Is Polo Becoming More Successful?

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Most of the high-class “gentlemen’s sports” of old have already made great strides in becoming more accessible to non-wealthy people. For example, golf has its public courses, tennis courts are now everywhere, and yachting clubs make that prohibitively expensive sport accessible to anyone willing to learn the ropes and lend a hand. But polo is still one of the few sports that has remained steadfastly in the upper reaches of society.

But if recent evidence is any indication, cracks are beginning to appear in polo’s armor. Across countries like the U.S. and Australia and in regions like East Asia and South America, local and national polo associations are finding novel ways to get non-wealthy people interested in their sport.

Although owning horses is still impractical to the vast majority of the population, practically everyone loves horses, even those of us who can’t keep them. So there are many people who jump at the opportunity to ride a horse and learn this venerable sport.

And thanks to modern polo clubs, you no longer have to own a horse to get involved. All you have to do is join up, pay your reasonable dues, and you can start getting involved.

Of course, one of the reasons polo is such a prohibitive sport is that, before you can even begin to learn the game, you have to first master the art of riding, which is no easy feat. As a result, the game has traditionally been confined to wealthy young aristocrats who had nothing better to do with their time than play with their horses and practice polo.

It’s thought that to become a top player in the sport, you need a few thousand hours of practice. Very few people in the world have the time and resources to devote to riding a horse and learning an obscure sport. And up to now, many of the sport’s elitists have liked it this way. They revel in their obscurity and balk at the idea of opening the game up to the masses.

At the same time, polo’s organizing bodies recognize that greater recognition equals greater glory and revenue, so they are the ones who are largely spearheading the efforts to bring polo to the non-wealthy. This has created a minor rift among polo fans and players, but it still remains to be seen whether the controversy will be born out in the future.

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