I beg you on bended knee…….

Arrived home at 3:30 am from the best Rollercon ever!……Had a booth with two wonderful clients, took my 2nd Derby wife, was in several thousand photos (or so it seemed)…..more should be cropping up.  Having been to dozens of trade shows and conventions over the years for Roller Derby, Ticketmaster, and Judi Flowers Studio, I am just blown away by how well Rollercon is run.

RollerCon 2012. Photo from Christine Mask Warbrick.

And I was able to see so much skating in such a compressed time.   Sanctioned and unsanctioned bouts; skaters who don’t skate in the same leagues competing with and against each other, and what was for me, the most exciting game!

I was able to announce (you know how many years it has been?) the over 40s game between “Slow down, punks” and “Get off of my lawn”, and it was exciting.  Both teams skated Roller Derby as it was meant to be (and under the WFTDA rules): a balls out action game – no stopping, slowing down, going backwards or whatever.  Jam after jam, just trying to get out of the pack with tremendous jamming, offensive and defensive blocking, and every point was hard fought.

And it ended as it should have, a 54-54 ties.  And every skater over 40 and into their fifties.

If you don’t skate this kind of game because of “strategy”, then please use “strategy” in practices; don’t bore live audiences.   You want it to grow, excite audiences and increase its potential, then go back to the skating before the Rat City/RMRG debacle several years back which started this trend.

The game should not be played to get around the rules……penalize skating backwards, stopping, etc, and like in other major sports, set a time limit on when the jams must start.

I have seen Roller Derby die twice.  Please not again before it reaches its full growth……it is on roller skates, it is an action game.   Stop before it is too late.

The Commissioner

63 comments on “I beg you on bended knee…….

  1. And until WFTDA listens, for the rest of you tired of stroller derby check out M.A.D.E. (www.SkateMADE.com) I love it. No stopping and its more fun in my opinion. (and many of my friends as well)

  2. This was such a fun game! I am so proud to be over 40, be a part of team “Get Off My Lawn”, to have had you as an announcer, and to have played such a fun game with other wonderful 40’s and 50’s. Even though many of these skaters have more skill or agility than I, they played the game the way my league plays it and not a one batted an eye at my faults! It was so much fun and I heard so many wonderful things about how we played. Thank you for announcing, and thank you for appreciating how we played!

  3. I don’t know a single person who loves derby who left derby because of the “slow start”. If you do, will you let me know?
    And also (and you know I love you, Commish), I’ve never seen a derby virgin go “Oh, wow, this game is so cool, I totally get it…but I hate that it takes 30 seconds for them to start skating, eff it, I’m not interested anymore”. I just don’t understand why people are so against it. I haven’t seen a major negative impact. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place… can you show me?

    • I realize that I forgot to mention why I think the strategies you mention are useful: It’s a bout, not a race. If another team has more speed than your team, then you have to work your strategy in order to make plays that benefit you and slow down your opponents. You say “The game should not be played to get around the rules”… but that’s why there are rules, right? Anything that isn’t a rule (excluding general bad sportswomanship), well… it just isn’t. The point is to follow the rules, and to WIN. What I think will truly hurt us is if teams stop caring about winning at a great sport, and start worrying more about what makes for a good show. I really don’t want to go back to those days.

      • listen to what others are saying…..with over 1000 responses so far to the post, you are way in the minority.(two so far, and 1 a ref for Rat City, a league I dearly love)..I have been in audiences where fans have left……And you should worry about what is a good “show” for the fans, with no negative connotations. They want to see sport…..not standing there. why did football put in 35 second rules between plays? why did basketball put time limits on possession? why does hockey not allow the puck to be “frozen” without a face off?. what I saw at Rollercon between two over 40s team is the game I want to see under WFTDA rules. I am, and have always been a fan….the more fans at games, the more tickets sold, the more merchandise sold, the more concessions and the more good word throughout the community……and your league must worry about that to continue to exist.

      • Well – I’ll add another voice to the “jammer line starts are not the problem” reasoning. Change the rules to keep scores closer – fewer blow-outs. Change the rules to make it easier to watch – eliminate “minor penalties”. And create a process that enhances regional rivalries through some centrally managed scheduling – one team plays a few sanctioned bouts, the other plays tons, and the one that plays only a couple is considered better and higher ranked? Blow outs are boring. Rivalries are exciting. Sports 101.

      • I don’t think you can change the rules to eliminate blowouts. Your other points about scheduling are the answer there. No matter what you do to the rules, Gotham is going to blow out any team that’s not in the top 10. The skill gaps in this sport are huge. So like you said, do SOMETHING to improve the structure of the regular season (easier said than done, I know).

      • Okay, thanks. There are so many things about the girl’s leagues I don’t get I thought I’d be sure what this was before I comment on it. So here goes. Again, not knowing everything about the girl’s style I have to ask this. Are there not blockers in the back of the pack whose job is to stop the jammers which would stop huge scores on jams? That is the way the game is played isn’t it? Each skater is trained in their positions and that’s what they do in the game. If they’re not doing it then they need better blockers or more training for the blockers. If that’s not how it’s played then I guess I really don’t understand this game.

      • You absolutely could modify the rules to prevent blow outs and increase the likelihood of upsets. I’ve seen lots of recommendations on how to do this such as releasing the penalized jammer once points are scored (similar to hockey). Look at other sports – say college basketball or football. Non-ranked teams upset top ranked teams all the time. I’ve yet to see anything similar in roller derby. This is PARTLY the maturity of the sport – but it is MOSTLY the design of the game that enhances talent gaps instead of controls it. And – for the record – Oly vs a non-top 10, fine, blow out. But look at the bouts between ANY of the top 20 teams and MOST are “over” long before the time runs out. In fact, check DNN on any weekend and you’ll see more blowouts than close scores – even between supposedly closely ranked teams. Everyone talks about how exciting a close bout is – the game needs to be restructured to create more close scoring games – it is the very nature of sport.

      • OK, I think we’re actually on the same page. I was thinking about the BIG blowouts. I agree that games that are more like 50-100 point wins could be greatly improved by something like 30-second jammer penalties or a rule that releases the penalized jammer after they’ve been counted as a ghost point. I hate the impact that power jams have on good games because they turn penalties into the single most important aspect of the game (and by a large margin IMHO).

        But I still think the top teams are just WAY better than the teams below them…and that’s the part you fix by having teams play against teams that are roughly at their level.

    • Look at the comments on youtube. There are videos of the girls doing the no moving jam or slow jam and the comments are close to 100% negative. The people watching those videos may be roller derby fans or they may not be but either way it’s not good. It’s definitely turning off potential new fans to the game and for the ones who are already fans it’s making them lose interest.

    • I speak as a former spectator / skater and I left derby when slow playing came into the game. I haven’t played or been to any league games since. Nor have the 8 or 9 people who came along with me to watch the league. If the game was still fast moving and exciting we’d all still be along.

      With regards to the derby virgins, my brother and cousin came along for my first home bout and spent most of the first half confused about what was going on. It’s hard enough for someone who has never seen the sport before to pick up on the basics, let alone answer the question “Why are they not moving? The whistle has gone.”

      While I understand that slow playing can be exciting for derby players to watch, but it has killed the spectator side of it for me.

  4. As a skater and avid fan of Derby I haven’t had issie with “no go” jams, my men’s team and the women’s team I’m attached to learn and practice how to start these jams. I’m not a fan of lining out and not helping my jammer through packs, I feel in powerjams that takes to long to get the jammer out. I dont want to male my jammer sprint their ass off either.

    Really watch a men’s bout(hopefully saying that won’t get me lynched in this forum) we use the same strategy and it still moves and is usually fun to watch. I think it comes down to execution and skill levels.My home league won’t play the scrum starts if the other team doesn’t make the move to do it first. The girls will also clap and scream from the bench when the other team lines up on the pivot line.

    I do think that the scrum starts in powerjams should stay until they decide to use a one whistle to release them all. Otherwise when your jammer is in the box you would just sandbag behind the pivot line. Keeping the penalties carrying over should also stay, it is a penalty and the skater should manage their penalties.

  5. don’t get me started on powerjams! We had a 1 minute jam time which seems appropriate when jammers are now reaching the pack between 25 and 30 seconds. April Ritzenhaler (La Muerta) who along with others created modern Roller Derby said on Saturday that the jam was increased to 2 minutes because of the lack of skill of the players at that time……does that hold true now?

  6. At the end of the day, it has to be about fixing the rules. As much as I loved Juke Boxx telling people to play good derby, when push comes to shove, teams are going to do what they think gives them the best chance to win. It’s on the WFTDA rules committee right now. New rules coming soon(ish), right? That’ll be the moment of truth. If there’s nothing in there to discourage pack destruction and forward skating, the internet’s going to explode.

  7. Derby is drowning in rule interpretations. when you are getting booed, something is very very wrong. if you loose fans who pay to watch you ( and financially support your league in doing so ) then your leagues reality will become a one a week gym based recreational game. Derby is supposed to be a spectator sport, and its fast becoming only interesting to other skaters and coaches. it seems like coaches and some skaters are just trying very hard to impress each other with their tactics on how they interpret the rules. its dangerous when you’re trying to establish a sport as a staple and change the rules so often the crowd gets confused, as do skaters and refs ( be honest – most of y’all don’t understand half of what is going on now, you just pretend to) plus stroller derby is boring and turning derby into ” just another sport”. might as well throw a ball into the mix. and before anyone gets all mad at what iv said. we don’t care, we are an independent league and refuse to join any organization that tells us how to play, and we exist only because stroller derby ruined roller derby in our particular city.

  8. I like the two minutes. When watching the game, it really helps pick up on what is going on, and I know for my team, it helps us get in the groove, so to speak.

    We have lost fans to the slow derby. When I’m not skating, I’m tasked to wander the audience with an “Ask me about Derby!” sign and I sit down and help folks with the game. When those strategies are happening, it’s a struggle to keep their interest.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of Playing To WIn vs Entertaining Our Audience. Both are attainable. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other sports – we need to instead learn what we do well, change what we don’t and embrace the unique relationship we have between skaters and audience.

  9. Thrasher, I’ve been reffing for Rose City for nearly 6 years now so I’ve seen most of the changes in derby from early on. I have randomly met a few one-time derby attendees who have never been back because of the slow and stopped play of the current game. They described it as “dumb”, “boring”, “silly”, etc. I haven’t met many of them because, well, they never came back! I’ve also seen that whenever the announcers ask the “Who here has never been to roller derby before?” question at our large venue bouts, over half the audience of 4,000-6,000 raise their hands. Every time. Any business or sport that has over 50% customer/fan attrition is in trouble.

    In regards to those who love derby, a number of our retired derby girls who came to a bout in the last 2 years have never gone back. They consider it unwatchable and “dumb”. These are people who not only love derby enough to have given up their life for a time to skate in a competitive league, but still REALLY love their home league. Even so, they have no desire to watch the current game.

    Here’s my real fear of what the result will be of WFTDA’s (as a whole) apparent obstinancy in refusing to consider the fans enjoyment of the sport in how it’s structured: that essential, undefineable magic of community culture that allows any derby girl on the planet to walk into nearly any league on the planet and feel like they are truly family will be damaged.

    Like all incredible, wonderful periods in life, the amazing heart of derby is fragile. It’s hard to see this kind of fragility, except in hindsight. While we’re in the middle of it, it just “is”.

    Consider this (all too possible) scenario:

    Another organization presents a different version of derby rules that causes the game to move more consistently, provides no advantage to standing still (ie: not being athletic), has no players crawling around on the floor on hands and knees, etc. This organization is able to obtain international recognition for Olympic consideration of roller derby. Let’s suppose this is very appealing to many of the top and want-to-be-top teams currently in WFTDA and they leave WFTDA for this other organization.

    Gone is the diy element, the incredible melding of competition and camaraderie on the track, and who knows what else that makes derby what it is today. That’s what I’m afraid of; roller derby will fracture and the magic will leak out. Please, everyone in WFTDA, don’t let that happen, get loud and get demanding. On bended knee I beg you, make the fans a priority in derby before it’s too late.

    • Bryan, USARS is already recognized by the USOC and FIRS (which is recognized by the IOC as the governing body for rollersports). They already have their own rules set and are beginning some competition. Their rules have issues, but as the organization already working with the Olympic bodies…

      • Since USA Roller Sports is the national organization and FIRS is the international body (Like the difference between the US Olympic comittee and the IOC), it’s really not that confusing…

        Now when you look at WFTDA, USARS, OSDA, MADE, MRDA, Banked, etc.? It’s a freaking Cambrian explosion of roller derby. As it continues, we will begin to see what will survive. So far, I haven’t seen one rule set really answer all of the problems without introducing problems of its own.

    • I can only speak from having watched the no move strategy, as you call it, on videos on youtube. What I saw on the video was the crowd booing and 99% of the comments left about the video stating that they don’t like it. To me that makes me think people don’t like it. How you can interpret it another way is beyond me.

  10. Bryn, you should have done my post…..understand, I have nothing else to prove except my continuing love of the game. so far, well over 99 per cent agreement in response…..really 99.98 percent…..all we are trying to do is to get the action that was there back again!

  11. Jerry, David and others who believe that slow derby is boring I’m with you.

    In Seattle, Vancouver BC, Pennsylvania and soon to be other places OneWorld Roller Derby (using OSDA rules that are VERY similar to USARS), are working to bring it together.

    Imagine if MADE, NRDA and other groups come together as one. I KNOW we can do this. There is another way and bit by bit we can work together. Yes, it is a clusterf#ck so lets FREAKING change it!

    USARS is the only way to get this sport to the Olympics and as organizations OWRD using OSDA rules is working with and talking to USARS to come together; We support one another fully.

    Mainstreaming this sport is not a threat to WFTDA, it will only increase accessibility by opening venues for training that could benefit their leagues. People will find their fit, WFTDA or the OTHER derby community which is EVERYONE ELSE.

    Jerry is the link for bringing us together.


  12. As the commissioner (Roller Derby Hall-of-Famer Jerry Seltzer) has said again and again… if you don’t entertain the people buying the tickets, they won’t buy the tickets down the road and will never become fans. The audience will be family and friends who aren’t there for the game, but because they have to be. Anyone operating a league MUST present a good, entertaining product and the rules MUST be something EVERYONE can understand within a short time. Why be so obstinate? To what end? Don’t look back on the original Derby with scorn, but as something that was not only entertaining but could be understood by anyone within a few minutes. And sold-out arenas all across the world nightly because anyone could walk in, be entertained and ‘get it’ immediately. That’s why it was called ‘a very simple game.’

    • That’s right. The roiginal derby didn’t go under because it was a bad product or because it wasn’t bringing in fans. The fans loved the game. They were selling out auditoriums and stadiums. Remember the game that sold over 50,000 seats? Mr. Seltzer can tell you about the financial problems that were happening at the time, not just to him but many businesses, that brought them down. The game was an easy one to follow. It had one set of rules which were easy to understand. They didn’t overcomplicate it and people loved it that way. They also didn’t bore the fans, never got booed and had many amazing talented atheletes in the sport. That’s what’s needed. Not slow games. I really don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that and why you people don’t want it.

  13. Let me make it clear: I want the present competitive game to grow and be successful…….and it must find a expanding supportive fan base! And let me explain entertaining: a very good friend of mine who was the general manager of the Oakland A;s and then with the 49ers told me that they were competing with every form of entertainment in the marketplace, and not just with other sports teams……make the fans love your product!

  14. By the by, if you truly want to see what the future holds, look to junior derby. See how they are playing the game at the upper levels of competition. VERY few slow starts, very few teams using scrum starts and, even when scrum starts do occur, they are using various strategies to break them (including the Pegassist).

    They are using some very impressive methods for penalty killing in power jams which have reduced the point swings greatly as well.

    Seriously. Coming up very soon the Great Lakes region’s first ever championship, the NW region just had theirs last month. There are 9 new teams coming online in Washington and Oregon which are also going to be competing this same way.

    Do they skate WFTDA? Most of them do, yes. But they are not playing the same, sloow game. The future of derby is bright. It’s these girls who will change the game in the next 5-10 years. Check them out, teach them right, and support the future.

  15. I agree that the sloooow derby needs to move into what is next. I hope that is a great hybrid of the extreme strategy focus, but with the focus on ACTION.

    On a related note, the over 40 group is badass and were a major re-motivator for me. The Hot Flash put it so well, you don’t have to expect your derby years to end at any particular age. Derby over 50 is growing and I plan to move on to that shirt when the time comes with relish!!!

    • Am I interpreting what you wrote incorrectly? You want to keep the slow jams in derby as it evolves? If that’s what you meant that’s just wrong. If it’s not what you meant, what did you mean? All the slow stuff needs to be gone..period.

  16. you will never end blowouts in a legitimate game…..it happens in all sports……if the action is great, it could make a difference…..Once again, my suggestions: jam time 1 minute (which it was for 14 years), every jam must start with a jammer from each team (penalize skater, not the helmet), penalize team that skates or blocks backwards, refs keep pack moving or penalty, I am sure WFTDA is looking at possibilities. Just put action back in Derby.

  17. I think part of what always makes this conversation tricky is the blurring of lines. It’s probably fair to say that at least 99% of people will agree that jams that involve NO skating are stupid. But not skating at all is very different from jammer-line knee starts in which the action starts immediately and the jammers struggle equally to get through a slow-moving pack. And both of these things are different still from watching the team on a power jam slow to a stop (and, lately, stop blocking) in order to maximize the number of points they can score on a power jam.

    When you make a blanket statement that all of these things are horrible, you open yourself up to people talking about “strategy”.

    The zero-skating thing actually happens very rarely. It’s stupid (I was track-side for Rat/RMRG and almost lost my voice by the end of that mess) and should be eliminated, but I don’t really think it’s a huge problem in the sport…ultimately, it rarely makes sense for BOTH teams not to skate, so it only happens if one of the teams is either stupid (doesn’t understand that they can’t catch up without skating) or desperate (knows they’re not good enough to win straight-up so they want to reduce the game to a small number of short jams).

    Jammer-line knee starts may be a little bit silly (change the rules to eliminate the technical detail of having to be on a knee to create a no-pack situation — just start everyone on the first whistle), but I don’t personally find them boring. Watching the jammers fight to get through a tough-blocking pack is very exciting (and there’s nothing confusing about it from a fan perspective). The speed at which the pack is moving (when they are actually blocking!) doesn’t matter.

    IMHO, the real problem is the whole idea of destroying the pack as a strategy for scoring points (especially on power jams). That’s the part of the game that needs to be fixed (by rule changes) — much more than the other two things listed above.

    Like I said at the start of this ramble, I think you have to be careful lumping all of these things together. Just my $0.02.

    • I’m with Dave on this. The most important point is to remove the huge incentive for destroying the pack. That would also remove most of the incentive for teams to skate as slowly as possible.

      • It’s really very simple. You add one sentence to the rules (as mentioned elsewhere here and, I believe, originating with Buddha Ref a couple of years ago in Portland) to the effect:

        “When one jammer is in the box she is immediately released when the in-play jammer scores a “ghost point” on her by passing an opposing blocker on her next scoring pass””

        …Or words generally to that effect. It’s always better to make desired actions more strategically advantageous than it is to try to make undesired actions illegal. Once you take away multi-pass scoring on power jams you eliminate nearly all of the motivation to ever stop the pack. Standing around is no longer a way to gain advantage.

        All it would take is one simple sentence added to the rules. And a simple procedure invented to release the boxed jammer. I wish I had the slightest belief it might happen in the next 3 years. ~sigh~

      • Okay, here’s what I finally figured out what I don’t get. Maybe the girl’s derby is played differently in more ways then I thought. It seems to me that the way to stop jammers from scoring large amounts of points on one jam is to do what they did in the original derby. Block them. Is there not a designated blocker who blocks the jammer when she comes to the back of the pack? On top of that, if there is a blocker and she is scored on, doesn’t the next skater then block the jammer? It worked for decades, why isn’t it now? Or is it just not done in the girl’s games?

      • Bryn, that would definitely help minimize the advantage of powerjams, but it doesn’t remove the advantage of destroying the pack in other situations, such as getting your jammer through the pack on her initial pass.

        David, you’re allowed to block only while stepping sideways or moving counter-clockwise. If the other team is determined to stand still, then their jammer will eventually push the opposing blockers until the pack is destroyed or they’re out of play.

      • Okay, the skater can only block while moving counter-clockwise or stepping sideways? To me that sounds like it means you can block all the time. Doesn’t the jam always go counter-clockwise? As for what you said about the stopped pack, I’m still not getting it. I’ve skated in games where the pack comes to a complete stop. When it happens the blocker keeps the jammer from scoring by blocking him. Are the blockers you have not skilled enough to hold back a jammer? And pushing is allowed? If the blocker is getting pushed forward by the jammer then you need to get some better blockers. That’s just weak skating if that’s what’s happening.

      • David, it’s illegal to block while standing still. You have to keep moving while blocking, so you will eventually move far enough away from the opposing blockers (who are allowed to stand still while not blocking) that you will be forced to let the opposing jammer pass you, either because the pack is destroyed or you’re out of play. Do you play under WFTDA rules or some other ruleset?

      • Neither. I skated real derby. I started back in the ’70s, quit for awhile then came back in the ’90s and retired about 3 years ago. So, you can’t stand still and block but the pack can stand still? That seems like a bit of a setup that the blocker is guaranteed to fail whenever that happens. Weird rules. Not what I’d call skating on an even playing field.

      • @David – The offensive blockers can stand still, the defending blockers may not. Blocking while stopped is illegal. As the jammer forces the blockers forward simply by her position, as well as her offensive actions, the pack will shortly be “destroyed” (separated by 10’+) at which point the defending team is forced to let her go.

        @Joe – I have yet to see a game of WFTDA derby where sending one of your blockers to the box for a minute (destroying the pack) is worth getting your jammer called lead, except in rare situations. Even if you did make that happen the other jammer would be released by the no-pack and be right behind your lead jammer. Your jammer would most likely be forced to call off the jam before scoring any points.

      • Well that clears it up a but but I have to tell you..offensive blockers? Who the heck thought that up? Blocking is a defensive position, not offensive..at least until you guys made it that way. Hey, if you guys are happy skating the way you do that’s great. I think it’s way too complicated and kind of odd. Have fun with it.

      • Bryn, blockers are often not penalized for destroying the pack, even though it’s intentional, as long as they do it gradually. And if the rear blockers sprint ahead as soon as no-pack is called, they can stay ahead of the opposing jammer and resume blocking her when the pack is reformed. Not only is there a huge incentive to destroy the pack, but there’s an unfair advantage to the blockers at the rear, and they can usually destroy the pack without drawing a penalty. The result is that you have teams racing to claim the back of the pack, and then skating as slowly as possible.

      • Destroy the pack?? Oy vey!That would be a major penalty in the real derby. Now I’ve heard everything.

      • David, that’s the second time I’ve seen you use the term “real derby” in this discussion. Your comments also show a distinct lack of knowledge of the modern game.

        Sure, you played your game. It was roller derby then. Roller derby now is a bot different. It has its issues, but claiming it as “not real” is completely unfair to the thousands of skaters worldwide who are playing the game.

      • Okay, I’ll modify what I said. I’ll make it…in my opinion it’s not real derby. Opinions are a dime a dozen and for the most part add up to diddly. To me, if it’s not played on a banked track, you don’t get paid,wear trashy outfits and use silly names that’s not roller derby. Remember, that’s just my opinion. That however does not mean I think you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s a great opportunity for women to engage in a game, get exercise, make friends and have fun. To me, that sounds like a good thing. It just doesn’t sound like real roller derby…in my opinion.

  18. The most exciting part of our game when it was skated legitimately was the attempt of the jammers to get out of the pack to start the jam. that is part of the excitement of Derby. Remember, in our game you had to keep moving and the pack was formed moving with the jammers starting from the rear. With both teams blocking the opposing jammers and helping their own to get out was often more exciting than the scoring plays themself….
    It is the stopped play and inaction that I feel should be dealt with….and of course I hate the power jam……The maximum you could score in our game was 5 points, and since there were multiple jammers on a play (usually), that was very difficult.

    • “Back when” (60s-70s Derby) the sheer variety of plays employed throughout a match was enough to keep me locked-in.

      The “twin-jammer” (2 each side) scenario was, in and of itself, self-limiting in point-scoring since there was not much of a pack left when two jammers left from one side…unless of course, the remaining blockers and pivot took care of business and slowed down the opposition – or knocked them over the rails. I kinda miss the pivot skater “with all the rights of a jammer” once a jammer initiates the jam as well as the “whip” maneuver or the pack “pull-away” technique…all offering said variety.

      As far as the “jam time”, yeah two minutes is way too long. Also, as Walt Harris would remind us: Should a jam begin at the end of any period with under a minute to play, it can go the “full SEVENTY seconds”…now that’s just enough time for bonus excitement!

  19. Even in the stylized/”worked” games when Derby was an exhibition, there existed a penalty for delay of the game. It was used regularly when the skaters–who were sometimes just plain tired, took too long to organize themselves between jams. In the best of times you could look into the mesmerized audience and see thousands of heads hypnotically following the action as if they were at some surreal tennis match.

    Of course that was then and this is now but there was a strategy behind this. Every bout I’ve been at has been exciting, but I’ve noticed that the skaters often “lose” their audience (and any connection to the game) between jams. I can’t bring myself to go get the proverbial hot dog when these women are in-play!

    Back in the day, the game, such as it was, had to compete with whatever was on TV. Today a kid can turn away from a bout right there in the venue and start playing a video game in the time it takes to re-form for the next jam. I have so much respect for the women (and the men, you go guys) getting into this I’d like to see audiences flock to it not because it’s this fun little oddity to see on a Saturday night, but because they’re hooked, on their team and the game itself. And then they come *back.* And repeatedly.

    (An Historian’s two cents, worth hopefully more with inflation)

    • Keith, of course, wrote the best coffee table book “From Roller Derby to Rollerjam” available for $20 (including US shipping) at http://www.rollerderbycommish.com, and of the brand new book “Bay Area Roller Derby” which is a pictorial that goes back to the 30s and right up to modern Day Derby. Available at amazon.com and at “fine bookstores everywhere”. If yours doesn’t have it, they can get it through Arcadia Publishing.

  20. I agree with you Jerry … when we discussed this at RollerCon between todays derby and yesterdays Derby I 100% agree with the point you made with the Jammers. LEAD Jammer should be Whomever is in front, ie .. of you have lead and you are passed by the other jammer THEY should get lead .. It would TOTALLY pick up the energy and fans would dig it. When you have a blow-out its BORING and the fans of the loosing team grow irritated and bored. Not to mention the Announcers… not easy to keep a fll crowd cheering when the other team is trailing by a spread that can not be closed no matter what hapens on the track

    • Okay, here we go again. You mean if a jammer is the lead jammer and another jammer passes her the jammer who is now behind is still the lead jammer? That makes no sense.

      • NO . if One Jammer passes the Other Jammer .. SHE (the one passing) should obtain Lead Jammer Status … so its Truly ” A RACE” …

  21. Wow. Reading this chat about what constitutes “real derby” makes me sad. Sure the rules are a problem, and that is why they are evolving. But folks saying what one group is doing isn’t “real” because it’s not what they know – that is more divisive than any single rule.

  22. I witnessed first time spectators leaving a bout in Oklahoma City Saturday due to the slow pace of most of the jams. It was boring and depressing. SPECTATOR sport…that first part is real important.

    Stop metagaming derby.

  23. I was at a “major” men’s tournament this past weekend. Watched a game where one team was up by about 500 points when the last jam or so came up. Yes, that’s right, 500 points. Figured this was over and someone would “take a knee” and put an end to it. Instead, the dreaded power jam for the team up by about 500 came into play, and the jammer racked up another 20 or 30 points in the final seconds. The pathetic part was seeing how proud everyone was on this, when for anyone that knows anything about REAL sports knows this was about a pathetic display of sports and sportsmanship that there could be, Until people figure out what it means to be a REAL sport, all the rule changes in the world won’t get us past being a novelty worth nothing more than passing snickers by people involed in REAL sports. Thanks for letting me vent!

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