Auto polo

Automobile polo or auto polo was a motorsport invented in the United States with rules and equipment similar to equestrian polo but using automobiles instead of horses. The sport was popular at fairs, exhibitions and sports venues across the United States and several areas in Europe from 1911 until the late 1920s; it was, however, dangerous and carried the risk of injury and death to the participants and spectators, and expensive damage to vehicles.[1]

Auto polo crop1
Auto polo match in the 1910s at Hilltop Park in New York. Malletmen were often thrown from the cars during matches.

Origins

The official inventor of auto polo is purported to be Ralph "Pappy" Hankinson, a Ford automobile dealer from Topeka who devised the sport as a publicity stunt in 1911 to sell Model T cars.[2] The reported "first" game of auto polo occurred in an alfalfa field in Wichita on July 20, 1912, using four cars and eight players (dubbed the "Red Devils" and the "Gray Ghosts") and was witnessed by 5,000 people.[3][4] While Hankinson is credited with the first widely publicized match and early promotion of the sport, the concept of auto polo is older and was proposed as early as 1902 by Joshua Crane Jr. of the Dedham Polo Club in Boston, with the Patterson Daily Press noting at the time of Crane's exhibition that the sport was "not likely to become very popular."[5] Auto polo was also first played in New York City inside a regimental armory building in 1908 or 1909.[6] The popularity of the sport increased after its debut in July 1912,[2] with multiple auto polo leagues founded across the country under the guidance of the Auto Polo Association. The first large-scale exhibition of auto polo in the eastern United States was held on November 22, 1912 at League Stadium in Washington, D.C.[2] Another exhibition was staged the following day at Hilltop Park in New York.[Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 24, 1912, p.14] By the 1920s, New York City and Chicago were the principal cities for auto polo in the United States with auto polo matches occurring every night of the week.[6] In New York, matches were held at Madison Square Garden and Coney Island.[2]

Internationally, auto polo was regarded with skepticism and caution. In 1912, the British motoring publication The Auto described the new sport as "very impressive" and a "lunatic game" that the writers hoped would not become popular in Britain.[7] Hankinson himself promoted auto polo in Manila in the 1910s with events sponsored by Texaco[8] and recruited teams in the United Kingdom. Auto polo was further spread to Europe by auto polo teams from Wichita that toured Europe in the summer of 1913 to promote the sport.[9] In Toronto in 1913, auto polo became the first motorsport to be showcased at the Canadian National Exhibition, but the sport did not become popular in Canada.[10]

Rules and equipment

Dedham Polo Club auto polo in 1902
The Dedham Polo Club first used Mobile Runabouts for their exhibition game in 1902.

Unlike equestrian polo which requires large, open fields that can accommodate up to eight horses at a time, auto polo could be played in smaller, covered arenas during wintertime, a factor that greatly increased its popularity in the northern United States.[6] The game was typically played on a field or open area that was a least 300 feet (91 m) long and 120 feet (37 m) wide with 15-foot (4.6 m) wide goals positioned at each end of the field.[6] The game was played in two halves (chukkars) and each team had two cars and four men in play on the field at a given time.[11] The first auto polo cars used by the Dedham Polo Club were unmodified, light steam-powered Mobile Runabouts that seated only one person[12] and cost $650 (equivalent to $18,822 today).[13] As the sport progressed, auto polo cars resembled stripped down Model Ts[10] and usually did not have tops, doors or windshields, with later incarnations sometimes outfitted with primitive rollbars to protect the occupants. Cars typically had a seat-belted driver and a malletman that held on to the side of the car[10] and would attempt to hit a regulation-sized basketball toward the goal of the opposing team with the cars reaching a top speed of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) and while making hairpin turns.[6] The mallets were shaped like croquet mallets but had a three-pound head to prevent "backfire" when striking the ball at high speeds.[4]

Safety and damage concerns

Due to the nature of the sport, cars would often collide with each other and become entangled, with malletmen frequently thrown from the cars. Installation of rollcages over the radiator and rear platforms of the cars helped prevent injuries to players, but falls did result in severe cuts and sometimes broken bones if players were run over by the cars,[11] though deaths due to auto polo were rare.[14] Most of the cars would usually be severely wrecked or demolished by the time the match was finished,[11] leaving most players uninsurable for costly material and bodily damages incurred during the game. A tally of the damages encountered by Hankinson's British and American auto polo teams in 1924 revealed 1564 broken wheels, 538 burst tires, 66 broken axles, 10 cracked engines and six cars completely destroyed during the course of the year.[15] The sport waned in popularity during the late 1920s, mostly due to the high cost of replacing vehicles,[2] but did have a brief resurgence in the Midwestern United States after World War II.[16]

Moto polo

A recent variant of auto polo played with motorcycles, called "moto polo", was developed in Rwanda in 2008 by Sam and James Dargan. The game is played in 15-minute quarters with five players per team using mallets to hit a ball made of banana leaves. The sport has few definite rules beyond "motorcyclists cannot use their feet to kick the ball" and "players cannot stick objects into motorcycle wheels".[17]

Gallery

Auto polo by Collier's

Auto poloists chase each other down the field in a 1913 photograph by Collier's Magazine.

Auto polo by the International News Service

A malletman balances on the side of a moving auto polo car during a match at Hilltop Park, New York, in a photograph by the International News Service.

Auto Polo, Coney Isl. (LOC) crop

An auto polo match at Coney Island photographed by the Bain News Service. Cars had primitive metal hoops around the driver's seat and radiator to protect the occupants in the event of a rollover.

Auto Polo by the Library of Congress crop

A rollover during a match at Hilltop Park, New York, in a photograph by the Bain News Service.

References

  1. ^ Edward Brooke-Hitching. Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling, and Other Forgotten Sports, p.12. Simon and Schuster, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4711-4899-6
  2. ^ a b c d e Carlebach, Michael (2011). Bain's New York: The City in News Pictures 1900-1925. New York: Courier. p. 143.
  3. ^ Staff (July 21, 1912). "Automobile Polo Game". New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Morrison, R.H. (1913). "Playing polo in autos". Illustrated world. 19: 103.
  5. ^ Staff (18 July 1902). "Auto polo latest fad". Patterson Daily Press. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e Perry, Ralph (July 3, 1924). "Miami's new sport will provide thrills for fans". The Miami News. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  7. ^ Staff (January 1913). "Britains fear auto polo". Automobile topics. 28: 608.
  8. ^ Texas Company (November 1915). "Texas Star". The Texaco Star. 3: 31.
  9. ^ Staff (May 3, 1913). "Auto polo for Europeans". Lawrence Journal World. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Dinka, Nicholas (August 2005). "Auto Pilots". Toronto Life. 39 (8).
  11. ^ a b c Staff (October 1929). "Auto Polo". The Billboard. 41 (40): 65.
  12. ^ Inkersley, Arthur (August 1902). "Auto polo". Western Field: The sportsman's magazine of the West. 1: 401–402.
  13. ^ "The Mobile Company's lighest carriage". The Cosmopolitan. 33: 793. October 1902.
  14. ^ Staff (September 21, 1922). ""Play to win" is slogan of auto poloists". The Southeast Missourian. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  15. ^ Staff (Sep 2, 1925). "AUTO POLO COSTLY AND HAZARDOUS: Even Lloyds Won't Insure Players". The Hartford Courant. p. 2.
  16. ^ Staff (May 27, 1949). "Photograph". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  17. ^ Kron, Josh (May 8, 2012). "A Lot Like Polo, Only Faster and With Beer". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
Covington Blue Sox

The Covington Blue Sox were a Federal League baseball club in Covington, Kentucky in 1913. The Blue Sox team was moved to Kansas City in July 1913 and became known thereafter as the Kansas City Packers.

Hilltop Park

Hilltop Park was the nickname of a baseball park that stood in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. It was the home of the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1903 to 1912, when they were known as the "Highlanders". It was also the temporary home of the New York Giants during a two-month period in 1911 while the Polo Grounds was being rebuilt after a fire.

The ballpark's formal name, as painted on its exterior walls, was American League Park. Because the park was located on top of a ridge of Manhattan Island, it came to be known as Hilltop Park, and its team was most often called the New York Highlanders (as well as the Americans and the Yankees). This "Highland" connection contrasted with their intra-city rivals, the Giants, whose Polo Grounds was just a few blocks away, in the bottomland under Coogan's Bluff.

Hilltop Park sat on the block bounded by Broadway, 165th Street, Fort Washington Avenue, and 168th Street. The structure consisted of a covered grandstand stretching from first base to third base and uncovered bleacher sections down the right and left field lines. Originally built in just six weeks, the park sat 16,000, with standing room for an additional 10,000 or so. The bleachers were covered in 1911, and also bleachers to seat an additional 5,000 fans were built in 1911 (partially to accommodate Giants fans, who were temporary tenants after the Polo Grounds fire) in center field.

The field was initially huge by modern standards — 365 ft (111 m) to left field, 542 ft (165 m) to center field and 400 ft (120 m) to right field. An inner fence was soon constructed to create more realistic action. Both the park and the nickname "Highlanders" were abandoned when the American Leaguers left, at the beginning of the 1913 season, to rent the Polo Grounds from the Giants. The Polo Grounds had a far larger seating capacity, and by that time was made of concrete due to the 1911 fire. Hilltop Park was demolished in 1914.

Hobby horse polo

Hobby horse polo (German: Steckenpferdpolo) is a mixed team sport played on hobby horses. It is similar to other polo variants, such as canoe polo, cycle polo, camel polo, elephant polo, golfcart polo, Segway polo, auto polo, and yak polo, in that it uses parts of the polo rules, however it has its own specialities.

Kī-o-rahi

Kī-o-rahi is a ball sport played in New Zealand with a small round ball called a 'kī'. It is a fast-paced game incorporating skills similar to rugby union, netball and touch. Two teams of seven players play on a circular field divided into zones, and score points by touching the 'pou' (boundary markers) and hitting a central 'tupu' or target. The game is played with varying rules (e.g. number of people, size of field, tag ripping rules etc.) depending on the geographic area it is played in. A process called Tatu, before the game, determines which rules the two teams will use.

In 2005 kī-o-rahi was chosen to represent New Zealand by global fast-food chain McDonald's as part of its 'Passport to Play' programme to teach physical play activities in 31,000 American schools.

The programme will give instruction in 15 ethnic games to seven million primary school children.The New Zealand kī-o-rahi representative organisation, Kī-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho, formed with men's and women's national teams, completed a 14 match tour of Europe in September and October 2010. The men's team included 22-test All Black veteran Wayne Shelford who led the team to a 57–10 test win against Kī-o-Rahi Dieppe Organisation, the French Kī-o-Rahi federation.

Shelford's kī-o-rahi test jersey made him the first kī-o-rahi/rugby double international for NZ. The women's team coached by Andrea Cameron (Head of PE at Tikipunga High School) also won by 33–0. These were the first historic test matches between NZ and France.

Nazareth Speedway

Nazareth Speedway was an auto racing facility near Nazareth in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania which operated from 1910 to 2004 in two distinct course configurations. In its early years, it was a dirt twin oval layout. In 1987 it was reopened as a paved tri-oval that measured just slightly under 1 mile.

The facility is often linked to local drivers Mario and Michael Andretti's early racing careers. It was also associated with Frankie Schneider due to his large number of wins on the two dirt tracks.As of November 2015, the site was purchased by Raceway Properties LLC under David Jaindl. There are no current plans to return racing to the facility.

Polo

Polo is a horseback mounted team sport. It is one of the world's oldest known team sports.Polo was first played in Persia (Iran) at dates given from the 6th century BC to the 1st century AD. Polo was at first a training game for cavalry units, usually the king’s guard or other elite troops. From there it spread to entire Persia and beyond. It is now popular around the world, with well over 100 member countries in the Federation of International Polo. It is played professionally in 16 countries. It was an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1936.

It is known as the sport of kings. It has become a spectator sport for equestrians and society, often supported by sponsorship.

The game is played by two opposing teams with the objective of scoring goals by using a long-handled wooden mallet to hit a small hard ball through the opposing team's goal. Each team has four mounted riders, and the game usually lasts one to two hours, divided into periods called chukkas (or "chukkers").

Arena polo has similar rules, and is played with three players per team. The playing area is smaller, enclosed, and usually of compacted sand or fine aggregate, often indoors. Arena polo has more maneuvering due to space limitations, and uses an air inflated ball, slightly larger than the hard field polo ball. Standard mallets are used, though slightly larger head arena mallets are an option.

Quidditch (sport)

Quidditch is a sport of two teams of seven players each mounted on broomsticks played on a hockey rink-sized pitch. It is based on a fictional game of the same name invented by author J. K. Rowling, which is featured in the Harry Potter series of novels and related media.[3] The game is also sometimes referred to as muggle quidditch to distinguish it from the fictional game, which involves magical elements such as flying broomsticks and enchanted balls. In the Harry Potter universe, a "muggle" is a person without the power to use magic.

The pitch is rectangular with rounded corners 55 meters (60 yards) by 33 meters (36 yards) with three hoops of varying heights at either end.[4] The sport was created in 2005 and is therefore still quite young. However, quidditch is played around the world and actively growing.[5] The ultimate goal is to have more points than the other team by the time the snitch, a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow, is caught. Rules of the sport are governed by the International Quidditch Association, or the IQA, and events are sanctioned by either the IQA or that nation's governing body.

To score points, chasers or keepers must get the quaffle, a slightly deflated volleyball, into one of three of the opposing hoops which scores the team 10 points.[6] To impede the quaffle from advancing down the pitch, chasers and keepers are able to tackle opposing chasers and keepers at the same time as beaters using their bludgers—dodgeballs—to take out opposing players. Once a player is hit by an opposing bludger, that player must dismount their broom, drop any ball being held, and return to and touch their hoops before being allowed back into play.[7] The game is ended once the snitch is caught by one of the seekers, awarding that team 30 points.[8]A team consists of minimum seven (maximum 21) players, of which six are always on the pitch, those being the three chasers, one keeper, and two beaters. Besides the seeker who is off-pitch, the six players are required to abide by the gender rule, which states that a team may have a maximum of four players who identify as the same gender, making quidditch one of the few sports that not only offers a co-ed environment but an open community to those who do not identify with the gender binary.[10] Matches or games often run about 30 to 40 minutes but tend to be subject to varying lengths of time due to the unpredictable nature of the snitch catch. If the score at the end of the match including the 30 point snitch catch is tied (such that the team that caught the snitch was 30 points behind the other), the game moves to overtime where the snitch is constrained to the pitch's dimensions and the game ends after five minutes or when the snitch is legally caught.

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