Tag Archive for Bike Polo Growth

The Promise of 2014: Will Bike Polo Grow Up?

New Year Baby

Whenever I’m fortunate enough to find myself on a day which contains polo, my thoughts always lend themselves to three over-arching concerns:

1. will I be able to find clean bike polo clothing?

2. will anyone bring beer and/or snacks?

3. will someone come to the court to kick us off?

It doesn’t matter that we’ve been playing at the same location for years, now; we’re not supposed to be there. And with each encounter between ourselves and roller hockey players/parents of roller hockey children/police, we draw ever closer to a moment where someone in power will tell us we can’t use the rink anymore–and then Lancaster United is back to square one (as far as a perfect place to play is concerned).

glueBike polo is, for better or worse, a baby. It isn’t able to stand on it’s own, can’t support itself, and certainly can’t run with the bigger kids (imagine hockey, football and baseball personified as tween children running well ahead of a baby (bike polo) being pushed along in a stroller by Ben Schultz. Baseball is a kid who is eating glue near a pitching diamond, if you’re curious). Bike polo isn’t widely recognized, it’s not widely accepted as a legitimate sport by the townships and local governments that we so earnestly approach for our own space, and it’s certainly not in the collective conscious of our culture.

In short, bike polo needs to do a lot of growing up if I indeed want to stop thinking that we’ll be forcibly removed from our playing area every time we saddle up.

red bull2014 is a new year, and all new years carry the assumed possibility of big changes. I’d like to think that 2014 will be the year that the NAH manages to get some sort of big sponsor to foot the bill for the Qualifier Series, a Red Bull or Gatorade that will demand our sport be put in at least a nationally syndicated commercial for a few months–raising recognition and respect of our players. I’d like to think this is a possibility, that when a group of bike polo players approach a local government they don’t spend the first thirty minutes trying to explain what bike polo is, and then another thirty minutes trying to explain why it’s worth listening to their request.

It’s something that can’t happen, I don’t believe, without a bigger spotlight on the sport. All we need is one big spotlight just for a little while: perhaps Nationals or Worlds being a “Red Bull Event,” as much as that might stick in the gullet of a few people in our community. Or it might be as simple as Nike deciding to try sponsoring a few teams for a grand each (and putting pictures of that team up on their home page).

I don’t know quite what growing up would look like, but I know we aren’t there yet, though we should be if we’d like to start seeing multi-use courts welcoming bike polo players, the securing of tournament areas becoming easier, and bike polo as a whole continue to gain players and supporters rather than becoming stagnant.

“How can we get more spectators?” is the wrong question.

spectators

When you get the intelligentsia  of bike polo together, you’ll inevitably come to a point where the growth of the sport is discussed. Such was the case when I and a fellow game theorist came together at the Eastside thaw  to ignore the final game of the first day (congrats, Troy. I had no idea it was happening) and talk about the argument for how to make bike polo more “spectator friendly.”

Well, when it comes down to it, I think making the sport more spectator friendly is the dumbest single effort we could undertake. At least as far as making our sport grow and prosper.

It’s easy to see why people think having a huge fan base will help out, though:

More people watching means more interest at large, with means more sponsors, which means more money, which means more better polo.

Or, if you want to South Park it:  Read more

Everything is Going to Change in Bike Polo – And You Shouldn’t Care

It’s hard to think of any other sport like hardcourt bike polo. We have a governing body, tournaments, companies producing specific equipment and a worldwide culture (note I didn’t say subculture – we’re past that point, kids) but we still argue over rules, and we still are apt to go the DIY route for poles and bikes.

We’re at an interesting point – we’re in the Wild West of the sport.

Imagine, if you will, early American Football: the lack of standard equipment, the leather helmets. Think of the scattered padding between players (some choosing to put some extra shirts between the shoulders – some choosing nothing at all). Baseball was the same way – people made their own baseball bats in the beginning of the sport.

I think that happened sometime around 1934 – right after the war between Germany and Columbia ended. I don’t know, I didn’t pay attention in that class.

But now in either of those sports – in virtually all levels of play – people use approved equipment and go by the agreed upon rules. There is arguing, of course, but generally it’s between a lollygagging ref and a coach who has marital problems and can’t seem to win an argument unless it’s with a man at a little league game. Read more