What the hell are we supposed to do during the winter without lights? The sun sets at 4pm and we’re stuck without usable daylight for polo. Boston Bike Polo is truly blessed to have such a fantastic court— four foot boards, chain link fence, fully pro nets, and the city lights the court until 10:45pm on weeknights from April to late October. However, when November rolls around, we bring up the same argument every year: do we play in the dark at our usual spot and increase the chances of injury and potentially get worse at playing the sport? or do we seek out a new lit playing surface, even though a basketball court wouldn’t have the things we’ve become accustomed to (i.e. boards, fences, nets, etc.)? or do we try to find a new way to light our current court within our budget of zero dollars?
In my admittedly limited travels through polo-playing cities I’ve seen how some other clubs deal with the cold and the dark. Charleston, SC has a covered space in a bus station that is lit well into the night, impervious to the rain and snow, but they don’t have the boards that allow you to check someone properly. New York City uses a basketball court in Brooklyn, far away from the famous Pit, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is the most slippery court I’ve ever eaten shit upon. In Boston, we just play in the dark under a flickering street light until someone gets hurt. It’s super dumb.
There are certain advantages to our famous Allston court; the city leaves us alone completely, so we can do all the fun semi-legal activities that make polo worth playing, and it’s just barely off-center geographically in Boston, so the kids from Somerville, Cambridge, and Jamaica Plain are approximately equidistant from the court. Even Javier, who lives eight miles away in the burbs with his wife and kids, only takes half an hour to drive to polo.
Playing in the dark makes us worse at polo. Everyone chases the ball, people play with their head down, and shots are almost completely invisible. Yes, we would be making a sacrifice. Maybe we wouldn’t be able to shotgun PBRs in public anymore, but we could get more kids on polo bikes, which means more nights of polo to accommodate them.
Tyler and I have been suggesting to our club that we find a different, fully lit court even closer to the center of the city to increase our street appeal and get new kids interested in the sport. Even if we have to play on a tennis court with cones and check each other into a chain link fence, that’s better than potentially taking a mallet to the face in the dark. It would help our close-quarters game as well: handling the ball, short finesse passes, and pivot turns.
If someone has a suggestion, please let me know, because I am not satisfied playing decent polo only one day a week. I need more. After 7 winters in Boston, I am impervious to cold, but I just need someone to shine a light on this issue. Pun intended. -ZS