why can’t sport be entertaining?


I think it has to be to succeed.

In professional wrestling they used to have “shooting matches” where one of the showmen wrestlers would challenge another and engage in “real” wrestling, untimed……thereby having one  of the combatants keep a hold for fifteen or twenty minutes in order to wear his opponent down. Generally these matches were done in private because they would be boring to a live audience.

And then for the scheduled matches they would go out with all their staggering, fakery, hurts, etc, often having razor blades hidden so they could cut themselves and show the fans bleeding warriors.

It has changed little today except for complex story lines written by hired hands, just like a TV drams.

Well, the roller skating game has gone through those kinds of cycles and it actually continues to exist in some areas.  But this is not the game that Leo Seltzer or any of us want to see today with the tens of thousands of skaters around the world sacrificing so much for the fun of this sport created 77 years ago and brought back to life in Texas with the first “bout” in 2002.

Now April Ritzenhaler (La Muerta) was one of the originals with TXRD, and they are staying pretty much on the original path they created:  banked track, a legitimate game but with fun bells and whistles that people keep coming back to see.  They have been more or less successful for the past ten years and plan to release their ruleset to all to those who want to skate their style.  Talk to April sometime, an amazing holistic woman.  I am not crazy about these activities, but they do seem to work in Austin.

Texas Roller Girls split off from TXRD, went flat track and pretty much established the rules of the WFTDA.

And then of course there is MADE, which utilizes the original game rules, MRDA which is close to WFTDA, and USARS which has taken a bit from each, and OSDA and banked track skating under several rulesets.

I was speaking with one of the greats who on the sly skated a USARS game.  And she felt the game would be skated more by schools, clubs etc because it is too fast and grueling for most of the WFTDA people.  Personally, I find that hard to believe……it still is no where as grueling as the original game.  Of course these were professional paid athletes who skated over 200 games per year.

And then there is the Renegades game which doesn’t seem to have many rules but is just kind of fast, rumble tumble fun for those skating it.

Without criticizing any of the rulesets, I think it is well-known that I like the fast-paced, hard-hitting continuous action game that Roller Derby was meant to be……and I saw a lot of that at the Championships.  I personally am opposed to whatever style that doesn’t portray the game as an explosive athletic-driven contest that most skaters like and the audience loves……after all, the fans hold the ultimate vote on whether the game survives and in what form.

Anyway, hope to see you all at the USARS championship in Fresno December 14th and 15th where I will present the beautiful Seltzer Cup (in honor of Leo) to the champion team……and no this does not mean I am part of USARS or any other Derby organization.  I hope DNN will televise these finals, with Oly as one of the teams involved.

The next five years will be very interesting, especially as the junior skaters bring their terrific talent to our game.  I have more faith in the survival of the game than I have ever had…..I hope you do too and contribute as much as you can.

6 comments on “why can’t sport be entertaining?

  1. Jerry – it’s important that you understand that MADE rules were derived from OSDA and modified. Some say they are actually easier rules than OSDA. OSDA was the first to take the original rules used by your IRDL league and apply them to flat and banked track Roller Derby in the modern era.

  2. Sport itself does not need to be entertaining BUT if you want fans and the revenue they produce it is a requirement. Most sports tinker with the rules when fan interest wanes. For example, NASCAR created playoffs known as ‘The Chase for the Sprint Cup’ and the NHL reduced the crease size to increase scoring opportunities. If a sport is going to maintain and grow its fan base, it needs to be entertaining. If not, it will go the way of the XFL, USFL and Slamball

  3. “I was speaking with one of the greats who on the sly skated a USARS game. And she felt the game would be skated more by schools, clubs etc because it is too fast and grueling for most of the WFTDA people.”

    Ridiculous. I watched quite a few USARS bouts in the tournaments, and none of them even came close to anything that was put on by the 40 teams in the WFTDA Big 5.

    • You may note that Jerry said he found it hard to believe. IF a set of top WFTDA teams doing USARS they most likely would adjust accordingly, save for those who actually like the “no derby” style of play. Lets face it, the slow derby was created out of a perfect legally (if maddeningly boring) means of exploiting certain points in the book. And we have seen over and over that if both teams have made a conscious decision to not skate that no movement style of derby, that they will not hesitate to turn on the gas.

    • John , you are misinterpreting: we know the skill level of USARS teams are far below (on the whole, except for Oly and a few others) the skill levels of the top WFTDA teams. Her point was the open style of play of USARS made it a faster and more difficult to skate ruleset…..

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