The reporter, in pink, and Defausha Hampton, in purple, and Jennifer Brown, in black and white, enjoy the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic.
When you think polo, the 2,000-year-old sport from Persia made famous by the British and Australians may not be the first thought that comes to mind. Button-ups, hats and shoes? Maybe.
But young Black professionals in New York City are becoming a part of a champagne, linen-suit culture that surrounds a sport where you hit a wooden ball with a long-handled mallet on a racing horse.
“For a kid to wake up in the morning and say, ‘Dad look, let’s go watch the polo instead of the Yankees game’—ultimately that would be my dream,” Ignacio Figueras, an Argentine polo star, Ralph Lauren model and creator of the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, told the New York Times.
Figueras started playing polo when he was nine years old on his family’s farm in Argentina. He helped to bring the sport back to Governors Island, an island off the tip of Manhattan, in 2008 after a 70-year-absence of the sport. At this year’s event some of Hollywood and fashion’s stars, including Hugh Jackman, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs were in attendance.
Although admission was free, if you wanted to be a part of the V.I.P field-side lunch, that would have been around $50,000.
But Hollywood stars weren’t the only people in attendance, New York City’s young Black professionals showed-up and out too.
“I thought that it would be great exposure to a certain culture, and society, and atmosphere that African-Americans have not always been able to enjoy, but our generation can,” Defausha Hampton tells BET.com.
Hampton, a Harlem resident, gathered 10 of her friends, to attend the event with her.
“We came with our picnic baskets and our blankets in effort to engage in different conversations and have a good time. We’ve met people from different countries and people who are here just visiting,” the PR professional said.
But these weren’t the “average-Joes” attending. According to Rob Williams, a New York attorney and Howard University School of Law alum who also attended the event last year, these were definitely, “working professionals.”
Williams, who was not a part of Hampton’s group, attended with about 10 of his friends and colleagues. He considered the event a good place to “meet someone.” Why? “It’s something different, a new place to meet someone—and who doesn't love champagne?” he says.
And something different seems to be a theme amongst many African-Americans who were attendance.
“I think that this could be a new way of socializing because as African-Americans we are always looking for a way to expand our horizons and learn something new. I think polo is another form of that,” said Jennifer Brown.
Brown admits that she doesn’t know of any Black polo players, and it is actually not rare that she probably has not heard of any.
Though the sport has origins dating back to 1876 in the U.S., less than three months ago The Cowtown/Work to Ride Polo team from north Philadelphia became the first all-Black team to win the 42nd annual United States Polo Association National Interscholastic Championship. The team includes brothers Kareem Rosser, 18, and Daymar Rosser, 16, of West Philadelphia, and Brandon Rease, 15, of North Philadelphia.
Watch out spring sports, this blanket-on-the grass, dress-up picnic could become one of Black America’s new favorite summer outings.
“We got up at 8 a.m. and got here about 11. We had to take the train, and the shuttle, and the ferry to the island, but it was worth it. It was worth the whole trip,” Defausha Hampton says.