By Dee Ford Byas
People often are used to seeing Black athletes playing basketball and football, but watching them play a ball sport on horseback is almost unimaginable until you see it for yourself.
Just as unimaginable as Blacks participating in Polo, which is said to be a very expensive sport to play, is the notion of melanated people supporting the game. However, there were several Black attendees at the 10th anniversary of the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, presented by Talking Stick Resort on Oct. 23, at WestWorld in Scottsdale.
Participants and attendees alike of all cultures and backgrounds enjoyed a day of live performances with a high end fashion show for humans and one for dogs as well; exotic and antique car displays; numerous vending booths and more.
For first time spectators and novices to the atmosphere surrounding the event would do well to meet Richard Prather. Before attending the games, he stopped by the Arizona Informant to give one-on-one information about what to expect for those unfamiliar with the sport and the etiquette involved.
“It’s very different. You are going to see a lot of hats, pastel colors,” said Prather, noting to expect Easter clothes mixed with casual dress.
The alumnus of a nationally recognized Philadelphia based polo team, Work to Ride, added other tips including if you see brown spots or brown piles on the grounds, “don’t step in it – it’s poop,” and if polo balls come toward you, don’t try catching it, just get out of the oncoming ball’s way.
“It’s a lot of challenging things you got to learn about,” said Prather, 42, as he described his experience as a polo player, noting the joys and dangers.
He talked about the opportunity he had as a youth growing up in Philadelphia, and participating in the nonprofit program, founded in 1994 by Lezlie Hiner who introduced urban children to the life of equestrians and the sport of polo.