Inside Polo With Ron Allen, Coca~Cola Summerfield Johnston, Triple Crown, American Polo, polo team polo magazine.
In recent years the popularity of American polo has become stagnant at best. They have suffered from low membership numbers and members who continually drop out. What’s behind this problem may be more than just a struggling economy. In a revealing interview with S.K. Johnston he offered some interesting insights into how to save the struggling sport of polo in America.
Mr. Johnston is the former Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, one of the biggest corporations in the world. He started playing polo in the 1950s. He has polo clubs in three states and has been inducted into the polo Hall of Fame.
The Coca-Cola team
Ron Allen: What can polo do to improve in the future?
Mr. Johnston: Polo is missing the boat to become a real sport. Every sport is on ESPN except for American polo. To become a real sport the game has to generate its own revenue base and get into the media and the media will never be interested in a sport that they consider an amateur sport.
Ron: What will it take for that to happen?
Skee: Well, one of the things has to be a commitment to the time and effort it takes to do it right. Until then we’ll continue to be viewed as a “backyard” sport.
Ron: What about rule changes to make the game better?
Skee: People like to see horse races. The old style of polo is more attractive for people to watch. Too many fouls in a game would turn viewers off. I agree with you, we need to look at things like the throw-in and knock-in to make changes for the better. A brilliant passing game is what makes it exciting.
For the record: American polo has never been consistently covered by television. Once every few years the Open will be shown on a cable channel with no advance promotion. Meanwhile ESPN has covered the Triple Crown in Argentina for over 15 years and Sky Sports TV in England has had a long-term commitment to televising high goal polo.
The lesson from the National Football League is pretty simple. The league partnered with television in the 1960s and today it’s become the most lucrative deal in sports. ESPNs deal with the NFL is worth over 8 Billion dollars. Teams, players, sponsors and viewers all benefit. The average player now makes two million dollars a year. Before TV professional football players were lucky to make six thousand dollars a season.
Inside Polo With Ron Allen, Coca~Cola Summerfield Johnston, Triple Crown, American Polo, polo team, polo magazine.