition, is someone who knows the rules of the game and the game itself, but doesn’t play. This gap will be filled in the future, no doubt, by people who spent decades playing but now find themselves unable because a land shark bit off their legs/they found a deep love for batter dipped butter/ they are 97 and their multiple wives (polygamy will be legal in the future) tell them they aren’t allowed to anymore. Consider this as your possible avenue to stay involved without playing. You’ll still get all the shit-talk you loved as a player, but now you’ll have a whistle and a gut (look, I’m already ahead of the game! Now all I need is a whistle!).
Another fun thing to consider when you no longer want to play but still want to be involved is club management. This seems like a super foreign idea, but it could be a cool way to stay in that club mentality even if you’re not waking up at 3AM to drive to a tourney three states away. Club management, in the broadest sense, would be where you act as the coach to the teams who are going to a tournament, help them make it to matches on time, and help them develop as a club. You’re half den mother and half coach. This would be for people who have a certain personality and a certain want to dedicate real time to the club, but if you’re super involved now, it might be a good way to stay involved in the future.
Something I don’t think will ever necessarily change will be the needs of the NAH to have more dedicated people working for them. When you lose both arms in an unfortunate pie eating contest accident, why not go to the top of the food chain in the sport and dedicate your time and intelligence to the NAH. If even a tenth of current players retired into the NAH, the organization would grow immensely and be able to have a stronger, more balanced presence in the making of rules, operation of tourneys, and expansion of abilities.
So the next time you’re thinking of quitting, consider what level of quit you’re considering. Even in retirement from playing bike polo, you can actively contribute and promote the sport to new levels of play.