Rumor has it that the folks in charge want a crease rule. Chances are a crease is coming to a polo game near you. Here is a lil preview.
What are the specs of the future crease?
-A crease will extend about one foot out from the posts along the goal line.
-The NAH crease will have a 4 foot radius. Note that our nets are of NYC’s Red Menace Era vintage and are 2m wide so we used a 4.5 foot radius.
-The crease should be green gold and red.
How does the crease work? It is not perfect, but we’re still trying to smooth things out. Here is how its working for us:
-Only one defender may become stationary in the crease.
-Others defenders may enter the crease but only one can become stationary.
-No one can mess with a stationary person within the crease.
-When the ball is in the crease, anyone may enter the crease.
In Boston we don’t play much double goalie, so the crease hasn’t had a huge impact on game play. But between the crease and the popularity face offs have gained here, we might actually have to change the name of our game to Bike Hockey =^O
As you know, NAH announced that they will be hosting a NAH Club Bench Championship. Basically, the 12 top polo clubs in North America will be traveling to Lexington, KY this fall to find out who is the best. The catch: clubs will be invited based on their 2014 NAH Series Rankings. In each of the NAH qualifiers, and at the NAHBPC, players will earn points for their club.
For the ranking at the NAH qualifying series players will earn the following points: 1st : 10 Points; 2nd: 7 points; 3rd: 5 points; 4th: 4 points; 5th: 3 points; 7th: 2 points; <7th 1 point.
At the NAH Championships players will earn the following points: 1st: 50 points; 2nd: 35 points; 3rd: 23 points; 4th: 15 points; 5th: 10 points; 7th: 7 points; 9th: 5 points; 13th: 4 points; 17th: 3 points, <17th: 2 points.
It may not seem like it, but 12 clubs is a lot. Obviously, clubs with teams advancing to and performing well at Nationals have the advantage. However, clubs that roll deep but don’t necessarily have podium teams will squeeze smaller squads out.
The top spots will surely be taken by the historically top performing clubs, aka Cascadia: Seattle, East Van, Portland. San Fran will be a gimme because of The Beavers and that other handsome team from Cali. But the rest are up for grabs.
I was hecka curious to see what the spread looked like, especially with big dreams for Boston’s future in bench league. So I nerded out HELLA and tabulated up the stats from the 2103 qualifier. Heres what it looked like:
(Note that I accounted for a few small “changes” from the NAHBPC 2013 podium.com results: Seattle gets the commish, Chicago gets Lomax, San Francisco gets the Beavers(duh), Boston is fanged, Porch gets the rad caps 2x points bonus, Emmet doesn’t count and as well as few other low point transfers from folks’ relocation.)
EDIT 3-18-14 13:00: Greg Valentine has been moved from CHI to ATX. Woadie’s city points go to EVAN.
2013 NAH City Ranking
Rad! Get top 3 and secure your club an invite. For all other clubs, it is a toss up. You will be rewarded for bringing a whole bunch of players (Austin), for bringing only a few if they kill it (E.Van & PDX), or if you do both (Seattle). And don’t forget about the sleeper clubs that couldn’t make it to their qualifier last year. Either way, I’m stoked to see what the points totals will look like in 6 months from now.
If you’re interested, please help contribute so we can get a full season of stats by adding your regional qualifier using the attached spreadsheet. Just replace the proper existing cells with your results, and you can send it back to me [aminott(at)gmail.com]. I’ll keep the updated tallys attached to this post.
EDIT 3-18-14 13:00: CASCADIA Quals has been added. I will update cumulative totals once all qualifiers are tabulatedClick for excel spreadsheet
When the location change of the 2014 Eastside Thaw was announced I knew I wanted to go. These two courts in Frederick Maryland are probably the nicest on the east coast. I was a little weary of the format. Mixed skill level, shuffled teams? Was I gonna get stuck with a couple duds and just get slaughtered all weekend. I got shit for trying to sandbag on Facebook, but not having played a tourney in almost a year and only a couple pickup sessions under my belt since my injury I really had no idea what level I was playing at and how my body would react to tourney speed polo.
But the courts are so sweet, and I figured at worst I’d get a good early season shellacking to keep me humble.
There were actually two tournaments this weekend. The first was a 3v3 with the twist being teams were drawn from three decks of cards. All the players were split into three groups based on skill level (A,B,C) and each team got one player from each level. For the most part this system worked out and the teams were fairly even. Perhaps instead of A/B/C some teams looked like B/B/C or A/C/C.
Mixing skill levels in this way made for some really interesting polo. Not only were most people playing with teammates they might not know or have ever played with before, they were then given a letter that was supposed to mark their skill level.
It took me two games (a loss and a tie) to realize I could not carry my team on my own. I spent the first two games ball hogging and ignoring my teammates. I was forcing the ball up the court by myself and not finding the back of the net. It was once I relaxed and approached it more like pickup, focusing on passing and good communication that the team turned around.
Luckily I had great teammates who didn’t get pissed off at me, and worked hard to get us to the final. Troy from Lancaster was calm and steady and took it upon himself to hang back in net. When he did come up it was with speed and purpose. He scored the goal to put us into overtime in the semifinal with only a few seconds left. Arguably the most important goal of the day for us. Drew from Philly worked the midfield, winning back possession frequently and disrupting the other team’s offense. It was super rewarding to build a team with these guys over the course of the day.
So while I was very skeptical of this format coming in, I really came around to appreciating it. Did it make for the highest level polo possible? No, but that wasn’t the point. It’s a great format for bringing together people and raising everyone’s level. This is the kind of event that will make our region stronger in the long term.
Sunday was a typical bench tourney. As a top goal scorer I was one of the captains and got to pick Nick Vaughan so we won. That guy is really fucking good. One of my favorite memories of the tourney was watching him play against his teammate Alexis. It really felt like watching two Kung fu masters battling it out with their different styles.
My only complaint about the bench tourney is that ten players on a team is way too many. I was really trying to get everyone in to play, but the clock was running too fast and a lot of times guys would only get in for quick minute long shifts. I almost blew the final when I put in our C line not realizing there were only a few minutes left.
The Scoops (wrist shots)
So they allowed scoop shots at this tourney as they had the year before. I hadn’t played in a tourney where they were allowed since the bench ESPI in NYC a couple years ago. I remembered being very frustrated in that tourney with BBP players constantly scooping balls over the net instead of just taking shots. Aside from that and Lomax and a few others making a couple nice looking ones, they didn’t seem to play a very big role.
That was not the case this past weekend. The scoop shot took over games and how people were playing defensively and offensively. I think this was because of a few factors.
– Improved mallet head designs make it easier to grab the ball
– it was a laid back tourney so people were more willing to experiment
– goals were full size 4×6 ft nets so it was pretty easy to find the big gap at the top of the net
I’ll let others discuss the aesthetic merits of the scoop shot. It’s a skill to master, and it’s no surprise that the people with the best scoop shot also tend to be really good players without them.
And no one really knows what would happen to the game five years down the road if we legalized them today.
For me, what’s most interesting is how they affect defenses. A good scooper within a couple meters from net can beat a double goalie fairly consistently. Also if you soft lob a scoop into a double goalie, you are less likely to have a hard rebound to defend. You have to keep strong pressure on the forecheck, which is something people say they want to see. Turtling up and letting a guy pick his corner out isn’t gonna work.
People say goalies would adjust and learn how to block them. I’m not so sure. If you need to keep your mallet down to block your five hole and bottom corners, can you really also use it to protect your top corners? Are goalies really gonna have to be popping wheelies and endoes to block shots? With a shot a goalie can predict trajectory based on the head angle on contact, with a scoop, the shooter can change trajectory during the release. I dunno I guess it could be done.
This tourney was a blast. I got out of the house, got to play polo all weekend with new homies and old buds. The drive there and back wasn’t so bad. I got to travel for the first time with members of BBP’s young guard, Zac, Nick, and Charlotte. They repped Boston so hard both on and off the court. There was an amazingly consistent waffle maker at the hotel which was a big hit. We took a sweet bike ride through the old town of Frederick and saw some sweet historic stuff and forgot to Instagram it. I got in on a couple bad jokes and made my throat sore heckling and shouting at my teammates. And now sitting here looking at all the pics and remembering the good times, it’s like McDonald’s.
Podium, the brainchild of Portland Bike Polo’s Vince Foley, is arguably the most useful technological advance in the history of the poloverse. The software has streamlined the organization 129 tournaments throughout it’s history, including the past 3 World Championships (975 games collectively) and the 2013 European Hardcourt Championship, which clocks in as the largest tournament EVER with 63 teams. The Podium interface allows tournament organizers to seamlessly queue up games while players can look on from their iPhones while fishbowling their tent on the other side of the venue in the shade.
Hardcourt Podium has started rolling out some new features for the upcoming season. Users now have the ability to register themselves to track their careers, a feature first debuted by the ill-fated www.Hardcourtbikepolo.org. Podium spit out a player’s tournament history, as well as statistics associated with his or her team. The user can easily see the statistics from their profile, which includes tournament and game totals, cumulative and average goal counts (for and against them), as well as their goal differential per game and per tournament.
It appears as if this new user based version of Podium will be the go-to source for the 2014 NAH Tournament Season. Registration and qualification processes will likely be built into the software, further easing the load on the tournament organization front.
Up until this week, the software has been free to use. But with the new ‘registration’ capabilities comes a small fee. Users can pay on a sliding scale, from $2 to $20, to take advantage of the new features. Quite frankly, given all the time Vince has put into Podium, this small fee is an absolute steal. Alas, there will be penny-pinchers.
It is only a matter of time before these doubters come around and realize that the price of a pint is simply worth a fluid and interactive experience at the next tournament you attend, especially when someone finally steps up their Podium display from a big screen TV to a big screen TOUCH TV.
Heres a cool little #tbt video from 2007 about the New York scene leading up to ESPIs.
Its a rad look into polos formative days, when polo was still like the wild west. Its great to see that how much dedication they had through the winter! Also Doug D. if you’re reading this will you sell us hardcourtbikepolo.com?
So, someone shave Zach’s beard for the greater good. And I wish I didn’t know Chombo’s name was actually John:(
Late last night, I got an email from an individual who wanted to be known only as HandlebarMustache420. He/she wanted to share an article that had been rejected at several other blogs, and asked if we at Boston Bike Polo would post it on our blog. I love R. Kelly and I love scattered ramblings so I’m going to take a chance on this anonymous blogger and hope that the people out there are receptive to this type of insanity.
Here BBP presents to you: Polo and R. Kelly, by HandlebarMustache420.
I think a lot about the culture of bike polo. What kind of people are we? And what kind of people do we aspire to be? Generally speaking, I think we are an active, athletic, and friendly group of people. I try not to let a few bad apples ruin the bunch, and for the most part we can all be very charming, and very alluring to people looking for new hobbies. Bike polo also has a dark side; the sport sometimes displays qualities one might find in an abusive partner (not my analogy, but I like it a lot). You have unexplainable cuts and bruises on your arms and legs, and you keep trying to rationalize all of the emotional and physical pain. I haven’t even mentioned the money: where does it go? Travel costs? Mallet equipment? Beer fund? Most importantly, the sport often makes decisions that impact you without asking. At the end of the day, though, bike polo whispers sweetly, “you’re body is callin’, baby,” with an R. Kelly-esque knowing wink.
Yeah, I know R. Kelly is allegedly a rapist, and make no mistake, it breaks my heart. He is one of my musical idols and the composer of my favorite karaoke songs and middle school jams. We all know that bike polo is co-ed, and most of my best friends in the polo world are women. I have a lot of respect for them as people, and even respect for their talent and toughness on the court. I am not a “feminist” in the traditional sense, so does it make me an accessory to sexism if I listen to his new album, even though most of the songs on Black Panties celebrate women and their bodies?
Ok, you’re right. R. Kelly doesn’t really “celebrate” women. For the most part he only honors a very specific part of the female anatomy. The really odd thing is, R. Kelly will sing a song about proposing marriage to a girl’s vagina (seriously— the song is called Marry The Pussy and it’s on his newest album, “Black Panties”), and on the next track fall to his knees and pray for forgiveness from his dead mother in heaven. It’s perplexing, but to me it’s completely enthralling. I want to believe that R. Kelly is just a character whose sexual antics I can laugh about, but deep down I know he has urinated on 15-year old girls, and obviously I do not idolize or even condone that kind of behavior. And I especially do not want to be on the receiving end of a golden shower, no matter how much Cristal there is poppin’ in the stretch Navigator.
That said, am I a bad person for blasting his jams on speakers at polo tournaments? I don’t want to be insensitive to anyone, and so far I haven’t run into anyone that doesn’t “toot toot” and “beep beep” when Ignition (Remix) comes on. Is there really nothing wrong with a little bump and grind? Or am I perpetuating a precedent: that women are to be objectified and disrespected and reduced to sex objects?
With the recent gender kerfuffle in the polo world, I just wanted to let all the wonderful ladies out there know: I care about the issues. I swear I do. They mean more to me than you might expect. And statistically, women live longer than men, meaning that they will have to live with the repercussions of the Polo Don Drapers of the world for on average three to five years longer than everyone else. So the next time you feel like saying something biased, prejudiced, or just plain stupid, compare yourself to R. Kelly and do the exact opposite of that.
[Editor’s note again, Zac S]
Wow… that went places I wasn’t expecting. Anyway I agree about women being awesome, but I think R. Kelly should be left in the jukeboxes and off the polo court. And that’s coming from someone who loves screaming Bump ‘n Grind at the top of his lungs.
Before GQ, even the Beavers put their time in on the Allston Courts.
Gus snapped this photo for legitbikepolo.com at ESPI IV in Boston, 2009. No nets, ski poles and not even one front brake. And take a look at these whips! What a long way we’ve all come since 2009, except Alexis, he hasn’t changed a bit.
Heres to another 4 years of mind bending progression for our sport!
I was lurking the polo-web pretty hard and I came upon this photo of this rad knife fight court an anonymous polo legend has constructed. If you have a garage, a basement, a boat, or any extra space, you shall build a knife fight court.
The first time I played polo was after some bike drag races in Quito, Ecuador. Bike Polo was new to Quito, and so at just about every bike event Xavi would bring mallets, cones, and a ball and encourage people to try it. I don’t think I hit the ball once the entire game, but like how most of us got here I was hooked. I came to polo from a mix of the fixie/alley-cat race scene and mountain biking, and slowly both of those have taken a backseat to polo. I haven’t raced an alley-cat since the Dock11 race, where I ‘raced’ with polo folks on polo bikes, and I don’t even want to think about the last time I went mountain biking. It makes me sad to think how long its been.
Anyways, on a bored night last week I drew up this drawing/chart of how we get to polo. Most of us arrived here through fixie/alley-cat/messenger culture, but of course, people come from all sorts of bike adventures. Humor me by filling out the poll below to gather some more info on how we all got to the holy grail of polo. – CF
(*PS – Just sayin, as a polo community I would like to see us step up our game with a rivalry with CycloCross. Srsly people. Cyclocross is continuing to grow and pull away polo players, and I have yet to meet anyone who has switched from cross to polo. Are you that mythical creature? Email me about it. I want to talk to you.)
There has been some literature on the internet (you know what) this week that encouraged me to explore my feelings towards bike polo. At first I thought bummed things; I didn’t feel comfortable questioning the legitimacy of the activity which I hold so dearly. But I quickly realized I was becoming the victim of the law of attraction: Yes, I’ve spent many nights and years and dollars and beers, and polo may have burnt me out once or twice. But, being burnt out ain’t that hard of a problem to solve. I mix it up, take a break, go snowboarding, hang with old friends, switch to flat pedals. You’ll feel the love. I’ll feel the love.
I love EVERYTHING about it. I love the all bike polo people and all the bike polo places. I love all the bike polo clubs, all the bike polo companies, and all the bike polo rules (except high-sticking). I love all the bike polo blogs and all the bike polo forums. I love the bike polo #hashtags and instagrams, and I especially love the bike polo nudes. I love the places bike polo has taken me. I love Burlington, Vermont, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Vancouver, British Columbia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Montreal, Quebec, Lexington, Kentucky and Seattle, Washington. I fucking love Seattle Bike Polo. I love that polo gives me an excuse to take a long road trip or a quick weekend to the other side of the continent, no matter how broke I am. I love traveling with my bike. I love taking my bike on an airplane. I love taking off my fork when I am packing up my bike. I love putting my bike together in the airport, but not as much as I love how stoked OTHER people are when they see me putting my bike together in the airport. I love not knowing where the fuck I am when I leave a new airport on my bike. I love how when you show up to pickup from the airport, you are hanging out with the same people you would have been if you’d lived in that city your entire life.
I love riding my polo bike. I love riding in a gang filled with all sorts of other polo people and polo bikes from near and far forming a mob spanning the street in the night. I love the whirrly sound the mob makes because everyone has the same sick freewheel. I love riding TOO fast on my polo bike, skitching across the Mass. Ave. bridge or up Pine Street. Thats a guaranteed adrenaline high. I know its not safe but I just love polo too much to wait any longer to get to the court and play. I love meeting a random polo player on the street because I noticed that they’re riding a polo bike. That’s how I started playing polo in the first place.
I love all of the polo people, even if they are from New York. I love the polo people with beards and shitty tattoos, and the ones without beards or with good tattoos. I love all of the polo people from other countries who have crashed on my couch and spoke with funny accents, and who did or would let me do the same at their place. I love all of the polo people who travel across the GLOBE to play polo. I love all of the polo people who lend me bike parts when mine get fucked up. I love the polo people who share tokes of herb. I love the polo people who share swigs of booze, especially when they’re from Kentucky. I love all of the polo people I will one day meet. But more than all of these tangible things, I love how much fucking PASSION all of these polo people have.
I love bike polo even when it’s dirty. I love cheap shots, unless someone gets hurt. I love polo heckles, especially if they cut deep. I love that I’ve lost significant amounts of blood playing polo. I fucking love when I get slammed cleanly into the boards, even more when it’s by Dirks.
I love playing pickup. I love all throw-ins. I hate dabbing. I love how stoked a new player gets when they score their first goal. I love that I can spend an entire day at the polo court and not get bored. I love that it gives me an excuse to drink outside because I love drinking outside. I love that shotgunning brings us together.
I love that reggae music sounds just a bit more irie during a polo game. I love when someone is doing a jay mid court and I go stop next to them and they hold it up to my mouth. It is the perfect pit stop. I also love saving the puff in my lungs and blowing it into the opponents face as intimidation. I love trying trick shots instead of taking wide open gimme goals. I love taking long shots and I love it even more when they go in. I love when there are only six players so you never have to stop playing. I love when we keep playing during downpours. I love that we played last week, two days after a blizzard.
I love that polo love is spreading with no end in sight. -Addison
(And to prove I’m not alone and full of shit here is a small collection of photos of other people who also love bike polo):