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.

unsung heroes and not sung enough about heroes

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Photo from stock.xchng.com by Ove Tøpfer.

And when they have occurred in Roller Derby unselfish people jump in to fill them.

We all know this game is a disease; when it grabs you it just won’t let you go.  In no way am I aware of all of you who give your time and effort and sweat and blood for no other reason that it is what you want to do, without looking for excessive reward.

And the first thing that comes to my mind is what the Seales have brought to the table.  How many of you think you are entitled to watch great Roller Derby from Boston, Chicago, London, Australia and the countless American cities that Derby News Network brings to you every week on DNN?  They and their ill-paid compatriots have done more to let people see what is going on than anyone.  I was in television production and distribution back in the day, but this whole idea of carrying everything on their backs and making connections so that you and I can sit at our computer or iphone and watch the top teams in the world play is something we certainly take for granted, without giving much thought to how Dumptruck, Val, Tara and the technical people often jump in their cars and drive thousands of miles so you won’t be disappointed.

And we all learn from these telecasts:  how the game should be played and what should not be part of Roller Derby.  They help all to understand the strategy, the speed, the conditioning that are necessary, and the game becomes the same wherever it is played.

And the Seales are not making a fortune and have sacrificed so much to make this happen.  In their case, Derby Love is almost not enough.  When you get a chance, go to their website, see what they have to offer and even help with their fundraising if you can.  To have this kind of TV coverage is not a right, but a privilege.  God Bless all connected with DNN.

There is an enigmatic soul in Virginia who goes by the name of cat of nine tails.   If you try to friend her (as I did) you will end up with a new friend in Australia who is a dominatrix and an erotic performer…..well friends are friends.

As basically a marketer I find that www.derbyroster.com is an invaluable site.   You find how many amateur leagues there are in the world (as of this moment, 977) and an encyclopedic cross section of indices that let’s you see every league’s websites, how many different governing bodies, men’s leagues, flat track, banked track, etc, etc.  I ask all to look at this site often and utilize it.  You are in Bumfrick, Albania, and you want the media to pay attention?  Hell, we are part of the fasted growing sport in the world so don’t ignore us…..just go to www.derbyroster.com and see how big our brethren are in London, New York, South Africa, Israel, Brazil France, Germany, Australia, etc.  And I have spoken to this lady who does all of this, and if she wants to be known, she will be.  We have our own Google because of her.    Please send her a message on that site and let her know how much you love what she is doing.

There are dozens more to be appreciated, and I hope to hear from all of you who are publishing, taking photos, putting yourselves into producing fun and serious items for your sisters and brothers, but I have to address the people behind Rollercon.

How can you create something that incorporates both West Point and Disneyland?  Why start Rollercon of course.   Ivanna and all the others who have given so many hours to create this monstrosity of an event, with 27 pages of skating instructions, ref training, announcer bellowing, and seminars on everything that could possibly be of interest to anyone associated with Roller Derby is a herculean task.  And adding the hosting facility, the meals, the parties and the dynamics of coordination for 5 days of activities that go from early morning to late at night is mind boggling.  And each year it gets done and this year was the best!  Thousands of people doing what they came to do at a very reasonable price.  So are these people going to rest until next year?  No, they have already started for next year and,  just for fun, are adding London and Australia as new venues.

So of course if you haven’t done so, let the Rollerconites know what you think.  In just a few years it has grown from a grass-roots event to a very finished product, and that doesn’t just happen.

Kudos to the Seales, the mystery woman, and to the people behind Rollercon.  If this is what being underground means, then there is nothing wrong with it.

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