Hardcourt Bike Polo is among those young sports not bound to old rules.
The standards for equality are higher in hardcourt because the sport does not have antiquated traditions within the sport to cling to.
When polo was played by both men and women in the grass games of the 20th century, the standards met the times: Men and women played separate games, with variant rules. Reborn at the cusp of the 21st century, many of the social agreements about gender had changed. Women made waves successively from running and tennis to basketball and later on in baseball, football and hockey.
Unlike the decidedly masculine sports of the old world, bikes themselves arrived in a new era and any protests about women riding bikes were quickly pedaled past by flush females sporting fresh bloomers. Bloomers! A century and some change goes by before the blessed bike polo revival, and here’s where the two worlds intersect.
The co-ed nature of bike polo really is one of its most beautiful aspects, in terms of what humanity can look like. You have so much fun, push yourself so hard; you get so excited– and the rigid gender dynamics we typically adhere to begin to fold.
But in the spirit of sportsing in America, bike polo is a white dude’s jam (aka We love you, but you’re still a minority). Don’t get me wrong, though—it’s not an intentional exclusion of blacks, browns, and women—bike polo doesn’t care what you look like or what bits you have (are you using that new Fixcraft mounting system though?). The reality is that bike polo doesn’t exist in a race and gender-free universe, so we’re working from the inside out, evolving the poloverse with everyone in mind.
It’s an exciting process, and it’s tricky too. When we say “Hey, I want to show you what bike polo is” most people hear “Look, more sportsing!” which ultimately translates to “Look at these sweaty dudes be manly.”
There’s been a flurry of voices stirred up about who gets represented and how since the release of the white dudes on bikes NAH promo video. Quick on its heels was the uproar in response to GQ’s profile of the Beaver Boys, and the crumb of misogynistic representation within it that even hinted that bike polo was coed at all. The GQ feature is really just the last in a long string of biased coverage that omits or distorts the coed nature of the sport.
In honor of all the current controversy, I wanted to establish a primer of relevant materials on the intersections of bike polo and equity in sports and discrimination and gender expectations and all that, which I hope to add to as more people contribute to the conversation. My intention has always been to show others what is being accomplished in bike polo, and first to five is the least of it.
- GQ: “Leave it to the Beavers to Make Bike Polo Famous”
- Woman on a Wheel: “This Week in Bike Polo and Sexism”
- Beaver Boy Brian Dillman’s apology on LancasterBikePolo.com
- Ladies: Stop Putting Yourself in Goal
- Challenging the Myth of Feminine Frailty in the 21st Century: Insight on Coed Competition in Hardcourt Bike Polo
- League of Bike Polo forums: Where do women belong in the future of bike polo?
- A letter requesting the removal of the Venus symbol (♀) on hardcourtbikepolo.org
- The Frailty Myth: Redefining the Physical Potential of Women and Girls
Is this list missing something? Tell me!