Editor's Note From Garrett Sams: Zeno sent me this article at 11:58 P.M. the night before his deadline. It has been heavily edited. Believe me, it was much more posh than it is now. Try to read it.
Polo is perhaps the world’s oldest team sport, originating in Persia about 1600 years ago. It spread from Asia to England in the 1700s and became a popular sport and pastime of the military and nobility of the era. Polo is a team-based sport with 8 players, 4 per team, playing a game very similar to hockey. The difference between the two sports, however, is the fact that polo has horses on a field spanning 300 yards by 150 yards, or nine times the size of a football field. The game is played in seven periods, each known as chukkers, and each player will swap out his or her horses, typically a thoroughbred, at the end of each period, in order to give the horses a rest. What makes polo such a popular game is both the rush of adrenaline that the player feels when he hits a perfect shot as well as the non-stop action. A polo horse can gallop at 35 miles per hour, and a player usually hits the ball at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, making for a really fast-paced game. Combine that with no timeouts and periods lasting seven minutes a piece, and you get a game that is both exhilarating for the athletes and enticing for the fans and spectators. Polo is also a great social scene where someone can make friends that last a lifetime.
The origins of polo in the US start about 200 years ago when the first American polo club was founded in New York, dubbed the Westchester Polo Club.The sport faced a hard upward climb in popularity. In the 1920’s, polo reached its peak with an average attendance of around 30,000 people for matches in Southampton. After the Great Depression, polo began to lose popularity since people neither had time nor money to participate. It wasn’t until 1955 that the sport saw a large resurgence outside of Chicago at Oak Brook. The sport received more recognition when the brand Ralph Lauren marketed the brand Polo as a new upscale line. With the introduction of Ignacio Figueras, a world-famous player, as the star and face of the Ralph Lauren brand, the sport of polo has almost reached its once-high peak. Today, there are over 250 polo clubs in the United States with a large amount of participation across the country.