Sunday, November 15, 2009
A First-Timer's Trip to a Polo Match
My boss was pretty excited about it, and another co-worker told me that it was the season opener for the 116th Argentinian Polo Open. He said there would be parades and music and all, so it'd be worth going to. My only problem was that on such short notice, not knowing too many people in this city, it was going to be hard to find someone to go with me. I'm sure there are tons of people who would have liked a ticket, but I just don't know them.
We walked around for a while looking at what was for sale, and eventually worked over to the practice game. One thing I've noticed is that from a distance, it looks like tiny people riding giant dogs. Depending on the action, they can be right up in your face with little separating you, or they can be way down the field, nearly out of sight. The field is just that big.
It's striking to me that everyone applauds for both teams, and there's absolutely no booing at all. There is no real side, as teams switch back and forth who scores on each end, and at the end of the day, it's just a friendly match. That doesn't mean that the jockey's don't scream and play hard, nearly ramming their horses into each other. At one point a player smashed his mallet into the forearm of an opponent. The player screamed in pain and yelled some swears I haven't even heard of yet, dismounted, and continued to scream.
Immediately an ambulance had rushed out onto the field, which was almost laughable when you consider that it takes 5 minutes or more for a golf cart to get onto a football field when a player could have neck damage. The game stopped for a few minutes as they checked him out, and then he mounted up again and continued. Though the sun was out and I was burning, the field is close to the river and the winds are strong. I was shivering with a jacket on by the end of the match as the sun was setting. It was a close game, but I left with one minute left when it was clear that it was over.
It was a good experience to see a new sport, even if it's a very elitist game. There were no parades, and I'm not sure how I missed that, or if it was just a bad translation. I don't know if I'll go back on my own dime any time soon, but if another pair of free tickets come my way, I'm sure I'll take the opportunity.