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 Rollercon 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 on 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 this year, 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 in recent years. 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

We saw a new era in Roller Derby at the WFTDA champs, and wow!

I think everyone knows I can be cantankerous.

But the last finals I really fully enjoyed (prior to yesterday) was in Chicago 2010.

After that event, passive offense became the watchword for the game, and virtually all fell into line… skaters didn’t seem to know there was another way to play.

And Rose City showed it last night. Split the walls into offense and defense, actually block the other blockers during the play, and keep the pack moving during the jams without pack destruction. Yes, Virginia, the game is played on roller skates.

To me, so much excitement in the game comes when players are engaging without standing still, and boy was there a lot of it in perhaps the best modern game I have seen. The future looks bright, because everyone follows a winner and thousands were watching Portland’s tactics against what has been Derby’s gold standard for years, the Gotham Girls.

Now if anyone thinks Gotham’s days are numbered, you are wrong. They haven’t stayed atop the Derby world by standing still (no pun intended!). But what a pleasure to see two teams of superbly conditioned athletes go at each other for the duration of the game without stopping. And to have two players, Scald Eagle and Bonnie Thundeers side by side on so many of the jams! That is one advantage of the offense and defense at the same time aspect of Roller Derby; only in our sport can you see the top offensive players from the two teams on the same scoring plays!

Now about Gotham: there could be no better group of people to represent the game in America’s largest city. Their standards are incredibly high, and if you wanted to hand pick a team to represent what the sport today is all about, it is this group. I sorely missed seeing Suzy Hotrod out there, but the talent on the team was certainly equal to the task. And if I can mention, both Gotham and Rose City are clients of Brown Paper Tickets.

I have to admit I was for Portland in the game; it is my home town and that of Leo Seltzer who created the sport in 1935. And the support that the Rollers have given my niece Phyllis (Leo’s granddaughter) in her battle with cancer just signifies how they and all the leagues in WFTDA are part of their community. As for New York, it is where Roller Derby was made national in 1948 when my dad brought it there, and where we had so many sellouts at the 19,500 seat Madison Square Garden, and the skaters could really skate the game without the extra showmanship.

What a show the sport gave to the ESPN3 viewers and all of the fans. So all the leagues coaches will be going to the drawing board to figure the best way to play the “new” game brought by the team from the Northwest.

And don’t forget that the international teams are barking at their heels.

Remember in 2015 when the game took another jump forward…..tell your neighbors and friends they had better come and see what the fuss is all about.

The World Cup, just indescribable.

First of all, I have no one photo that can encompass it…..if you go to my facebook page and others, you will get some concept of this astonishing event.

Picture a room the size of a dozen football fields….imagine three skating stadiums with grandstand seating each holding up to 2500 poeple…..imagine a wide mall of “shops” with every need a skater could have. imagine 100 yards of tables with representatives from the 30 countries selling their merchandise, and you still can’t really picture what Robin Graves and her support people engineered.

And thousands show up from everywhere, needing hotels, transportation and entertainment. And so many great volunteers, NSO’s, officials, referees, announcers, Dr Richard Fox and other medics and almost no hitches. No, not the Super Bowl: just the second Women’s World Cup.

You know I was a promoter for many years…..I could not have pulled this off.

And the event itself: teams from South Africa, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Japan West Indies, etc. whom you might have considered outclassed, but they all showed such amazing courage and class…..some of the games? Imagine the Seattle Seahawks playing the local middle school flag football team. But Puerto Rico who was demolished by the USA 800 plus (ouch) to 3 got a standing ovation and roar from the enormous crowd when they scored those three points and I met with them afterwards and they were crying and joyous and anxious to learn and get ahead.

Can you imagine walking in a casbah where everyone is intermingling and you hear so many languages and yet everyone is the same, if you understand me.

Discouraged? Szerdi Nagy from South Africa whose team had a very rough time (and they had to raise so much money and fly 24 hours to get to Dallas) cooly told me that how much her team had learned, how they took notes and would study the videos of the tournament, and were so happy to be there.

For all the multi-hundreds of poinr beatings that were in the tournament (not matter what you say, I still don’t like it), there were those amazing moments, especially when the lower-seeded teams played each other in the consolation games. And Argentina upsetting France, which no one expected….and of course the final four of Canada, Australia, England and USA provided great championshp competition……and the US beating England by just 100 points (still sounds weird to me…love to see shorter jam times), shows some in the world are getting closer.

So thankful for the Junior game….shows just how great the young talent is out there, and the all star game was so much fun.

And what really blew me away is that I could never walk ten feet without someone from all of the countries stopping me for a photo or discussion which shows the reach of social media….I was so honored that I am the symbol of my father’s creation in its present form. A lot of snaps on my home page.

You all know there are certain aspects of the game I am not crazy about, but so what. What I saw was a sport that in its intrinsic honesty and particpation is untouched by anything else out there, and the competitors are all sisters in the truest sense.

And even though I work for them, I have to credit Brown Paper Tickets (even though they did not handle this event) for the support in having Bob Noxious set up the marvelous announcing crew from around the world (note to a few from an old-time announcer, please never shout into the mic….modulate) and allowing me to be there.

Oh, and I have been invited to be on hand in some capacity for the men’s World Cup in Calgary. I hung with Peter Pan, another amazing asset to the sport.

I feel it is a shame that the large part of the world doesn’t know or understand what Roller Derby is……meanwhile the bumble bee, which science tells us shouldn’t be able to fly, just spreads its happy wings and buzzes along.

WFTDA, USARS, MADE, Renegade and particular the individuals pursuing this sport, I love you all… are the future.