|A Game with a Long Tradition|
It is played in two distinct stages. The first stage is the Opossum Hunt. The two teams of five people, each with a referee (who also carries the cooler) and up to three dogs, go into the woods to find an Opossum and capture the nocturnal marsupial.
Stage one is complete when one team captures a live, uninjured Opossum. Since this is usually accomplished at night, the game is put on hold while the Opossum is calmed down, the dogs are fed, the injuries are treated and the players sober up.
Stage two is the next morning when everyone is awoken at a bright and early 9:30 AM. Then it is on to the field! It is set up like a normal Motorcycle Polo field – 300 yards long by 160 yards wide. Instead of a Goal at each end, there is a Team Goalie.
How the game is played :
The Opossum is placed into a burlap sack and secured. The Burlap Sack was added in 1964 to add safety for both the Opossum and players.
“Its kind of like holding on to a burlap covered, locked on high speed, chainsaw, while riding a motorcycle in a demolition derby. Its fun.” – Jimbo “Clutch” Watkins ( Famous Motorcycle Opossum Polo player and parachute-free cliff jumper )
The four Team Riders mount their Motorcycles (Usually Dirt or Dual Sport motorcycles, but can be anything).
The Team Goalie stands at one end of the field.
There are five referees – three on foot; one at each goalie, one roaming the field near the center – two on motorcycles following the action.
To begin, the teams face off on the center line and a coin toss determines who gets the Opossum first. The referee then tosses the Opossum sack to the first team’s captain and the game begins.
The goal is to safely transport the Opossum to the end of the field and get him into the hands of your goalie. You are not to let the Opossum get hurt!!
Please note, the Opossum is not usually very keen on being in a burlap sack, being manhandled nor riding motorcycles – the combination of all three make for a very disgruntled marsupial.
A “Down” happens and play is stopped when the Opossum Sack touches the ground. The players have to line up around the drop location and the Referee hands the sack to the team opposing the individual who last touched the sack before it hit the ground. You are not to let the Opossum get hurt!!
When a goal is scored, the teams line up on the nearest 10 yard line and the Opossum sack is handed to the team that did not just score.
Getting the Opossum Sack into the hands of your goalie, without him dropping it on the ground is 5 points and considered a Goal.
Grabbing the Opossum Sack from an opposing team member is 2 points and called an involuntary turnover.
Tossing the Opossum Sack into the hands of an opposing team member gives them 1 point and is called a voluntary turnover.
Voluntary turnovers account for most of the scoring in most games.
The game can continue as long as there are at least two riders and two motorcycles on each team.
The game is officially over at the end of either 1 hour or the first team to score 100 points.
Many games end well before the official game time due to nobody wanting to get near the Opossum Sack any more.
There was a proposal for “Paired Opossum Polo” but the officials could not find enough women willing to do “something so stupid” and there were not enough players willing to have “another dude riding …..” uhm, behind them.
Raccoon Polo was attempted, but in addition to lacking phonetic alliteration, the first Raccoon tore through the burlap in the second round, jumped across three riders and a referee, causing all four to wreck, knocked over the beer cooler, stole a pack of turkey jerky and stomped off the field in a huff.
“Because who can resist an activity that combines single-cylinder engines, opossums and beer?” – Danny ‘he bit my finger’ Burnes ( Infamous Motorcycle Opossum Polo Whinebacker )