By Chip McKenney
One of the oldest sports in the world is a new favorite for some gay men and lesbians, at least in Los Angeles. Polo has all the ingredients to become a great sport for gay people to participate in. It has a vast history, innate beauty, requires teamwork, athleticism and is played throughout the world. Traditionally, it is one of the most macho sports – yet one in which women compete equally with men.
Initially I contacted John Westley, the resident polo coach at the Santa Barbara Polo and Tennis Club in Santa Barbara to discuss forming a Gay Polo League; he was 100% behind the idea. One Sunday per month I organize two groups, advanced and less advanced, to play at the Santa Barbara Polo School. Each game lasts about 60 to 90 minutes. During the game, Westley instructs us on the game of polo, mallet skills, game strategy and horsemanship. The school provides helmets, mallets, tack, polo ponies and instruction for a total cost of $80 per session. Afterwards, our group tailgates the professional polo games - a great way to spend an afternoon.
Recently, the Gay Polo League has begun playing each Wednesday night at the California Polo Club in Los Angeles. Domingo, the resident coach, has embraced my mission and extended a warm welcome to the club. Most Wednesdays, we have eight to 10 members playing.
The next step is to organize polo games at the Eldorado and Empire Polo Clubs in Palm Springs during the winter.
Currently, the GPL has a membership of approximately 38 men and one woman. The age range of our membership is 26 to 54 years old. While several members have ridden a fair portion of their lives, most have limited or no previous riding or polo playing experience at all. However, many of our developing players have rapidly progressed to a level where they can be competitive with others with more riding experience.
On balance, all members are attracted to polo because of its uniqueness. It is unlike any other sport you can play. In addition to polo games, the GPL leaders are incorporating cocktail parties, dinners, and other events to attend as a group. It is our intent to share the fun and passion for polo with others. It is a wonderful way to incorporate an unusual and challenging dimension to our lives
For more information, please visit our Web site or contact Chip at 323 712 3514. For more information on polo, log on to the Unites States Polo Association (USPA) Web site.
McKenney is the founder of the Gay Polo League.