Okay, so I stole that line, but it is hard to face the New Year without thinking about change and all that accompanies it. For me, that means thinking about the convergence of polo and luxury, two things very near and dear to our digital efforts at Luxury Dossier.
First off, let me come clean about a few things, in the interest of full disclosure. I make my living as a journalist and, as such, have written about the game of polo and its luxurious accoutrements for more than 25 years. And I would be fooling you if I said that I don’t enjoy a good table in the VIP tent as much as the next person (or, perhaps, even moreso, because a lifetime of luxurious pursuit pretty much guarantees that you know what you’re looking for and, in that old adage first appropriated for pornographers but somewhat apropos here, “I know it when I see it.”
Secondly, let me state for the record that I love what the new cadre of polo superstars is bringing to the sport. Nic Roldan and Nacho Figueras may not exactly bring the technical grace to the game that the superstars of the 80s such as Julian Hipwood and the Heguys brought to the fore and, technically, they pale in comparison to Cambiaso and Castagnola, but one thing is clear: their good looks and kind hearts attract a lot of interest to the game. And that, in and of itself, is good for a sport that suffers a bit from a superiority complex, a truly international sport that no average person finds accessible because of the somewhat agitating Hollywood perception that you have to have TONS of money to get involved in the game of polo. OK, you can’t be a pauper and play high goal, that’s for sure, but you certainly can play in some respect at some club and have a fine old time doing so.
Which leads me to ponder the question: why can’t the sport gain any popularity with the public at large and the Olympic committee in particular. In my mind, the blame rests firmly on the shoulders of the US Polo Association, who would much rather spend their time licensing second rate clothing and waging war against Ralph Lauren, with a few little tidbits of interest for up and coming players at elite schools thrown in for good measure, than expending any real effort in the expansion of the fan base in the United States and the development of mid to low goal players at small clubs where the sponsorship will be meager (but the fun will be great).
The USPA needs to quit wasting its money on the meaningless and truly make the game more user friendly, hosting field days and exhibition matches that are well within the reach of average horsemen. Not everyone can go to Wellington and party with the guys at IPCPB. Not everyone wants to do that. But there are millions of good riders in the United States, all seeking an accessible pastime. Polo would be a good fit.
So here’s our challenge. This year, instead of spending a lot of time wondering why some high goal players find it perfectly suitable to drug their horses (that’s a separate issue), why not cultivate the play at some small clubs and promote those clubs in the way that you do the big boys in Florida? The local players will thank you. An Olympic caliber team will eventually arise.
This year, I hope, we don’t get fooled again.