Bike polo is all the rage in Wausau, thanks to a new hardcourt set up last year by the city parks department.
Since last spring, the Wausau Bike Polo Club has been playing at what was once a rarely-used parking lot at Riverside Park. City parks officials used hockey boards from outdoor rinks to create a designated court, and the group’s twice weekly games are attracting new members regularly.
You might not have heard of bike polo, but it has enjoyed rapid growth in the past decade. It’s inclusive, has simple rules and requires a limited investment. It’s very exciting to watch but takes some serious skills to handle the bike and play the game at the same time.
Some things you might not know about bike polo:
1. Bike polo is an actual sport
No, seriously. It’s been around in some form since 1891, when an Irish fellow named Richard J. Mecredy invented “horseless polo.” The sport’s resurgence took hold in America and around the world when Seattle residents in 1999 began playing Hardcourt Bike Polo, which basically means polo played on an asphalt court rather than a grassy field.
2. The sport is played around the globe
There are 473 clubs in 56 countries spread across every continent.
3. Bike polo was once featured in the Olympics
“Cycle polo” was featured as a demonstration sport in the 1908 Olympics, when Ireland beat Germany for the gold. Unfortunately, the popularity of bike polo declined during World War I and didn’t start to gather steam again until the 1980s.
4. An actual Hardcourt Bike Polo World Championship event exists
Started in 2009 in Philadelphia, a Hardcourt Bike Polo World Championship is held each year. Teams qualify by winning regional and national tournaments.
5. Bike Polo has only a few simple rules
- Games are played with three players on a team, with no specific positions.
- To score a goal, you must hit the ball with one of the ends of your mallet, not the side. This is called a shuffle.
- If you touch your foot to the ground , you must touch your mallet near the center of the court (“tap in”) to be allowed back in play.
- “Like contact” (bike-to-bike, mallet-to-mallet, body-to-body) is allowed.
That’s kind of it to get going, but a comprehensive list of current rules can be found here.
6. Gear is built specifically for hardcourt bike polo
Bike polo equipment is now a burgeoning industry with new technology emerging on a regular basis. Many independent bike companies today manufacture small-run frames perfect for the sport, while other companies offer mallets and protective gear. There is also specific footwear for the sport, though to get started, you don’t need anything quite so fancy.
7. Bike polo is all-inclusive
Every type of person is welcome to play bike polo. Young or old, man or woman, bike polo is a progressive sport.
To learn more about Wausau Bike Polo, visit their Facebook page.
Want to see players in action: Check out this video from Vision-Airy Films:
Visit Vision-Airy Films You Tube channel for more incredible videos.
Images and video courtesy of Vision-Airy films. Used by permission.