As a member of the polo press (The Association of Bike Polo Journalists), I probably spend more time thinking about the future of bike polo than most people should. I think about not only where I’ll be in regards to the sport in ten years’ time (in a wheelchair, writing cryptic missives from the bench), but where we’ll all be in even 5 years.
It makes me creep out, sometimes, as there are days where the current discussion around the game spins its way into something close to collapse. In particular, there are a few things that I’m afraid of whenever they come up or someone gets particularly riled up:
When folks think there is not a balance between no-rules and NAH rules. This one is more boggling than anything, and strikes me as the same nonsense that comes out of super-liberal or super-conservative arguments. There really isn’t any reason to believe that one side is going to kill the other, nor that one will triumph in the future. There aren’t very many absolutes in the world, and I don’t think there are any in bike polo.
But the conversation remains heated: people who follow the rules are mocked when in the minority, and likewise people who don’t know the rules are shunned when they find themselves in a sea of pro-rules folks. Outside of the enjoyment in watching these groups attack each other with confusing and non-applicable rants (“You’re doing it WRONG!” or “You’re RUINING what bike polo IS!”), they fail to see that this kind of self-challenging is a healthy way to balance the way the game develops as we see more involvement and standardization in play.
What scares me is, simply, that people will become so very blinded by their belief there is no chance for balance that they actively work against it, resulting in a longer-than-necessary growing pain period.
I’m also super frightened when people don’t wear helmets. This is a deeply personal fear, I know–and I know there have been studies released (I saw through Urban Velo) that show helmets are sometimes not nearly as effective as what we think they are, but man…I get scared when I see a player without one on. I don’t ever want to write about someone getting severe cranial damage because of a freak accident. Don’t make me write that post, please.
Likewise, I’m afraid of people who, upon entering a time when they can no longer play the sport, they simply stop being involved. I really want to believe that players who, for whatever reason (work, family responsibilities, etc.) choose not to play anymore continue to stay involved in the game. I’d love to see the rise of a ref group made up of players who do have time to ref tourneys but don’t necessarily play as much as possible–or people who don’t want to compete but do want to help the sport. I see this as kind of impossible right now, as I think lots of people who give up on the sport don’t want to be involved at all afterwards, and I liken it to the same problem as baby boomers leaving in droves, resulting in a big ol’ gap of knowledge that will take time to fill.
Though, really, I’d like some baby boomers to leave a few key positions at universities so my wife and I could get full time gigs as professors. That’d be cool.
So these are the things that I think about when I’m in the polo war room and the world has gone silent (read: I stopped reading other polo blogs or watching polo vids). I don’t know if it’s irrational or not, but I share it with you just as a point of learning a bit more about me. Just put that in your Crusher Devotional.