They may call it ‘hockey on horseback’ in some circles, but there’s one thing for sure that differentiates polo from hockey and that’s it’s popularity or lack thereof. Polo is rare, polo players are even rarer and the matches? Well, they usually happen somewhere off the radar of the vast majority of the population.
And its rarity isn’t a bad thing. It means you, as a polo player, get to be unique. You are part of an elite club, a club so elite and so secret most people don’t even know it exists! That said, when you tell people that you play polo or that you can’t make that dinner because you’re playing polo, well you may get some weird, funny, and downright confused looks and remarks.
We’ve compiled a list of the best, most stereotypical responses from people that players could get when they say they play polo and we’ve even provided a list of possible responses, to help you explain your penchant for ‘hockey on horseback’.
1. “Like on horses?”
Probably one of the most common responses people will have when you say you’re a polo player. For some reason when you say ‘polo’ most people are trying to reconcile you with their stereotypical ‘Pretty Woman’ Royal Family polo player image and the two aren’t connecting…so the next logical explanation just HAS to be water polo…we don’t understand it either.
Possible Responses: ‘yes’ (simple but effective) OR ‘of course, what other kind of polo is there?’ (feign ignorance towards water polo).
2. “Do you know Prince William and Prince Harry?”
There might be a theme developing. Polo’s reputation as the ‘Game of King’s’ often has people thinking literally, and for some reason, they seem to think the polo world is so small that you just must have taken to the field with the only polo players most people know of.
Possible Responses: ‘the polo world is small but not THAT small’ (the truth) OR ‘of course, Will and Harry and I play together ALL the time’ (sarcasm).
3. “They play polo here?”
Most people think polo is a sport played by the English Aristocracy in the English countryside and not much else. They’re not aware of it’s global network and its popularity among South Americans and the rest of the world. Think back to before you learned to play polo, did you know Argentine’s dominated the sport and that it was played in over 50 countries worldwide? If you did, then bravo you!
Possible Responses: ‘yes’ (simple) OR ‘yes, we have a polo club located North of the City’ (leave it at that, if they didn’t know there was polo here they certainly won’t understand polo club logistics), OR ‘it’s a well kept secret’ (leave them hanging at that, then they’ll absolutely need to know more)
4. “I’m wearing a polo shirt!
In everyday life, the only time the word ‘polo’ comes up is in conjunction with the brand ‘Polo Ralph Lauren’ or shirts of the polo variety. Some people may be so stunned and lacking a response when you say that you’re a polo player that the first thing that pops into their head is the popular connotation of polo and fashion.
Possible Responses: ‘that you are’ (there really isn’t anything else to be said here)
5. “Are matches really like that scene in Pretty Woman?”
Another popular connotation of polo is the popular movie Pretty Woman. You’ll sometimes hear people refer to their ‘Pretty Woman’ polo moment. For most people this and other Hollywood depictions are the only instances that they’ve seen a polo match, so naturally they want to know if the silver screen versions match up with the real thing.
Possible Responses: ‘yeah, sort of (insert detail about the differences here)’ OR ‘why don’t you find out for yourself I’m playing [insert date and location]’
6. “How exactly does that work?
These are the people that are genuinely curious (future polo players?!). They want to try to understand the what, how, why, and who of polo in Toronto. So take your time to explain things as best as you can, you never know where the next polo addict or fan will come from!
Possible Responses: ‘I play Tuesdays and Thursdays north of the city; I lease horses etc.’ (fill in appropriate details)
7. “So are you on a team? Do they even have teams in Polo?”
Like most sports, people associate them with teams. And so people will automatically jump to wanting to know what team you play for as a way to assess how good you might be. Handle this however you’d like, the politics and complexities of polo teams never make for a straight cut explanation.
Possible Responses: ‘I’m a club member and teams are randomly formed depending on the match and tournament’ OR ‘We have teams but they change all the time due to personal and tournament handicaps,’ (be prepared for questions about handicaps if you go with this answer)
8. “Where do you even learn to play polo?”
These are the people that likely thought you had to either be Royal or born into polo in order to be a player, they’d never even thought it was something that could be learned. Like reaction #6 these people are genuinely curious and might just be potential polo players so take your time with this. Remember to give us, the Toronto Polo School, a shout out in your answer! (kidding…but not really)
Possible Responses: tell them your own polo origin story OR ‘I took lessons or a clinic at the Toronto Polo School’ etc.
9. “How did you get into THAT?”
A similar reaction to the one above. These people are the people who never thought they’d be standing face to face with a real live polo player. They’ve run through all the above responses and settled on the overarching ‘how’.
Possible Responses: tell them how and why you started to play polo (simple, truthful, effective)
10. “Wow!” or other monosyllabic expressions of surprise and speechlessness
These are the people that thought polo and polo players only actually exist in movies, on the pages of Hello Magazine and in the glossy ads for Ralph Lauren and US Polo Association clothes. Let’s just say you’ve thrown them a curve ball with your penchant for polo, and they’re currently searching their minds for everything they know about polo to come up with the right question to ask next, their first response was just a way to buy time.
Possible Responses: ‘yep’ (acknowledge them and wait for the follow-up question)
Whatever the reaction you get when you tell people you play polo, own your response and your uniqueness as a polo player because let’s be honest it and you are pretty cool.