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Known as the “Sport of Kings,” it’s inherent that polo is not for everyone. It’s expensive. It’s high maintenance. A perfect day of polo requires a well-manicured lawn stretching three football fields, a stable of spry ponies raised and trained for quick bursts of speed and infinite maneuvering, and perhaps the factor that keeps polo [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Known as the “Sport of Kings,” it’s inherent that polo is not for everyone.
It’s expensive. It’s high maintenance. A perfect day of polo requires a well-manicured lawn stretching three football fields, a stable of spry ponies raised and trained for quick bursts of speed and infinite maneuvering, and perhaps the factor that keeps polo furthest from the reaches of commoners are sponsors with deep pockets who can assemble a team of all-stars and provide them with the sport’s elaborate regalia and faculty.

In Ohio, it’s certainly not a common sight, but on this, the first Sunday of June, in the shadow of Granville’s famed Bryn Du Mansion, the Columbus Polo Club begins its season. Today, the grass is too high for long shots, the field about 120 yards shy of regulation, there are few spectators in attendance, and each team is mounting three players instead of the usual four. Despite the shortcomings, the club makes due if only for the love of the game.

While the Columbus Polo Club may lack the pomp and circumstance found in more luxurious climes such as Palm Beach, Long Island, or Buenos Aires (Argentina is the world capital of polo), there’s a rustic charm and a sense of tradition that pervades the day. Jack Dill sits atop a flatbed trailer announcing the match, clad in a white Stetson hat. When the action halts, the feisty octogenarian is happy to answer any questions about polo’s intricate rules. He demonstrates the proper way to hold the mallet, discusses how a point is scored, and reminds us more than once of the danger involved. Among his many years in polo, he’s witnessed two deaths.

“Hold your ears,” he says, blowing an air horn to signal the end of the chukker (polo jargon for the game’s seven minute periods).

At halftime, Dill encourages the small crowd to walk the grounds and replace divots made by the horses. A few riders bring their ponies to the sidelines to give a closer look. One even offers a business card in case anyone would like to join – no experience necessary. You don’t even need to know how to ride.

Above all, they want to squash the notion that polo is a game of privilege.

“The people in our club are not millionaires. We aren’t rich. We are just working-class people,” said Troy Everett, who’s acting as the club’s de facto president this season. “In the movies, it comes off as snobbish, but we aren’t like that. There’s even a club we play against in Pennsylvania that call what we do ‘redneck polo.’”

The “redneck” version of polo reached a peak in the 1930s and ’40s, when farmers and their sons learned the game, but in the advent of WWII, and the request by the government to stop playing, clubs (of which there were many across Ohio) disappeared from the landscape. A small number survived as extensions of hunting clubs. Two in particular, in Rocky Fork and Harbor Hills, decided to join forces in the early-’80s to start what eventually became the Columbus Polo Club.

Indeed, times have changed. Since the game isn’t passed through generations like it once was, these days the club has a “come as you are” membership, with anyone regardless of age or gender encouraged to join. Everett is 62 and still playing. This season he’s not only the president but also its benefactor. His Frazeyburg horse farm provides the club with their ponies, and his wife Sheila runs Alpine Polo, a training center for aspiring players and beginners alike.

“A lot of our horses are rescued from the racetrack and it takes a while to re-train them as polo ponies,” said Everett. “We like to think we are giving them a second life, as opposed to being sent over the border to the meat markets.”

Should one want the full pro experience, Everett suggests a trip to Aiken, South Carolina, where polo has achieved a sort of renaissance in recent years. But again, not only does it take a good amount of skill, it also takes finances most of us can’t imagine for such an ascension. For the Columbus Polo Club, it’s not champagne wishes and caviar dreams – they’re just happy if you show up, bring your family – hell, bring a grill if you want. Just respect the game. •

The CPC take on Cincinnati’s club July 13. For more information on the Columbus Polo Club and a schedule of other matches, visit www.columbuspolo.com.

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News

2 star Blue Jackets players say goodbye, fans react

Mitch Hooper

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The fears all season finally came to fruition for the Columbus Blue Jackets as star winger Artemi Panarin and star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky both signed to new teams on July 1, the first day of free agency in the NHL.

Panarin will be suiting up for the New York Rangers now as the highest paid winger in the league, reports ESPN. Bobrovsky took his talents to the Florida Panthers on a seven year contract, reports NHL.com. Additionally, center Matt Duchene signed with the Nashville Predators.

After the best playoff run in franchise history, both Panarin, affectionately known as The Bread Man, and Bobrovsky, Bob for short, took to social media to thank Columbus one last time before heading to their new squads.

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Bob was the first of the day to announce his move.

“I decided to move on. I write my own story and today that’s my decision. I want to thank fans from the bottom of my heart for all support and excitement during my 7 years in CBJ. I want to thank city of Columbus. This city has been treating me and my family very well, no matter what.”

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Dear CBJ fans I have decided to move on. It was very fun road. We have done lots of good things for my time in CBJ and wish this team and city nothing but the Best! Yes we didn’t reach our goal but we became a really good competitive team. I decided to move on. I write my own story and today that’s my decision. I want to thank fans from the bottom of my heart for all support and excitement during my 7 years in CBJ. I want to thank city of Columbus. This city has been treating me and my family very well, no matter what. I want to say thank to my teammates. I wouldn’t achieve anything without you guys. It’s been a pleasure to work and compete with you shoulder to shoulder. I want to say thank you to entire Blue Jackets organization, all coaches I worked with and everyone from the stuff. Columbus will stay in my heart forever. Дорогие фанаты CBJ. Я принял решение двигаться дальше. Это было интересное путешествие. Мы сделали много хороших вещей и я желаю Коламбусу дальнейшего развития и успехов. Да мы не добились главного, но мы стали сильной боеспособной командой. Я принял решение двигаться дальше. Каждый из нас пишет свою историю и сегодня это мое решение. От всего сердца я хочу поблагодарить вас за вашу поддержку и любовь за все время моего пребывания в CBJ. Я хочу поблагодарить город Коламбус за радушный приём. Я хочу поблагодарить своих партеров по команде. Без вас я ничего бы не добился. Для меня было большим удовольствием выходить на игры и бороться за победы плечом к плечу с вами. Хочу поблагодарить весь клуб Blue jackets, тренерский штаб и весь обслуживающий персонал. Коламбус навсегда останется жить в моем сердце.

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Shortly after, Panarin announced his decision, too.

“I was very happy to play for Columbus. I hope you won’t be too mad at me😉 You live only once.”

And as always, fans had opinions. Some chose to focus on the good times we had. And, boy, were those times good.

Others weren’t as gentle. It’s all apart of the healing process, Columbus. We’ll get through this together. That being said, it seems like there’s different emotions for Panarin’s departure compared to Bob’s.

Example for Panarin:

Compared to Bob:

But in reality, this pretty much sums up all of yesterday for Jackets fans.

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Opinion

OP: Columbus is better than Boston, change my mind

Mitch Hooper

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I’m no hockey expert, but then again, I’m not ignorant to the sport. I’m aware of what boarding is, I know when an icing call should be made, and I can see a high stick from a mile away. C’mon, give me some credit, I’m a mid-20s-year-old boy who owns an X-Box—I’ve played NHL a time or two. I say all that to say this: Columbus is so much better than Boston.

Don’t misconstrue my vast hockey knowledge with my bold statement. I’m not saying Columbus is better than Boston in the sense of athletes on the ice (although my 2013 franchise mode on NHL says Columbus is the best damn hockey team six years running), I’m saying our city is better. Our fans are better. Our beer is better. Have you ever actually enjoyed a Sam Adams lager? Hell no.

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I understand I can’t make these claims without backing them up, so I did some unbiased research and my results were incredible. If you aren’t sitting down, you might want to now.

And as if that database of information wasn’t persuasive enough, here’s an entire press conference of unbiased sports experts carefully explaining their case.

It’s compelling, I know.

The facts go even deeper. Have you ever seen a Bostonian on the moon? Or orbit the planet? Point one for John Glenn and Columbus. Neil Armstrong isn’t from Columbus, but he’s a tried and true Ohioan and that counts in our books. Half point to Columbus? We’ll take it. All the numbers are adding up and it’s clear as day: Columbus is better than Boston.

The Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Boston Bruins on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Boston. The game will be aired on NBCS.

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Sports

Twitter Reacts: CBJ sweep Lightning in historic win

Mike Thomas

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Last night, the Columbus Bluejackets finished their perfect sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning with an emphatic game four win in Nationwide arena. It was without question the single biggest win in franchise history, sending the Jackets to the second round of the playoffs for the first time ever. But of course, you already knew that.

For your consideration (and to soothe your post-celebration hangover/exhaustion) here’s a roundup of some of the spiciest memes and reactions to the Jackets big win!

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