Roller Derby? Of course

Just today I have had the following occurrences pertaining to Roller Derby:

One of our local papers, the Sonoma Sun, has a nice feature on the Resurrection Roller Girls and a local woman who skates for them; The Orange County Register in Southern California talks about the 200-member OC Rollergirls and their first scheduled game at the Anaheim Convention Center (7000 seats) this Saturday and for the first time on a banked track; I was sent the wonderful promo for the Helsinki Roller Girls (see it on youtube or my facebook profile); I helped a young lady with her term paper on Roller Derby; and tomorrow morning I am speaking with a London Roller Girl who is working on a book about fashion and Roller Derby for Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK.

And the website, today stated that there are now over 800 leagues in the world (803 to be exact), an increase of 25 since their last posting.

I was asked to work on a project about the original Bay Bombers (circa 1955 to 1973) and when it went to the Board of the publishing company in New York, one member immediately knew who I was – I am not sure if she skates or not and they were excited that I was a “part” of the Roller Derby world.

All of these things happened for exterior reasons, nothing I personally sought out.   So it makes you wonder, if America is seeing the many TV commercials involving our skaters; the stories, features magazines, and the hundreds of games that are going on in their area, then there must be a lot more of recognition and knowing about the game than we acknowledge.

So often when these stories appear, it is obvious that the writers have not actually attended a match.  There seems to be a perception (don’t generalize, Jerry) that the participants are wild people who slug each other, stomp, etc.  so I would like to hear how you think we could get more people to actually see what is going on.  Obviously, some leagues are already terribly successful.  But I was speaking to a friend in the sports marketing and announcing business who lives in Minnesota and had no idea that skating was succesful in that area….and he lives outside of Minneapolis.

Here is one idea:  create a national go to Roller Derby day; skate an exhibition game where you don’t usually so you could reach the maximum audience with absolutely free attendance.  I know some leagues have had free exhibitions, but what if everyone did it and it was publicized nationally?

Just a thought.  I told you not all my promotions work.

6 comments on “Roller Derby? Of course

  1. Our main venue has some annual commitments for March that they basically cannot turn aside in favor of roller derby. Not even for a Sunday matinee. Annual boat shows/sales that perhaps they get a cut of the take from, something like that.

    Elsewise, we’re pretty much their primary and I suppose favored client. We bring in a predictably large crowd. Our crowd buys food and beer (their concessions vendors LOVE roller derby).

    Our smaller backup venue which we used for the last time last year has ice on it through April. A game at the roller rink we practice at might have only been opened to season ticket holders and a few folks lucky enough to buy the remaining tickets as soon as offered.

    So we rented a field house from a local college, rented a neighboring league’s skating surface, got the college to help us by promoting the event to students and alumni, and did the bout there.

    It was a fairly different audience. A good number of students and alums. We also brought on extra “terps” (hearing students from the school who study ASL in order to become professional ASL interpreters) to help me handle questions from their Deaf tech school. We had a meet and greet, where our skaters (particularly those who’d attended the school) met with alumni.

    The nicest thing about it was that the college is all of about two miles from our regular venue. As a 501c3, I’m hoping that in the future we may be able to get free plugs from the campus radio station.

    • great, Poobah……just doing something to expand your base and go beyond your regular audience is so meaningful……

  2. My local team, the No Coast Derby Girls in Lincoln, Nebraska, came up with a great promotion. Military Appreciation Night. Anyone with a military ID gets free general admission to next Saturday’s bout. I’ve become something of a voluntary PR guy for them because I believe they deserve a lot more attention from the local media than they’ve been getting.
    In addition to this very timely promotion, the undefeated NCDG cracked the top 25 national rankings for the first time in its history. I hope those two factors draw some attention from the Lincoln media. Everybody loves a winner. Especially here in Husker Nation. Thanks again Jerry for your advice and information.

    • what a wonderful idea! It is good to know that the military is being thought of, and also there is now a team to compete with the Big Red!

      Gerald E. Seltzer

  3. Mr. Seltzer:

    I was a television broadcaster for Bill Griffiths from 1980-1985 for Roller Derby as well as other sports (entertainment.) I also handled PR for the Olympic when Bill held the lease to the building.

    Prior to working for Mr. Griffiths, I worked for 8 years in NY writing & producing programs for a number of top athletes in baseball, football, & basketball.

    Though I enjoyed Bill Griffiths personally & professionally, I also thought Roller Derby could be a legit sport. Though my job was to broadcast the games as played, I did think the game could be played and stand as real sport. I sort of remember the evolution from Roller Games-to roller derby-to Roller Derby, which I guess had something to do with your legal issues wth Bill.

    I’d like to think Roller Derby could be brought back to decent television prominence. I have my own ideas how this could work, But….

    My Best,

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