Well, if you were disappointed in Oakland May 21 because your very own leecher Camping caused you to sell your possessions, kill your pets, harm your children, etc and then the World didn’t end, I hope you drove a few miles north on I-80 to Craneway Pavilion in Richmond to see how Roller Derby survived its own demise almost 40 years ago with a wonderful matchup of top teams.
Craneway was jammed with fans. Those associated with the Bay Area Derby Girls were adorned in sparkly golden attire with black trimming in honor of the true rapture of Derby fans. And the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls (national champions!) were truly stunning in their fiery red uniforms. I would hate to estimate the crowd, but I am certain the promoter Bill Graham would have been proud of how many were jammed in.
And they were loyal. I know the Bay Area fans were hoping for an upset victory against the #1 ranked RMRG, but the game followed the expected pattern: the Denver team controlled the pack and the jams for most of the game, and in the second half had built up a 50 point lead, but in Roller Derby there is such a never-give-up attitude and the B.A.D. girls – led by Ivy Profane who seemed to be on every jam – came back close enough to scare the red-clad-warriors from Colorado, but finally succumbed to the final rallies of the champions.
The crowd at this game (maybe 3000?) was remarkably good natured; basically young, a number of children, and even a few fans approaching my age. And they loved the game: cheering happily, exhorting the women of the Bay Area to come back and responding mightily to the efforts of Ivy and the rest of the team. And despite the disparity of the score, almost no one left early as they enjoyed the great play on the track.
When it was all over, the skaters showed respect to each other, and stayed around to talk to the fans (and occasionally The Commissioner) and they knew they had done well.
I was at the game with Jim, who had gone with me before, and Scott and his friend Isaac, both of whom had never seen a game. They thoroughly enjoyed it and particularly the women fans around us who yelled, screamed, and had a wonderful time.
What was particularly interesting was that the audience was not as heavily female as I would have thought, although women (and all of them beauties) were in the preponderance. Everyone was so friendly to each other in the arena, and I realized why so many families were in attendance; it is a very safe and happy environment. And the event was inexpensive for the fans.
I had a few photos taken and they should be on facebook. Roller Derby is a sport that currently is primarily a game for women, promoted by women and rough and exciting for all. Unlike a lot of other lesser-known sports, the audience was there because it is where they wanted to be on Saturday night and not just to show support for a friend or family member.
These women, who sacrifice their time, pay their dues, and receive no compensation put themselves out for their communities and yet don’t ask for anything except for you to respect them for what they are doing and to enjoy yourself.
They win on all counts.