Tag Archive for bike polo clubs

Organization: How Much Is Too Much?

govtmeeting

One of the draws that bike polo has for plenty of us is just how little organization it has. Or at least, how disorganized it seems. To someone who is outside of the gritty of the sport, it just looks like a weird, spontaneous collection of people who happen to all be rolling past a court and decide “oh, why not, let’s invent a game right now.”

But to anyone who has spent more than a month playing, it’s very clear that there are many forces at work to assure that things happen which need to happen.

No, I’m not talking about the NAH level, necessarily, but more about the club level of organization.

In The Beginning…

When I first started playing with Lancaster, there was no elected leadership (our godfather, Kyle, was the de facto leader) and certainly nothing more than absolute democracy (one person, one vote. No representation). This worked out because we weren’t really trying to do anything other than play, and we were all pretty happy about it, I think.

But then had a series of events which required more than one guy to decide on, and needed less than the whole club to take action for. This happens to every club, I believe, and it lead to the idea of “polo elders,” or players who had more experience as being members of the club and could be trusted (more or less) to do what was right for everyone.

In this structure we managed to purchase a generator, develop a transportable lighting system, and also managed to make club shirts (though that was much harder than it should have been, truth be told).

Lancaster United Gets Some Government

government-structureBut even that wasn’t enough–or maybe it was–and that takes us to where we are now as a club: we’re preparing for the Eastside Qualifier, we just elected Elders to lead the club for a year, and the Elders have asked one of the players (appropriately, Fat Stacks,) to act as treasurer because we’re now collecting club dues from club members. 

This is all kinda amazing when you think about it, and I’m curious if other clubs collect dues from players. Actually I wondered for a while if we were going too far with it all, if it made any sort of sense to be so rigid in our organization.

But when I got to thinking about it, it made lots of sense: there are times when a situation comes up (buying club shirts, paying local gov’t for space, insurance costs, court/light upkeep) where only a few members actually pitch in; or the people who do pitch in are the same ones who always do. By putting a cost on membership, we assure that the load is balanced fairly between players, and we also have a bit of money for any unseen expenses. Read more

I Don’t Have a Club

clubhouse

I remember, maybe two weeks after joining this club (known as Lancaster City Bike Polo at the time), I felt like I was part of an organization. Loose, perhaps, but there was still a sense of order and responsibility. Polo elders had their say, Horse and Kyle seemed like the leaders of the group, and when something needed doing, it got done.

It was that feeling that first drew me into the sport, because I certainly didn’t have any sort of skill on a bike and I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life–yes, yes, I still can’t. shut up. But that sense of being part of something larger than myself drew me in, and it made me feel as though playing great polo was secondary, perhaps, to being part of it.

Within the first few months of playing, we had a few club meetings at bars just to make sure our club was healthy and heading the right way. We talked about where we could play other than the middle school tennis courts. We talked about getting sweatshirts made and I brought up starting a little blog to get ourselves known in the larger polo world.

And behold: we had sweatshirts made with our club’s logo, we found Fairview (where we still play), and Lancasterpolo.com has grown up to be what it is now. Accomplishment. Achievement.

Fathers Day Bike Polo (72) (Copy)But that was almost three years ago now, and somewhere between then and now, my club stopped feeling like a club at all. It seems like we’re just a bunch of people who gather at appointed times to drink, shit-talk each other, and play polo.

And that sounds like a great way to spend time, does it not?

But let’s look at the trouble in this ongoing scenario, and it’s one that’s been bothering me for some time now.

With the majority of Lancaster United seeming rather disinterested in growing to a regional level of play (i.e. going to tourneys with the expectation of competing), and with not a single team existing within the club itself that manages to go to tourneys (the closest being team Scrimmage, Ted, Troy and me, all of us playing at ESPIs in Frederick once), every pickup day is more or less just that. There is no drive in the club, and that lack of direction makes for “meh” pickup days, at least for me.

I have heard of other clubs imploding, of course. The common thread in those stories is typically that the people in the club stopped caring about polo and instead cared about just having a fun, drinky time with friends. They used polo as a vehicle to see buddies and shoot the shit.

Again, I can hear you polokins out there screaming that’s the point, you dummy. You’re taking it too seriously!

I hear you, my dear readers, I do. But let’s say I want to compete on a bigger level than just a pickup game. Read more