Tag Archive for 321 Polo!

Meet the Press: Aaron Hand, 321 POLO!

meet

Despite all of the things I say against some of the other bike polo blogs out in the world, the truth is I really am in awe of them. While the majority of what I cover here on Lancasterpolo is absolutely made-up drivel, they seem to put time and energy into the work they put out.

That being said, I wanted to learn a bit more about how they came to join the ranks of the Association of Bike Polo Journalists and what makes them tick. The first one to respond (and thereby the first to go up) is Aaron Hand of 321 POLO! (MY NEMESIS, BTW):

Tell me the origin story of your blog/how you got started writing about bike polo.

To be honest, I don’t know the true origin story of 3-2-1 Polo. It was created in December of 2010 by Sean Ingram of Fixcraft. My first interaction with 3-2-1 Polo! was in April of 2012 when Sean approached me about doing a bike check for my Marino Bike (http://321polo.net/2012/04/bike-check-aaron-hands-custom-marino/). After the article was published, I expressed my interest in writing to Sean in hopes that I could be a contributor.
He was stoked on the idea so I began to write some articles that I felt the bike polo community would be interested in. After writing several articles, Sean asked me about my interest in taking over the blog. He saw the blog becoming more popular and was afraid that it would lose credibility being ran by one of the polo product companies. In August of 2012 I officially took over, with the help of my good friend Christian Losciale.

Why do you keep doing it?

It’s hard to say why I keep doing it. Maybe some deep down part of me hopes that the sport will become mainstream overnight and I’ll be able to use the blog as a way to become a pundit for ESPN. Maybe some other deep down part of me doesn’t want to let down Sean and myself for being a quitter. But the most likely reason that I keep doing it is because I’m obsessed with this sport. My girlfriend often halfheartedly jokes that I love bike polo more than her. And while that’s not true, bike polo is a very close second haha.

I love this sport. I love keeping people in the know of all the latest news about products, tournaments, and developments.

What value do you think you’re providing bike polo–or are you even worried about doing that?

Like I mentioned above, I love being able to keep people in the know. I feel that I am providing a good source for people to find out all the latest and greatest coming from the polo world.

Are you ever surprised by the reaction of your readers? What instance in particular surprised you?

It’s really hard to guess how readers will react to articles. Sometimes I spend hours researching for an article and then it gets one like on Facebook and barely any hits on the website. I feel so sure that people will love it and BOOM, nothing. Other times I post a simple picture and it gets 10 shares and 90 likes. I know people care about the sport but it’s hard to hit them with an article at the exact right time for them to be interested in it.

Where do you see bike polo going in the future?

I would love for it to turn the “Big 5″ into the Big 6. Realistically, I see it becoming (at best) an Olympic sport. Not one of the cool sports like curling or gymnastics, that get lots of TV coverage, but more like triathlon or speed walking. People will be able to see it if they are at the Olympics but people at home will barely know the sport exists. The glass-half-full part of me will always fight for it to be up there with the Football, Basketball, Baseball, etc.

What would make you stop running/writing on your blogs?

$1 million buy-out from ESPN or Nike or Sports Illustrated. Although I would have a clause in the contract that would allow me to still write. Sometimes papa’s gotta express his opinion!

What’s the difference between your polo-self and your polo-writing-self?

I wouldn’t say there is a real difference. The polo-self guides, shapes, and forms the polo-writing self.

How do you frame your blog (what I mean is: if you had to write a mission statement for your blog, what would it be)?

The heading on my Instagram sums it up pretty well: “Bike Polo News from Bike Polo Dudes”. I feel Sam Ball and I have a great down-to-Earth approach to writing articles. We report on the basics; show what bike polo is, who it’s made up of, and where we want the sport to go.

Other blogs: competition or family?

I see Lancaster as both. They are like the twin brother that is competing with me for the parents attention. Yeah, we get along and are friends, but there is a that deep down desire that makes me work hard so that I can get more hugs.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I know competition drives success and growth, but I think it would be fun to join up with my fellow blog brothers and sisters to start BikePoloNews.com. I feel my site is great at reporting on the basics because I’m constantly on Facebook and League of Bike Polo looking for the latest news. I feel Lancaster is great at in-depth articles because Matt is a great writer (that one was hard to admit) [editor's note: I bolded that. And I want it on his tombstone]. Goalhole is great and bringing all the players together and showing the fun side of bike polo. As the big three, I feel that combining out powers would both create the ultimate bike polo news website and let us all have a little more free time away from our individual blogs.

This isn’t goodbye.

321

I want to start by saying that I appreciate all of you, and I hope you won’t stop reading what I write.

But, to be really honest, trying to support a website by myself is tedious at best, and it’s getting in the way of my normal writing. I’ve been struggling the past few months with life balance, and with the donations slowing to non-existent, I’ve been almost positive that my hope to get to worlds was just that: a hope.

However, Aaron Hand of 321 Polo (mortal enemy) approached me late last month with an idea and a proposition: He’d pay for my trip (well, okay–most of my trip) to Worlds if I moved under 321 POLO! as a staff writer, moving my content over to his site and making Lancasterpolo.com redirect to 321 POLO!

Honestly, this has been a consideration of mine since maybe last year, and I’m very happy to have some of the strain taken away from my day-to-day responsibilities.

But worry not! I’m going to become the East Coast (and beyond) correspondent for 321 POLO!, so you can still expect me to be up in your face, taking bad pictures and reporting romantically about the tournaments over on this side of the U.S. I’m not sure who gets the middle of the country yet, though I suspect that won’t be my responsibility.

Anyway, the actual hand-off won’t occur until next Monday, as Aaron and I need to figure out how to efficiently move my articles over to their new home before making this site a simple redirect to 321 POLO!.

Again, I’m super thankful for the readership I’ve gained so far, and I wouldn’t even have made it to the point where another website wanted to hire me on if it weren’t for you. It’s amazing what you guys have allowed me to become, and I’m so very excited to be working for someone instead of for myself.

So I’ll see you cats at my new digs at 321POLO.net soon!

Transparency in the NAH

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This post was originally featured on the esteemed site, 321POLO!  I am happy to feature it here and hope to do more of this shin-diggery in the future! Great post, 321!

On our April Fool’s Day post, Kev from League of Bike Polo and Max from Northern Standard both said their clue to it being a fake post was us stating that NAH held a press conference. Well joke is on those two, because last Sunday Ben Schultz and I cuddled in the corner of Panera Bread and did a Google+ Hangout with NAH Secretary Eric Ransom and Matt Kabik, the Editor in Chief of Lancaster Bike Polo. We all joked around about it being the first NAH press conference, but all jokes aside, that’s essentially what it was.

conference

Eric and Ben wanted to bring Matt and I together to discuss NAH’s plans for becoming more transparent, and they wanted to start this off by releasing their financial info in a way that wouldn’t get lost in hundreds of comments. Since this was me and Matt’s first time attending a press conference, we decided to work together and split the information into two completely different posts: he would report on the finances and I would report on transparency. (If you missed his post on NAH’s finances, check it out HERE)

Eric Ransom said he is afraid that everyone views NAH as a Mothership hovering above bike polo, just shooting down orders and commands. He fears that people think what they have to say has no effect on NAH’s decisions on rules, tournaments, etc. He wants to destroy this stigma and show that NAH is nothing more than roughly 30 hard working volunteers who want to better this sport that we all love. As posted in Lancaster’s post on finances, NAH released an Organizational Chart that allows bike polo players to see who makes up the NAH body. The chart also helps players understand the appropriate channels of communication to voice concerns/comments to help the sport progress.

Ben Schultz says that as much as he loves having a great phone conversation with anyone that calls him with NAH problems/suggestions, he wants people to get in the habit of using these communication channels. Most channels start with talking to regional representatives. The regional representatives are then expected to share the information given to them with the appropriate NAH committees. As started in the finances article, people are always welcome to contact the committees themselves as well. The NAH board will then check up on how the reps and committees are doing in monthly progress reports. These progress reports will be made public so that all players can see the growth of the sport due to the NAH.

This information will become available to the public in a couple different ways. First, NAH plans to run their website like a blog, with frequent updates on new information and the progress of the organization. They plan to release financial information this way every year as well, so that no one is in the dark on the state of NAH money any longer. Secondly, they plan to use the base management software Trello to organize their plans for the future and show what they are currently working on. They plan to set up a public overview board where people can look up specific dates of released information. For example, say NAH plans to have the 2013 Rule Set released on April 11th; this information will be on a chart that everyone will be able to see, and if they miss this date then they can expect ridicule from the public. Ben hopes that by making these release dates public, NAH can stay on top of their duties.

NAH members put in a lot of time and effort to help better the sport, but before now it has all been done behind a curtain, leaving polo players to speculate on what it is they really do. With the help of Trello, the NAH website, and monthly progress reports, we are hoping that NAH will become more transparent to us all; and if not, thanks to the organizational chart, we will know exactly who to point our finger at. Here’s to hoping for progress!