Will the real Roller Derby please stand up!

I seem to get in the middle of everything…..maybe if I would just shut up.

So there are some 1125 leagues out there:  women, men, junior, coed, flat track, banked track and I think that pretty much covers it.

I started this commentary just so I could talk, give my history and opinions and whatever…..I really didn’t care who reads it, if anyone, but quite a few people have found it:  110,000 to date.  And I don’t even make a dime off of it.

Because the game has been with me most of my life obviously I have strong opinions of what I like about it…..so I give them.

Now realize I am just like any other spectator who loves the game, but not certain aspects.  So I don’t mind creating controversy, but please do not misinterpret me.  I am not trying to take control of the game (just how would I do that?) or have some nefarious purpose in mind.

First of all let me get clear with the WFTDA game:  this is the first and only rules I have seen to date, with the exception of my trip to Philadelphia to see what OSDApro was all about and talk to my old Derby friends.  I have not seen TXRD, MADE, MRDA, USARS, Renegades, etc.  Without WFTDA there is no way that Roller Derby would have achieved the connection worldwide that it has.  And of course, the majority of my friends on facebook, twitter, here and elsewhere are those that I know from this game.

So if I say I don’t like slow play, stopping, going backwards, the Hall for world cup etc I am certain most of you know that is my opinion.

WFTDA is for the skaters by the skaters.  Even the all-powerful Commissioner cannot influence them one inch.  But I can certainly express what I feel might make the game better, in my opinion only.  And I won’t stop.

I hate to see all of the organizations fighting and sniping at each other.  I think there will be just what there is:  different groups with different rule sets depending on what the participants want.  No one body or rules or skating surface will work for everyone, but there is no reason you cannot accept that and work together for the sport and learn from each other.

Hey guys, it’s all Roller Derby to me…..and thank you!

34 comments on “Will the real Roller Derby please stand up!

  1. Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes! We’re all passionate about it and love what we do! It’s all derby – so let’s all judge a little less and play a little more! No one’s form is better or more “real roller derby” than anyone else’s, and the more options for people to find a happy derby home, be they fan or athlete, the better!

  2. Please never quit sharing your opinion. I don’t why some people in Derby get so sensitive. Without different opinions and discussion the sport will never develop. It’s like any other organization. The day you stop being curious and listen to people who don’t agree with you, you lost the ability to adapt to the future.

  3. You either like roller derby, or you don’t. Anyone who gets defensive about “their” version of derby or looks down on “other” versions of the game, aren’t really acting in derby’s best interest.

  4. so you know where the title of this post came from, there was a popular show I think in the fifties called “To Tell the Truth”. There would be three people and they would each say “I won the Olympic wrestling for my weight in 1948, my name is….” and the panel would question them and try to figure out which was the real person. Joan Weston was on, and two of the four panel members had to disqualify themselves as they had seen her on television.

  5. Yeah! Jerry!

    I love what you have to say, always! Straight up is fine by me!

    If you sugar coat it things are misinterpreted, if you are direct it is misinterpreted. No matter WHAT you say someone somewhere will twist it up and sideways so you keep on keepin’ on mister!!!

    Sharing the derby LOVE!

  6. Don’t ever stop giving your opinion Jerry. Nobody……nobody at all knows the ABC;s of Roller Derby as you do.. Many feel because of
    their love of the game that they know it all…;.NOT! Even the skaters
    of the past that worked for the organization didn’t know everything.
    When I read posts that say….”how could he just have stopped, etc. etc.” My gosh the expenses that the Corporation had were horrendous then, just think what it would be like today. I enjoyed
    being the wife of one of your employees and saw and heard a lot,
    and I am more than happy to say how lucky I was to been a part of it.


  7. You’ve missed LOCO in there. LOCO is low-contact roller derby, like flag-football if you will, and it’s been springing up all over southern Ontario. 4 Loco leagues now and counting. As much as I often call LOCO “not real roller derby”, I guess I see what you mean about moving forward for the betterment of the sport.

  8. If you want to see some diversity in derby, go to Arizona..
    ARIZONA DERBY DAMES – Banked track ~ not sure if they are fully on WORD rules yet but I knew they were going in that direction.
    DESERT DOLLS ROLLER DERBY – Flat track ~ I call it “Arizona Rules”, pretty much in some ways a revision of the Arizona Derby Dames flat track rules.
    ARIZONA ROLLERGIRLS – Flat track ~ You could call this league “WFTDA with a twist”. They play WFTDA rules but are a little more tolerant of things that go on..
    RENEGADE ROLLERGIRLS ~ The original renegade rules league.
    SINGLEHANDED ROLLER DERBY ~ This is a new co-ed league forming. They will be skating the MADE ruleset.
    The Phoenix area also has WFTDA charter member ARIZONA ROLLER DERBY as well as derby brat programs at AZ Rollergirls, AZRD and AZDD.

    But if you come out this way, you can definitely check out PENN JERSEY and a league that I am fairly close to, PSYCHO 78’S in north Jersey. They play either rules-based on renegade and they are co-ed.

    There’s something for everyone. You just gotta know where it find it.

    with derby love…

  9. I am really conflicted when it comes to the variety of rule sets and versions of derby out there.

    i truly love the idea of every single individual (fan, player, official alike) finding the derby that fits them, and falling in love with it – like coed, jr derby, low-impact, etc… part of the beauty of roller derby for me is the inclusive ‘everybody is welcome’ feeling 🙂

    however, events such as the world cup, or even in some cases leagues playing other leagues wouldn’t be possible without a standardized rule-set that everyone has practiced playing to. A standardized style of play and documented rules can be very valuable, and i am thankful that we are able to play such a global version of roller derby 🙂

    either way, i am thrilled to watch roller derby evolve, and will always do my best to leave it all on the track, skate fast, and turn left 😀

    • international basketball is different than college or pro, and pro and college are different from each other; however, it is still basketball and everyone can figure it out.

      Roller Derby has not had well over 100 years to develop the modern game, and I do not see there being a worldwide standardization.

  10. I don’t think there will be any standard-ization of the game until there is a real effort to have a pro league. Which means run like a business, not (skater owned and operated)

    If Roller Derby ever wants to be respected for the sport that it is, then there it needs to pay not only players, but refs and support crews as well. Obviously this will have to start small, but like all things should, it will grow over time.

    No-one can ever say they are the best skater they can be if they’re busy running the league, setting up training and bouts, organinsing merchandise etc, all the while working a job to pay the bills.

    Paying players will allow them to train more, which improves their skills, which improves the game itself. The better games will bring bigger crowds, and from the bigger crowds come more people who want to play Derby.

    Paying support staff means the players can play, and the game can grow and solidify on a larger level then the players could run on thier own.

    In short; I think the first rule set to successfully do this will eventually become the standard rule set, because people can look to those players and say ‘one day I’m gonna be a big sports star’ just like them.

    Of course thats just my wild opinion

    • I’d say that when between 97-99% of the leagues in the world use a particular rule set, that’s standardization. One rule set is already there.

      • But when the ruleset is not commercially viable (as the WFTDA rules have demonstrated that they are), it could never be accepted as a standardization, even if a large number of leagues are playing it right now.

        The WFTDA rules have evolved over time from a game that made today’s Renegade rules look tame (clips of that first AZRD bout at Surfside 9 years ago are still fresh in my head) where the proposed international game has evolved from the original old school roller derby. A game that was much more commercially viable.

        The unique aspect of the WFTDA game is that it was designed with the skater in mind as it was developed by those who actually play the game and did not have any input by consultants, focus groups, advertisers, TV networks or marketing departments.

        Just like Canadian rules, vs. American rules vs. Australian rules football, I don’t think the WFTDA rules will be going away but I will implore those developing international and professional rules and training programs to assure that their programs are designed to allow a fairly easy transition path for WFTDA skaters.

      • That figure is highly inflated Poobah. Someone actually crunched the numbers recently and it was not nearly as folks advertise, no matter what wikipedia editors wants you to think.

  11. There’s already a pro league called Rink Warriors. I guess they catch flack from amateur leagues(lots of gossip and rumors, etc), but several women I know personally are signed to 4 year contracts. The rules are not the same, it’s much more demanding but if someone is serious about skating that’s where they should go IMO. I have reffed a few matches for them and was paid for my time which I did not expect but definitely appreciated. It wasn’t anywhere near what the women got but it was fair enough.

  12. You mean http://www.rinkwarriors.com/, where the links to things like Roster, Schedule, Media, etc. are broken (404) or empty? And the “proprietary rules” that require “much more stamina, power, and endurance than amateur leagues” are not published or linked anywhere? That looks more like a web prank than a roller derby league.

    • As any new organization, they appear to be just starting and probably the website is the last thing on their mind (I guess they have yet to hire a PR/communications person [I know someone])..

      Plus, I have seen my share of DIY league sites that have more 404’s than Atlanta.

      • I totally agree, on the diy side of things. However, Tony says he has reffed matches for them and gotten paid and the competitors were paid much more than him.

        Someone is holding roller derby matches with no trace of PR on the interwebs and paying the athletes well, but has no schedule posted anywhere? I call shenanigans.

    • No it’s not a prank, I can assure you of that. They have all the important information up there for anyone serious to contact. The website is technically under-construction, but instead of just having an “under-construction” page they have the available information up there for that is important to anyone serious. I have seen “tough roller girls” come here and they were puking within 2 minutes. They don’t B.S about saying it is more intense in training and competition. My g/f has seen worse, she’s seen women(25+ yrs old) coming in with their moms to try and negotiate a contract, etc and they just laughed and sent her on her way.(she drove at least 5hrs away, to be sent home in 5min). If you come her, be serious and leave your parents at home, they are looking for elite athletes ONLY. That’s why most of their roster is made up of former football, rugby(even some female rugby players), hockey players, etc. The roller girls seem to have very sensitive feelings that I and my g/f have witnessed. The women here will walk all over you, they are in it for money not hobby or friendships. It’s no different than any other pro league.

      BTW have you ever actually contacted them to see if it’s a prank or just making assumptions? is both my and my g/f get paid when we participate and we love it. The people are really nice(a few a-holes, but just a few), you should actually contact them if you’re for real.. They don’t need a website to train, and that’s not really what they are concerned about, they know the serious ones call, the flakes don’t and people weed themselves out. I thought it was crazy myself to be quite frank, but it works for them and they obviously know what they’re doing.

      • BTW when they promote shows, they use flyers, posters, word of mouth, etc. an important thing they showed us was very few people actually search for roller derby online(most people still don’t even know it’s around). Again they know what they’re doing, they’re not stupid. I can’t change your opinion on it, but I trust them, I have never been shorted nor my g/f so I’ll continue to work for them whenever they need me.

      • I was interested and curious to know more. But when there is not the slightest trace of this organization having ever put on any sort of roller derby event anywhere on the web I simply don’t believe one guy named Tony. 🙂

        They didn’t place a single ad in even a local free weekly or get a write-up there? The venue didn’t list or mention the event at all? These things are more than a little hard to believe.

        Seriously, can you point to any info anywhere I can look at? I’m curious to know more about the game and rules. The website says the rules are proprietary. Does that mean secret or unpublished? I can’t see that sitting well with the fans. These are the kinds of things that stimulate my curiosity.

  13. I believe that everyone is heading in the same direction and I love reading the comments here.

    I’ve set up my co-ed leagues in Seattle to be instructional, competitive, and I will pay our all stars when we get there; my guess is towards the end of 2012.

    http://oneworldrollerderby.com (come on men, we’re waiting for you).

    We are attempting to mainstream this sport by making it more accessible and we’re working with USARS rules; hoping that they will “pave the way” for WFTDA skaters (as Michelle mentioned) while preserving the sport’s competitive and athletic aspect. I am teaching derby classes through the Seattle Parks department and a local community college. I’ve written a coaches manual that utilizes sports psychology along with specific instruction for teaching basic skills / core strength / weight transfer / self confidence / accountability and will keep adding to that as I go.

    As the (new) president of OSDA (I’m working to earn the title) I am hoping to combine efforts with all organizations to find one ruleset that can be agreed upon via USARS.

    NRDA, MADE, OSDA and any other group out there could NOW form one new powerful organization that can use the same agreed upon rules, respect each others differences and agree to disagree along the way while paving the way for standardization. We need ONE other circuit that is not just women and not just flat track.

    Forming another new organization will not take away any of the wonderful WFTDA groups that are out there, nor should it pose a threat. My hope is it would train many new skaters that could ultimately make their way to ANY league that is a good fit for them (WFTDA included).


    I invite anyone to contact me to discuss logistics of this. We can grow and change the landscape together while respectfully honoring all WFTDA leagues with open communication and open doors.

  14. I forgot to mention that my junior leagues are non-profit and has an off skates component for kids that are obese or not athletically inclined.

    My adult leagues are a for profit C corporation and I don’t require my skaters to do committee work. We have “volunteer” volunteers and I will pay anyone who does work for our leagues. I will pay our referees and NSO’s at our first game on Jan 29th.

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