ok, just my opinion

This will be my last post before Rollercon, and certainly my last comments on the state of Derby today.

First what I find frustrating:  in so many of the games I watch on DNN or WFTDA.tv I find more and more teams utilizing the slow down strategy to try and equalize the match.  By virtually stopping the pack several things are happening:  often a relative inaction by both teams in starting the jam, and when it does start because the pack is “locked”, the jammer catches them in 25 or so seconds, making a 2-minute jam ridiculously long.

You, the skaters, control the game and the rules.  Just a few changes would help and maybe even check the off-balancing effect of the power jam.  The officials should signal the pack to keep moving or a penalty would be given; the jam time shortened to one minute; and if a jammer is sent to the box in a jam, the team is allowed to field a jammer on the subsequent jam, with a blocker position serving the remainder of the penalty.

Roller Derby is about action, speed, and the chase.  I personally don’t think any jam should start without a jammer on each team.  Don’t allow this game to become one of inaction.  There is far too much intrinsic excitement.

I know I am talking about the WFTDA game; USARS has made some significant changes, and MADE with 40 leagues and OSDA are skating basically the original rules, but I really hope that the different games could be brought closer together…..I have heard complaints that WFTDA teams are discouraged from participating in other skating leagues and often great animosity is shown between the different leagues under different rules.  This certainly will not help the sport move forward, and it seems crazy to me that different leagues in the same areas do not compete against each other.

But that is just my opinion.

Now for the positive.  As time goes by, many of the original skaters are still going strong, bringing their basic knowledge of how the game should be strategized and played to others.  I see less and less of players not understanding what their function is.  The fan base in many areas has grown significantly, and you see so much acceptance and pride in so many communities of what their league means to them.

A recent list in Buzz-feed had Roller Derby listed among the 10 most difficult sports requiring the most skill to play.  You have really established a foothold and admiration for what you are doing and have accomplished.  And remember, when you are compared to other sports they are mostly professional or very well funded.  I am amazed that the growth continues, and as you know, I am just blown away by the love of the game and each other you portray, often with hardships that few outside the game realize.

As I head for my fifth Rollercon, I am more excited than at the first.  I am participating in so many different things:  my seminar on 4 PM on Saturday;  my announcing of the over 40s game at 2 PM on Saturday with Derby wife Val Capone; my Derby wedding with the wonderful Lori Milkers (“I like women” post on this blog), and for the first time, a booth.

Come visit us in the GoMerch/Seltzer brand booth with Judi Flowers and Jim Weymouth of www.seltzerbrand.com, Dan Cooper of GoMerch, and Lori Milkeris who will be selling her end violence bracelets for her continuing medical expenses.  And I just might autograph a “Roller Derby to Rollerjam” book for you.  and the blessed  Laura Blastfemi Kelly has sent some of her delilghtful “Kiss” stickers.

And of course, being a promoter, one more thing:  a free raffle to win books, bag tags, rock and roll shirts from Go Merch, autographed “Roller Derby to Rollerjam” books, and an original Midwest Pioneer jersey (like the one I wear on my facebook page), from 40 years ago.  Priceless.

And Judi has candy for you.

What if Leo came to Rollercon?

Leo Seltzer

I have to admit I think about it.

Way back in the summer of ’35 he had the crazy idea of putting a marathon on roller skates.  A team was one man and one woman; the winning team that skated several thousand miles won I believe $500.  At that time it was the depth of the depression, and many applicants, skaters and non, showed up as they knew that for at least 30 days they would get food, a bed to sleep, and a chance to make some money.  It was a tremendous success, and just two years later my father and famed sportswriter and author Damon Runyon (“Guys and Dolls”) created the game that has lasted for almost 80 years (80 to be exact on August 13).

Roller Derby shut down in 1973.  In the mid seventies Leo was planning a trip to Montreal to train skaters (“they play hockey and are just what I am looking for”), but he was struck down with an aneurism in 1978 and never lived to see his dream of a competitive game come to pass.  For the whole story of the game through and until its demise, read Keith Coppage’s wonderful history and pictorial “From Roller Derby to Rollerjam”. It is on sale at Rollercon at the Roller Derby Books booth, next to the WFTDA booth.

So say he shows up at the Westgate, having no knowledge of what has happened to his game.  He meets up with several thousand men and women participants dressed in what looks like space gear, flying around the floor (“where is the banked track”, he asks), going through rigorous and specific physical and mental training programs;  listening to seminars (one by his son, Friday at 1:30 PM, telling many of the things he learned from his father).  And when his son shows him the newest device, ticketing on a mobile phone that is entirely paperless and available now for Roller Derby through Brown Paper Tickets, he can’t believe it.

He would be blown away.  The beautiful women and super-fit men, the who cares attitude,  booths selling clothes, books, weird garb, and Tony Muse selling skates from the company he and his brother started..  And the fact that these leagues are committed to community service.   And the players flock to him, virtually worshipping him for creating the game that has changed their lives.  

“There are 1853 leagues in 48 countries with 100,000 participants?  Impossible; at the most we had 200 skaters and had the benefit of great publicity and television” he would exclaim in wonder.

And then when the Vagine Regime invites him to the dance off/pants off party and he goes to the black and blue, well that is another story.  But when he sees the skating and hears about the sacrifices in time and money they all make and the Derby love, his eyes tear up.

I hope you all love and preserve the history of what came before.  Keep looking around the Westgate for Leo…..he will be sitting in a chair just shaking his head.