Today’s mail set me to thinking…..about Roller Derby, of course.


I hadn’t been to my Post office box since New Years, and when I was there today I was delighted to get two items, a copy of the new Lead Jammer Magazine from the UK and a copy of one of the best put together cookbooks I have seen:  “Tasty Bites from Girls who Fight”, Recipes from the Far North Derby (Alaska).

First of all, this is the first time that I have really gone through a copy of  Lead Jammer.  Of course I was fascinated with the page “Hotline to the Commissioner”.  I read it with great interest as one of the advantages of being older is everything is new again…I thought it was well done and quite perceptive.  However, it definitely was not the highlight of this really wonderfully professional journal of Roller Derby offshore, but everything in it from fashion, to announcing, to the “Big Five” to post-concussive syndrome and so much more in great color and photos, that I immediately thought this is a universal publication for all those who love or participate in the game…..please look for this issue #4.

And the cookbook was dedicated to me with such love and signed by all the members of the league!  And I can figure out how to make these recipes……off the top I have to try Alena’s Twice Baked Potatos, because it is by AK Blonde Bomber #22, and that name hooked me, of course; and Pickled Shrooms by Kodiak Bare Hugger (!) Ref #69; Paprika Chicken by Mother of Mayhem #No No….and on and on, including some great drinks (strong on the warm ones….remember it’s Alaska), and amazing desserts……contact them and order it, I won’t be jealous.

I am waiting to get my copy of Blood and Thunder so see what I wrote in that issue.  I am sure it is amazing.

Photo by arinas74 from stock.xchng.com.

Photo by arinas74 from stock.xchng.com.

What this all shows me is the wonderful talent and use of media and more out there for all of you.  There is no real difference between who reads Lead Jammer and Five on Five; nor between the readers of Blood and Thunder and Hit and Miss.  I am not sure there is a more universal equalizer in sport than Roller Derby today.  And look at “Whip It”, “Derby Baby”,  DNN and WFTDA.tv, and Derby Deeds, and on and on with getting the word out.  Yet, the game still seems a long ways from “being there”.

I am discouraged when I hear that skaters are being asked to either sign confidentiality or other agreements to not “mix” with other rule sets.  Look around, you are all the same, fighting and skating and sacrificing for the same thing.  Personally, I don’t like the idea of any organization, be it WFTDA, USARS, MADE, MRDA, etc to be in control of the players and the game.  After all, you are not paid to skate; you pay and buy your own equipment and give hours of your valuable time…..is it even legal for you to be restricted?  I don’t know.

How about at Rollercon we have a meeting of organizers and authorities of the different rule sets and see what it is everyone can do together to give Derby its rightful place in the sports world.  After all, your restrictions and boycotts are not going to make the others go away, but just more intent on what they are doing and more separated from you.

I just want to sit there and watch.

21 comments on “Today’s mail set me to thinking…..about Roller Derby, of course.

  1. So glad to hear you received the cookbook! Enjoy the many yummy recipes it holds. I enjoyed the “Fruit Cocktail Cake”…that is my new dessert in a flash!.

  2. Funny Jerry, but it seems to me in all of this that somewhere the handbooks, Codes of Conduct, non-competition clauses and all the paperwork, we left out the F-word. FUN! Do we REALLY have to remind people why this sport saw such a resurgence? I believe we were having the time of our lives. I know I was. And now it’s not just business, it’s not even good business practices half the time.

    I laugh when I hear of exclusivity in non-competes, fear of allowing coaches help a nearby league and teaching them “secrets,” all that crap. Here’s the secret; work really hard on the basics until you can play great, disciplined defense, condition as much as you feel is right for you, love your teammates, respect your opponents, and it’s all pretty well covered. And, if you don’t believe me, believe a guy who has 3 WFTDA Championships. Buster Cheatin’ was gracious enough to give a totally candid 35 minutes with me on Roller Derby Radio. He keeps nothing back, because he understands there is nothing to hide.

    http://abombernation.podbean.com/category/podcasts/page/8/

    • you are absolutely right, Bob……get rid of the crap…..you know what, I just might take the whole game back, so there. Then they should all concentrate on how to get more people to watch them and start by using Brown Paper Tickets before I even consider given them back the Seltzer Golden Heritage: Roller Derby!

  3. not at all, Poobah……..someone with everyone’s approval representing all skaters…..and no cigar…..this internecine struggle does no one any good.

  4. I also got a copy of Lead Jammer magazine as they included an article on my team, Psycho 78s, who play co-ed renegade rules roller derby here in NJ, USA. Your section was a good read, I enjoyed it.

    Coming from the background I have with originally being on the coaching committee of a WFTDA league and now being a skater for a renegade team, I’ve seen tons of examples of people being told who they can and can’t work with. It’s crazy how many times I’ve seen people catch shit just for coming out and practicing with us or learning how we skate the game, let alone wanting to work with us consistently. It’s a shame, because there are skaters and volunteers in every area of the derby world, regardless of rulesset or affiliation, that are passionate and just love the damn game. I’m fortunate in that my team doesn’t make rules for what skaters do or who we work with, so I have the freedom to do and experience whatever I want in derby. Honestly, it’s crazy to me that not everyone else has what I have. I caught a break compared to the rules a lot of folks have to sign off on.

    This community (shouldn’t community be “inclusive”?) needs to stop with divisive regulations and prejudices on variations of a game we all love (and realistically, that none of us fucking came up with).

    As far as what Poobah pointed out – the reason teams like mine do what we do is because, quite frankly, we don’t want anyone watching out for our best interest or helping us coordinate. I think that’s what the WFTDA is sort of going for, but it’s just not at the level you described in your other post. To put all leagues of all rulesets under one body just wouldn’t work though – their preexisting governing bodies would have to sacrifice too much control, and the reason we’re all set up so differently is because we all want very different things. That’s the beauty of options though: there’s a place for everyone where they can be happy. Like a lot of people, I’ve sacrificed a lot of myself for this sport, but I’d hang up my skates long before I’d let someone hand down a code of conduct and a schedule to my team. That type of stuff works perfectly for a lot of teams – most teams, even – but it just goes against everything I believe in as far as what my team has worked for, and my own place in the sport.

    Great post!

  5. SPK I like what you say. and hear you.

    What I would love to see (and correct me if I’m wrong Jerry) is not to have any one “alternative” group be “in control”, but to promote the option of alternative competition to what currently exists.

    What would be awesome is if we could have representatives from each group (as Jerry mentioned) to form another CIRCUIT of competition alongside of WFTDA. Something that is regional and we could offer competitive play / tournaments for everyone that isn’t WFTDA. We could agree to disagree about rules as we work to agree on a common set that could be agreed upon for purposes of competition and what leagues decide to do on their own is fully their decision.

    When I’m brainstorming ideas that are preliminary and I run them by people, there are times I do have a non-disclosure, but that is only because I don’t want my intentions to be misunderstood and made public if I don’t follow through on ideas I’m tossing around that may or may not come to fruition.

    My goal is to help leagues have resources if they NEED and / or WANT them. I have no desire to jump into ownership or management of any other leagues besides my own. In fact I offer some free resources on my page http://supportmyderbyhabit.com/forms/ .

    I just want my skaters to have a circuit that they can jump into that is competitive and as of now there isn’t one unless you are a WFTDA league or want to skate USARS. We are going with USARS because at least it is SOMETHING. It needs to be tweaked and worked with but whatever. Without it, how can I promise my skaters that they will have a place to strive for in being on a travel team?

    We DO need to come together to compete. I’d like to dig up at least several teams in different regions that will agree to this and we will play with them.

    We are coed and would like to (and will) skate both flat track and banked track.

    So there you go.

    • And I need to add to this, that I’m not interested in associating with or being part of trying to control what leagues do or don’t do.

      I DO have a desire to create something for people to join if it sounds like fun for them or would fit into some of their skaters agenda to be on a travel team.

      I like what Bob Noxious had to say. I don’t understand being so protective over your intellectual property that you wouldn’t try to help another group get started.

      No one owns this sport, everyone gets something out of it that is exclusive to them, and many skaters within the same leagues have different agenda. If those agenda / skill levels are separated then people can identify WHY they skate.

      I like to ask people to look at why they skate and do that. If there were choices it may come down to:

      1). Making friends
      2). Exercise and fitness
      3). Having an image or identity
      4). Being an athlete and striving for the higher levels of skill and devotion to the sport

      None of these groups should be “higher” than any other. They are just different, and all are valid. The problem lies when all of these different types of people are forced to be together on one team.

      As much as I want to make the sport accessible for the first 3 groups above, I equally want to be able to accommodate the 4th. THAT is the tricky part right now; finding the best way to do that.

      • Hot Flash –

        I dig what you have to say about cooperation between organizations, rule sets, etc. I’m a big proponent of “shut the fuck up, get over yourself, it’s everyone’s sport, let’s all love derby.” You probably gathered that from my last post. Buuuuut when I read “circuit of competition,” all it really sounds like to me is “alternative organization because there aren’t enough teams in MADE, USARS, or OSDA singularly to, at present, be an equally organized and marketed alternative… so put em all together to make one.” This is the part that snags me… “We could agree to disagree about rules as we work to agree on a common set that could be agreed upon for purposes of competition and what leagues decide to do on their own is fully their decision. ” – This basically sounds like the plan is to have everyone play, say, USARS, to compete under one flag that isn’t WFTDA, but just allow them the perk of skating whatever they want outside of those tournaments. That just kinda sounds like the same “our way” bullshit as anyone else.

        Here’s the thing. I’m a competitive athlete. I train every day, was one of the first ever male renegade skaters on the east coast, and was one of the first ever male skaters on a renegade travel team – ever. I’m participating in the first international renegade game this year, at least to my knowledge. I’ve played WFTDA rules, OSDA/MADE, and am hoping to get some USARS experience in this season as well. I take my shit seriously, and at the end of the day (you guessed it), my priority is to actually have fun. It’s possible for that to be your priority, even as a serious and devoted athlete. My team doesn’t belong to any organization, and we have no governing body. We schedule everything we schedule through hard work that we don’t mind doing, and have had some of the most intense, brutal, and physically demanding games imaginable. No circuit required.

        If we need ideas or resources, we ask for help from friendly teams. If we have ideas or resources, we offer them to anyone respectful and respectable, regardless of ruleset. We helped a WFTDA rules team get started in another country, and are helping an OSDA team get off the ground in their market next month. No circuits, and all without having to agree to play someone else’s rules or abide by someone else’s code of conduct. I really, really like the idea of trying to get some sort of cooperative happening where all voices can be heard and new ideas, events, etc can be brought to the table. Everyone agreeing on playing a common rule set just doesn’t work for it though.

        I think what we need is an attitude adjustment, not another governing body, or booker, or promoter. We don’t need one big collective to compete against or alongside WFTDA, we need everyone INCLUDING the WFTDA to understand that resources are for everyone, that anything useful in bettering the sport and it’s athletes should be readily available, and that no one’s approach is the right approach for everyone. If someone from group 4 wants to compete at a high level of play but not within the WFTDA, they can very easily find a USARS team that’s decided to take that ruleset to the next level in 2013, or a MADE team that looks to dominate on both a flat track and the bank, or a renegade team like mine that skates in 27 degrees on asphalt in winter and 100 in summer, just to be able to take the no-rules game to a new level every season and see how intense we can make it for athletes and for fans – all while having fun and raising money for charity. Want tournaments and championships? Work hard and book em.

        The best way to have spots available for people in all of the groups you’d mentioned isn’t to consolidate, but to allow for the differences and embrace them so that there are teams for everyone. Derby is sorta on a curve. On one end you have a set up like WFTDA. Lots of regulation, which works for a lot of people. On the other end you have a set up like ours, where you can pretty much say and do whatever the hell you want so long as you work hard and pull your weight. Then there’s alllllll that space in between on the curve. There are renegade teams that let people just show up whenever, occasionally have games, & don’t really have a standard of assessment for bouting skaters. There are WFTDA rules leagues that are the same way. Lo-Co leagues, OSDA leagues, MADE leagues, so on – all with different levels of involvement and standards for competition.

        The beauty of this sport is that it can be for an athlete like me who wants to train every day and volunteer my time to make a season happen, and it can also be for people who just want to roller skate and bump into some bitches and wear tights. Non-affiliated tournaments are an awesome thought and a tough venture, but as soon as you pigeon hole everyone into doing things one way, just to be the consolidated alternative, you’ve more or less affiliated them whether you wanted to or not. I would love a cooperative of open minded folks, but not at the expense of celebrating and fully endorsing and promoting all forms of the sport.

  6. SPK,

    I agree with you more than you know. It is a rich, unique and amazing sport that people can and should be able to do with what they want.

    The “our way” is the best way is the furthest thing that is on my mind. All I’m really trying to do is create a “circuit” for anyone who may be looking for the same thing as we are to create one.

    I don’t care if it is “my” way, a collaboration of several opinions, OneWorld Roller Derby, or ShareTheFreakingLove association.

    I respect any and all that people create. I don’t want to enforce anything or say derby should be a certain way.

    I want to make A group for only groups that feel alone in their area or region who would like to offer yet another way to compete with more than who they can dig up four hours away.

    I hope that makes sense. Your last paragraph is spot on except for the pigeon hole part. Anyone who wants do do what they do, where they do, that are happy with things the way things are were they live is fantastic! I’m not asking anyone to jump into anything I create or help facilitate.

    Regardless of affiliation, I believe in the pay it forward theory of making this sport accessible. It has changed, or more bluntly saved my life as it has many others, those that are lucky enough to find a group that they might have a league in their area that they would be able to join.

    I was LUCKY to be able to skate on a WFTDA league years ago. I was LUCKY to have the opportunity to skate with awesome people on a banked track league.

    I know many many people who are capable of gaining skills yet but only face devastation by not having opportunity to improve because of a nebulous criteria that will allow them to be experienced (or possibly even cool enough) to skate on a seasoned league and repeatedly get turned away at tryouts.

    I teach derby through a community college and the parks. I have a place where people can learn and I also have a roster that only people who are willing to cross train and work their asses off can be on.

    NOW, where can this roster go if I don’t create that too? To only skate the other roster of the other league I created? That was one of the reasons I made two because I knew this point in time would occur.

    By having another group that might want to open up more opportunity for tournaments that mean anything should not threaten any leagues who don’t want any part of it, just as renegade leagues should not threaten WFTDA.

    My true intention is to open doors for people to have better lives by getting to experience the amazing sport of derby that I was so fortunate to have stumbled upon.

    • HF –

      This is what happens when we both leave novellas on on big man’s blog – we both cringe after reading our typos and double commas, hahaha.

      I think we’re on the same page, I think it just appeared to be something a bit different with how it was originally worded. It first came off as a ‘we need a new organization for all the WFTDA alternatives,’ but it seems more like a ‘we need another option for people who aren’t happy with where they’re at.’ Hey, I’m ALL for more options baby. I love ‘em.

      I really feel like this sport could do so well to just get out of it’s own fucking way. There are so many that are so concerned with the “right” and “wrong” way, and which way of playing or running a team is better, that everything just constantly comes to being divided. I recently had a skater from another team come work with us, only to go home to her team and be berated and scorned for working with a “team like ours.” It’s unbelievable to me that a community built on anyone being able to be a part of this sport now treats people with disdain if they have a different view, style, or philosophy. This is just one of a thousand examples I’ve seen since being on my team, and it drives me nuts. I remember being on the WFTDA team I was on and listening to the Board of Directors sit around like a bunch of assholes and talk about how OSDA was a joke and made the sport look bad, and how WFTDA should run them out of derby.

      When I see attitudes like this, it just reinforces how we’re such marks for ourselves and our micro-community. While people are being divisive, the reality is that most average people, common folk outside of derby, don’t even know they there’s a team in their town. Most people don’t even know what the hell we do yet. When I watch people cut others down, I just think, “Man, you could be spending that time hanging up flyers and glad handing at a local event…. or get this…. training.”

      It’s a love fest.
      SPK
      Facebook.com/TheHeelJammer

      • YES YES YES!!! Exactly! I’ve spent almost three years here doing this alone, hearing RUMORS about scorn, and have pushed through knowing that this is needed and that I didn’t need anyone’s permission. It took about a year to figure that out and it wasn’t a very fun year either.. Then I put on my armor and a few proposals that worked.

        I joined OSDA way back when because I liked what they were doing and they weren’t WFTDA.. At the time I hadn’t heard of MADE and USARS hadn’t released their beta testing rules set.

        Shortly thereafter they (OSDA) asked me to be president and though I wasn’t sure what it was all about, I was excited to try to help it grow and we worked to clarify the confusion regarding contradiction in the written rules.

        We decided to have our greater Seattle area leagues go with USARS because I wanted my skaters to have a better chance at having competition on this coast and “traction” was hard to form as I was focusing on my own leagues survival.

        I still support OSDA and the east coast teams I’ve met are awesome people.

        Anyway, so I’m glad you are getting what I’m talking about. If we (whoever) could form a few participating leagues from different states / regions (and help new ones start by helping them with rules, coaching etc.) then we can build an option for anyone wanting it.

        On my above link I have a coaching manual that some people have found helpful. I wrote this in an attempt to delegate some of my own coaching and to make sure that anyone coaching a class or practice on my behalf would follow the basic coaching style of don’t be an ASS.

        I have skater agreements that pretty much say the same thing and trashing another league or organization is not allowed.

        It is all good and extraordinary.

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