The History of Polo, the World’s Oldest Team Sport

Polo pic


Lisa M. Nousek, partner at the Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP firm of Armonk, New York, has quickly established herself as a capable civil litigation attorney, gaining recognition as a top-rated Super Lawyer only eight years after earning her juris doctor. In her spare time, Lisa M. Nousek is fond of caring for and riding horses, and has come to enjoy playing and actively supporting polo, a game with a history longer than any other team sport played today.

Polo originated among the horse-riding nomads of Central Asia, most likely as a form of training and exercise for mounted combat skills. It eventually passed to Persia some time around 600 BC, when the first recorded game was played between Persians and Turkomans (the ancestors of modern Turks). While the current game is limited to three or four players per team, the oldest teams could constitute a small horde of up to 100 players per side. Given the prestige and historically exorbitant expense of raising well-bred horses, polo was long limited to the wealthy and aristocratic classes, lending polo the nickname the sport of kings.

After the Persians established formal rules for polo, the game spread outward throughout Asia, from Constantinople in the far west, to Japan in the far east. However, the Manipur state of Northern India, became the birthplace of the most modern iteration of the sport when British military officers and tea planters observed the game in 1859 and decided to form their own polo club, importing the sport to England. Through British influence, the game spread beyond Asia into every other continent, even returning to its roots as a war game thanks to its adoption and support by the US Army’s West Point academy in 1901.


A Brief History of Equestrian Polo

A New York lawyer, Lisa M. Nousek has supported the Polo Training Foundation and sponsored the annual Friends of Karen Gardnertown Polo Benefit. Furthermore, Lisa M. Nousek enjoys playing polo.

The equestrian sport of polo has long existed in the region stretching from China to Constantinople. More than 2,000 years ago, polo was already being documented in Japanese, Arabic, Persian, and other languages. Over the centuries, the sport ultimately made its way westwards to England and then to the United States.

The publisher, James Gordon Bennett, introduced the sport to New York City. The first organized polo match was hosted at Dickel’s Riding Academy in 1876. The same year saw the establishment of the Westchester Polo Club, the first formal American club dedicated to the sport. One year later, the Meadowbrook Polo Club was established. The latter club exists to date.

Polo is now a popular sport in the United States, England, and Argentina. Played in over 60 countries, the sport is viewed by over 50 million people annually.