“It was deemed for the best interest of the game…to form an Association, with a constitution and rules to govern all Polo Clubs which should be elected to membership.” – H.L. HERBERT, FIRST USPA CHAIRMAN
Polo is considered among the oldest organized sports ever played and was first introduced in the United States by way of England in 1876. It didn’t take long for America to take a liking to this game and assemble their own loosely structured matches.
As players and teams propagated, the development of the sport demanded a governing body, and in 1890 the United States Polo Association (USPA), which was originally known simply as The Polo Association, was formed. As the second oldest sports governing body in the U.S. (behind only the United States Tennis Association, USTA), the purpose of the USPA was to coordinate games, standardize rules and establish handicaps so the teams could be more evenly matched.
With new clubs rapidly emerging on the east coast, the original USPA headquarters was appropriately located in New York where the first formal U.S. club, the Westchester Polo Club, was established. The Association began operations on a voluntary basis of an elected committee structure and presently continues as such with a small office staff in the current epicenter of the sport just outside Wellington, Florida.
In its early days of regulation, the Association initiated changes in the number and length of time periods (chukkers) in a match, standardized equipment, mandated pony height and significantly improved their training, and instituted many prestigious tournaments still played today. As the sport gained in popularity and expanded geographically, circuits developed all across the country while Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) programs and indoor (arena) polo also came of age.
Throughout the twentieth century, excitement of the sport was contagious. During the World Wars era, USPA membership even included over 1,200 military players from the U.S. Army who were encouraged to participate in polo to improve their riding ability. Interest peaked all the way out to Hollywood in its heyday, dignitaries like President Theodore Roosevelt took up the game, the U.S. Open commenced at Oak Brook in Chicago, and the Indoor Polo Association combined with the USPA to expand the scope of the sport.
Great strides were also made around this period as the overture of sponsor money for horses and professional players was introduced and international play increased. Major polo centers could now be found in Florida, Texas and California, and polo itself evolved from a society sport to include a far broader base of budget-minded horsemen, professional players and commercial sponsorship entities.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More