WARNING: This post contains highly stereotypical content, partially intentionally, and fully truthfully. If you are going to be offended, stop reading.
First and foremost, Happy Birthday America. I celebrated The Fourth of July in typical American fashion this year — an extended weekend filled with plenty of beach, barbeque, fireworks, beer and….polo?
That’s right ladies and gentleman, somehow I ended up in Newport, Rhode Island this weekend watching a highly contested polo match. I must admit this was my first polo experience, and I was already highly skeptical as I settled in to watch the Newport Polo Club take on the Sea-Bank Polo Club. I could tell from the get-go it was going to be a douzy of a match.
I arrived at the polo grounds several hours early — it was 1:00pm when we arrived to “tailgate” for a 5:00pm game. Needless to say, we were the first group to arrive at the grounds. I showed up with a group of “polo ready” friends doning silly outfits — partially to fit in and partially to mock the event as a whole. See below.
Upon arrival, grills were set up, food was spread out, and drinking commenced. Other cars began to arrive around 3:30pm, at which point we realized that despite our best efforts to camoflouge ourselves in silly outfits, we stuck out like a turban on an airplane. The areas around us quickly filled up with yuppy adults. They chatted quietly while sipping champagne and sharing stinky cheeses. Nearly everyone was playing boche. We introduced the crowd to jungle juice and Keystone Light.
As the game finally began, I learned that polo is divided into six “Chukkers,” aka periods. There are four players on each team, two refs, and basically the players ride around and try to slap the ball through two upright poles on either end of the field. The game has a very nonchalant feel to it — at no point did I feel like a sporting event was going on. There was no intensity and little hustle. I attempted to catch the players chest bumping their horses or delivering impassioned pep-talks during the breaks, but no such events seemed to occur. The final score was 13-8, and nobody seemed to care. No one cheered. It was a beautiful day spent with friends, good food, and bad booze — I had a lovely time. But as far as the sport goes, lets just say that by the beginning of the third chukker, nearly everyone in our group had resorted to watching the creepy middle-aged men donning only color coordinated Vineyard Vines walk laps around the field with a bottle of wine looking for a young lady to get lucky with.
The highlight of the match may have been polo’s version of the seventh inning stretch. At this point all of the sloshed-off-a-glass-of-wine yuppies proceed with glee to actually get out of their seats and stomp down the divots left on the grounds by players’ clubs. The only problem is the divots and the turds left by the horses look strikingly similar, so you must tread carefully. This is of great excitement to nearly all in attendance. Check out this action shot.
As I said, I had a delightful time up until this point. Luckily for us, there seemed to be one other group close by that somehow managed to make us look more normal. Few people in this group had all of their front teeth, bandanas were prevalent, and I heard multiple sentences start with, “Them peoples said…..” God Bless America. This group had decided it would be a wonderful idea to start climbing one of the flagpoles surrounding the field after the game commenced. As one of these fine chaps shimmied up the pole, it began to shake violently. Luckily, one of Newport’s own players was nearby and ran over to save the day. This little wench, a bottle of champagne in hand, proceeded to sneer, “Those flagpoles are property of The Newport Polo club. We’d like to keep it that way.” The group of hicks suprisingly obliged the little snit, until one of them asked the player, “What you drinking there man?” and raised a Budweiser in his direction. “Champagne, you want some?” the player asked. He then proceeded to pour out the last few remaining drops in the bottle and walk away laughing at said group of hicks. Needless to say, the Budweiser began to boil in the viens of the poor insulted hick. Insults began raining down on the player, his family, his size, etc. until one brave soul starting making comments about the player and his horse engaging in crude acts. The player at this point knew he was outnumbered, and could only slink away with a smug grin on his face. He was a Newport player — these fans had come to see him! His actions spoke for themselves, and most everybody left the game with a bad taste in their mouths. I couldn’t help but feeling as though Polo is a game for the people that are too rich, too bored, and too boring to do anything better with themselves than sit around and act snotty at a game that makes a mockery of sport. I even felt bad for the horses — I would have thrown that little punk on my back to the ground.
Next Fourth of July, I’ll try to go for something a little more American. Thank God for baseball.
Check out http://www.chrisross91.wordpress.com.