Tuesday, February 26, 2013

North American Hardcourt - it is what YOU make it!

I love this little ditty from Hipster Hockey.  It underscores a sentiment that is pervasive in all society- not just bike polo.  When there's a job to be done, even if everyone recognizes what needs to be done, no one wants to be the one to do it.  It was true when i was young and my mum told us kids the house needed cleaned, and it's painfully true when you read the newspapers and hear whatever it is our federal government is not doing today.  But i speak of our fair sport.  Specifically that- as this new season starts and the NAH election approaches- it's more important than ever to underscore that volunteers are the heart of this sport.

Organizing tourneys is hard work.  It take times, money, connections, volunteers, promotion, and of course the dreaded court construction.  But aren't they fun as hell once they get going?!?  You wanna play in an awesome tourney- then YOU are gonna have to help make it happen.  While 100% of players enjoy playing a tourney, much fewer are willing to put in the work to make them happen. That's not a criticism, just a reality.  In my opinion the people involved in bike polo are more helpful, friendly, and hard working than any other athletic group i've ever been involved with.  It's rooted in the DIY ethic that has built this sport from the ground up.  

But it's not as simple as throwing a tourney anymore.

Organizing at the regional level is even harder.  You have to coordinate clubs, schedules, weather, players, rules, refs, and an ever increasing number of duties.  One person, or even two or three, cannot possibly do it all.  And when you start talking about national and international organization??  Forgetaboutit!  It's not just a few messengers hitting a ball around with croquet mallets anymore- there are hundreds of clubs, thousands of players, and each year the number of tourneys and skill of players increases at an exponential rate.  It takes more than just a few good men (and women) to make things happen.  That's where North American Hardcourt comes in.  Initially it was just a small group that coordinated dates, but as the sport has grown, so has the need for greater organization.  It needs volunteers to grow and thrive, and it will only be as good as those who are willing to step up and help.  Are YOU willing to make a difference?

How?  Be a rep for your club, join a committee, run for regional representative , or hell, at least keep those who do hold a position honest and active.  That doesn't just mean bitching on the internet (yes i realize the irony of saying that while i'm bitching on the internet) but actually having real life discussions about the issues facing polo and finding ways to solve them.  For instance- reffing is a big issue facing our sport.  Right now they're just glorified time keepers, but if we want polo to be about skill (and not just aggression) we need refs have real teeth.  And for that to happen we're gonna need people with resolve to step up and say "i'll do it".  Don't whine about a cheap shot if you yourself are unwilling to help call a game or two.  I'm not saying we all need to trade in our mallets for whistles, but occasionally focusing on something other than play! play! play! will benefit us all.  The same is true for NAH- you don't like the direction it's going?  Then get on board and help steer the ship another direction.  You see problems that need solutions?  Then be the one who takes on that task.  Even if you like the way things are going, don't you want to assure they keep improving?

I realize not everyone takes polo as seriously as i do.  That's ok.  For many polo is just a way to get some exercise and blow of steam a couple times a week.  That will always be a part of polo and never change.  But competitive polo- that highly skilled, rough and tumble, trophy-raising, tear-jerking, globe-trotting, awe-inspiring sport that we know and love- it needs YOU to make it happen.  Not that guy next to you, not that one slayer who's lead you follow, not that one guy in your club who spends too much time on the internet- YOU.



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