the subject of a thesis


Photo by Chris Greene from stock.xchng.com.

Michella Marino came almost 3000 miles to interview me.  Her sister Erin accompanied her.

Michella (Coors Lightning) skates on the Amherst MA team, and also is writing her PhD thesis on women in sports, primarily on Roller Derby.

She had 5 pages of questions and topics and was quite thorough.  She has done a lot of research, has talked to Mary (Pocahontas) Youpelle, who started skating in the 30’s and other skaters and basketball players.  She thinks it will take another 2 years to complete the project.

She started by asking me about the original Roller Derby which was more like a marathon….I was too young to have seen it but could give the information as relayed to me.  She asked about the people, how they were treated, paid, problems because women were competing in a game that wasn’t genteel at the time, etc.  And over about 8 or 9 hours came right up to today’s contests.

Both she and her sister played college basketball.  Erin is now doing a fashion blog (realitychicblog.com) and had just seen her sister play for the first time last Saturday.

I explained that although I have the honorary title of Commissioner, I am just a fan and of course have my well-known opinions on today’s game, banked track, current rules, etc.

I think as you all know I love and respect what you are doing, the struggle you have gone through to make it happen and keep it happening (I wonder how many leagues fold ever year?).  But of course I have my criticisms, which mainly are based on how do you skate the current game, and how to make it more appealing as a spectator attraction.  And that of course the ying and yang of the sport.

It is your game, and I know that many want to keep it exactly as it is.  But to me, sitting in the stands, I see too many officials, too many rules that I don’t know how the refs can keep track of. When a skater is sent to the box, I don’t think half the time they know why; too many delays, and not the continuous fast game that I grew up with, and that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the sport.

Here is what I would like to see changed, and maybe it can never happen for leagues skating under the WFTDA auspices:

Greatly simplify the rules so that all players and officials understand them.

Have just 3 officials and no committee in the infield.

Maximum of 2 players in the box; penalized skater to go in after 1 has come out;  there should never be less than 3 skaters on the track for a team.

penalize the skater, not the helmet.  No jam should start without 1 jammer on each team.

shorten jam time to 1 minute.

require pack to keep moving or be penalized.

allow announcers to describe all action on the jams.

The lead jammer is the jammer who is actually in the lead at any given time.

Keep action continuous by having jammers start from rear of the pack while pack is moving.

Well, that’s a start.  I am sure everyone agrees and there will be no comments……The above game is much more spectator friendly if that is important to you.

13 comments on “the subject of a thesis

  1. … hi jerry ! do you skate ? quads or roller blades or both ? outdoors ? indoors ? rinks ? where ? …

  2. Jerry – the rules you are recommending sound very much like what OSDA uses – a much more simplified set of rules based on the original Roller Derby but skated 100% legit.

    I happen to agree with you that the overcomplicated rules need to simplified.

    Remember the book – A VERY SIMPLE GAME! Right?

    Joe

  3. I’m an NSO (referee in training) and couldn’t agree with you more about the rules. WFTDA is actually looking at getting rid of the minor penalties. I think the rules evolved to keep the game safe and fair — but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of the understanding of the game by spectators, players, or, even in some cases, referees!

  4. You hit the nail on the head Jerry! I couldn’t agree more! Thats OSDA for ya! @Smash Register- Check out an OSDA game, its safe, fair, fast paced, the rules are simple, the scores are closer, and you wont have a headache after refing! LOL One of my leagues recent games ended in overtime at 30-33! That was 4 periods of play plus overtime! It was a very defensive and strategically played game! The best part is, OSDA allows skaters to show off their skills with a variety of blocks and whips that are illegal in WFTDA play.

  5. Jerry..
    As previous comments have stated, some of what you are suggesting is in the OSDA rules. I was at a WFTDA rules bout last night and based on what I saw, yes, I would love to see some changes too…
    – I don’t necessarily agree on a 60 second jam, nor do I agree on a 120 second jam. Based on my experiences with Arizona Derby Dames when they were flat track, 90 seconds is just right. It’s enough to get at least two good laps in.
    – I 1000% AGREE with you on all jams having both jammers out. The OSDA way would give the jammer position to the pivot if the jammer is penalized, but I feel my next suggestion would be better…
    – ENFORCE PENALTIES AT THE END OF THE JAM similar to how it’s done in banked track. This will assure that if rules are changed to keep a jammer in each jam, there will be one there. It also gives more time for a ref or announcer to explain to the crowd why a skater is penalized. Of course, combine this with minor penalties being eliminated and we will have a good thing.
    – I agree with you on keeping the pack moving. I feel there should be a minimum speed of the pack and no clockwise movement allowed, period.
    – There should always be a lead jammer. If a jammer cuts on the first pass, call the cut, allow the jammer to re-enter from from the point of illegal advancement and try again. No penalty. If a jammer cuts on a subsequent pass, they do not get those points but has the option to reenter of illegal advancement and try again.
    – For the sake of flat track and an easier game, I agree with the current rules that the first jammer to break legally should be lead jammer, even if the other jammer catches up. It’s also easier on the fans. But doing a changing lead jammer will definitely keep the scores lower. OSDA and WORD do it this way.

    Overall, I agree that we need to make this game more friendly to the skaters who play it, the zebras who officiate it, the fans who watch it and the media who should be reporting on it more.

    with derby love…
    Michi-chan
    derbydata.com

  6. it is so amazing that I am just reading this post and all the things you mentioned above are what MADE (Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor) does, and our brother/sisters over at OSDA as well.

    * Greatly simplify the rules so that all players and officials understand them. – DONE

    * Have just 3 officials and no committee in the infield. – DONE

    * Maximum of 2 players in the box; penalized skater to go in after 1 has come out; there should never be less than 3 skaters on the track for a team. – DONE

    * penalize the skater, not the helmet. No jam should start without 1 jammer on each team. – DONE

    * shorten jam time to 1 minute. Well we do 90 seconds.

    * require pack to keep moving or be penalized. – DONE

    * allow announcers to describe all action on the jams. – DONE

    * The lead jammer is the jammer who is actually in the lead at any given time. – DONE

    * Keep action continuous by having jammers start from rear of the pack while pack is moving. – DONE

  7. Why shorten the jam times? What does that hope to accomplish?

    I like 2 minute jams- it makes it so its not just about jammers that are quick- it also takes stamina. Especially if there is no lead jammer to call it off- then it becomes about who is the more fit jammer. I also like jams where you may not have a lead jammer for that reason. I know some audience members feel that way too- 30 second 4 pt and call it off jams are essential, but sometimes people want to see the speed and endurance of a full 2 min jam.

    I like the rest of the suggestions…but the biggest thing I want to see changed is pack definition. I’m sure you’ve read windy man’s suggestion on it- the pack is the biggest group w/players from each team OR if the teams are seperated- one group in front, one in back- its the group in the front. Now because your blockers have failed to BLOCK PEOPLE, the group in front can pull ahead if they wish and really speed up the pack (for example, if the other jammer is lead).

    That’s the only way to speed up the pack really- you can’t have a “minimum speed”, because how are you going to measure and enforce that? Plus, now you’ve introduced more penalties to the game.

    • those who have followed me know that the main reason I would like to see a shorter jam is because I think the “power jam” detracts from the main attraction of the game, blocking and jamming. It would help to limit scoring for each player to a maximum of 5 points, which obviously, the jammers would not like.

      I don’t think you need more penalties to keep the pack together. The refs can do that if they have the leeway to make a moving motion and whistle which is a warning if the pack does not speed up and reform.

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