Polo The Game of Kings
HISTORY OF THE GAME
The game’s roots go as far back to 6th Century BC Persia, as an honorable sport played only by the aristocracy. The popularity of Polo spread and evolved from the Middle East to Asia, and eventually to the western world.
Early art in the form of paintings and sculptures can often be found depicting Polo in its earliest stages. By the middle ages, Polo, or The Game of Kings (as it was known to be called), was played from Constantinople all the way to feudal Japan. It wasn’t until the 17th century in India that we game of Polo we all know and love really took off. The formation of The Calcutta Polo Club in 1860 helped rapidly spread the game, as a captain in the 10th Hussars stationed in India saw a match and immediately formed a team among his fellow officers. By the end of the year, informal matches were held between Indian and British cavalry units, giving birth to the famous match between the 10th Hussars and the 9th Lancers of England. Needless to say, the sport took off in England – and soon the rest of the world!
Today, Polo is an active sport in over 70 countries worldwide – and was once an Olympic sport from 1900 – 1939. In 1998 Polo was recognized as a sport with an international governing body with the creation of the Federation of International Polo, paving the way for the World Polo Championship that’s held every three years. Despite it being an active sport in over 70 countries, Polo is only played professionally in very few places, most notably in South America, the Middle East, and of course, the United States and United Kingdom. The most renowned tournaments in the world are Abierto de Tortugas, Abierto de Hurlingham, and the Abierto Argentino de Polo – all of them located in Argentina and are known as the Triple Crown. The USPA (United States Polo Association) is the governing body for the sport in the United States – the only country that has a women’s division and organization (United States Women’s Polo Federation). Something that hasn’t changed in Polo is the sport’s difficulty grappling with the traditional social and economic exclusivity associated with the game: i.e. the exclusivity and steep price that serve as a bar of entry into the sport. While the majority of Polo players genuinely desire to broaden public participation in the sport, others seek to preserve the social and economic exclusivity.
The popularity of Polo has been steadily rising since the 1980s and while the media hasn’t fully invested in televised Polo, the sport has made some strides with major games being broadcast in Argentina and England, but it has yet to catch on across TV screens in the United States.
Let's cross our fingers!