Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder Friend. Wonder Friend Wonders, “Have You Ever Played Polo?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend!

Today’s Wonder of the Day has it all—fun, competition, and even horseback riding! It’s an ancient sport that may go back as far as 600 B.C.E. What are we talking about? Polo, of course!

What is polo? It’s a fast-paced team sport typically played on horseback. Often, polo games take place on an open field, but they can be held in arenas as well. Horses can also be substituted for other animals, such as camels and elephants.

During a game of polo, players race forward with mallets. Their goal is to hit a ball into a goal to score a point. The game is played in a series of periods called chukkers, which last seven minutes each. Typically, four people play on each team. 

The history of polo stretches back more than 2,000 years. It was created by nomadic people in central Asia. They used polo as both a game and as military training. Polo then traveled to Persia, where it became a national sport. From there, the game spread throughout the ancient world.

Polo has evolved in many ways over the centuries. For example, the first teams in Asia were made of up to 100 people! Modern polo came from northeastern India. Members of the British military brought the sport to Europe in the late 1800s.

Many polo clubs were also founded in the 19th century. Soon, people began playing the game as professional athletes. Today, countries where polo is most popular include Argentina, China, South Africa, Singapore, the U.K., and the U.S. It also continues to be a popular sport in the military.

For many years, polo has seemed inaccessible for many people. Horse riding and horse ownership themselves can come with high costs, and players have to ride a different horse in each chukker. It’s easy to see why many people see polo as a rich person’s sport. Today, though, some clubs are trying to make polo an option for more people through affordable lessons and horse rental.

Many people have also chosen to remove animals from polo altogether. Games like bike polo, segway polo, and water polo are popular among many people.

Have you ever played polo? If not, would you like to one day? It’s a competitive sport enjoyed by many people around the world!

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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If you ask us, tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day belongs in the SMITHSONIAN!