Women and Men


I’ll talk about women first.

Today I watched the semi-finals of World Cup soccer from Germany.   The US team prevailed over France in  a very exciting game before a huge crowd, and they move onto the Championship on Sunday.

Now soccer is not Roller Derby, but the play, the discipline and the flow of the game were very exciting, although only 4 goals in total were scored (do I have to tell you who got 3?).

There is little doubt that Roller Derby is on the verge of what most of you have been hoping for:  a fully competitive popular sport.  Women’s basketball and soccer and softball are all accepted, and I and many others think Roller Derby is more exciting.

So what is my point?  I would hope that rules committees look at ways to make the game more exciting from a spectator point of view:  less penalties (not ones that should be called, but stop impeding the game), and ways to keep the action moving forward.  The disparity in the scores could be solved in several ways:  teams only play other teams that are of the same ability; shorten the jam time; make certain there is one jammer from each team at the start of the jam; only permit two players in the penalty box at one time; allow the pivot to chase the jammer if her jammer can not get out of the pack, and start the jammers from the rear of the pack, requiring the pack to be moving or be penalized.   Please shorten half time to 15 minutes (easy if you get rid of minor penalties).  And the score should be given to the audience and announcers at the end of the jam, not during.

Photo by Ron Horton. Angel City Derby Girls (red) vs. Salt Lake City Shakers.

OK, I keep hammering at the same point, but blowouts and stoppages are bad for spectators, if that is what you are concerned with.  I understand that OSDA, MADE, and perhaps Renegades skate a similar game.  I think that the flat track leagues that do not figure ways to solve this problem they might be left behind in the future….just my opinion.  Of course, a number of people do not care about expansion and that is fine.

Now men:  there really should not be any dispute this.  Yes, the women revived and recreated the game.  But it was always designed for both men and women.  I really am not for having men and women compete on the same teams against each other, but apparently that is what MADE is doing.  I have watched some of the men’s games, both banked track and flat, and at present the teams are behind the women in skill and strategy, but that will change rapidly.

To me a perfect evening would be a double header of a men’s game (two twenty-minute periods) and a women’s game to follow (same period time).  I think that would have great audience appeal and bring the best there is in our game.

Photo by Sharkey. (masonite.burn@gmail.com) Portland Men's Roller Derby.

And can’t there be a way that more teams could play each other, even if not in the same rule settings.  It would help all leagues and allow the teams to be able to skate more games during the year.

No one has to listen to me.  Am I just one voice in the wilderness?

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fighting sexism


Illustration by Billy Alexander from stock.xchng.com

Well, not exactly.

It seems that many of the women of Roller Derby don’t like the idea of men skating the game.

Why in the world would men want to invade women’s territory?

Well, if you think Roller Derby started with its revival in the early part of the century, then I can understand your feelings.  However, Roller Derby was created in 1935 as a game for men and women (or if you prefer, women and men).

I guess when something disappears for 30 or so years, you get a different perspective.  But the two sexes had always been the ying and yang of the skating sport.  You didn’t mention Wes Aronson without Kitty Nehl, Mary Youpelle without Russ Massro, Bert Wall and Bobbie Mateer, Gerry Murray and Gene Gammon, Ken Monte and Toughie, Red Smart and Joyce Beasely, Charlie O’Connell and Joan Weston, and a number of male skaters and Ann Calvello, and on and on.

The game was designed to be the perfect American game:  equality between the sexes.  Men and women skating exactly the same rules, and the spectators loved it.

The Derby women today have a huge advantage because they caught the idea first, developed their own leagues, and have reached a very high level of skating.  The men have a lot of catching up to do, but they will.

Will they skate against each other?  I don’t think it would be a good idea;  each will have achieved his or hers own identity.  And I foresee when an evening of Roller Derby might consist of  a two-half men’s match and the same for the women’s teams.  Separate scores, separate leagues, separate standings.

No other sport does it……what a huge spectator attraction.  Just you wait and see.