Tag Archive for bike polo club

You’re Out Of The Club: Dealing With Problem Players

ejected

Problem players: people who lose their cool, who verbally or physically attack other players, who are generally bringing down the happy-fun-times that bike polo was created to bring about. These are the people who cause a lot of heartache and headache for a club who might not be readily prepared to deal with such a person. I’ve been there, as I think all clubs have been–and I want to help in the most Dr. Phil-ish like capacity I am able to. Hell, I might even throw out some Southern witticisms while I’m at it just to really drive home the comparisons. Who knows.

I think the trouble with trouble players comes from a few sources. One, there isn’t any sort of hierarchy inside of a club, which makes it impossible to discipline someone effectively (or even talk about what’s going wrong). Two, there isn’t any sort of code of conduct (written or otherwise) to indicate what is and is not good behavior. Three, and this is the toughest of the three; there is a fear of losing a friend (which, presumably, this person is despite their ridiculous behavior. These three all together lead up to a significant problem for any club who has someone who did something very much so against the spirit of the game (let’s say they punched another player in the face) or someone who repeatedly commits smaller actions which make other players uncomfortable or upset (someone who, let’s say, consistently picks on another player to a point that is far beyond heckling).

magnaIn these cases, as with any case where there is an element of an organization that is causing harm to themselves, to other individuals, or to the group itself, it’s important to remove the emotional and instead work of facts. To do this, there must be some form of expected conduct–whether that’s something that is verbally understood by your club or it is a literal document that states what is and is not acceptable to do as a club member. This isn’t something that tells you what you can say or can’t say–or what you can do in your off time: it’s specific to pickup and (if you want to get really thorough) tournaments. It should have both the types of infractions and the punishment for infractions. Something like:

1. Purposeful physical attack on another player:

-1st time: 2 week suspension

-2nd time: 1 month suspension

-3rd time: banned from club/pick-up

 

2. Purposeful physical attack on player’s equipment:

-repayment of any broken equipment in money or in replacement within 30 days

 

Now, this all seems pretty stodgy, and it is. There is nothing that should make you feel good about having a document like this on hand in your club, specifically for something so loose and free flowing as bike polo. BUT–when it comes time when a player lashes out at another, you’ll be happy to have this document to lean on.

Why is that? For a few reasons: you remove the argument that you’re just punishing the player for no other reason than to get back at them. Point in fact, you (as the club president or representative or whatever) are simply following a document that your club agreed on. There doesn’t need to be any emotion in it at all. The other player did X, and the result is Y.

But this also means that there must be some sort of hierarchy in the club (someone who is elected or chooses to enforce the rules agreed to by the club. Really this can just be a collective thing–everyone is responsible for knowing and enforcing the rules–but generally people don’t want to be bothered. Instead, having someone who is willing to enforce the rules (and having a club that’s willing to abide them) is the key.

But what if the person to be disciplined doesn’t agree? Well, I don’t envy you, but the best thing to do in this case is simply make sure the club refuses to play with them on the regular days of pickup. The thing of it is, you’re not this person’s parent and you aren’t their boss. The most you can do as a club is punish them within the confines of regular activity (as far as a suspension or removal from the club is concerned). If this person shows up during a suspension, your club should simply stop playing if they try to jump in. Likewise, if they show up after being kicked out of the club, you should let it be known they aren’t welcome to play.

But: Read more

Et Tu, Clubmate?

cesarct

Being part of a bike polo club isn’t easy. We like to say that it is, of course. That we’re just a bunch of people who love bikes and happy-fun-times and getting our daily troubles out of our hair by whacking a ball around a court. But someone who says that and actually believes it has never tried to organize a clubwide shirt buying attempt. Or tried to organize a tourney. Or tried to decide on what to get on their pizza with two other people.

ceasar

The truth of it is, there will always be people who want to organize bike polo as much as they can, and there will be people who don’t. The problem with this is clear (or should be): the people who want organization are going to be hard up for support, most times, from the club itself. In our club, the mover and shaker is Horse, and I feel damned sorry for him most days.

As an Eastside Rep, Horse is in a good position to understand some of the patterns and positions that bike polo as a whole are taking. He sees a bigger picture than some other polo players who aren’t involved in the NAH or other clubs. He looks at things as a complete map of the poloverse, whereas you and I might just look at our club or even just a subset of that.

It means, for poor Horse, that he oftentimes looks for standardization and competition. I don’t mean this as a negative (though we often go after him as a rules enforcer), what I mean is he’s very aware of the standards of polo, and he gets frustrated when those standards aren’t followed. Likewise, he gets wrapped up in the quagmire of club organization, and that’s enough to drive anyone crazy.

I imagine there is a guy like Horse in every club: someone who really wants to make the club as strong as it can be while still having fun and not offending too many people in the process. Someone who can’t understand why people don’t want to advance the club’s ability and legitimacy in the bike polo world-at-large. I bet there’s a guy like him – and that all of them contemplate taking up another sport, from time to time.

I don’t think I have much of a point to this post, other than this: I feel ya, Caesar. You’re trying to do the best you can, but you’re not getting the support you need nor the conviction of your club mates. It’s tough. I get it. But I think you’re a necessary part of the sport and that we’d be at a loss without the people who try to drive their clubs to be the best they can be.