Judkins Park Bike Polo tournament shows how cool the sport can be

If you have never watched bike polo, you’re missing out. Luckily, Seattle is the place to catch some of the best players in the world skid around on tennis courts, taking shots with a modified ski pole with a piece of plastic pipe screwed to the end of it. It’s a funny game, sure, but the skill you witness at typical Seattle pick-up game is incredible.

I stopped by Judkins Park yesterday afternoon to catch a few games of polo at a tournament there. I had seen many pick-up games at Cal Anderson and already loved the sport, but tournament play proved how versatile and in-depth the sport can be.

During a typical pick-up game, teams are chosen at random by a behind-the-back toss of the mallets. At a tournament, though, teams of three players familiar with each other and with practiced chemistry compete, and the results make the games more dramatic and exciting. Attacks are more coordinated, and there is more communication.

The Seattle vs Portland rivalry helped make this very close match more dramatic ... and a lot of fun to watch. Here, the team from Seattle is about to score

Another fascinating aspect of bike polo is that the game was first played in 1891 in Ireland. Called Bicycle Polo, the game was much more similar to equestrian polo, except on bicycles. It was even a demonstration game during the 1908 Olympics in London. But popularity spiked in the 1930s.

Around 2000, a new variety of cycle polo called hardcourt bike polo developed using three-person teams and playing areas like parking lots and tennis courts. You know where this new style calls home? That’s right: Seattle.

Popularity of the sport has exploded worldwide in the past few years, with bike polo clubs in hundreds of cities across the globe. That’s pretty rad.

So get out and watch for yourself if you haven’t had a chance. The Seattle Bike Polo website lists games on Tuesdays and Sundays at Cal Anderson starting at 6 p.m. and Thursdays at 65th and Ravenna starting at 8.

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1 Response to Judkins Park Bike Polo tournament shows how cool the sport can be

  1. David Hiller says:

    I stopped by on Sunday evening and folks seemed to be having a great time. It was good to see friends from Portland, and a very enthusiastic contingent from Olympia.

    The downside to these impromptu tournaments on public land is the complaints they spur. For instance, I’m still dealing with the fallout from a complaint generated by an Assistant US Attorney from a West Seattle game a month ago. The individual in question complained about open containers, public urination, etc. – and it is jeopardizing access across the city.

    The event in your article was done without a permit, there we no porta-potties, no additional waste/recycling containers were brought to the site (not that it wasn’t well cleaned up…) These are just the rules we all have to live by if we wish to hold organized events in Seattle Parks.

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