An account of a polo ritual in China under the Sung dynasty (960 – 1279 aD). The somewhat reserved and “civilised” Sung dynasty followed the T’ang dynasty, which was far more keen on actually playing polo.
“The emperor arrived on horseback. … A eunuch opened a golden box, took out the vermillion-painted ball, and threw it in front of him. … The emperor struck the ball …. and then turned his horse around. The attending officials raised their wine cups to wish His Majesty longevity. Then they presented their respective gifts. The emperor graciously ordered that their cups be refilled and they came forward by rows to thank him, bowing. When the drinking ritual was concluded, everyone mounted. The emperor hit the ball a second time, and then ordered the players to start the game.”
Sung Shih, quoted and translated by James T C Liu in “Polo and Cultural Change: From T’ang to Sung China” in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 45, no. 1, 1985.
Minus the eunuch, doesn’t sound like it would be out of place at a modern game.