Polo is a team sport played outdoors on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Riders score by driving a white wooden or plastic ball into the opposing team's goal using a long-handled mallet. Goals are only valid if the scoring rider is mounted. The traditional sport of polo is played outdoors, and each polo team consists of four riders and their mounts.
Polo is arguably the oldest recorded team sport in known history, with the first matches being played in Persia over 2500 years ago. Initially thought to have been created by competing tribes of Central Asia, it was quickly taken up as a training method for the King's elite cavalry. These matches could resemble a battle with up to 100 men to a side.
As mounted armies swept back and forth across this part of the world, conquering and re-conquering, polo was adopted as the most noble of pastimes by the Kings and Emperors, Shahs and Sultans, Khans and Caliphs of the ancient Persians, Arabs, Mughals, Mongols and Chinese. It was for this reason it became known across the lands as "the game of kings".
British officers themselves re-invented the game in 1862 after seeing a horsemanship exhibition in Manipur, India. The sport was introduced into England in 1869, and seven years later sportsman James Gordon Bennett imported it to the United States. After 1886, English and American teams occasionally met for the International Polo Challenge Cup. Polo was on several Olympic games schedules, but was last an Olympic sport in 1936.
Polo continues, as it has done for so long, to represent the pinnacle of sport, and reaffirms the special bond between horse and rider. The feeling of many of its players are epitomized by a famous verse inscribed on a stone tablet next to a polo ground in Gilgit, Pakistan: "Let others play at other things. The king of games is still the game of kings."
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
at 11:47 PM ·
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