New sport rolls into Lexington



By Hayes Gardner

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Most people have heard of polo. Not the clothing company, but the sport on horseback, though many may not have heard of hardcourt bike polo. The sport has gained in popularity as of late, but its intricacies aren’t well known.

Bike polo originated in Ireland in the late 19th century, and was even featured as an exhibition game in the 1908 London Olympics. This version, however, was played in fields.

Currently, hardcourt bike polo is a much more modern affair. Within the last decade, bike polo has emerged on the scene in urban areas and continues to grow.

Hardcourt bike polo is similar to equine polo, except for the obvious difference in transportation. In polo, players ride horses and swing mallets, slapping a ball. In bike polo, players ride bikes and swing mallets, slapping a ball.

The concept is to get the ball through the marked goal boundaries using the mallets. As the name suggests, hardcourt bike polo is played on any open pavement like parking lots, basketball courts, roller hockey rinks and, in the case of Lexington Bike Polo, tennis courts.

Lexington Bike Polo has its own arena at Coolavin Park. These courts are now used for bike polo, and the association has even added boundaries around the perimeter of the court for better gameplay.

Because the tennis court is a much smaller area than many other sports arenas and bikes are involved, only three players play at a time for each team. Other rules differing from equine polo deal with safety and preventing injuries.

UK student and Lexington Bike Polo club member Zachary Willis describes the games as “pretty relaxed.” The games are casual and the point of each game is to have fun.

Since the club is not affiliated with the university, it isn’t entirely made up of UK students. In fact, it is mostly members of the local community, with some UK undergraduates and graduate students, as well. The club isn’t an official team, so all meetings are pickup affairs, with players competing in unofficial groups.

Lexington Bike Polo hosted a tournament in mid-November, called the Open Midwest Tournament, with 50 teams participating. The club didn’t have an official squad, but multiple all-Lexington teams did finish in the top 10. Most bike polo activities, however, are less competitive than large tournaments.

Willis says that he enjoys the casual play in the Lexington Bike Polo club.

“There are a lot of reasons I enjoy bike polo,” Willis said. “But one of the reasons I enjoy it most is that we’re all a bunch of friends, having a good time.”

He likes the “tight-knit” group that bike polo provides and the fun they have.

UK students interested in getting involved with the community bike polo club can show up to Coolavin Park on Wednesdays or Sundays at their meeting times. Lexington Bike Polo is open to new members and encourages people to come out. Bringing a mallet and bike is preferable, but not required.

“We’re all just having a good time on bikes,” Willis said.