Will of the people decides championship
Chicago Rob connected on back-to-back slapshots in the seventh minute to lead team Lou-Rob to the championship of the Lexington Bike Polo Spring Break 2v2 Tournament last Sunday. Lou-Rob bested a 33 team field of pasty white bikers on parole from cities all over the greater midwest and northeast.
Although it apparently fell beneath the cracks of the KSR staff holed up in Atlanta covering the Cats game, the 2v2 had drawn minor regional publicity for becoming the first openly collectivist tournament in Kentucky sports history. The invitation read: “Teams will be selected randomly and any obviously overpowered teams will be split up, a bit of polo socialism to ensure lively, balanced play.”
To keep with the theme, tournament players split team decision-making, beers, bathroom trips and, to create team names, even their very identities. Tournament winner Lou-Rob was the collectively joined selves Cleveland Lou (from Cleveland) and Chicago Rob (from Chicago).
Lou-Rob’s championship match against Charlie-Pat was closely fought until early in the fifth minute. With Lou-Rob out front by a score of 3-2, Cleveland Lou and Charlie Buffalo (CB) collided, sending Cleveland Lou foot (and nearly face) down. The crowd roared with delight, then, seeing that Cleveland Lou had received all of the punishment (going foot down) but had only perpetrated half of the crime, began to demand justice.
Meanwhile, CB, having dispatched with Cleveland Lou, bulldozed his way toward the goal and muscled a six-inch dribbler through Chicago Rob’s spread wheels, seemingly tying the game at 3-3. Pandemonium ensued. The crowd, which bracketed the courts like an L, erupted.
Mallets smacked the court walls. Some began to hoot, others to holler. Play was stopped. And then, suddenly, arising to convey the will of the people, Mike Rozzi climbed atop the court walls, stood tall, and confidently addressed players, fans and journalist.
It was the belief of the people, Rozzi explained, that CB, having been the recipient of a collision that he had in part created and for which Cleveland Lou had been fallen, should have to tap-out and re-enter play, thus ensuring an equity in the distribution of liability and penalty. It was only fair. This was polo, after all. This meant, therefore, that CB’s previous goal was nullified, and Lou-Rob still led by a score of 3-2.
And with that, Rozzi melted back into the crowd of people and play resumed.
Unfortunately for Charlie-Pat, by this time the cool air had already been taken out of their balls. The team came out flat and never regained their earlier championship form. Back to back 15 foot blasts from Chicago Rob made things official. The day belonged to Lou-Rob.
Henry Huffine, the glue holding together Bourbonic Plague’s championship run in last summer’s Bluegrass Games State Tournament, was knocked out of the 2v2 in his fourth match with a 2-2 record. Though Huffine was disappointed in the finish, his continued never-say-die attitude have some players quietly calling him Henry Hustle.
Huffine’s hustle was on full display in his last match, a loss to Matt-Kyle. Sporting a reclaimed mid-70s junior high football helmet that resembled something worn by the Cleveland Browns practice squad for kickers, Huffine showed no give when his team fell behind 3-1 less than five minutes into play. With a couple of blocked shots and some key ball-control maneuvers, Hustle managed to settle his team down and stay Matt-Kyle’s early run.
At one point in the match, Hustle’s plastic wheel-cover blew-out. The hard plastic flapping off the wheels would have felled less steel-willed competitors, but not Huffine—Huffine pedaled through it all. A crank slow, he nevertheless ferociously protected goal and pushed forward furious run-outs and feigns. Hustle didn’t stop until the Blonde Bombshell, Will Criner, stepped in to call a temporary halt to the game to get Huffine’s bike all cleaned up and ready for more inspiring action.
Fear of a Cleveland planet?
One of the subtexts to the championship game collision was that it involved Cleveland Lou. In coverage leading up to the tournament, Cleveland had been dogged as a city by several players. One competitor wrote, “The only things tight about Cleveland are 1) Drew Carey, 2) Bernie Kosar, 3) Big Wermmmm.” The Kentucky Cardinal chimed in, “I’m impressed that you could find 3.”
In that sort of anti-Cleveland environment, some expressed private concerns that it was no coincidence that Cleveland Lou, and not his collective other self Chicago Bob, was the one tossed to the ground.
For his part, Cleveland Lou brushed off a question on the topic in a post-game interview. “We Clevelanders, we take a lot of flack from everybody all over the country—and even from across the world—but we just come to play.”