A friend I spoke to on the phone yesterday, who is a very successful head of a company that presents a sports attraction, was talking about Roller Derby with me. The content of the conversation isn’t that important, but he did make one statement: it is so great that Derby is back, and I am sure you want to see your families’ heritage continue to grow and be successful.
I have never honestly thought about it that way; I started in managing as a way to make extra money for my growing family, and when I had to shut it down, I realized that part of my life was over.
So oddly enough, I have become more excited and attached to modern Roller Derby which didn’t even start until some 30 years after I exited the sport.
I know so many of the leagues and people involved, and it is no secret that the majority of my facebook friends are Derby connected.
And I am certainly not hesitant about giving my opinions. And when I do there are many different reactions: agreement, acceptance, and often a real outburst against what I am saying; and when I am attacked I am often told that because I am not a skater or I was the head of the “old” Roller Derby, and all I want to do is bring that back.
Well, I am not a skater, and the last thing in the world I want to see is this game turned into a controlled exhibition…..Today’s players, at often with great personal sacrifice have brought back the game and have proved it is a great sport when played legitimately.
So why do I keep putting my observations out there? I want the sport to continue to expand and to grow and to bring more people to it not only as participants, but as spectators.
For those who might not know, I promoted Derby very successfully, bringing in huge crowds across American and Canada; and the skating, although often an exhibition, was tremendously athletic and exhilarating.
I have to commend TORD and the promoters of the world cup. The venue was not suitable in my estimation, but the players, many of whom probably hit the high points of their lives, made you forget it with the effort they put forth, whether winning or losing by 300 points. And their experiences will allow them to make the game even better when they return to their own countries.
And as far as the USA team is concerned: comparatively, it was better than any of the US basketball teams in the Olympics. The skill and the way they played was amazing. And you have to commend their opponents; although badly beaten and overmatched, there wasn’t one squad that wasn’t trying as hard on the last jam as the first.
However the game is not moving forward from a spectator’s point of view. To many of you, that is not important. To others who want this sport to be increasingly meaningful to them, I hope you heed the message. This is not the game I saw at the western regionals last year when Oly played RMRG. Huge 40 point jams take away the meaning of scores; standing still and holding back opposing skaters so the jammer can endlessly pass without any real blocking, etc, etc, will not give an audience any concept of what the real game can be. I have expressed my view of the changes that can be made so easily in previous posts and on facebook. It makes no difference to me what you may feel, because these are my opinions.
I really feel that OSDA, MADE and USARS rules allow the skater to skate the game with more freedom and not be penalized by a coterie of refs and officials and maybe have more fun in playing.
I would hope that those affiliated with WFTDA consider upcoming rule changes to make the game more interesting, both for the skaters and the non-involved spectators. I watched a bit of most games this weekend, and once I saw one team start the 100-point explosion, I moved on to something else. The concept that power jams will allow teams to come back from a big deficit rarely works; often they just allow the team that is leading to increase its lead.
There is no reason that tournaments such as the WFTDA Championships and this event should not be played before 10,000 or more spectators. It probably is time to consider which path is the one to future success.
It is not easy for me to write this. I could just shut up and show up at functions and games as the “Commissioner”, but I cannot do that in good conscience. Before you attack this post, think carefully about what I have said. I am, in fact, just a former promoter and a fan of one of the greatest games on earth.