Archive for NAH

New Regions? Well…If I May…

Hipstervania

The NAH announced a proposition to create new, more balanced regions for North American Bike Polo. I for one think this is a lovely idea, as there are a good amount of players who were relatively distanced from the center of their region and look to benefit from a re-drawing of the regional lines.

However, what is very disappointing is that the NAH is not taking this opportunity to re-name regions. But don’t worry–your old buddy Crusher has done it for them.

I present to you my 2014 proposition for the renaming of the potential new regions:

Regions2

Practicing as Ref: One of My 2014 Goals

Ref

I have a lot of goals for my 2014 bike polo season. Some are generally unrealistic:

  • Get to be the bike polo analyst for ESPN
  • Grow three inches taller
  • Score a goal on a Beaver Boy and then say something amazingly clever to him that just breaks him down

and some are more realistic:

  • Travel to more tourneys
  • Get better at my game,
  • Become a solid ref who is sought after for NAH events

I want to speak to the very last point on the second list, there.

Reffing is something that NAH sponsored/qualified tournaments need, but something that is in short supply. There are great refs out there, but they are so few and, as is often the case, already involved in the tourney as a player, that their own time is limited. I’m hoping to step in as the next generation of ref: a player who isn’t playing at a qualifier but is there solely to ref the tourney.

Yeah, playing is more fun, it’s true. But I’m very aware that I’ll probably never play in a national tourney, and even more sure I’ll never play at Worlds (everyone has a skill set, physical ability isn’t one of my tools). However, I know I can make a positive, lasting impact on bike polo as a whole by becoming a dependable, “world-class” ref. That’s where I can have the most positive impact.

With that in mind, I approached my club during a meeting we were having with the idea that I’d officiate pickup games. I set up these parameters:

  • I’ll act like a ref: whistle, rulebook, etc.
  • I’ll call infractions, start and pause games.
  • My team doesn’t need to listen to me. If I make a call they can just tell me to bugger off, and that’ll be that (it’s pick up)

The response was a mix of “yeah, who cares” and “it’d be fun to learn what the rules are.” I think, overall, it will make my club stronger, as we’ll be more aware of the rules, and it will put me on the path to being more confident at calling out as a ref.

There are other great resources of course, as evidenced by the the entire website resource ref.nahardcourt.com, which I have been/will be using as it grows–and as I expand my reffing talents.

This whole new venture made me wonder if anyone else out there is practicing this side of the sport, or if they all come by it honestly. It makes me think about whether having reffing be part of what your club teaches you should be more systemic in the sport, as some people will be better at reffing than they are at the game, and there’s room for everyone to expand into the talents they have within our sport.

My Argument for No Goal Limit

scoreboard

Game format is something that people get mighty touchy about when brought up. By way of example, just bring up the idea that bench format should be more prevalent (and see how many people either tell you how wrong you are, or just stop listening altogether and decide to not invite you to their son’s Bar Mitzvah). It’s one of the holiest things in bike polo–surprising, given what bike polo is.

Currently there is a vote occurring to determine what rule changes are on the minds of bike polo players. The NAH (Specifically Chairman Kruse)  hopes to gather up enough information through the votes in order to better determine how they can create rules which satisfy players. I for one think it’s pretty awesome that they are going about it this way. One polokin, one vote, I say.

So naturally I voted, and generally speaking, I don’t share opinions of where the sport should be heading with bike polo at large (save for jousting, contact rules, and the idea of the crease (though my vote is in 2nd place right now, I still have lots of people that agree with me (I just need validation))). But what bothered me most was this:

game formatOkay. Okay. I get it. Doing unlimited score would fundamentally change bike polo. I’m not fighting that argument because I don’t have much ground to stand on.

But PEOPLE! We’d be introducing two elements to bike polo that are very important and valuable: consistency and the importance of strategic planning! …at least in my mind right at this moment. Read more

Is it Time for Two Leagues?

big league

If there is nothing else I have learned by going to tournaments (outside of the power behind a person who has sunscreen and the value of a pop-up tent), it’s that there are simply some teams that will always win, and teams that will always loose. Point in fact, my first big tourney (ESPIs in Frederick a few years ago), the Beaver Boys and the Means both attended, and even then I understood that those two would be the first and second place teams–which of course, they were, if memory serves).

And that’s sort of the nature of the sport right now: a player signs up for a tourney, they take a look at who is going, and they figure out the first 5 teams if they want to.

And while that’s all well and good, it leaves a lot of weaker teams feeling as though they really don’t have a shot. While it’s not important to play in a tourney with the expectation of winning the whole thing (being a Millennial, I think I’m supposed to get an award for just participating, right?), there is something to be said for going to every tournament and knowing that you’re not even going to get close to the podium.

There are hundreds of bike polo teams that go to dozens of tourneys each year, and the majority of them are, I’d dare say, disenfranchised about winning a damn thing.

What I’m talking about has nothing to do with being fair–there are always going to be players who are better than other players–I’m talking about the survival of our sport. If newer/less skillful players stop going to tournaments–or feel like they simply shouldn’t waste the money to be devastated by a series of A class teams–then we’re cutting off the growth of our sport, at least in the manner of having a vibrant, changing tournament structure. Read more

NAH: You’re Doing It Right: Reffing Certification

nah_certlogo

Just a quick note to bring up something that the NAH is currently working on to help facilitate better/more reffing in the NAH. If you look here on ref.nahardcourt.com, you’ll find a new site where players can (either now or in the future) investigate training and certification, a “My Training” tab where you can (I suspect) keep track of what training you have achieved.

The site looks clean and professional, and it seems like the aim is to create a certified reffing body for our sport (which is something I and many have been calling for). Over on League of Bike Polo (ALL HAIL) there is a sister post explaining the site and what it aims to do (including a quiz required for at least 1 player on every NA team to take, and required for those who are interested in being a ref for Nationals this year).

This is what I’m talking about with where the NAH needs to go: requirements for participation, certifications, and responsibility. I’m very excited to see where this development leads, and equally excited to be certified as a ref because, frankly, I have a loud voice and those striped shirts are slimming.

Check out the League post here, and don’t forget to check out the new ref NAH site here. Give some deep thought to becoming a ref and shaping this sport in a revolutionary way.

I kinda, sorta, maybe disagree with the NAH:

blame

You know me, dear readers, and you know that I–nine times out of ten–support the initiatives and efforts of the North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Association. They have the players in mind and are trying to do quite a lot with very little in the way of resources.

Point in fact, I’ve come out and supported them on this blog quite often, so you could say that I’m kinda an ally of the NAH, if you wanted to.

So imagine my surprise when I came to disagree with this facebook post:

NAH post

Here’s the thing: I don’t disagree that polo players should go to the LoBP (ALL HAIL!) forums to weigh in on the posts that Nick Kruse has graciously put together. I think it’s great that bike polo is able to create a forum for actual changes to the rules. We’re a young sport, and community involvement is very important. My disagreement is purely a philosophical one.

But-

representatitiveI voted on representatives, and in that vote I said, essentially, “I trust this person (these people) to represent me in the meetings and decisions of the NAH.” They are my voice in that organization, and I expect them to act as such.

In turn, I expect one of them to reach out to my region to ask about what I believe changes should be to the rulesets, and for them to echo that back to the NAH rules committee.  Read more

ARE YOU LISTENING, NAH?

megaphone

Good. I humbly submit that, upon reflection of the rules drafted in this year of of hot balls, 2013, there is room to grow. As such, I hereforthwithshall submit my recommendations for new rules and regulations to the governing body of North American Hardcourt.

Here are a few rules I’d like to see come about for the 2014 season:

point and stare1. At the beginning of any match, a player may call out another player by raising their mallet in the direction of that player and mouthing the phrase and you will know my vengence. The called out player accepts by running his or her hand over their opposite shoulder (as if dusting something off their shirt).

  • anything that happens between those two players during the match is legal

2. All players are required to have 17 pieces of flair.

3. Referees will be given Super Soakers filled with water and cayenne pepper. If any player on or off the court frustrates the holy responsibilities of the referee, the referee shall discipline them with a spray of cayenne pepper water to the face.

  • Laughing maniacally is required at the time of discipline by the referee

game of cones4. Any player who presents themselves as a violator of rule 1 in bike polo shall wear the cone of shame for the duration of the day’s events. This includes after parties, trips to the bar, or bathroom breaks. The cone will stay on until 11:59:59 PM

5. Anyone who’s bike is found to be below the standards set forth by the NAH must use a recumbent until such a time as the joke stops being funny

6. Whenever a player has a legitimate disagreement with the organizers of the tournament, they must present their argument in such a way that they mimic Eric from DC in every way possible.

  • If the player manages to include a stuffed animal lobster into the argument, they win the disagreement regardless of whether it’s a valid argument or not.

7. Only players from RVA are allowed to have voice amplifying devices (megaphones)

8. Wrist shots will be legal only of the player making the wrist shot groans like a tennis player while performing the action.

 

I’m waiting for a response, NAH. I think we all are.

The NAH Ruleset V3.3: A Review

NAH featured

I finally had a chance to sit down and read over the newest incarnation of the NAH bike polo rule set, and just to be clear—I want you to imagine me doing so while wearing a fine smoking jacket and with a snifter of brandy in my hand. Let it happen…just let it happen my babies.

Speaking in generalities, I can say that this ruleset didn’t have many surprises in it. We still play on bikes, we still wear helmets, etc. What I did notice, however, was an emphasis on the importance of referees. There is some language that could be deemed ambiguous in the new rule set, but you’ll find—almost always—a passage immediately after indicating that it comes down to the court referee to decide what the rule is and the action to be taken. I enjoyed this, as it gives the refs a bit more importance in the sport and also makes for a more organic game. A document can’t tell what the situation was when making a call, but a person can, and it seems like the V3.3 ruleset takes that into account.

There are a few points I want to touch on and discuss:

Still language about carbon fiber shafts: who is using carbon fiber shafts? I’m serious – get in contact with me. I’ve never seen it.

Mallet Head must be plastic: I didn’t notice this language before, but I’m noticing it now. Not a big deal as everyone is using some sort of plastic head, but I thought it interesting that it was spelled out in this version of the rules (again, maybe it was before, but I don’t remember seeing it).

Majority handedness does the joust. If there is an equal number, coin is flipped to see whether lefties or righties joust: This is bullshit. Listen: if there is an equal number of left handed and right handed players playing, just give it to the lefties. For God’s sake we don’t have that opportunity often! Read more

NAH Ruleset V3.3 is Here – Now With Expected Hipster Fonts!

NAH Ruleset

The NAH has released the ruleset that we’ll be using for the rest of the year – ten pages of rules around ball handling, infractions, equipment, and mallet handling penalties.

I haven’t read it yet, but I wanted to get this quasi press release out quick.

Click here for a link directly to the pdf, and enjoy

Interview with Charlie Sprinkles, Eastside Outreach Rep.

Sprinks 1

Recently Sprinks and I touched base to talk about his new role as one of three Eastside reps, his specific tasks a being part of the “outreach” committee, and what would happen if I gave him a bagillion dollars.

Where is your home base, what do you ride currently, and how did you get involved in bike polo?

Home base is currently in Charlottesville, VA. I play in a little club there that loves to travel. My home away from home is Richmond, one hour away. I make the commute most every Sunday to play. DC is also another popular week night/ weekend destination.

I’m currently riding a Milwaukee bruiser with all the fixings. Squarebuilt bars, polo guard, white ind. freewheel, NoBS front (laced crow’s foot by Daniel Sebring here in Charlottesville), time pedals.

I got started with bike polo riding fixed gear in college. That led to me traveling to Richmond for the Handmade Bike Show and seeing the bike polo tournament being ran alongside the trick jam. I went back to Blacksburg and helped revive Blacksburg’s old bike polo club. I ended up finishing the school year with them and traveled with them to NAs (back when NAs was whoever showed up) and played my first tournament in Madison, WI with them. I don’t think any of them really play anymore, but I always encourage them to get back into it.

When you first got involved in the sport, did you forsee yourself taking a leadership position like becoming a rep?

Jess Stuart picture of Sprinks 2

Photo by Jess Stuart

When I first got involved, I really had no way of knowing where I’d be today. Maybe some inkling of being involved, as I’m just that type of person who wants to get their hands dirty, but no clue as to this extent. Since then I’ve been in 3 different clubs as a regular. I’ve been the head of a club and acted as the liaison to the parks and rec dept to try and rebuild a court they tore down (hey, we were using that!). I’ve thrown my first tournament with the help of that club. I organized a pickup day or two (and got the scars to remember that one by). Hell, I’ve been listed as a sponsor with the etched glasswork i do on the side. Now i’m one of the voices of a region and tossing in new ideas to revitalize the region. It’s kind of wild.

How did you come to that decision (to be a rep)?

I decided to be a rep sometime last fall, when i realized I was the person pushing others to travel, keeping up with forum talk, arranging travel between clubs. It seemed like a natural continuation to be that person networking within our community. It just happened to follow up shortly thereafter that the previous reps were looking to step down.

What is your specific role, and how do you hope to complete those responsibilities?  Read more