Tag Archive for bike polo politics

She’s Polo Hot

ladies-of-polo-150x150

This phrase, along with a handful of others, has come up along my travels in our sport. I’ve heard it, said it, and taken part in conversations circulating about the attractiveness of various female players and the qualities of that attractiveness when compared to the attractiveness of women as a whole (the implication being that female bike polo players are generally unattractive when compared to most women, hence polo hot suggests that a woman is hot for a bike polo player).

Today it’s sticking in my throat. Today it’s bothering the hell out of me.

Bike polo is pretty cool in that we have guys and gals playing side-by-side at tournaments and pickup. It’s nice that we are breaking down a wall (or more appropriately, trying like hell to build a wall to start with). I’ve had plenty of conversations with men and women about whether women have a place in high level play (women rarely make it to the highest levels of competition), and if women in the sport would be better served with their own league.

Those are two topics that I think I’ve covered in the past (links below), and not the subject here. This is about a particular mindset that male polo players seem to possess. I use seem here because there has yet to be a tournament I’ve gone to where the hotness of a female player hasn’t come up–either in a positive or negative manner (by this I mean someone shouting a quasi-sexual, positive heckle at a female player or saying to the nearby group that a particular woman was hot).  Read more

A Little Home-Town Drama

drama

A month or so ago, Lancaster was setting up for it’s weekly Wednesday play (I’m going to be dramatizing this a bit, as I was not there at the time). They set up the lights, the moon shining off of Kruse’s skin enough that they questioned whether they were really necessary at all, and play commenced.[I'm not really sure Nick Kruse was there, I just wanted to that same joke as much as possible.]

However, a local law enforcement officer official came by and, unlike interactions with other police officer men before, commented that we really shouldn’t be playing at night unless we have permission, as the park is a dawn-to-dusk sort of place.

And, of course, he was exactly right.

And here are some lessons on what to do when that happens, dear readers: 

1. Instead of putting up a huge fight or simply ignoring the warning, Lancaster United said “ok, officer,” and shut down for the night. We then created an email chain to discuss what happened and next steps.

2. Next, it was decided that the best people/person to approach would be the Township, so after a somewhat extensive series of emails back and forth within the club’s current leadership, I called them up. I was told the guy I needed to speak to was out, and I could leave a message (which I did with my authoritative-but-not-a-jerk voice).

3. The township man called me back and I was nice as a hobbit can be to him. I explained we were at fault–I explained that we’d been using the court for years and that we made the goals that stand there now. I talked about how much we clean the area and keep the rink in good order. He was very impressed with all this, and then told him our problem.

He was already receptive to the idea of helping us, as out of everyone who used the rink, we were apparently the only ones who actually cared about it.

4. After he told me he’d bring it up with the committee to decide on, I left him alone for a week, and then called.

And then called again the week after.

And then called again the week after that.

And then once more during the next week.

Each and every time, I did so with courtesy, graciousness, and understanding. After all, we are such a tiny concern for a guy who needs to explain why snow isn’t being cleared/why the fire department doesn’t have enough money/etc.

Eventually (yesterday) I sent him an email, and he asked for a formal request.

5. The formal request was a great opportunity for me to show that we were not just a bunch of kids wanting to bend the rules for the sake of bending the rules. I presented our case, leaving out sport specific language (if he ever asked, of course I’d tell him, but it’s just as easy to not try to describe bike polo).

He loved the request, advised me to come to the meeting when it was discussed (this upcoming week), and told me he’d be reinforcing that this shouldn’t be a very big deal).

So, in summary, what I think we as a club did intelligently:

  1. Respectful and willing to follow the officer’s warning
  2. Didn’t try to sneak back to play
  3. Went through the correct routes to request permission
  4. Presented what we did for the benefit of the community (fixing up the rink, having goals made, cleaning up trash)
  5. Willingness to be present at committee meeting to speak directly to decision makers

Where it goes from here? Well, I guess we’ll see how the conversation goes with the committee. But I’m damned sure we aren’t the first club to deal with this, and definitely not the last. We stand to lose Winter Wednesday play, but stand to gain a set time and space for polo as well, so I’m very excited to see how it all plays out.

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

The Politics of Throwing Mallets: A Response

crybaby

Well, if you haven’t guessed it already, today’s earlier post was a direct result of a situation a few pickup days ago. And here, dear readers, is the response from another player. 

Pickup days, egos, And being OK with what is. 

Yes, our club has a good mix of what we’d call A and B players (A and B being relative only to the skill level within our club, as I’m often reminded when I travel to tourneys to get my ass humbly handed to me)   On pickup days we try to mix it up, keep everyone interested, and have fun all while maintaining a relatively high level of play.

The previous article had some big flaws in my mind, and I’d like to counter them.

First off; check your math, and your bias. The Fox News of B players might think that the arrangement of the throws makes a difference but it doesn’t.  All throw, A, B, repeat, and All throw B, A, repeat all give you the same likelihood of double sitting for your respective skill level.  If there are more than six A players, the A player is more at risk for sitting. More B players, then the B player is more at risk for sitting.

Whatever.

Lancaster United Pick-up tourney (11)Last night was a perfect example. We had probably 10 of what our club would call A players, and 2 B players. Some A players didn’t get to play in a single A game all night. It happens.
What would be more inconsistent is letting that B player or A player mess up the structure just because he’s crabby today and doesn’t want to sit anymore.

Secondly, it’s not discrimination, nor is it keeping you from attaining “A” status. Instead of looking at your B game as the losers group (which is both sad, and insulting to the other newcomers in that B group), why not try and play as best you can, and learn from them?  Utilize some tactics you’re seeing the A players use, and try them on your own?  Don’t try and tell me that no one in your B game has something you could learn from… just don’t. Even our A players can learn something from watching B games.  So stop crying, again.

Another good point to consider is the reason we separate A and B games. Read more

A,B,All-throw, and the politics of tossing mallets

Lancaster City Hardcourt Bike Polo

Magbee (Magpie, as I call him) has been a bike polo player since before I started playing. While I am certainly more frequent (due to work obligations he took about a year or so off, more or less), he has witnessed this club’s beginnings and is now part of its growth. Here he shares a recent experience with throw-in politics:

Lancaster United Bike Polo has very regular pickup days. Sundays after Noon, and Wednesdays after 4pm (for those who apparently don’t work regular business hours) or “after work” for all the rest who don’t skip out of work. We play our pickup games in typical fashion, with mallets being thrown three to either side to determine teams. This is a simple, unbiased, and effective method to randomize game play. This works.

Now and then, the club has a great showing (typically on Sundays), and there are 12+ players in attendance. This is great for the club, as we have many new players eager to play and hone their skills. However, players are sitting longer, drinking more beer, and ultimately bummed they’re not playing as much. This can be a trying time. Usually we move to fairer approach to selecting teams to increase gameplay for all involved. This would be the A, B, All-throw method.

The A, B, All-throw method is highly effective at selecting fair-ish teams to play in a semi-regular rotation. You have your “A” players who have attended tourneys, played for several years, spent more money on their bikes and polo gear than their kids for the holidays, and who are just all-around great players. There are your “B” players who may or may not have played for several years, may have taken time away from polo, are new to the sport, or just can’t seem to hone their hand, eye, feet coordination to an “A” playing status.

A and BIt is relatively easy to determine who will be categorized as A or B, but this process can be a bit discriminatory for those who wish to increase their skill. Yes, the selective nature of categorizing as A or B does make games more fair, and it does help with the self-esteem of those honing their skills in hopes of someday achieving A level, but it still discriminates.

Now, I could easily rant and rave this whole post away discussing pick up polo discrimination and how the A players are keeping the B players down by keeping them out of their games, but this is not that post. This post is focusing on the A, B All-throw method that keeps the discrimination to a minimum when properly executed. So, now that we have the explanation out of the way, let’s dive into how this should really work. Read more