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Bench Format: Is It Really That Great?

gustavhoiland.com

Guest post by Nick Kruse

(featured photo credit: gustavhoiland.com)

I want to know what’s really great about bench format… really.  I need someone to hash this out for me.  To the believers out there in the community, those who champion bench format as the future, I want to make clear that I’m only raising some points and asking some questions.  In the end, I like that people have fun playing bike polo and it doesn’t matter much to me that certain styles are on the rise.  I’ll get my fun, you’ll get your fun.  Deal.

I still want to know, though.  I can’t help but feel like bench format is an example of Bike Polo (The royal “Bike Polo”! You know, the editorial…) trying to modify another sport to fit our own in a way that seems unnatural and clunky.   It’s in the back of my head, a pressing doubt of the style’s authenticity.

I started skateboarding when I was 13 years old, and if there’s one thing I know in life, it’s that there’s nothing worse than being a poser.  So someone needs to tell me what we are getting at, here.

MenaceIt’s interesting to me how Bike Polo arrived so conclusively at this place – where bench format has become a mainstay, where you’re hard-pressed not to find yourself in a bench game at some point through the season.  My first summer playing bike polo was the summer of the first Bench Minor in New York City.  This is where it started.  It started in New York, it started with a tournament named after a penalty in hockey, and it started with one person.  Menace(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp4jP0ttkDc).

I met the guy only once, four years after the first Bench Minor.  I stood outside Vanessa’s dumplings in Chinatown and listened to him lament about how Bike Polo was already ruined.  It’s over.  Go home.  Still I think you would have a hard time finding someone whose input has been more pervasive in the game as it is played today.  We have a rule set that was partially started by him, and the organizing body of our sport has just released a sanctioned tournament that will be played in bench format.  The format he made PDFs about and advocated for constantly. His format.

Is bench format right for bike polo?  Is it solid?  Does it make sense?

More to my overall point, though, I just want to leave it noted that this was all started by a former player that polo’ed in a hockey sweater and named the first big time bench tournament after a hockey term.  A name that was so addicting to those that learned of it that everyone kept calling this format “Bench Minor” for three years.

Anyone that plays polo knows that in the time since this first bench tournament, the format has been a staple of our sport.  It has been filled with drama and upsets and fights, it has pitted cities against cities; overall it has been a pretty good time.  I get all that.  I really get it.  I’ve played in two Bench Minors, I’ve played in the battle for the Midwest in Mankato, I’ve witnessed the excitement of a draft, I’ve gotten in a fight, I’ve won and lost at it.  Still, I am concerned with authenticity.  Is bench format right for bike polo?  Is it solid?  Does it make sense?

More specifically, I have two questions. Read more

Having a Three-Way Courtside.

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At the Masters tourney, I realized I had feelings for the other two Ms of 3 M.

Dude feelings-bro feelings. Bromance.

It happened right in the middle of the game against Lomax, Russo and Glatfelter: we had  every expectation of losing (and we should have), so we went in with the notion of just playing as best we could and taking the loss.

By Golly, we did play the very best we could, and at the five minute mark, both Horse and Lumberjack looked back at me in goal and had a smirk on their faces. I realized I did, too. We were all loving the game for the sake of loving the game. Then, suddenly: feelings.

It’s kind of a rare thing to really just experience the game of polo while playing it. Sure, you’re there–on the court pedaling around like a madman–but you’re so busy doing that you can’t observe the sport anymore. You’re too deep into it.

But that game in particular, I was just all up in and loving the game. It all felt perfect and natural and amaze-balls.

So then we won, somehow, and as dazed as you please we left the court and huddled up to talk about what happened. It went something like this:

Horse: Uhhh

Lumberjack: Uhhh

Me: Uhhhhhhh

Lumberjack: We just…

Horse: And we…

Me: So then….

All: Uhhhhh

And then we pretty much clapped eachother on the backs and laughed and got some water and laughed a bit more. We experienced top-notch polo in our little team, and it kinda rocked, speaking for myself.

And I guess that’s what you should look for when forming up your teams: do you have that natural cohesion and does the game just unfurl itself in front of you while playing alongside your other two team-mates? Do you struggle to communicate or does it just come naturally and smoothly? Are you able to go into games with the general understanding that you’ll just do your best?

Because that’s the other part of the equation here: once we got knocked out of the tourney, there was absolutely no malice between us. We knew that we played as best we could, and how can you fault someone for that? We just took the rest of the day to enjoy the games, drink some beer, and chit-chat with all the people we never met before.

And on the car-ride back we talked about how we’d be BFFs forever.

For-ev-er.

How Crusher Got His Groove Back

Crusher Irish and Ted Lancaster United Bike Polo

When I got my new polo bike, two things happened: I became much better at taking risks and challenges on offense, and I became much worse at defending the goal.

The first bit (becoming better at offense (in that I was willing to actually go on offense more)) was just fine by me, but I was really upset about my goal game going to the birds. I prided myself, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, on my brick wall goal tending.

The Iron Curtain.

The lead shield they use on your junk during dental X rays.

That was me – that was my role in the dynamic of a team.

But then I got my sweet new whip and I kinda lost that ability. I chalked it up to my wheel base being different, my dependence on those big wheels compared to my much smaller 26ers now, and just a general learning curve.

Well my friends, for reasons which will elude me, it seems I’ve got my groove back. Took plenty of time to get here (what, like months and months now), but I think the last pickup day fleshed out that the skill is still there, it was just taking a little breather.

got his groove back

No real lesson here, just wanted to share the happiness. Onward and Upward (and you’re welcome for that picture).

I Can’t Quit You

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I have not been playing much polo for the past 3 months. I made up a bunch of excuses as to why I was going to be taking a break. Excuses. Tell me the last time an excuse was the whole truth… Quite simply my life was getting out of balance, and setting polo aside for a season was one of the more easy steps toward restoring balance. I let life trump polo. You say life IS polo. I say it is not. Read more

Just a heads up

I’m spending my week in the glorious King of Prussia area finishing off the last residency for my MFA. I’m not quite sure if I’ll have time to post this week or not, but just know that I’m not being held prisoner by RVA or DC bike polo. I’ll see you polokins next week, huh?

 

Taylor Swift Nude

2012 is over, and I wanted to take a second to give a nod to our perhaps under-appreciated blog-boss.   Apart from juggling a job that he oh-so-loves and earning his MFA in some kind of poems or shit, he also manages to come up with posts worth reading on a daily basis.

Without him, the blog would be as worthwhile as my Fitness Pal app.    Here, but unused.

So here’s to you, Crusher.  Thanks for what you’ve given us.

 

By the way, the title is the only way i know how to attract attention.  Crusher knows all of the fancy google tricks, which is why random people from all over the globe found my birthday post by searching for Happy Birthday Horse and stuff like that.

 

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Products I Wish Existed

photo from the US dept. of the interior

photo from the US dept. of the interior

 

  • Anything new from Malletheadz
  • A mallet that had a built in curve to it (no real reason, I just think it’d be a nice change. Maybe help with having a more dynamic ability under the bb
  • Helmets with built in face cages made specifically for bike polo
  • Wheel covers that reacted to being struck. Every blocked goal would also come with a trumpet sound and lights show
  • A universal mallet mount that strapped across your back (or your bag) like you were carrying swords. I guess I could just get a brace of scabbards or something, but that would require bumping into Bart at the renaissance faire, and that’s not quite up my line (anymore)
  • Light-up NAH style balls for low light play
  • A computer that rates the quality of sideline heckling. If someone shit talks and gets below a 65% rating, they aren’t allowed to talk for the rest of the current match
  • Anything that can add lasers to existing equipment. Lasers everywhere.

Polo Tomorrow

Take the NAH to the White House

Despite my previous manlove for the NAH’s suggestions for the 2013-14 season, sometimes you just gotta call in the big guns.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-north-american-hardcourt-nah-allow-wrist-shots-2013-nah-events-order-determine-their/ZMjc3Cjs 

This is a petition to force the NAH to allow wrist shots. If it reaches 25,000 signatures the president must address it.

Can you imagine that shit?!

Now, I know there aren’t even 25,000 people who have heard about hardcourt bike polo, but MAN WE GOTTA TRY, AMIRIGHT?!

Go to the page, sign the petition. Tell your friends. Oh my God can you think of Bill O’Reilly losing his mind about this? The possibilities are probably very low but endless.

Right now, we’re at 4 big signatures  – we only need 24,996 more.

Moving Day

I’ll get back at you (hopefully) tomorrow, but right now I’m busy packing and stressing and working harder than normal.