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Culture, Editorial

Jenny Goes To São Paulo

March 29, 2016
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“Saudade” and “chulé”

Two great words in Portuguese that don’t have exact one-word English translations, but both apply to my great experience with the ever-welcoming São Paulo Bike Polo Club.

I went down to visit my sister who lives in São Paulo Brazil last week, and on Saint Patrick’s Day, in one of the world’s largest cities, I was lucky enough to meet up with a second kind of family, one that at first were complete strangers, but through the magic of bike polo, welcomed me and made me feel like I was família.

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Editorial, Player Profile

Feminist On The Court: Women’s History Month

March 22, 2016
Feminist on the Court

“Feminist on the Court” is a bimonthly column giving voice to a variety of women, trans, and/or femme players (and those that support them) from around the world. This polo herstory is written by one of the longest-playing women on the West Coast, SF polo’s Jacki Rust. If you’d like to tell us your story, email genderinpolo@gmail.com.

The sun was beating down behind the Sound, the smell of fried fish and boggy air swilled in the Seattle evening as we gathered on the rooftop of an adult video store near Fisherman’s Wharf in 2005.  Matt Messenger, the ring leader of this eclectic group, encouraged me to play a game, so on a Frankenbike with homemade mallet (composed of a crutch for the shaft and PVC pipe for the head) I played my first game of bicycle polo.

I was really nervous on the roof of that downtown porn shop, because I wanted to be accepted by this group that I thought, at the time, were the coolest people I had ever met.  Turns out they are a bunch of nerds, but I’ll never forget Matt’s encouraging words, “Oh look, it’s Suzy Natural.”  Those five words kept me coming back for years after, and reminded me to welcome anyone one who is interested in the game, especially women.

Flash forward over a decade later to the World Championships in Timaru, New Zealand.  Participants now play with equipment specific to the sport, mallets cost around $50, bikes are custom made to a player’s specs, the budget for the tournament is $100,000, and professional cameras film the entire event.  There are paid referees (there are actually rules now) calling out fouls and penalties.  People flew in from all over the globe to represent their city, but with less than 10 women out of 108 players, I felt that I was representing women, not San Francisco.

In the first years of playing polo, I would never have dreamed it would evolve into what it is today.  At first only a handful of cities played, but now it has blown up, and there is a club in almost every major city in the world.  This is partly because of the ability to share information in the vast area of the internet, but partly the tone that was set by Messenger: “All are Welcome.”

The men are so accepting in polo, and the majority them do not see us differently in the sport, which in my mind is something as extraordinary and beautiful as electing a black president.

Editorial, Stories

Feminist on the Court: #FreeKesha

March 7, 2016
Feminist on the Court

“Feminist on the Court” is a bimonthly column giving voice to a variety of women, trans, and/or femme players (and those that support them) from around the world. This unscheduled post is brought to you by Sarah Danya in light of current events. If you’d like to tell us your story, email genderinpolo@gmail.com.

Last week, the internet exploded as the NY Supreme Court ruled that Kesha was obliged to fulfill her six album record deal with Kemosabe Records, the label of her alleged rapist and abuser Dr. Luke. What happens to women when we are bound to communities that hurt us? The whole world now knows that Kesha is forced to choose between protecting herself and pursuing a career she is (presumably) very passionate about.

Bike polo is a small enough community that when assault happens- and it does, though it’s almost never spoken about publicly- we force the same choice without any lawsuits binding us together. There are no easy solutions, and I’m no crisis counselor, but I think it could help to start a conversation. So below I will describe the two times I was assaulted, both times by polo players, once as a rookie and once relatively recently. Commentary will follow after the row of X’s if you’d like to skip that bit.

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Editorial

Who’s Hosting the 2017 WHBPC?

March 2, 2016
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A month ago today we were down in Timaru, New Zealand basking in the beautiful and powerful opening ceremony to the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship, thanks to Timaru Bike Polo and the Maori community. There were 36 teams sizing each other up on the court, as well as thousands of people either watching at that moment or gearing up to tune to the hot action online. Little did anyone know that what would come would be the best World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship to date, for both players and spectators.

While this post we will not get into what Timaru Bike Polo did to make it stand out from the previous world championships (this post will come), instead we wanted stress the importance of finding the host of the next WHBPC as soon as possible.

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Editorial

Feminist on the Court: Bike Polo’s Subtle Sexism

February 28, 2016
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“Feminist on the Court” is a new monthly column giving a voice to a variety of women, trans, and/or femme players (and those that support them) from around the world. This month an anonymous writer explores the link between cultural sexism and women’s success on the court. If you’d like to tell us your story, email genderinpolo@gmail.com.


You might not realize it’s happening, but sexism in polo is making it next-to-impossible for women to succeed in your club – here’s how it works and what you can do about it

My love for bike polo is massive; I have never met a bunch of people who I clicked with so immediately. The game itself is ridiculously fun and I know that however long I play for I still won’t have mastered it.

However, lately I have been having serious thoughts that it is time for me to take a complete step back from the sport. Which is crazy. I love bike polo. But here’s the problem: the thing I love most about polo is improving, and I am starting to feel like there is something that is stopping me from doing that; something out of my power to change. So, what’s up? Why am I feeling this way?

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