Do I hate Roller Derby?

I do not, but I must plead mea culpa.

I am opinionated.

It won’t get any better as I add one more year to my collection tomorrow.

I find it easy to criticize when probably I should really be more supportive of the attributes of what has happened in the last ten years.

Almost 2000 leagues in the world, including women, men, and juniors.

Somebody must be doing something right.

I have this vision of what the game should be; oddly enough, everyone does not agree with me.

Although many of you feel I want to “take back” the game to what it was 40 years ago, that is untrue.

There are things about the rankings method, the stoppage on the track, the blocking backwards, the blowouts that really bother me; but if that is what the nature of the game has become, so be it.

I am not any kind of official or affiliated with any rule set (although some believe I am). I just want to see attendance grow, not decline; more teams of equal ability competing, and anything that enhances Roller Derby.

There is no way any of us can wave a magic wand and bring it into being. And when I see the BAD girls play fast paced games with their four equally balanced teams, I see what the game is. And it is not unique to that league.

I would like to see rule modifications that bring it to the original intent of offense and defense always at the same time; I love the chase of one jammer after another.

But you out there play the game, and if this is what you want and the fans support it by attending, then just stay with it. And at Rollercon I hope I can help you market your games.

I still have the first modern Derby tee shirt I ever received, a Hotrod Honey given to me at Rollercon in 2006. And there are so many great athletes playing the game today: from Bonnie and Suzy to Tony and Bloody and V-Diva and Demanda and Quadzilla and on and on.

I won’t say I won’t make comments, but it is easy to criticize. I know what you go through just to be able to skate the game you love.

I want to move forward with you.

are you ready to shoot the Derby messenger?

The good news: with this post I have officially passed 300,000 readers of my blog since I first starting posting it.

The disturbing news? This subject will stir up the pot again.

Last weekend my first modern derby league had their season ending championship. It doesn’t really matter who won, what matters to me is that the 9500-seat UIC Pavilion looked quite empty.

OK, so if you bought the best ticket, $35, you paid a $6.50 (!!!!) service fee to Ticketmaster, but you could save money by buying tickets in advance from any WCR player, so that is a small part of the issue. And there were general admission tickets for $15 plus service charge; $10 if you bought in advance from a player.

A friend of mine who lives in Glenview, my old home town northwest of Chicago was there. “It was boring”, he said. Ouch. “Players just scored points in bunches with little or no opposition.”

How can Roller Derby, the hard-hitting, fast paced game on skates be boring? I will not relate what the game has become since 2010 where the slow game became more or less the official strategy…..skaters may love it, fans (outside of friends and family) don’t. And the question is, if they come one time will they come back?

Hey, if I were a jammer I would love it if I could score 100 points a game; but the game is about a team of 5 players who work together to keep the other team from scoring and get your own jammer out and help her score. Why do players stop, go backwards, and just stand aside? And why are many, if not most jams with just one skater, getting (to me) very cheap points by just skating around endlessly. And has the 30-second penalty rule really changed the game? I don’t think so. I am waiting for WindyMan to present the statistics. And now many players are upset that by allowing clockwise skating, chest and other injuries will occur.

OK, on my facebook page is twelve minutes of women skating from 55 years ago. Probably not what many of you expect, and how many in today’s game are in this kind of condition. if you have time, check it out.

The game is for the skaters…..rule changes in WFTDA take a long time to be adjusted, and if you are a skater benefiting from the rules, and you vote on them….isn’t it obvious what will not happen.

I was discouraged when I saw the USARS championship two years ago in Fresno. The game appeared to be untidy, pack strung out, only OLY a very good team; players unsure of how to use the pivot position. Then a few weeks ago I saw the Chicago Red Hots play the Pennsylvania all stars, two teams of primarily WFTDA skaters from the Windy City Rollers, Rockford, Philly, Steel City and more and the USARS rules really worked……rarely more than a few points on a scoring play, great pack action and the speed of all the players was wonderful…..the game could be considered a blow out, 91-31, but the pack action and play kept the fans enthralled, and few if any left.

I would love to see great players who are capable and want to skate all styles of play forming teams in California, Texas, New York, etc to play all rule sets; the PA All Stars play WFTDA, MADE, OSDA, and now USARS. I know that not all can play this fast game (One of the players from Indiana told me in Cicero that in 20 minutes she skates more and harder than in her home league games), but why not present the best of you to the fans and hopefully they won’t say the game is boring. And the more players learn and play other types of Derby, eventually a game should evolve with the best of all rulesets (in a perfect world).

Yes, many places – LA Derby Dolls, Gotham, BAD, skate a faster more crowd exciting game under the WFTDA rules…..but certainly not all…..if attendance was skyrocketing everywhere then you certainly don’t need to pay attention. The problem is probably more than just the ruleset.

But I think many of you had better look at what is going on and try to address it. At least start talking about what may make your league better.

is there a simple Derby solution?

When I saw the Chicago Red Hots play the Pennsylvania All Stars a few Saturdays ago near Chicago my eyes were opened to something.

It is no secret that i like certain aspects of the USARS rules because they remind me of our own, but frankly as seen by several of the games played in the recent nationals it looked undisciplined, spread out, and not a great skater awareness. Not in all the contests, but certainly in many of them.

But the Red Hots and All Stars played a very disciplined, fast, furious game with balls out (pardon, women) play and great pack action as the game was intended.

Well, who were these guys?

The Red Hots are composed of players from the Chicago and Indiana area who skate on other teams, but love the extra chance to play and the action of USARS….we are talking the likes of Kola Loka, Val Capone and others.

And the Pennsylvania All Stars: some of the Philly Rollergirls, Steel City and others throughout the state who just love to play the game and schedule against all rulesets and men’s teams. And V-Diva and others are no slouches.

I would love to see all skaters be able to skate against all others of equal ability. And I know many of you out there would like to test yourself against others, schedule more games you can play in and get more Derby!

So why doesn’t Ohio, California, Missouri, Ontario, etc put independent teams together (not losing their regular roster position) and let us see more open Derby action….this was the best game I have seen all year.

So contact Fernando Reguero of the Red Hots and V-Diva of the All Stars and find out how to get started and get it down…..I have no part of it except as the ultimate fan who wants to see this type of great skating action which I believe will excite and expand the fan base.

By the way, on May 24th the Red Hots have scheduled the champions of Mexico, Guadalajara, in their first USARS game… at of course.

Maybe we are on to something….the DIY sport is becoming even more DIY.

College roller derby: Can Maiden Asia, Haute Flash, and Stone Cold Jane Austen save college sports from itself?

College roller derby: Can Maiden Asia, Haute Flash, and Stone Cold Jane Austen save college sports from itself?.

please click the link above for what may be a great path for Roller Derby!

Arizona Statue University has a club team program; a Georgia college features Roller Derby, and there are others.

If you are associated with a school or would like to bring it to their attention, check out this feature… and school gyms are a perfect size for Derby; we skated in over 50, including leading universities (Notre Dame, Southern Illinois, Eastern Carolina, New Hampshire, etc) and many high schools.

Expand the game wherever you can!