Dirty Apple Bike Polo

Check out the Dirty Apple Bike Polo club on Facebook.

As of Spring 2012, they are playing on the Goodnow Tennis Courts:
Tuesday-Thursday 4:30
Sunday 2:00

For more, here is an article by Nikita Grover, originally published in the K-State Collegian – January 2012.

“In the last few years, a new sport has emerged in Manhattan. Bicycle polo, or bike polo, is more or less just what it sounds like: polo, but with bikes. Bike polo may soon become an official part of K-State, according to Tommy Marietta, freshman in mechanical engineering. Marietta said he and his teammates are in fact trying to get bike polo started as a club sport. Whether in a club setting or in informal games, Marietta said, “We always welcome people who have never played before.” Bike polo is not that different from traditional polo, but it is played with bicycles instead of horses and smaller teams of three to six. Players use mallets, often fashioned out of ski poles and a short length of plastic tubing, to pass a street hockey ball to their teammates and ultimately through a small goal the length of a bicycle, usually marked off by traffic cones. Players are not allowed to touch the ground, a rule that dramatically increases the difficulty of the sport. The most important piece of equipment used in bike polo is, of course, the bike. No specific type of bike is required; however, the player is usually asked to remove any equipment that could be hazardous to other players. Although players can supply or even make their own cane and mallet, there are certain specifications that must be followed for the game. Finally, each player must wear a protective helmet. Bike polo frequently involves collisions between players, so some participants choose to use inexpensive bicycles or extra protective equipment. According to the Hardcourt Bike Polo blog at hardcourtbikepolo.com, there are two main ways to play — pick-up games and tournament play. In informal pick-up games of bike polo, the players on the teams change at the conclusion of every game, so everyone gets to play in at least one game. There are no prizes, there is no set time or scoreboard — the score is called out — and in both manners of playing, the first team to five points wins. Tournament bike polo games are more structured; teams compete for two 30-minute periods. Dany Majard and Lee Goerl, both graduate students in mathematics who have been involved with bike polo since it started in Manhattan a few years ago, explained that there are usually three players on each team. A game must include an even number of periods, with a minimum of two and a maximum of six. Usually, the tournament committee sets the number of periods for games in an event based on the number of teams entered and the time available to complete the required number of games. Goerl said he played a few times with friends in 2009 and more and more people got involved. “I got into bike polo mostly for the absurdity — I thought it would be a silly thing to do a few times and wasn’t really sure how it could last,” he said. “Of course, that’s not what happened.” As his experience shows, it’s simple for anyone to play, whether they have prior experience with bike polo or not. Bryan Bischof, graduate student in mathematics, said the “culture of bike polo is very unique,” in the sense that the culture is very welcoming, and each team member is considered important within the bike polo community. Novice players often have difficulty just making contact with the ball, but bike polo veterans welcome “new blood,” Goerl said. Marietta and Bischof emphasized that anyone is welcome to join and participate, as the team does try to meet several times a week. Without an actual court to play on, they do not yet have a regular schedule, but it’s easy to spot them practicing on the Kramer Complex tennis courts.”

Michael Wesch

Chair of the City of Manhattan Bicycle Advisory Committee, avid bicycle commuter, and a cultural anthropologist.

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