how many different directions

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of Roller Derby.

Image created by Sigurd Decroos from

I think it is time for everyone to realize it is not a monolith and therefore it will not follow one course.  It seems like the only thing many of the different organizations have in common is the name of the game.  Many of the players see it as their possession, their thing, unifying their leagues and their sisters in the fact the revival occurred almost spontaneously and, no matter how big it becomes or how many people know about it, just leave them alone.  I certainly respect them.

And I don’t even think I could count how many different styles, leagues and games there are.  Even though the WFTDA is the central body for a large number of leagues, particularly flat track, there are so many different rules and styles out there.

Some leagues have proven they could become successful with the ability to operate very professionally, even though they are still amateur leagues.  That would include Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver (2 leagues), Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and about a dozen others.  (I am sorry if I didn’t include you…..I am sure you will let me know).  And I am  talking about your present rules with a legitimate game.

As a long-time promoter (in the good sense; the most recent events I have promoted have all been benefits for non profits and charities), I know that a collection of the better leagues could set up a circuit to play in major arenas across the country (I am not even including Europe, Australia, Canada, Asia, etc) to perhaps finally contributing to the cost of the individual players.  This would be a different path and schedule than is currently being utilized.

This level of the game could become a very profitable enterprise for all concerned.  There are definitely business applications that would work here, including promotion packages, larger sponsorships and access to larger arenas on a consistent basis.  I am going to see the B.A.D birls All Stars play the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, a very comfortable building with no fixed seating.  Here in the Bay Area I would love to see this game at Oracle Arena in Oakland.  And we have 17,000 seat arenas in Sacramento and San Jose, and a great 6000 seat venue in Civic Center in San Francisco.

Obviously, this kind of schedule could be implemented around all major metropolitan areas with teams of equal skills competing.  And it could be done soon before the opportunistic promoters move in on the game.

This plan would raise the public image and help all leagues.  There are a number of people all ready in place in the various leagues who could make this occur.  It all depends on if you really want it to happen.

On the highest level, this game is a business whether you approve or not, and it should be operated in a business-like manner with as much expertise as possible.

4 comments on “how many different directions

  1. Jerry: I love that roller derby can play big venues. Rat City is already doing that and very successful. I would like to not only discuss the different types of leagues out there, but also as to how the business is ran. Roller Derby for the most part is DIY. Currently I’m finding out some leagues are not. Owners now exist. I’m having a little trouble with that lately. I’m to understand that the “Owners” give themselves a salary. In one recent case with a start up league, the “Owner” is promising members shares to the company with return of their committee work. So what do you have to say about DIY vs Owners? I think if the league is to be owned then the skaters would have to rely less on gear, dues, insurance? We pay to play, so with being owned it kinda makes me feel used.

  2. The Brewcity Bruisers’ placement at the U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin gives access to over 12,700 fans (more if you count the “cheek seats”. This dramatic change from the difficult-to-park-at Milwaukee Sports Complex has put a different spin on the way the Bruisers behave toward the game. Though their athleticism has definitely come to the fore, I’ve found that a lot of the “fun” has drained right out of it. The women seem to have set their sights on building the league and forgotten that they are a bunch of bad mama-jamas who kick butt and take names. Their utter seriousness, though sincere and definitely not without a marked improvement on their game, has thrown a wet towel on what used to be the best show in town. The flair is almost gone – the showmanship is suffering – even their famous Beerleaders are being marginalised to first or third quarter halftimes. I am so impressed with the professionalism and determination of everyone involved, but I fear that the very thing that made Derby a real draw is on its way out the door. I’m not saying I think that the derby should step back to the 70’s, I just remember going a few years back thinking excitedly that I have no idea what to expect. It’s getting now to where I just don’t feel surprised anymore, and that’s just not what I want to see for these wonderful, hard working, spirited women.

  3. Jerry, some time you gotta make a swing through the midwest and see how we do it at the Des Moines Derby Dames. I’m a lot biased, but I think we show how it can be done, and done right in a small market, with a smallish venue, (1000 or so capacity) but give everyone a sports experience that makes them feel like they were at a real event.

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