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.
It’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