Bike polo: Jacksonville team adapts a lofty game, takes it to the streets
July 31, 2010
By BRIAN AKEL
Polo, a game once reserved for royalty and gentlemen of fortune, has now found its way into common culture, with an uncommon twist.
At least once a week, the members of the Jacksonville Bike Polo league mount their bicycles to play an urbanized version of polo.
The game consists of six players, three on three, each with a mallet similar to the ones used to play croquet, a plastic street hockey ball, a bike and a competitive sense of fun. Goals are set up at two ends of a parking lot, and the first team to score five goals is the winner.
Thomas Williams, one of the league founders, said it’s all pretty informal. About 10 or 15 people usually show up to play, and league members sometimes travel to tournaments.
“Last year’s tournament in Fort Lauderdale consisted of approximately 20 teams, and we played on pre-made hockey rinks,” Williams said. “Our current group has been together for almost a year and a half, but people come and go, and all are welcome. All you need is a bike and we’ll provide the rest,”
Local games are held at a parking lot adjacent to Zombie Bikes co-op at First and Main streets in Springfield.
The competitive, fast-paced, yet friendly nature of the sport has attracted a range of participants. “Anyone who likes competition and camaraderie is welcome,” said Venus James, a nurse at Shands Jacksonville and a bike polo player.
“People from all ages and walks of life come. Boys, girls, married couples, bicycle enthusiasts and serious players all participate in shoulder-checking and trash talking on the court, but are all friends after the game,” she said.
“It’s cheap to play and growing in popularity. It’s loosely organized, and we try to fit around everyone’s schedule.”
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