Archive for Stories

5 Player Bench is What I’m Excited About

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I’ve talked a lot about how the 3 person team isn’t the healthiest for bike polo (just let me know when you stop foaming at the mouth about that one). Done? No? Oh. Okay. Well I’ll wait then. Good? Alright. So 3 polo players make up a team now, but there really isn’t much of the dynamic that make people get all excited about SPORTS. Now I’m not saying this argument I’m going to make frames out from what other sports succeed at (after all, bike polo is a unique wonderful punk-snowflake that doesn’t need to conform to the rules of human activity), but from what I personally like and what I personally see as a great new opportunity for tourneys.

The 5 person bench is an idea that was thrown around a little bit on League of Bike Polo (ALL HAIL) and is the focus of the 2015 Eastside Frost tourney (Dec. 6th and 7th). The idea is pretty straight forward: it’s a bench tournament where your bench is made up of just 5 players, meaning you have two people sitting at all times from your team. Games are longer, naturally, than the standard 12 minutes of 3 person team games, and you can score as many points as possible.

So what makes me so excited about this style? To start with, I’ve noticed that there is a really different spirit that takes over when you’re on a bench team. I as a player am actively involved in the game when sitting down (which, naturally, I’m not when I’m not a member of the 3 people playing standard polo), and there is more of a spirit of camaraderie on the team. Furthermore, there is a more dynamic situation happening on the court: who is being played at what time, and how you can pit your players contrary to the players the other team is playing against you. Read more

Migration Patterns of North American Polo Players: A Study

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I recently received a message from a fellow polo player who expressed concern and interest in the migration patterns of the species known as the North American Bike Polo Player. Having studied this particular species in detail over the course of 4 years, I was more than happy to share his concern and particular interest in the subject.

Okay, So really he’s concerned about how many people are moving to the West Coast (the best coast) from the East Coast (beast coast), and beyond (… I don’t have one for that). But why be concerned about it? If you’re getting great polo out on the WC why not join in on the fun.

What it comes down to, dear reader, are the ideas of balance and development. Lemme explain. Sit down for a second.

So a big part of bike polo is the nomadic nature of the sport. We players travel all over, typically, to play tourneys, to live in new places, and to just generally live our young adult lives. One thing we have, however, is a variety of players. You’ll have a few stars in each club who are, just by being around and playing, helping entire clubs grow stronger and more competitive in play (this doesn’t imply just for tourneys–the competitiveness of play within a club is also an important factor in keeping a club healthy and growing. Clubs that are just kick-around, beer drinking ways to spend time generally disintegrate fairly rapidly).

But–and this is a biiiiiig but–the really great players need to stick around. When they go, the hierarchy of the club gets wonky, and then you find that there isn’t a catalyst for the other players to get better and grow. Regions lose their “heroes” and great teams, and they don’t necessarily have any way to practice playing against really top-notch players. This, naturally, puts them at a huge disadvantage when they go to play in larger tourneys against the region which (now) has a firm hold on the very best. Read more

Bike Polo Players: Horror Movie Survivalists

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Starting around September 30th and continuing until November 5th or so (up to December 25th if we’re talking Nightmare Before Christmas) I begin my yearly feast of monster movies. Old black and white Dracula, horror films from last year–comedy, slashers, down-right horrifying…it doesn’t matter. I’ll watch it all and give myself the hibbidy jibbidys to a point where walking down my hall to pee in the middle of the night becomes an obstacle course between my imagination and my rational mind.

So now that I’m in the thick of it, I naturally began blending this rather large part of my life into the rest of my life (the rest of my life being polo, I guess).

If you think about it–and I’m so very sure you think about it all the time–you’ll see how bike polo is preparing us for a horror film. Well, okay not for a horror film, but for a horror-film like situation. If we just take a few hand chosen examples (which naturally lend themselves to what I’m saying here), you’ll come to find that it makes.perfect.sense.

dontZombies (The Walking Dead): With the new episodes on Netflix I started back up in watching this series, and it’s frankly startling how little folks use bicycles! Sure, there is the good sheriff in the beginning who steals the bike from that poor legless zombie woman, but outside of that I’ve yet to see anyone else pedaling around. I think the survivors of the zombie apocalypse will be small packs of panicked survivors and a huge gang of bike polo players who are LOVING the amount of places they have to play.

For one, our cardio is higher than most people (which, as evidenced by Zombieland, is a very important factor). Furthermore, we’re used to hitting things while on the bike, and I do believe an XT Mallet with a capped mallet head could really do enough damage to a rotting skull to see us steer clear of real trouble.

If nothing else, our general smell and look would confuse the zombies, buying us extra time and comfort in knowing that we could pass as one of them.

Vampires : just slap a wooden stake on the end of your mallet and you’ve got a new game that bike polo players would excel at. Well, most of us. I wouldn’t. But then I’d be a vampire anyway so I don’t see how I’d really be losing. I’d be an adorable vampire.

Jason: Dude is so slow. Really you could just assign a few bike polo players to circle around him all day with GPS on so everyone else could know where he is. PLUS he might stop being so murderous if he was surrounded by people who also wore facemasks in non-facemask situations.

trolls2Trolls (2): Let’s just think about how perfectly ready bike polo players would be if the events which occurred in Trolls 2 ever came to pass:

1. A good percentage of bike polo players are vegan, so the whole green-milk-that-turns-you-to-plants wouldn’t work, because milk.

2. Trolls are vegetarians, lots of bike polo players are vegetarians. Instant brother and sisterhood.

3. We could easily bike out of the ONE SINGLE TOWN INHABITED BY TROLLS

The one problem is that the only way to save yourself is a double decker bologna sandwich, which would kinda backfire for some of us.

Snot piccary Clowns: nope nope nope nope nope nope nope.

 

Really, thinking about how bike polo is saving us from being the character that immediately gets eaten/sliced in half adds yet another layer to love. I encourage you–no, implore you–to watch your next monster movie with this in mind: how would your vast bike polo arsenal see you through.

4 year polo anniversary

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Well, I’ve done it.

I’ve kept my interest/body/willpower up high enough to continue playing this sport for another year.

On this day (the 25th of September), four years ago, I played my first game of bike polo–and have been playing fairly regularly ever since. I think playing for 4 years is really quite an achievement, and it better be as I don’t have much else to show for the effort other than a bunch of grumpy joints and a new appreciation of jorts.

Looking back now, I want to condense my 4 years of polo life into a few takeaways, which I’ll try to do right meow:

The spooky crew.

The spooky crew.

To start with, your club is going to change a lot. Like, every year. We have some of the old guard still playing, but I’m comfortable in saying that at least half of our club are people who started after me–and if I remember to recruit actively this upcoming spring, the people after me might find themselves in the same situation. It’s great and not great, depending on whether you’re the sort who likes meeting new people and developing players or not. For my part, I am always excited to see new faces and learn from them as much as they mistakenly try to learn from me.

Next, I’d say it’s safe to realize this is an expensive sport. Sure, you can get into it with a cheap bike and a borrowed mallet, but like all things that grow on you, eventually you’ll start slapping down your shekels for a polo specific bike, new mallets, and everything else we come to associate with bike polo. I don’t want to think about how much money I’ve put down on this sport now, honestly, and I reckon you shouldn’t, either.

DSC_0512Likewise, I’ve come to realize that I’ll probably never be able to travel to a lot of tourneys and I still don’t understand how lots of you do. It’s so expensive! How do you do it?! If I went to even half of the tourneys I wanted to, I’d be flat broke.

Over the years I’ve also become aware that almost everyone reaches a certain level of ability and just hangs out there. I think I’m about as good at the sport as I’ll ever get, and I’m supremely comfortable in that. It doesn’t mean I don’t strive to become a stronger player or anything, but I don’t try to take it so hard when someone is able to do something I simply don’t have the aptitude for. And I can hear you now: “you should always try/you have no limitations/listen to your spirit and truth and light” but I don’t need the comfy blanket of “maybe” to enjoy myself and the game. Thanks. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll just keep making cat noises and be happy with that.

Also, one of the first weeks I started playing back in 2010, I sang:

Down in the west Texas town of El Paso/I fell in love with a Mexican Girl.

And I’ve been singing it with some regularity while at polo ever since. I have no idea why. Four years I’ve been doing that and I can’t stop.

Anyway. A long rant for a rainy day. I’m thankful for my club, which has had no small part in keeping me coming back, and thanks to the sport as a whole for being such a hoot. Let’s see if I make it to year 5 (which is I think is the year I need to create Dumbledore’s army, right?).

I Hurt Myself and Now I Can Shoot Better?

MattRookie

There is no way I can explain how I injured my left index finger without making it sound like I assaulted my wife, so let’s just try for it and see how it goes:

I was play-fighting my wife and I forgot, somehow, that her father was a boxer in the Navy. Long story short, I went to do a haymaker over her head and she, with reflexes like a gorram tiger lifted her elbow at the right wrong moment, causing my half-closed hand to strike her steel elbow. We heard a series of pops and crunches, and then my wife laughed and asked if I was okay.

I was not, dear readers. I was not okay.

Long story short, that was about two and a half weeks ago and I still can’t make a fist with my left hand. My left hand on my shooting arm. I think you are picking up what I’m laying down.

So I skip out on bike polo for one night but then go the next time we’re playing, and it hurts like hell after the day is up but I manage to squeak through alright. Then we go to Philly the next weekend and sister, I played really, really well.

Somehow, because of the way I was forced to hold my mallet, I managed to get shots that were a touch more peppy and a touch more accurate. At first I chalked this up to Philly being nice to me and to some strange dumb luck that comes from stepping in courtside dog poop. However, this past Sunday back home I played and again: accurate, powerful shots.

rookie-of-the-year-photoBeing the kind of guy who dwells on things, I tried to figure out what’s really going on, here. Sitting up in my polo aviary, I help my mallet in my hand and watched it as I swung it around. What I noticed was how I needed to lift my index finger off of the mallet when it began it’s forward swing (because of the pain that came with the fulcrum of the mallet going forward). In lifting off that index finger, the mallet had less guidance from me as it approached the ground–meaning that it had a bit more snap to coming down, and a bit more of the initial accuracy I planned on having when swinging at the ball to start with.

It makes me wonder, actually, what kind of hand position that various players have in the sport. I wonder if, all this time, I was being too rigid with my grip and losing something in the manner of strength or accuracy.

Anyway, as the movie goes, chances are that I’ll re-injure my finger somehow and then I’ll lose my new shooting abilities (and I don’t want to overstate it: I’m not like a super powerful shooter now–just a bit stronger than what I was before the…incident…).

But for now, it’s pretty fun to see how this injury is impacting my play. And even more fun to lose the ability to use my index finger for about a day after playing bike polo.

Is This Even Possible?

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The Problem

I was recently speaking to a bike polo company’s head honcho and they mentioned how hard it is to sponsor teams. The reason it’s hard, so says the head honcho, is because teams don’t stick together for very long in the sport (with the exception of a few, generally top, teams).

That got these old brain bits spinning on how we can address that: One way would be to encourage you silly players to stick with your teams for longer than a season or two. But, if I’m honest with the chances of me saying something and anyone listening, that’s not likely to have much of an impact.

Maybe we could go to bench format and thereby have actual teams who can switch out players as much as they like between seasons, much as most every other team sport?

Oh, oh you think 3v3 is sustainable. Oh okay nevermind, nevermind.

BUT THEN this humdinger crossed through the old goal line in my noggin, just bear with me and try to read it to the end.

This idea stems directly, I imagine, from my maligned idea of having different countries also competing at worlds (so every American team would earn points towards an “America” score, French teams a “French” score, etc,; until at the end of the tourney we can also crown the country that won the World tournament).

The Idea

So what if we created…how do I explain this…What if we created “teams” from teams. By way of example: Read more

The NAH Killed Bike Polo

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And The NAH (Along With Our Help) Will Bring It Back, If We Let It.

There was one sentiment shared often during and after Worlds this year (outside of the typical, and well deserved, congratulatory huggery): bike polo is dead. Or is dumb–or is going the wrong way. Whatever language you want to use, there was a collective groan from the bike polo community (granted, perhaps a small contingent, but an important one) that something had gone wrong in the process of getting to the biggest of the big-tournaments of the year.

And that’s exactly where I think we should be with the sport, though it might not feel very much like it (or feel like anything but un-enjoyable to be a part of).

The way I see it–and the way you should all, by now, understand I see it–bike polo isn’t at all set in stone as to how it’s played. We have folks who think it should have no rules but the first rule of bike polo; we have folks who want to have a 200 page rulebook that leaves no question unanswered. Mostly, we have folks in between: they know we need some rules, but they don’t know what those rules should be, or which ones are the most beneficial.

[NOTE: a whole other subject--and one I'm brewing up on right now, is the reffing that happened for some of Worlds. Don't think I'm ignoring that--it's just a big subject on its own that I want to tackle in a different post]

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The voice of a whole wing of bike polo, I’m quite sure.

And that’s where I think most of us are, the NAH and the bike polo community (of which the handful of bike polo players on the NAH are a part of) don’t quite know what right looks like just yet, only that bike polo needs to remain a fun and dynamic game to play. Read more

World’s Week: WHOOPIDIEE DOOO!

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Today begins the week of Worlds: where players from all over the polo kingdoms meet up to see who is the biggest of the big, the bravest of the brave, and who can know the sweet kiss of French Wine without losing all sensation in their limbs and deciding that they are too bohemian for such a mainstream sport as bike polo.

Me? Oh, I’ll be on a 5 year anniversary adventure from Sunday to Monday, so chances are I won’t even really get the chance to watch the action live. You’ll need to fill me in, Polopals.

If I have one hope, however, it’s that the Beavers get clobbered.  No, not because I dislike the Beavers (point in fact, they are some very sweet fellas), but only because they are one of the tippiest toppiest teams in the world, and I’m the kind of guy who likes rooting for underdogs. Honestly, I’m rooting for Rat Kings because they’re one of our Eastside teams in attendance, and because they have the most magnificent facial hair.

I am also excited, believe it or not, to see how the rules are handled in France. I know we’ve been having some fun and excitement over here, but I’m curious about how the Europeans have been handling the new rule set (and how the refs are going to differ between the U.S. and the E.U.

But, if I need to be honest with you cats–which I generally try to be–Worlds has always been a kind of…I don’t know…a sign that my favorite part of bike polo is coming up: fall/winter polo. With Worlds comes an end to the super-hot days of bike polo (at least the continuous super hot days) and the start of the fall days; my favorite days.

Fall means turducken (which I’ve only gone to once but love), it means pumpkin beer and games that are cool on the lungs and the courts. So while we’re all getting excited about Worlds and about watching  the glorious live-streaming of it, I’m getting excited about what comes after it.

No, no, not the bench tourney (thought that should be pretty fun, too), but the joy of not having to switch out the ball your playing with every game/being able to not sweat through your gloves as much.

BREAKING: Baristas, Bike Mechanics, Messengers DISAPPEARING

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(Lancaster, PA)
All over the United States, there are disappearances occurring. Coffee shop patrons are going without having their names spelled incorrectly on biodegradable cups, bicycle commuters are finding their favorite bike shops closed, and executives attempting to send dirty pictures to other executives have lost a means of delivering those delightful hand drawn images of butts.

In a press meeting with concerned parents everywhere (finding that their 30 something aged children were not asking any longer for monetary assistance), FBI agent Nicholas Slavorski indicated that there would be no investigation held.

“Listen,” he said from the window of his 2 story home, “your kids disappear all the time. They’re probably going to some man burning festival in the desert or taking part in a co-op somewhere. Get off of my damn lawn I just got it landscaped.”

For some this explanation is enough, but not for handcrafted-jewelry-collector Jennifer Bannis, who wants answers as to why her order for a set of bracelets made from toothbrushes hasn’t been fulfilled.
“I paid good American money for that jewelry, and now the seller has disappeared! How am I going to show that I’m hip?”

From New York to L.A., young, bike savvy people are flying the coop and not leaving anything more than empty beer cans and strange, cryptic messages made up of song lyrics and upside down question marks.

::This story is developing::

6 Ways To Troll The League Of Bike Polo Forums

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In all truth, the LoBP (ALL HAIL!) forums are kind of the greatest thing to come out of our sport. They provide all the inside entertainment that a polo player needs in order to have a great time while at work or away from the courts.

But what if you don’t have anything constructive to say (okay, you’re in good company, really)? What if your post gets lost or nobody xWhatevers it? Might I suggest adding a new level of entertainment?

1. Ask–as a person outside of the bike polo community–what your new mallet design should have. Make sure to emphasize that you’re new to bike polo but want to revolutionize how the sport is played. Also make sure that you show a few really horrible done-in-MS-Paint drawings of your proposed design, including a mounting system that doesn’t make sense and a material that hasn’t ever been used in the sport. Maybe glass or something.

2. Copy someone else’s comment in your response, and then don’t mention any of it. For instance, copy something like “The problem with 4 foot boards is that they are hard to pay for in a regional tournament” but make your comment only about how frustrating it is that the NAH balls only come in orange. Keep doing this until someone notices, then copy their noticing into your response and call  them a poser.

3. Post a picture of a recumbent as your new polo bike.  Make sure to photoshop the NAH logo onto the flag.

4. Go into any rules discussion and demand that snortling be allowed. Do not explain what snortling is, but be adamant that the game will be ruined if it’s taken out of legal play.

5. Create a fake tournament 

6. Create two accounts and constantly argue with yourself about trivial points of the game. Type of rubber used in tires? Best kind of grip? The most appropriate shampoo for bike polo players to use? Ol’ Billybo and Charles R. Figglebottom just can’t seem to agree on anything, and will take up dozens of posts to make sure you know it.