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Editorial

Heckling Hardcourt – Vol. 3

February 27, 2014
HecklingHardcourt

HecklingHardcourt

Heckle Fodder
Ironically, I couldn’t really appreciate the hilarious amount of shit talking potential between the Americans and the Canadians until I lived in Australia. The Aussies know their smack talking, and can out heckle the rest of us scumbags by FAAAAAR, and out chant us too (if you have yet to hear one of Jordie’s super catchy chants you are missing out).  What fuels the Australian heckles more than anything are their neighbors to the East, New Zealand. They poke fun at the Kiwi accent in a way that is ridiculous magical, which can only be summed up by this image:
cat-riding-a-fire-breathing-unicorn-16414-1280x800Photo from Krista Carlson’s Facebook (she knows how to internet)

It was here that I discovered that the Aussies are to the Kiwi’s as Mericans are to Canucks, and that I have been missing out on some quality heckling. Now it’s time to put in some serious homework, or heckle practice if you will, before I head to Toronto for Ladies Army. I know I’m behind the times when it comes to many movies, but in celebration of Beer Week one of my favorite local theatres played Strange Brew. Admittedly, I am ashamed to say I had never seen it.  My beard shrieked in horror, once he found out, insisting we go watch it.
strange-brew-original

Now I know what I have been missing my whole life, and probably need to watch a few more times to fully get my fake hoser accent down. Since I have a lot of love for my neighbors in the North, there is no better way to show it then working on my Canadian Call.

See you Jerks soon.

- Sam

Editorial

There’s No Room for Cheaters

February 18, 2014

Means-Journeymen.Still002-590x331There is a reason they call him Dirty Dodi…

Hey cheaters! Hey lazy polo players! Hey malicious revenge seekers! I’m sorry but it’s important for me to call you out since the progression of this sport rests on your shoulders.  Now that the rules are in place and the ref’s test is nearly finished (assuming that Joe Rstom did an amazing job on it), you are the ones standing in the way of allowing refs to feel comfortable doing their jobs and it’s up to you to truly allow us to see the potential of the new rules.

I too often hear “I’m just going to keep playing the way I do and let them call me out on things if I’m doing them wrong.” That is the dangerous kind of rhetoric that is detrimental to the development of the hardcourt bike polo. It’s metaphorically the equivalent of walking up to Nick Kruse, flipping him off, and giving him the Stone Cold Stunner. Even if you’ve been playing for years and know what’s right and wrong in general, you need to learn the ruleset. It’s important for everyone that is looking to compete in a qualifier this year to sit down and read the rules. Not only read the rules, but truly study them. Memorize the rules so that you can apply them to situations at pick-up. Once you’ve done this, you should do it all over again.

Dustin Rigg’s of The Guardians fame said it best in a recent Facebook post regarding the Call Me Daddy v True Danger game posted by Mr. Do: “We can ask what the NAH can do to make this game better and more exciting all we want. Eventually though, players have to realize that it’s largely on us, right now, to move the game forward. There’s just no room for shit like this.” I know when we’re in the heat of the moment it can be easy to lose all inhibition, but there is no room in this sport for blatantly extending your arm to open-handedly push someone off of their bike, recklessly checking someone in their ribs, grabbing an opponent’s handlebars, etc., just to take advantage of an inexperienced ref or a well-trained ref that is looking the other direction. I’m sorry but your momentary advantage in one single game is not more important than the growth of this sport.

Ref’s are going to miss calls, it’s the natural state of any and all major sports; you see it happen in the NFL, MLB, FIFA, the Olympics, everywhere. What you don’t see in these major sports is players drop-kick each other when the refs head is turned. Taking advantage of ref’s will only lead to instances in bike polo that are equivalent to diving in soccer and flopping in basketball. I know that is the last thing that we want, but it’s where the lazy, cheating, revenge seekers are taking the sport. So I encourage you to truly read the rules, not because you want to take advantage of the grey areas, but to actually allow the refs to become more confident and allow us, as a whole, to see just how amazing this ruleset is.

Editorial

In-CREASE-ing Polo’s Entertainment Value

February 11, 2014

DSC_0219If you look closely you can see the Wingman II’s use of a crease.

I know it’s a major goal of the NAH, Mr. Do, and several of us as individuals to help the sport develop into a mainstream sport. While hardcourt bike polo may never sit next to the Big Five (Basketball, Soccer, Football, Baseball, and Hockey), we would love for it to gain a following to the likes professional skateboarding or roller derby. Just today I saw an advertisement for an upcoming Roller Derby match here in Portland on the back of a bus. If hardcourt bike polo wants this recognition we obviously need to do more to develop rules, reffing, and tournament structure alike (which are all definitely taking place under the current NAH lineup, and it gives me great hope). And as our sport develops I must beg the question, is it appropriate to create rules for the simple fact of making our sport more interesting for spectators? When creating new rules, the NAH’s number one concern would/should be player safety, so I’m not saying that we should consider allowing fighting on the court to draw fans, like in the case of Ice Hockey, but what does comes to mind is the idea of a crease to prevent boring triple goalie strategy and what roll the NAH should play in making the sport more entertaining.

When the NAH conducted their 2014 Rule Modifications survey back in November, they asked the simple question “Should we define a crease?” For this question the most votes (186 in total) went to the answer “No crease should exist”, followed by “A larger crease should exist to prevent physical contact with the defender who is ‘goaltending’ AND eliminate ‘double goalies’ by requiring movement/prohibiting stationary players” with 152 votes. “A smaller crease should exist to prevent physical contact with the defender who is ‘goaltending’, until the point the ball enters the crease. This would not eliminate ‘double goalies’” and “A crease should exist that prohibits stationary players but does not prevent any type of physical play on the ‘goaltender’ or any other player” brought up the rear with 101 and 69 votes, respectively.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand that while “No Crease” had the most individual votes; more people thought it would be beneficial to include a crease in the 2014 ruleset than those who didn’t.  The NAH is ran by very competent people who understand basic deductive reasoning as well as basic addition, so it came as a surprise to many that no crease was introduced in the 2014 ruleset. In talking to NAH’s Head of Rules Committee, Nick Kruse, as well as NAH’s Head of Reffing, Joe Rstom, the overarching reason for leaving out a crease was the introduction of the interference rule.  As mentioned above, the NAH’s main concern is player safety, so they felt that the interference rule would protect the goalie enough that a crease would not be necessary. Rstom recently posted on League of Bike Polo that “We (NAH) had a crease rule written, and it was very long and complex. We (NAH) opted to leave it out this time around, in favor of a slightly less long and complex interference rule (as that would protect the goalie).”

While the NAH did develop rules to protect the goalie thusly allowing them to omit a potentially complicated crease, they neglected to address the other half the number one reason people wanted a crease: preventing the double goalie. The new interference rule not only protects the goalie, it also prevents a team’s enforcer from riding in, breaking up the extra coverage, and allowing their attacker to get in close for a shot. To put this in terms created by Christian Losciale in the amazing article for Lancaster Polo entitled What’s Your Polo Style? The Turtle a.k.a Triple Goalie style will be even more effective now that enforcers on teams who use the Three-Cog strategy are no longer allowed to clear the way for their goal scoring attacker. By allowing the Turtle strategy to become more effective on the court, we will undoubtedly see it used more this season, thusly making a step backwards in the spectator entertainment value of hardcourt bike polo.

The NAH rules survey was released shortly after I had arrived home from Worlds, and my mind was still clouded with the boring images of Turtle style of play so I voted for a large crease to protect the goalie and prevent double goalies.  Thinking about it now, this is the only proposed rule that limits a specific style of play purely for entertainment reasons, but if NAH wants the sport to gain spectators it’s important for them to implement it. In his article, Losciale argues that the Tic-Tac style of play is the most entertaining strategy because “the team functions as a unit to try to score. The whole court gets used, quite creatively when pro Tic-Tackers are on it. Also, it’s risky. One misplaced pass can cater itself to an opponent’s breakaway. For some reason, audiences — of movies, rodeos, WWE Pay-Per-Views, etc. — love the thrill of a risk.” and I couldn’t agree more with this idea. So if the NAH wants to promote a more entertaining sport for spectators, with the hopes of gaining a bigger public following, they need to encourage Tic-Tac style strategies and prevent Turtle style from becoming the prominent force on the court. I appreciate the interference rule and the way it protects the goalie (I think it was a much needed rule), but if we really want the entertainment value of the sport to flourish NAH must mandate a crease.

Editorial

Heckling Hardcourt – Vol. 2

January 21, 2014

HecklingHardcourt
Are you there Mr. Do? It’s me, Sam

Despite what you may have seen in the recent Mr. Do video, women actually do play polo.  If that’s a shocking statement to you, feel free to skip to the end of this article and never come out to pick up again.  As far as I am aware, bruises don’t have a gender preference and neither does bike polo.  Hell, there is no discrimination to injuries,  you can even bestow them upon your own teammates, but I digress.

In case you have forgotten dear readers, Hardcourt Bicycle Polo is a co-ed sport and this should not be excluded from videos explicitly made to get sponsorship.  I mean shouldn’t we glorifying the fact that our sport is co-ed and have women playing at a competitive level with our male counterparts?  Or do women in this sport have to keep fighting to be taken seriously? In the inglorious words of Machine “FahKin Ell”.  If this video is being used to get sponsors for our sport, we should make a conscience effort to not only show the cool shit, but also show how diverse of a community we are; this is what a lot of companies are looking for when it comes to sponsorship.  Let’s be real, if they wanted to just see tricks they would watch Road Bike Party or Danny McAskill’s Imaginate.

Now some of may point out that if you look hard enough you can see women playing polo in the video (examples can be seen at 0:36, 0:55 , 1:09, 1:35, 2:09).  Here’s the thing, you really gotta look for those ladies and on top of that, some of the shots are so quick that it’s unfair to call them a shot of a woman.  I get that in general women make up a small population of the players in bike polo (there were, I believe, only five female slayers playing in the 2013 NAHBPC), but that does not warrant a lack of representation.

What would be hella awesome is some video footage of the Co-Ed before last years Ladies Army because, hot damn, those were some amazing games.  The Wildcard and Worlds this year had many a great co-ed teams as well, and I would love to see some of the footage from those games as well.   Cough Cough Ahem

Don’t get me wrong, we here at 321polo.net know very well how much time must have gone into this video, and hopefully in the future a bit more thought can as well (sorry Mr. Do).  I have spent many a time pretending I’m working when really just watching Mr. Do videos or live streaming tournaments and we all appreciate the work the stream team does.  I think a video to send to potential sponsors is great (and we thank you for doing it), but can we get some for reals representation of our sport? 

_______________

Editor’s Note: This morning the NAH released this statement regrading the video:

Regarding the NAH promo video: This is a stellar video with a glaring and regrettable omission. It is not an accurate visual representation of what constitutes the polo community. This was in no way intentional, but that’s beside the point. We have a responsibility to represent the community in its entirety. 

For this error, we offer a sincere apology. 

We’ve read every thread and blog post on this issue. It’s encouraging to read posts from people in our community that, even as they level a justified and necessary critique, remain even-handed and optimistic. They assume that inclusiveness remains a given; that this issue was the exception, not the rule. They expect a collective rebound and to emerge stronger for it.

That being the case, thanks to all who worked on the video and thanks to all who have spoken up. Collectively, we’ve resolved this issue and can now expect to see a video revision soon. 

Editorial, Tournaments

A Guide to Throwing Your First Tournament

January 15, 2014

DSC_0228Thanks to Zachary Woodward for the photo.

The above picture is from COMOPOLO’s first Wingman 4v4 tournament back in 2012. This was the first tournament that Chirstian Losciale, Johnathon McDowell, and I organized and ran as hardcourt polo players. I remember being nervous about everything surrounding the tournament from the moment I announced it on League of Bike Polo up until we handed the last prize on Sunday evening. We were young newbie players back then but we still wanted to throw a tournament that players from all over the Midwest would talk about and look forward to attending the next year. While this isn’t entirely a 100% realistic goal, it’s something good to strive towards. Lucky for the three of us, we started playing polo in a city with a thick hardcourt history, so it wasn’t as hard to fill all of the team spots. For all of you new and young-blood clubs around the world, it might not be as easy to fill the roster of your first tournament, but with the help of this guide, it might make things go a little more smoothly.

The most important thing you can do before hosting your first tournament is to travel to other tournaments. See how they are ran; pinpoint all of the things that the hosts are doing that are making it enjoyable for you. Also, find out what annoys you about the tournament (no food, no water, not enough partying, etc) so that you can provide these amenities at your tournament. Chances are if there is something that you don’t like, then many other participants aren’t enjoying it as well. The first Wingman tournament came out of the frustration of the 2012 Midwest Regional Qualifier. Madison charged through the roof for the tournament and only provided minimal amounts of water and a few snacks. We wanted to show how it is possible to stretch every dollar that you have, so we turned a $10 entry fee per person into a free t-shirt for them, as well as breakfast and lunch at the courts, and a keg on Saturday night.

While at the tournament, make sure you’re interacting with members from other clubs. An important way to guaranty a full tournament is making friends. Talk to members from other clubs, buy them drinks, cheer for them to win, kick their butt on the court and then give them a hug afterwards. We are all losers looking to make friends, it just takes someone to make the initiation. Don’t be afraid to talk to your polo idols; they won’t think less of you because you’re just a newb. That being said, it’s unrealistic (but not unheard of) to expect the Beavers or Call Me Daddy to show up to your tournament. Don’t get upset if you don’t see all those big name players you see all over Mr. Do signing up for your tournament. Honestly, it may even be better that way. You don’t want a team coming in and walking all over the competition. It’s more fun to have equally matched teams playing against each other.

Now that you have all your new polo friends signing up for the tournament, use the above mentioned lists of dos and don’ts to make the tournament enjoyable for all of the participants. To cross off of the dos (food, swag, etc), it helps to pull all of your club’s resources. At the time of the Wingman, I worked as a Pizza Delivery Driver for a local shop. I talked to my boss about trading two days worth of pizza (~15 pies a day) for having the players drink the place dry at our registration party (which they did). Johnathon worked as a screen printer for a local company so he was able to print event shirts for dirt cheap. Another club member worked at a bike shop and was able to get his shop to donate spare tubes, cables, and even a Brooks saddle for a prize. While you’re club may not have members who work in these industries, you can pull benefits from where you do work. That is, unless you all have boring desk jobs, which in that case it could be harder to do so. For that scenario, don’t be afraid to talk to local businesses (especially establishments that serve alcohol) about trading registration/after-parties for food/money/cheap drinks. If there is one thing you can guaranty about a polo tournament, all of the players are going to be looking for a place to drink.

After getting players signed up and using your local resources to get amenities for the player, it’s important to make sure that the tournament, itself, runs smoothly. Again use your list of dos and don’ts to make sure that the tournament is up to par with other well known tournaments. One thing that all of these tournaments have in common is punctuality. As much as I hate it, we all know that tournaments run on polo time. Even with this in mind, it’s important to keep them on schedule to the best of your ability. There is nothing more annoying than organizers who slack off and let tournaments self destruct. It was an embarrassment at World’s this year when the lights shut off before all the games had finished. While you’re tournament isn’t as big as Worlds, people will not want to come back if you mismanage your time and are unable to complete the tournament.

It’s not hard to successfully throw  your first tournament, you just have to put in the time and energy before hand. Go to other tournament, see first hand what should and shouldn’t be done as an organizer of a tournament. While you’re there be sure to make friends with other clubs! Then pull your resources to make sure that the participants are well taken care of while visiting your town. And finally, stay on top of running your tournament and keep it on schedule! It’s a simple formula, but when done correctly you will see buzz form about your city’s tournament hosting abilities and you can guaranty more players interested in your tournament the next time around.

Best of luck in your tournament hosting endeavors and remember, in the end, polo players are just looking to have a good time!

m4s0n501