the subject of a thesis

Photo by Chris Greene from

Michella Marino came almost 3000 miles to interview me.  Her sister Erin accompanied her.

Michella (Coors Lightning) skates on the Amherst MA team, and also is writing her PhD thesis on women in sports, primarily on Roller Derby.

She had 5 pages of questions and topics and was quite thorough.  She has done a lot of research, has talked to Mary (Pocahontas) Youpelle, who started skating in the 30’s and other skaters and basketball players.  She thinks it will take another 2 years to complete the project.

She started by asking me about the original Roller Derby which was more like a marathon….I was too young to have seen it but could give the information as relayed to me.  She asked about the people, how they were treated, paid, problems because women were competing in a game that wasn’t genteel at the time, etc.  And over about 8 or 9 hours came right up to today’s contests.

Both she and her sister played college basketball.  Erin is now doing a fashion blog ( and had just seen her sister play for the first time last Saturday.

I explained that although I have the honorary title of Commissioner, I am just a fan and of course have my well-known opinions on today’s game, banked track, current rules, etc.

I think as you all know I love and respect what you are doing, the struggle you have gone through to make it happen and keep it happening (I wonder how many leagues fold ever year?).  But of course I have my criticisms, which mainly are based on how do you skate the current game, and how to make it more appealing as a spectator attraction.  And that of course the ying and yang of the sport.

It is your game, and I know that many want to keep it exactly as it is.  But to me, sitting in the stands, I see too many officials, too many rules that I don’t know how the refs can keep track of. When a skater is sent to the box, I don’t think half the time they know why; too many delays, and not the continuous fast game that I grew up with, and that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the sport.

Here is what I would like to see changed, and maybe it can never happen for leagues skating under the WFTDA auspices:

Greatly simplify the rules so that all players and officials understand them.

Have just 3 officials and no committee in the infield.

Maximum of 2 players in the box; penalized skater to go in after 1 has come out;  there should never be less than 3 skaters on the track for a team.

penalize the skater, not the helmet.  No jam should start without 1 jammer on each team.

shorten jam time to 1 minute.

require pack to keep moving or be penalized.

allow announcers to describe all action on the jams.

The lead jammer is the jammer who is actually in the lead at any given time.

Keep action continuous by having jammers start from rear of the pack while pack is moving.

Well, that’s a start.  I am sure everyone agrees and there will be no comments……The above game is much more spectator friendly if that is important to you.