Tag Archive for Bike Polo Growth

Want to Grow Bike Polo? Forget Sponsors–Look to Schools.

schoolpolo

Image from the “Living the Dream” contest most recently held here at Lancasterpolo. 

Is Sponsorship the Only Way?

The bike polo Illuminati spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to decide if indeed bike polo is in the decline (I don’t think it is) and what we can do to reverse that trend if it proves to be accurate (which it’s not). Still, even if you’re only mildly involved in the game, chances are you have some sort of interest in where the sport is going and how that’s going to affect you down the line.

One of the refrains I hear more often than not is “wait until we get our first big sponsor.” And, no doubt, if Gatorade or Nike or Adidas wanted to throw a few thousand dollars at the NAH each year, we’d see some significant changes to how much support clubs got in order to host tourneys and build courts and whatever else. But throwing money at something isn’t always the best way to fix it. I know this as a fact, as I recently tried throwing my wallet at a leaking faucet and all I got was a wet wallet. (Thanks, Obama.)

But as true as that sounds–that getting a big chunk of dough will help our sport–I believe there is a more effective way to:

  • Gain a steady stream of new players for all clubs
  • Establish the sport as marketable/profitable
  • Create a community that is unified and vibrant

Look to the Gym Class

And it comes down to introducing grade-schools to the sport, and encouraging them, in turn, to introduce bike polo as a extra-curricular activity/gym class event.

Why is this a good idea? Well, let’s start with the basics: the more people we have getting involved in bike polo, the more likely it is that the sport will live beyond the first big wave we have going right now. People who learn to play a sport earlier in life are likely to develop a certain enjoyment from it, and typically continue to play that sport into college (or at least play it on the weekends with friends to stay in shape after college and what-not). Furthermore we’d be institutionalizing the game itself, making for a set way of learning the sport and having it be available to more people than just those who stumble into the game through luck.

This model (the school focus rather than sponsor focus) also gives bike polo equipment manufacturers something that they’re dying for: bulk orders. Imagine if a school–just one–needed to begin this sort of program up. They’d need to order dozens of complete mallets, dozens of various sized bikes (or at least bikes that could suit all body types–I remember how fun it was to be the only guy who needed the smallest golf club in gym class), and safety equipment to boot. Even if just a few companies were able to lock down those orders, the impact on their ability to research and develop more equipment (not to mention offer it up at a cheaper price) would be monumental. Read more

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