The heart of American polo is the patron. Without this all-important playing sponsor the sport has no foundation. It’s the one key element that the game requires to succeed at the highest level. There are only two teams in the Butler Cup this week, which underscores the reality of what polo is up against.
As polo continues to struggle at the high end, the list of teams has diminished in staggering numbers. A large number of patrons have either walked away from the game or have chosen not to return to south Florida high goal. In just the last five years 16 patrons are missing in action:
John Muse, Lyndon Lea, Rashid Albwardy, Scott Wood, Alessandro Bazzoni, Jerome Wirth, Scott Swerdlin, Julian Mannix, Victor Vargas, John Goodman, George Rawlings, Camilo Bautista, Steve Lefkowitz, Frederico Virasoro, Alvaro Fernandez and Ernesto Gutierrez.
The majority of those patrons who have disappeared are not American. Going forward US polo needs to develop more ‘home grown’ patrons in order to keep the game alive at its highest level. It’s a quandary that may not have a quick fix. In the US polo schools have been cropping up, the Ganzis and the Polo Training Foundation both have schools that they are running to encourage new players to take up the sport, the USPA has the intercollegiate and interscholastic tournaments for college and high school, whilst Bellisimo is talking about starting a summer youth program. These are all great ideas for supporting youth polo and encouraging new players, however it seems they may all be heading in different directions, would a unified approached help the sport more? What really is the solution for the future of polo?