SOURCE: United States Polo Association

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February 03, 2015 09:00 ET

The United States Polo Association Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary

LAKE WORTH, FL--(Marketwired - February 03, 2015) - The United States Polo Association® (USPA) announced today that 2015 is its 125th anniversary year. Founded in 1890 in New York City, the United States Polo Association is the second oldest national governing body of sport in the United States, preceded by only the United States Tennis Association, which was founded in 1881. The USPA is recognized as an official governing body by the Federation of International Polo (FIP), the sport's worldwide governing body.

Polo is considered the oldest team sport in known history. Historians have conjectured the sport originated in either Persia or amongst other tribes of Central Asia as far back as 600 BC as a way to prepare young leaders for the rigors of war. James Gordon Bennett, a wealthy New York publisher, is credited with bringing polo to the US from England in 1876. At that time, the game was quite different than the one played today, with eight or more players per side and matches lasting an entire afternoon. In 1890 the Polo Association, now the United States Polo Association was established in New York City, with seven clubs joining and over 100 handicaps assigned to members, including future President Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, the USPA includes 270 member clubs in 13 geographic circuits around the United States and oversees 40 national tournaments. Supported by funding that comes from its officially licensed consumer brand U.S. Polo Assn., USPA purposefully reinvests in numerous programs that continue to define and drive the sport forward, particularly the development of the next generation of American polo players. USPA's Interscholastic and Intercollegiate (I/I) programs have made the sport of polo highly accessible to middle-school through college-age boys and girls, and propelled the growth of youth polo in the United States. A key part of the sport of polo's evolution is the growing inclusiveness and diversity of the polo community. In addition to the fast growth of young polo players, women's membership in the USPA is also fast growing, and now represents 40% of membership. The USPA has also recognized the Gay Polo League as a member club. Only in the sport of polo, will high-goal matches often involve both men and women across a wide age range as well as professional and amateur players on the same team.

"Polo has grown and developed greatly here since the founding of the United States Polo Association 125 years ago, while retaining many of the sport's distinctive traditions," said Peter Rizzo, Chief Executive Officer of the United States Polo Association. "Changes in rules have made match play faster and more exciting and have also made it safer for player and pony. Polo has incorporated leading-edge technology ranging from advanced motion sensors for swing analysis to video technology including drones to provide video coverage of the vast polo field, to instant replay, to live streaming of tournaments." Rizzo added, "We are particularly proud of how we have been a part of the expansion and diversification of our sport's player and spectator community, providing a solid foundation for its future. As our sport's governing body this is our highest purpose."

The USPA will commemorate its 125th Anniversary through major tournaments throughout the year, including its US Open Championship®, USPA US Women's Open Championship®, US Arena Open Championship, USPA National Intercollegiate Championships, and the USPA National Youth Tournament Series Championship, all of which will either be nationally televised or live streamed. Also during this anniversary year, the United States will vie for the FIP World Championship title in Santiago, Chile in late March. Fielding the team representing the United States in Chile -- Team USPA -- is also one of the USPA's programs that provides mentoring and training for young professionals. Team USPA will compete against reigning world champion Argentina, as well as Brazil, Chile, England and Pakistan in its quest to become world champion.

Exclusive and limited edition officially licensed 125th anniversary merchandise collections will be available at U.S. Polo Assn. stores and online around the world. Included in select retail locations will be a limited edition t-shirt with a special 125th anniversary logo created by designer John Snyder, winner of a design contest that took place in the spring of 2014 in collaboration with Creative Allies. All the exclusive and limited edition merchandise will be featured in a special advertising campaign with actual youth polo players, highlighted in various media outlets throughout the year.

Social media programs in honor of the 125th anniversary of the United States Polo Association are already underway and will continue throughout 2015. #USPA125, has been designated to trend, inform, and engage polo fans of anniversary related news and events throughout the year. Also, live and updated each Thursday through the USPA's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, is a showcase of the special polo ponies that have played a significant role in the history of American polo. Other content programs relating to the history of the sport will be added as the year progresses. 

About the United States Polo Association®
Founded in 1890, the United States Polo Association (USPA) is the national governing body for the sport of polo in North America and is the second oldest sport governing body in the United States preceded only by the United States Tennis Association. With over 270 member clubs and 40 national tournaments, the USPA governs polo handicaps, tournament rules and safety regulations, to ensure the welfare and being of both pony and player. Funded by sales from the officially licensed consumer brand, U.S. Polo Assn., the USPA purposefully re-invests revenue by underwriting numerous development programs to expand and sustain the sport of polo.

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