A Review of “Polo Ponies and Penalty Kicks: Sports on the East End” by Corey Dolgon

In a society where the super rich have become “self aware,” we are bound to have absurdities and tongue in cheek cultural anomalies within the social spectrum. Polo is one such absurdity. In an absolute display of “here I am and I am rich and important; dear god please look at me,” polo has become a way of referencing the old wealth of early New York in the most Hipster of ways (Boehm 511). The interesting factor, and Dolgon notes this correctly, is while alluding to the prim and proper past, the new bourgeoisie has dumped that serenity for “publicity and conspicuous consumption (511).” Alongside this new, hip, uber-rich enclave of self promoting, new money, affluents, is a growing community of semi-permanent Latinos. These are the workers and their families that help to serve this new boom of re-emergent spectacle. They bring with them, an entirely different type of sport; soccer. The term Soccer comes from the word association as it was formerly known as Association Football in Britain. How apt that it is a game that involves a very social interaction between player and fans. Soccer, unlike Polo, is a game that brings together communities to form a larger shared experience. It only takes a ball and at least one good foot to play and everyone is invited. Polo, by its nature, is as Dolgon terms it, “a sport for rich people (Boehm 512).” These exclusions extend to the living conditions and opportunity afforded to each demographic as well. The Latino community is constantly under attack for having too many residents, hanging out in groups, enjoying the outdoors, and playing soccer in the public fields where everyone can see and hear them. The rich white neighbors simply won’t have any of it. Polo, in their minds, is far more respectable because it won’t allow anyone who isn’t rich or white, unless of course they are a celebrity, into the game. And, of course, applauding themselves for being ever so charitable at each event covers the spectacle with an illusion of social responsibility. As long as the money goes to poor or sick people that they can’t see everything is peachy. But lets call this what it really is. The problem in the Hamptons is one of racial prejudice. The people are just too culturally different and their genuine care for family and the community is too hard for the wealthy to comprehend. The rich Hamptonites just can’t understand why the Latino community can’t civilize itself like their white neighbors. The Latinos can’t understand why rich white people pretend to be happy when they obviously are making themselves miserable.

4 thoughts on “A Review of “Polo Ponies and Penalty Kicks: Sports on the East End” by Corey Dolgon

  1. MH: thanks for the shout out about the piece–comes from a longer book which you might ike and as you suggest it should–deals much more with racial issues. shorter article coming out in collection called Cover Racism where i have a pice called lifestyles of the rich and racist. thanks again, man.



    • I am amazed that you found my humble corner of the web. I am also embarrassed that I missed some errors in my short piece before I posted. This comes from a short reflection assignment from my graduate course at North Central College in Naperville, IL. It was taught by Ann Durkin-Keating who wrote the text Chicagoland: City and Suburbs in the Railroad Age. I was thoroughly impressed with your piece and excited about the chance to discuss soccer with my classmates as an added bonus. I might just add the text you suggested to my Amazon list. Your take on the Hamptons situation was refreshing because it took an uncommon vantage point via sport. If more authors would look for the interesting and unnoticed threads in social study more often, the field might enjoy more mainstream acclaim. Thanks for commenting. It means the world to have your feedback.

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