The USPA’s decision to drop all 26-goal tournaments to 18-20 starting in 2019 has spawned a slew of opinions in the polo community—with the U.S. Open at the heart of the controversy. Here’s what a range of high-goal players (including three 10-goalers) had to say to say about it.
ADOLFO CAMBIASO: I don’t think it’s the right decision. It’s not the solution. The 20-goal is going to disappear in January-February, and you’re going to have the same problem [low participation]. I don’t think it will help. It’s already been proven. In Spain they lowered it to 20, and they have about the same number of teams, maybe less. In Santa Barbara they took it from 20 to 16 and still have only five teams. There are other problems more important than this, and once you go down it’s very difficult to go back up to 26 in the future. I do not agree with it.
FACUNDO PIERES: It's a good idea if it works. The idea is to have more teams play the high-goal season, and if taking the 26 down to 22 does that, I agree with it. If there are going to be around 10 or more teams playing the 22, for me it worked. If there aren't, then it was a bad idea.
HILARIO ULLOA: Of course you’re never 100 percent sure, but it seems to be the right decision. The sport needs to grow, and for sure there will be more teams in the US Open. I think taking it down to 22 will be good for the sport and good for US polo. We’ll have to see what happens.
DIEGO CAVANAGH: I am not in favor of this change. I agree there is a problem with the quantity of teams for the 26-goal, but I don’t agree with the decision. I don’t think this is the solution. We have the examples in Spain and Santa Barbara. Lowering the goal level didn’t work out. They still have the same problem. It is a pity after many years of history to have the US Open be lowered to 22 goals. It will also cause problems with the 20-goal tournaments, as many teams will jump to 22 goals and won’t play the 20 anymore.
NIC ROLDAN: I am for whatever is best for polo to grow and give opportunities to the generation coming up, so if 22 goals is the solution, then I think it's good. There are no other solutions. With two or three teams, you can't compete. It will also create new opportunities for the new sponsors it compete in the U.S. Open and other old 26-goal tournaments.
ANNABELLE GUNDLACH: I think it’s great that the US Open is going to be 22. It makes the Open an attainable goal for me and the Postage Stamp Farm operation.
GUILLE TERRERA: I don’t have much experience in the U.S., but I can say that in any part of the world when the goal level went down, it got worse for polo. Sometimes you think it will bring more teams, but in the end most teams that play high-goal are looking for quality. You don’t get the same quality on a 20-goal team that you get on a 26-goal team.