There is an adage that any publicity is good publicity———-WRONG!

When the leagues are starting and are struggling for attention you might think if some member of the media wants to do a feature on your organization,  and it is obvious they are not taking you seriously it is OK as at least you are getting a story out of it.

In the last week I saw a very good TV interview from Louisville (well, the interviewer wasn’t good, but the Derby women were great) in which it was patiently explained to the woman what the modern Roller Derby is all about and what is required to make it happen.

And I was forwarded an interview from the high country which I posted, in which is obvious that the writer (Geek something or other) had done research before writing the article, understanding about the old Roller Derby and what sacrifices it took for a league to start, how no one is paid, how practice is run, and he also saw a game.  Unfortunately, in this day and age of get any kind of story to fill pages or time, it is easy to do a mocking kind of story that says we all know this is just some kind of joke.   A recent episode of McDonald sports show on Comedy Central had that kind of story.

So, what should you do to avoid it, and remember it still can happen.  These are things I used to do, and remember our Roller Derby was different from the current leagues, and every reporter wanted to say “I know what’s going on” and often they did.  But then you had someone like Frank Deford who did the wonderful piece in Sports Illustrated and had the obvious in there but really concentrated on the skaters, the fans, what a huge draw it was and the success on TV.

I always had a stock answer for questions I might not get asked, and I used it even when I wasn’t asked:  “These are excellent athletes, injuries are common, we outdraw many of the sports teams in the San Francisco Bay Area, over 15,000,000 people watch us every week on television, we sold out Madison Square Garden…….” etc.

Public domain image of Aretha Franklin.

So how should you prepare anyone who speaks to the press (and that is something for you all to decide):  give them the basic facts:  This completely legitimate game is the fastest growing women’s game in the world (and men too), with over 911 leagues on all populated continents, over 40,000 participants, all amateurs.  The game requires extensive training and no one plays without passing skill tests; it is all non-profit, non-paid and there are dues from the players; and all leagues do community service, etc, etc.  And be sure and always mention the type  of women and professions that make up your league, as well as when open training is and your next game (include where tickets are available).

I think you see where I am going.  Don’t expect others to respect what you are doing if you don’t appear to respect it yourself.  Never be on the defensive, whether it is about tattoos, skating outfits or other things.  And you have the right to turn anyone down.

This game is growing and you are all part of it.  Now is not the time to wimp out.