It seems that the rapid worldwide growth of Roller Derby has really slowed down…….probably not more than 10 new leagues in November.
That may be a good thing.
Everyone has been excited about the rapid growth, the new skaters and all of the benefits. But I think we are all aware that there is a lot of work to do on the underpinnings of the game…..Obviously, I am speaking generally, because no one voice can address 1100 plus leagues.
The following is what I (the uber fan) see as what is needed for cleaning up:
1. WFTDA had done a good job of setting up rules and conditions for safety, but not everyone skates WFTDA. It has become obvious that there are a number of skaters who would prefer to skate OSDA, MADE, Renegades and other forms of the game. I was amazed to find out that MADE is now in 40 leagues and is not only skating their version of the original rules, but also has co-ed skating (optional). This is a good time for all to look at their game and see what can be done to make it easier on the officials and skaters, and certainly more easily watched by the spectators.
Spectator growth is essential to the prosperity of all leagues; not only ticket sales, but merchandise, concessions, sponsorships (the more fans and awareness of the league, the more dollars) etc.
2. All leagues are anxious to get teams going as fast as possible. This is a very dangerous practice. If you have people skating who are not proficient, they not only will get hurt but will also hurt others. And it is important to figure how to get teams to play others of equal ability. There must be a way to take or change rankings so that not every match becomes necessary to beat up on a less powerful team. As I have stated before, it would be a good thing if leagues not affiliated with each other were allowed to play. Right now each game has no standing in importance to the fan (LA versus San Francisco, Denver vs Denver) and normal rivalries with more than one game against each other would be great. Skaters who are paying to skate would be able to get more games for their money.
3. National PR sucks. That is so clearly shown when no major US media or newspaper to date has focused on the World Cup. I would like to see each month some topic that is included in every league’s press release that doesn’t pertain to who scored how many points in the game, etc. For example, The World Cup, Derby for Change (against domestic violence), Suzy Hotrod in ESPN magazine. You can make your market and league bigger by bringing in the outside world.
4. Presentation. I have covered this before. It is so important that your rink, Arena, or Hall be an exciting place when the fans arrive. Banners, music, people greeting them……a specified autograph time…..and most important, give your track area a feeling of an arena….extra light, good sound, (can you dim the other lights when game starts?), etc. And the announcers must make the fans feel they are part of it, explain the game, tout the great plays and skaters.
5. oh yes, get rid of slow play and no play, minor penalties, have jammers on every jam, shorten jams, eliminate power jams.
I am sure you agree with all of the above.
Even if you don’t, please concentrate on getting your league’s act together….Let growth be slower and much more consistent.
Derby Love……..The Commissioner.