I’m going to call it. The violent days of bike polo are behind us, and we’ve now entered the technical/skills phase. Let it be written.
Honestly though – I don’t think I’m going out on limb when I make that observation. Even if you’re just looking at it from a how-many-mallets-have-I-destroyed-in-a-tourney ratio, it’s clear that we’re doing a lot less slashing, crashing, and…uh…splash…ing?
When I first started playing bike polo, our club was very rough and tumble–I think a lot of clubs still were all the way back in 2011 (try to remember that long ago). There was a huge likelihood of burning through all your mallets at a tourney, taco-ing a wheel and having at least one person get the NAH Balls kicked out of them. Players who were able to bring the pain generally did very well, in a Master Blaster sort of way (see how I tied that back in – MFA is paying off right now).
But that’s not the case anymore – or at least isn’t the majority style of play. Instead, we have very technical teams winning tourneys, which drives players overall to be more about finesse than brute strength, which is both good and bad. Good, I’d say, for the sport as a whole. Bad for those of us that want to go to work and feel like we’ve been at the place we do not talk about. Lookin’ at you, Mr. Durden.
What does this mean? The implications are multi-fold: for one thing, bike polo equipment producers can start making equipment that is more suited to weight/ability rather than surviving a gorilla attack. It also makes our sport a bit more accessible to new players (it’s hard to watch people hurt the hell out of each other and then not worry about how you’ll survive your first matches for some people – go figure). It also means that rules become much more important for the sake of sportsmanship and not for the sake of stopping people from killing eachother. Believe it or not, bike polo uses a lot of gentlemen’s rules (I would go for the whole “gentlemen/women thing, but it comes off as trying to hard. You know what I’m saying), with the number one rule in bike polo being a more crude way of saying “treat everyone with mutual admiration and respect, hear hear.”
As the sport continues to progress–and the players progress right along with it–I would not be surprised to see whole tourneys where checking becomes more technical than brutal (that is, simply stopping the play though contact and not trying to slam someone against the boards for drama’s sake). There are still players out there who excel at bringing the physical game – and I for one still like that element very much – but I can see those players giving way to a more technical sort of playing.
So you could say, really, that we’re Beyond The Thunderdome?! Hahahaha I did it!
What do you think?