Monday, 16 May 2011

Auto Polo – A Short-Lived Sport

Every now and again a new sport comes about – often as a result of advances in technology. So it was in the first two decades of the twentieth century where the invention of the motor vehicle led to the creation of a number of new sports.  One of these was the short lived fad of auto polo.

The game was played much like the equine game from which it was adapted, with the horses being replaced by the vehicles.  In 1912 a team of men played exhibition matches in many cities in the United States.  Although the reception was generally positive, the sport never really took off. 

The reasons were twofold. First of all there was the expense. Due to the nature of the sport there were inevitably collisions.  Competitors not only had to be able to afford the car in the first place they had to have the money to repair or even replace damaged cars.

The activity was popular as an exhibition sport at Coney Island in New York from around 1910 but after a decade or so the crowds tired of it and the once popular crowd pullers were cancelled.

Then there were the casualties.  In the 1912 exhibition matches there were no less than six serious injuries.  This would be enough to put off many. The sport in many ways was doomed from its inception.  However, as these pictures show, there was a certain entertainment value in this short lives sport!

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