Tag Archive for bike polo players

An Interview with Bobbi and Jackie, A Talk About Inclusion

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Note: I don’t know who took that featured image of Jackie, but it’s great and I want to know. 

I’ve always believed that bike polo is, and has the chance to be, a model for other sports when it comes to how we address players who do not live by what our culture as a whole deems “traditional”. I use that word in full knowledge of how backwards it is, but it’s exactly how a good portion of America and indeed the world approach people who have identified in a way that isn’t the same way as the majority.

Bike polo, however, having formed up not so long ago, didn’t need to have the baggage of sports that were either separated by gender (or, hell, skin color), and also didn’t need to carry the testosterone-take-all mentality of other sports–not that we are clear of that, though.

When I came up with the desire to do this article, I was horrified. Not because of the topic, but because of the people I knew I needed to interview. Jackie and Bobbi are institutions in our sport–at least to me. Both represent players who are deeply involved in bike polo and who I deeply respect.

Th being said, I was also horrified of offending these two by saying something horribly wrong or insensitive. Being a PA boy in Lancaster doesn’t necessarily afford me much exposure to all the lifestyles that people have someone who hasn’t gone out of their way to better understand transgender people, I knew that there was a high likelihood that I’d put my foot in my mouth unintentionally and offend either of these ladies.

Still, I reached out to them both, and they both were quite willing to be interviewed. Below you’ll find the answers to my questions that both Jackie (J) and Bobbi (B) provided:

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Jackie

Bike polo is, despite attempts otherwise, a very heterosexual white male dominated sport. Why do you choose to be part of it?

(J) I do my best to stay competitive, but what I ultimately get from it is a momentary break from the rest of the world, in which I face many hurdles, get harassed, etc.. I choose to be part of bike polo because it’s a place where — despite the lack of diversity — I feel comfortable and safe.

(B)  I like bike polo for the bikes and the polo. I started playing as a commuter looking for more bike orientated activities to do and polo fit the bill.

Were you both self-identified as transgender before you started playing?

(J) My first foray into polo was in 2009 in NYC. I played there for a few months before moving to Philadelphia. It was at some point while I was in Philly that I started to question what has been going on with my gender and why I felt the way I did, which I couldn’t explain at the time. I wasn’t out then, but as I moved back to NYC I began figuring things out, meeting other trans people, and started the process of coming out.

Most of the veterans of NYC bike polo didn’t really remember me since I had only come out a handful of times before moving, but that worked to my benefit since I could introduce myself to them and everyone else the way I now identify, with my preferred pronouns (she/her/hers) and name.

 (B) I started playing when still presenting as male, even to myself.

photo by Cris Klee

Bobbi (photo by Cris Klee)

Bobbi, you just recently came out (this year, in fact)–how has the response been to that declaration in your bike polo community?

 Bike polo has been nothing if not supportive about my coming out as trans. Seriously, I got far more polo friends wishing me support and letting me know they are around if I need it than any other group in my life. I didn’t notice any polo people that unfriended me from FB. I’ve found the girls I know in polo have been super supportive and I may have fielded a request for LA once or twice already.

On the other side of that, Jackie, you’ve been playing for quite a while longer while identified as transgender. How do people approach you on that? Does it come up often or do people just not talk about it?

Although I’ve always had a lot of anxiety as to how people might react, I’ve found that pretty much everyone has been super respectful and supportive. I was got really worried before registering for LA6, but after talking to the (amazing) organizers about it felt more confident. They said something like “You identify as a woman, and it’s a women’s only tournament – I don’t see what the problem is.” And that was that, it wasn’t brought up again, it just was what it was. I really appreciate that I’m accepted for who I am and don’t constantly need to have discussions about it. At the end of the day, I just want to be out there playing polo like everyone else, not thinking about my gender all the time. Read more

16 Signs You’re Turning into a Polo Player

signs

How do you know you’ve made it as a polo player? Is it when you can scoop pass to yourself while spinning your wheels wicked fast? Is it when you can legitimately say that PBR is your favorite recovery drink? Is it when you stop asking dumb questions like that?

I’m from the internet, and I’m here to help:

  1. You think that facial hair is part of the required equipment
  2. Whenever you see a new building going up in your town, you scope out the gas pipe being delivered for the right inner diameter
  3. “Janky” has become a term you use to describe your bike, your house, your cat, your emotions, and the food you picked up before the tourney
  4. When on a bike ride, you spend more time trying not to check people than you do looking at the scenery
  5. You can guess  how long a person has played accurately by amount of stickers they have on their helmet
  6. Sleeping on a floor with carpeting excites you
  7. Somewhere in your bag is a bag of candy. You know it. Somewhere…
  8. Before getting onto a plane, you begin rehearsing your “no, it’s ALL hockey equipment. NO REALLY PLEASE DON’T LOOK THE SMELL IS HORRIBLE.”
  9. You have a corner of your basement for ski poles you cut too short, but aren’t willing to throw out
  10. You dream about court surfaces
  11. You might not know the phone numbers of all polo equipment manufacturers, but you know a guy who knows a guy who dated a girl who is now dating one of those guys. Totally in, you know?
  12. A visceral reaction occurs when someone says the word “taco.”
  13. You have a tan that only goes from your wrist to your elbow.
  14. You finish business meetings by saying “beer point.”
  15. It’s hard to explain to your coworkers what you did on the weekend.
  16. Adding “3 2 1” to the beginning of an event becomes more frequent (driving, standing up from a restaurant, sex, etc).

Rainy days and Fridays always make me drink

This post is about politics. No, not the politics of pachyderms and jackasses. Nor is it about the governing bodies of hardcore bike polo (<– for you Sabrina). This is about interclub politics. The esteemed Crushman for some reason felt that something should be written about it. Now, if you are one of those polo players who generate, or are magnets for, controversy – be it on court or off, please close this page and go find something else to waste your time. There will be nothing for you here. Likewise if you typically just fly above all the shitstorms in a cloud of blissful ignorance, same deal – go away and enjoy your life.

But if you are like me, and you feel compelled to have people get along within your club, then please read on. In some respects the idea that people should be able to avoid emotional conflicts while playing bike polo is absurd. We are, after all, engaged in a competitive, dangerous and dare I say – potentially violent activity. And to add to this recipe of volatility we have lots of grey areas in the rules which makes for plenty of personal interpretation. Over the few years we’ve been playing I’ve seen arguments over hacking, t-boning, tourney rosters, going too fast, playing too slow, undercutting, tailwhips, checking, too serious, not serious enough and a 100 others including my personal favorite… over-coaching. Read more