There seems to be some controversy about whether or not Roller Derby skaters should take on a different persona for the games. Should they wear face paint, have numbers on their arms, excessive tattoos, torn nets, etc?
It never bothered me because as long as the competition is real (and my over 25 years in the world of rock and roll where bizarre dress has always been part of the genre), it kind of added fun to the event.
However, it seems as though a number of leagues feel that if they are to be taken seriously as a sport, not only do they have to “professionalize” operations, but also use real names on the backs of tops and cut down on the other aspects.
I hope you are all familiar with Patch. Go to patch.com, sign up, and when you log in you will get local information daily. It is like a home town newspaper on line. And it is a great place, since they are looking for local stories, to get word out on your league. If you go to Patch in Petaluma California you will find a nice feature that is on some local women who compete on the team at Cal Skate in Rohnert Park. It is a good piece, but I don’t think the writer has seen Roller Derby in over 30 years and talks about how these local women become the wild and crazy girls of Roller Derby.
Now I am writing this from the perspective of someone who didn’t skate, doesn’t skate now, but has been around Roller Derby for a significant part of my life. I enjoy the fact that the fans who watch the games aren’t looking for crazed, wrestling type behavior from the skaters, but are there to enjoy themselves and the game. And since the B.A.D. Girls have been around for a while they have definitely built a fan base. When I was at Craneway several weeks back I couldn’t tell who had on face paint or other garb, but I was fascinated by the skill of the players that night and watched a wonderful, strategically played game that wasn’t decided until the last play of the night.
Can our game be accepted as a real sport by the “establishment” as it is presently portrayed? I am torn with my own answer. Many of the players, men and women, are sacrificing their time and money and bodies to really enjoy themselves. Should we even wonder what others think?
As the game grows and progresses, and it becomes even more widespread and is in more commercials, features, major arenas you will all have to make your own decisions. Some leagues (TXRD) have made it clear that girls (and boys) just want to have fun. Others like OSDA and OSDAPRO are skating the original rules on flat and banked track; the WFTDA had pretty much established the flat track game and there are the Renegades and others out there. So every one will have different opinions on the subject. What is yours?
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