first of all, Happy Holidays, i.e. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, and Saturnalia

I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.

But today I will confine it to Roller Derby.

It has been a great thing for my life. I took over the game my father invented, and further developed it as a great entertainment for America, Canada, and Mexico. It was a business built to entertain the public, but along the way I met and employed some of the greatest men and women athletes that I could have known, was a real fan of the game and enjoyed with the audience the fury and excitement and speed of these great banked track skaters.

And I made a living! Actually not as good as when I became part of the ticketing industry, but at 26 I worked for myself and employed a hundred people, and saw America and met so many people in so many regions. Our games were seen on 110 tv stations, we played at (and sold out) all the major arenas and some of the major stadia. And I made one huge mistake: running this enterprise as a family business with no partners and when the economy sunk us, I had no one to turn to for additional resources, so I had to shut it down.

I am proud that all the skaters and employees were paid; we supplied all uniforms, skates, per diem and medical injuries coverage (paid while off), transportation and hotels when on the road….a decent salary for the 60’s and 70’s, and probably the first sport to have profit sharing for the employees…..when we shut down, the skaters and employees (to their surprise) received a payout of anywhere from $5000 to $60,000, depending on their pay scale and length of employment And our ticket prices: $1 to $3. Larry Smith started his business with his pay out…..some blew tens of thousands of dollars partying…and this was 1973.

So I went into the ticket distribution business (never scalping), and what I learned in promoting Roller Derby carried over into BASS Tickets and eventually Ticketmaster. And including Brown Paper Tickets (the best!), that covered the next 40 years of my work life.

So 10 years ago Gary Powers, after starting (and maintaining) the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame, hosted the 70th anniversary of Roller Derby dinner in Chicago, and who showed up for the evening but dewy-eyed Val Capone and the fledgling Windy City Rollers, and we all saw their game the next night, and that started a period of revitalization of my life and association with Roller Derby.

I felt so welcome and was invited to Rollercon in Las Vegas (and Judi provided over 300 pair of her Bonjour Fleurette flower slippers,featured on Sex and the City and Oprah), and Loretta Behrens and I addressed the attendees about the old and new days…..then I was invited to WFTDA nationals in Portland (my home and the home of my father, the creator of Derby and once again the welcome mat was out.

I was invited to the Bay Area Derby girls games and went when I could, and of course to Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sacramento for area games. And the nationals in Chicago (where I had gone to college) were a real treat.

Then the bottom kind of dropped out with weird instances that I have no desire to relate. I found I was resented (and even hated) by some (most I didn’t know) because I represented THAT Roller Derby, I guess. When I got over the incident, I just continued on seeing and supporting the people in the game, and they know who I am and how I relate to today….I have over 12,000 friends and followers on facebook and twitter and many more on my blog.

But this is not about me and my travails. I have seen very specifically in the last few months statements by at least one person that I completely respect, that modern derby has no relationship to Leo or my game, and was created by the women as a flat track game that empowers women in sports…..and guess what, I have no argument with that. I have no claim on the game as it exists today. For whatever reason if that is important, then I gladly acknowledge what you believe……I guess I am surprised that the name Roller Derby was attached to the game.

But I am an individual who loves the sport my father created. I am a fan. If there are aspects I don’t enjoy, I will say them. Understand, I have no power to influence or change anything, but I do have the right to express myself.

roller derby is on the greatest growth spurt in recent years; the issue in many leagues appears to be decreasing attendance. I am not the enemy. I advise skaters. I would love to help everyone increase attendance and other aspects of the promotion of the leagues. That is one of my functions of work and the seminars at Rollercon. and why Brown Paper Tickets encourages me to work on community projects like the blood drives (in three major areas next year!).

You have every right to not like me or want to be a friend…but please make sure you are not tilting at windmills. I love you all.

rules of the game, 1970

When Roller Derby the marathon became Roller Derby the game.

The Miami News – Google News Archive Search.

Please click onto the link above. My cousin James Meyers found this newspaper account from January 1937 covering the Coral Gables Derby “race”. As you can see from the standings, the first team to skate 2850 miles would win. Usually the meets would last from 30 to 35 days. And Johnny Rosasco’s team (he and his woman partner) was in the lead, as most of the teams had covered the same distance, but they had lapped the field more than anyone else. click to see photo of winning couple!

It was at this meet (one and half years after the first Roller Derby in Chicago) and months before the fatal bus crash that famed Sports writer and columnist Damon Runyon became friends with my father and together devised the five and five team game that is the basis for all Roller Derby today……and was skated in all subsequent events.

Please note on the final night of this event, the jam was not timed, so the field could be lapped many times (ugh, powerjam). This of course was not a factor in the game format that followed.

Irving Wayne, mentioned in the article, was my mother’s brother and James’ grandfather. Keep track of the history so you can tell your grandchildren all you know about the game you love.

Hazel Roop Shares her experiences of being a roller derby star in the 1930s |

Hazel Roop Shares her experiences of being a roller derby star in the 1930s |

Click the above link.

You will find this fascinating. David Block who is legally blind follows the history of Roller Derby and recently interviewed Hazel Roop who is 97 years olds and skated in Derby starting in 1936. Her granddaughter currently skates with Penn Jersey. Please read David’s other posts.

Because of women like Hazel there was developed a sport which has been passed down to you in its present form. Please read and share.

are you kidding me?

Two weeks from today I will reach an amazing birthday.

I was born in the depth of the Depression, and have lived under 13 presidents…..would have been more if Roosevelt hadn’t kept running.

Lived through at least 5 wars; I am not certain what counts as a war now.

And I have been around for the entire length of Roller Derby, and two things always surprise me:  those who think I created it (don’t worry, Leo, I keep correcting them), and those who think it is just 10 years old.

I have seen cures for polio and other diseases, the emergence of television, air conditioning, jet travel, flights to the moon, and so many other unbelievable things.  It is amazing to know that more changes have occurred during my lifetime than during the millions of the years previously.

For Roller Derby alone, I saw it change from a marathon to a game; I saw it become one of America’s leading attractions, its disappearance and most unlikely revival.

And I will live to see it attain its rightful place as one of the world’s leading sports.  There is way too much awareness and interest for it not to happen.  So let’s all get real busy.  I will be starting another page on facebook (oh no!) asking for everyone to help in making Roller Derby reach its proper position in the sports world; those who do not want it to happen, that is fine; for you it will stay the same.  For those who want to see a legitimate professional game with teams (why not some of the present ones) of paid skaters, let’s at least discuss it.

I know it is going to come about.  And I probably only have another 20 or 30 years to be a part of it.