We are on the cusp….

of a New Year and a new era for Roller Derby.

Certainly more people than ever know what the game is and that it is currently being played, and many know someone who is playing it.

And the recent BBC piece on Roller Derby said it is about to explode!

Photo by lelu1973 from stock.xchng.com

Photo by lelu1973 from stock.xchng.com

and Bonnie D Stroir tweeted:  “Progress, people in my town now ask me if I play Roller Derby instead of what is it.”

My feelings (no shouting or pointing fingers), until there is some super ruling body to set up leagues, practices and standards, the game will still be splintered (as many people want).

College sports are under the NCAA umbrella, most amateur sports under AAU or ISOC,  pro sports have the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL (OK, not right now).  Although these all incorporate rule sets, they are a lot more.  They impose control over the individuals, teams, leagues under their domain.  Obviously neither WFTDA, USARS, or any of the other rule sets really control any of the leagues other than what is presently controlled.

So leagues form, split, and often overwhelm their markets in a topsy turvy manner.  And even worse, because of anger that causes the splits, they won’t play each other.

What if everyone (hah!) decided on a ruling body or Commissioner (sorry, I decline……this would be 1000 times worse than asking for a ticket), had control of setting up meaningful leagues, style of play, playoffs, and championships, based on different divisions, similar to baseball, football, or soccer in the UK.

And if the commissioneress said to the teams in a metropolitan area, like Seattle, Chicago, Denver, etc. that their will be just 4 (or 6) teams in this area, and they will all compete in one league, post a schedule at the start of the season, promote all games as to their importance in final standings, and the followers of the game would know when their team is playing, against whom, and what bearing these games have not only as rivalries, but as actually leading to something important that could be achieved.

And there would be rules over player behavior, standards, training, promotion, marketing, officials, etc

And she would negotiate television deals that would benefit everyone and allow the game to grow as it should.

We all know this is completely impractical.  Happy New Year!

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Does it matter who wins?

Not to me, as long as Roller Derby wins.

Shortly I will be on my way to Fresno with my granddaughter Sydney……she has only seen one other Roller Derby game and that was the BAD girls at Craneway in Richmond.

And we will see a number this weekend.  The powerful Oly Rollers (I love watching Atomatrix skate!), my hometown Resurrection Roller Girls, the Stockton team, San Diego, Oklahoma and the teams from the South.

This will be the first USARS I will see, as will all who will watching on Derby News Network.

Am I abandoning WFTDA?  Absolutely not……the 50 or so games I have seen to date have all been WFTDA.  Windy City grabbed me first, then Bay Area; both Denver leagues have been so great to me; Sacramento Leagues are nearby, and on and on.   What bothers me is why the ruleset differences seem to separate Roller Derby people almost as much as race and ethnicity did our culture.

OK, so I complained about slow play and some other things, but I stopped….I realized that I was attacking what the players wanted to do and have every right.  WFTDA will continue to grow in popularity and it is not a monolith; it is made up of people, many of whom I know.  But some skaters want to skate banked track; some want to skate other rulesets and they are all out there.  Have you noticed, water tends to seek its own level.

I guess what I am getting at is that the sport, regardless of the 1400 leagues in the world,  is not at a point where it should try to blow itself up within.  I have said before and will say again, if there are no barriers or sanctions from one league playing another, regardless of ruleset, the mixture of both styles will help and the game can only grow.

I have to say I am honored on behalf of my family that I will be presenting the fabulous Seltzer Cup to the champion team on Sunday – my father would be so happy that his game is still around, bigger than ever.  I want Sydney to feel pride that her great-grandfather started the path rolling for this now worldwide game.

At the last two WFTDA tourneys I was at I met more friends than I ever knew I had……the heart warming story of the lady from Chattanooga who had won the Seltzer award (I didn’t even know about that!) from her league and we bumped into each other at an after party in Atlanta and were literally crying in each other’s arms.  And the Atlanta Roller Girls were such great hosts and went out of their way to greet me and see how I was doing the entire weekend.

I have to put this in the third person:  the Commissioner only cares about the good of the players, the game and the exciting future ahead. He is not the enemy.  I hope you realize he is bringing far more to the sport than he would ever take away from any of you.  And I am working for a company, Brown Paper Tickets, that has been the best support for Derby, and now you can take donations, work fund-raising and a lot more through them…..please check it all out with Bob Noxious, the company representative.

Leo would want you all to be with Brown Paper Tickets.   (OK, Jerry, that is just too damn much!)

a Derby weekend

I fully intend to watch on DNN this weekend…..what a great asset to Derby they are.

But tomorrow night I am heading up to Sacramento to see a great double header, involving two squads (I think) from Sacred City against Resurrection Roller Derby (one of the two leagues in my county) and the BAD girls before they depart for the championships.

Larissa and Sacred City were kind enough to offer me a couple of tickets (of course I would have paid) and I will be leaving Sonoma in late afternoon for the 1 and 1/2 hour trip.

Memorial Auditorium is a perfect  Roller Derby venue.  Probably 70 or more years of age, a combination theater and sports facility, with as I recall about 3200 seats for Derby.  We played there on a consistent basis in the 60’s and 70’s.  I love when I hear that “our” buildings and arenas are used for modern Derby.  I saw the regionals there two years ago and one of the great action-filled games I have ever seen between Oly and RMRG.  With the closeness of the seating and the circular balcony above, I can’t think of a better place to watch games and feel you are on top of the action.

Sacred City is a great league; excellent skating and a real boon to the community and community activities.  And in spite of the fact that the Sacramento Kings of the NBA, and the baseball River Rats and a number of college teams play in town or nearby, they were just voted Sacramento’s favorite sports team in a media poll.

Jen Martini and the Resurrection Roller girls are my closest home town team.  They got the media all excited at the film festival in Sonoma when they showed up in gear (along with Sacred City and Sonoma County Roller girls) and skated around the plaza.  But they are very good skaters and getting better.  And their home in Rohnert Park at Cal Skate is everything you want in a rink….holds maybe a thousand,mostly families and kids, and the “stars” get to talk and meet with them….this is local Derby to me.  And it was just announced that they have qualified to play in the USARS Championship in Fresno!

And the BAD girls:  my first local exposure to modern Derby (of course I saw Windy City first), and they really have the potential to go all the way this year.  A really disciplined offense and defense, and jammers who just skate and skate, and pack players who know what to do. And they play that fast-paced controlled game that I love……ok, I am secretly pulling for them at Championships, although they are a long shot.  And they play in a building with one of the most beautiful views anywhere:  Craneway Pavilion on the Bay, with great views everywhere through the huge glass windows.

I know players well on all these teams…..this to me is what modern Derby is about.  I hope you are seeing some this weekend.  It should be the world’s favorite sport by now…..it certainly is mine.

Oh, and best of luck to Jessica this weekend!