Miami Bike Polo: Balls and Mallets Minus the Horses

Twenty years ago, Miami was getting to be a frigging weird place, and if you went to José Martí Park on any given Sunday, it might not have surprised you to see a bunch of maniacs riding in circles on bicycles, screaming and swinging sticks. Today, the city has cleaned itself up a bit, but the stick-swinging bikers are still around, though now they are a lot less socially dangerous and organized into teams thanks to Miami Bike Polo.

The league is our town's first step toward embracing a sport that has been a godsend for anyone who wants to justify his or her Polo shirt, but can't afford a horse. Bike polo itself is far from new--the sport was originally invented in Ireland in 1891--but over the last five years or so, the urban version of it--played on courts instead of fields and using a street hockey ball and goals--has been spreading fast.

Organizations already exist in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, London, Munich, Chicago, Warsaw, Budapest, São Paulo, and Barcelona, just to name a few places. And since April 10, Miami has become part of the community thanks to Eric Madrid, who saw the sport for the first time in the Canadian documentary Murder of Couriers. Shortly after, with the help of partner Andrew Feher, the first local game was organized in Overtown, and the Miami Bike Polo league has been growing ever since.

"We're looking to organize games with teams from other parts of Florida and Georgia," Madrid said. His group was even invited to play a pre-show game at last week's Monster Jam.

Today, bike polo players meet regularly at José Martí Park every Friday at 7 p.m. (except on the last Friday of each month when it holds off for Critical Mass), and every Sunday at 1 p.m. Moreover, on Sundays following Critical Mass (the last Sunday of each month), a barbecue is set up to accompany the games.

"Normally, we'll see about 20 - 30 people show up, but at the barbecues, that number can surge to something more like 50 - 60," Madrid told us. People of all experience levels are welcome to come and play free of charge, and while you need to have your own bicycle, extra mallets are available.

Show up for free games are at José Martí Park (362 SW 4th St.) Fridays at 7 p.m. (except last Friday of the month) or Sundays for a game at 1 p.m. at the basketball courts. The last Sunday of the month there's a barbecue. Visit miamibikepolo.com.

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