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 feminity 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.

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.

Woz, Roller Derby, the US Festival and the Steve Jobs movie

I met Steve Wozniak at the US Festival, perhaps the greatest collection of contemporary bands in 1982 and 1983. I believe almost 60 of the best bands and performers from the Clash to the Grateful Dead to Van Halen to Willie Nelson to the Pretenders and the Police and on and on appeared in the two year run over a total of 7 days near San Bernardino, California. Look it up.

Because David Zimmerman from BASS Tickets had heard how unhappy Woz had been with the way Ticketron had handled the sales in 1982, I was able to sign up the Festival for the fledging Ticketmaster entrance into Southern California in 1983. The impetus that the million dollars in advertising generated (always mentioning Ticketmaster as the phone and outlet source) really made us known in that area.

So I went both years, all days, but I must confess I didn’t listen to all 12 hours or more every day. And that is when I met Woz who solely created, financed, and presented the events.

This amazing man created the products that became Apple. Apparently, Steve Jobs liked the attention (I am seeing the movie this weekend), but really had nothing to do with creating the Apple 1, 2, etc. And Woz eventually left the company but today represents them with visits all around the globe.

What I found out in talking to him that he (of course) had watched Roller Derby on TV in the Bay Area where he grew up (and lives today), and he was quite a fan. I understand that he has shown up at various Derby events, and even skated on the banked track. Of course I got him a copy of “Roller Derby to Rollerjam”.

In the limited interplay that I have with him, I have found him to be a warm, accessible human being. He is a friend on facebook (and 32 of my friends are also mutual friends…..Misty (Pia Mess) Greer, why am I not surprised that you are one also). I also follow him on twitter where he seems to be traveling the world incessantly (all departure and arrival cities are listed), and he drives his Tesla to Morgan Hill to recharge and enjoy the delightful cuisine of this quaint village (really, Morgan Hill?).

So when you purchase an ipad or iphone, realize that at the start of the largest company in the world, there was this delightful man, a Roller Derby fan.

let’s go back 5 years to when Roller Derby filled arenas

In 2010 I was invited to come to Denver to help promote the Denver Dolls first game in the beautiful arena in Broomfield.

If you have 8 minutes, please watch the video from Denver television. I was actually on several tv stations, radio stations, and newspapers. It was a great promotion and as you can see, I can use the background of sports promotion in helping modern derby. if you go to my home page on facebook, the cover shows the results for that first game, and it was so exciting. And I met Robin Bond and did my first interview for “Derby Baby”.

If you cannot bring up the interview, go to my home page (Jerry Seltzer) and play it:

The interview:

As we get full swing in Playoff and championship season, let us work together on getting the big crowds back to watch the most exciting sport in the world.

And as you may note, Roller Derby has helped me lose 25 pounds since this interview, and I don't even skate.