Polo has a long-held reputation as the sport of kings, but that may all be changing soon. Since 2012, intercollegiate polo teams in the U.S. have seen a 12 percent increase in the number of participating players, thanks to the addition of six new teams at Alfred University; University of Wisconsin, Madison; the University of Miami and others.
(flickr.com/Pete Markham) (flickr.com/Pete Markham)
Once, college polo might have been called an American pastime, at least for men. During the heyday of the sport in the 1920s and ’30s, men’s teams were actually promoted and subsidized by the U.S. Army, which used the polo field as a kind of training ground for cavalry recruitment, allowing students to use its ponies in exchange for joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps. But after WWII, the program ended, and the number of college teams began to wane. Even Princeton, which boasts America’s first official college polo team, was eventually forced to disband. Thankfully, Princeton Tigers polo was recently resurrected, and played its first match in decades against Harvard last April.
Currently there are 53 polo teams at 37 colleges around the country, and participants hope that number will continue to grow. Sixty percent of college polo players are women, and some receive prior training in high school or youth leagues. But for others, university polo offers a convenient and affordable way to try the sport for the first time.