One year before six messengers decided to hit a ball around in a parking lot for fun, a film was released that went on to be called the greatest sports movie of all time (by me). Written and Directed by the spoof comedy legend David Zucker (Airplane!, Naked Gun, Scary MoVie fame), BASEketball not only made viewers ROFL, it showed that the country was bored of mainstream sports and ready for something fresh. While the movie didn’t cause (I assume) the bike messengers to grab croquette mallets and hit balls around, we can thank it for opening the doors to a new sporting mindset. Even today, 15 years later, we can look back at this 1998 smash hit and see its relevance to 2013 main stream sports. On top of that, we can look back at BASEketball and learn a thing or two on advancing our underground sport as a whole, as well as, helping our everyday play. Here are seven things that BASEketball can teach Hardcourt Bike Polo:
1. The world is ready for a mixed sport!
“It’s kind of like hockey but on bikes.” “It’s like horse polo but our ponies are made of steel.” Every time someone unfamiliar with the sport asks us about it, we compare it to the sports that we steal aspects from. If Hardcourt Bike polo were a tree, it’s roots would be horse polo, its trunk would be a bicycle, and the branches would be hockey. With horse polo as the frame work, and using hockey rules as a guideline to help develop the sport, we are a mismatch of sports; just like how BASEketball is an obvious combination of Baseball and Basketball. In the movie, the combination works! Sports fans were ready for something new, and a mix of familiar sports was just what they were waiting for!
2. We don’t need longer games!
In the rules survey that NAH recently released this question was asked, “Tournament games should follow which format?” Luckily, the winning vote was for “Swiss Rounds – 10min, or first to 5. / Double Elim – 12min, or first to 5. / Bracket Finals – 15min, or first to 5. / Final – 20min, or first to 5”. This is plenty! Our tournaments are long and people don’t want to watch a ten minute game where one team racks up 20 points on the other. Lets get games over with so winning teams can rest and our fans don’t get bored. You can see this effect in everyday life as well. This is why stupid Buzzfeed style lists work; people want to be entertained by short videos and a few sentences.
3. We don’t need to over complicate our qualifying season!
There has been a lot of discussion over on the League of Bike Polo about the pros and cons of our current qualifying structure. Some feel that the current way of doing things (regional qualifiers going into a North American Championship going into a World Championship) is perfect for our sport. Some feel that the only thing that needs to change is the lay out of the regions in which the qualifiers take place. And then there are others who feel we need to completely abandon our current structure and go to a points based system. This system would call for teams/players to earn points at several different tournaments around the country. The better you do at each tournament, the more points you get. The more points you obtain, the higher ranking you/your team get. An X amount of the top ranked teams would then go on to the North American Championship. This system was hard enough for me to put into words, let alone put into actual use. We don’t need to over complicate our qualifying system! Fix the regions if need be, but don’t abandon a system that works for one that is confusing and complicated.
4. Teams of three work!
The Beers team was made up of six players: Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper, Doug Remer, Squeak Scolari, and three other guys who never got any playing time. Much like the sport of BASEketball, all you need are three all-star players to form a world championship team in Hardcourt! But unlike BASEketball, Hardcourt doesn’t need a bench with extraneous players. I’m all for changes that better the sport for players and viewers alike, but somethings don’t need to change. We don’t need to change the backbone of the sport just so we can move toward major sports playoff style championships. If tournament style championships work for sports like tennis, then why can’t it work for Hardcourt? Tennis has been around a lot longer than the NFL/NBA/NHL etc, so we should shoot for a system that is long lasting. The pro team-sports model rely on million dollar backers and corporations to stay afloat. Take away their money and the sports fall apart. Without this financial backing, Hardcourt would have the same problem. For Bench Format to become the next NHL, the teams would need to travel all around the country, similar to other pro sports, in order to gain viewers and a national broadcast. Instead, lets follow the tennis tournament structure, take a page from BASEketball and just allow three all-stars to come together and become the best in the world.
5. Alcohol prevents us from preforming at our best!
Drinking and Hardcourt Bike Polo seem to go hand-in-hand. Getting together with your friends drinking beers and playing a fun sport is one of the main reasons many players continue to come to pick up week after week. But it’s important to remember that there is a difference between pick up and tournament play. At the regional qualifiers, the North American Championship, and the WHBPC it is better to grab one or two less drinks. I’ve seen great teams fall apart because one player decided partying was more important than playing to the best of their potential. Jordan never got shit faced the night before his championship games, Gretzky never tried to make a wizard staff while fighting for the Stanley Cup, Tiger Woods doesn’t pop bottles between important matches of the PGA Tour; I think you get the point. Save the drinking for pick up and celebrating your tournament success.
6. Psych Out’s totally work!
From getting defenders to turn their head the wrong why to completely getting them out of the play, psych outs have their place in Hardcourt Bike Polo too. The two players who we can teach us a thing or two about psych outs are Pete Abram or Chris Roberts. Love him or hate him, Abram is the best at getting defenders to turn their head the opposite way that he is going. One thing you can easily learn from Abram is talking to your teammates. Tell them what you are about to do and then do the opposite. If you tell your teammate that your about to pass the ball to them and then pause for a split second, this will cause the defender to second guess what you’re doing and it gives you the ability to get around them. Add in a believable fake pass arm motion, and you gain an even bigger gap between you and the defender. Roberts, on the other hand, using the psych out to get players completely out of the play. One of my favorite moments from the 2013 WHBPC was when a player checked Roberts off of his bike; coincidentally the player took himself out too. Clean hit or not, Roberts started talking to the player about the reasons why the check was dirty. He wasn’t yelling at the player, he was just politely standing there with his bike having a conversation. While Roberts was talking to the player, The Means were in total control of the ball and scored on the other team. It was a hilarious strategy.
7. Most importantly, don’t let the sport get to your head!
For me, Hardcourt Bike Polo is the punk rock of sports. It is a place where losers and rejects can come together and play a competitive sport that isn’t overrun with jocks and meat-heads. The worst thing this sport can do is forget where it all started. As the tournaments get more serious and the equipment gets more specialized, we can’t forget the punk and DIY ethics that helped ignite this sport. This is a sport that welcomes all races, genders and sexual orientations, and it needs to stay that way! As the sport grows, we can’t forget who we are and why we all started playing.