Who is Professor Michella Marino and why is she ruining my Derby and ticketing reputation?


About 3 years ago I heard from Michella (now Phd Dr Marino) that she was doing her dissertation on Roller Derby, the sport she was taking up. And in July of 2011 she with her sister Erin made the trek to Sonoma to listen and learn at the feet of the Commissioner. And in the past three years she met with many of the old and Modern Roller Derby.

Well now Michella is teaching at Hastings college in Nebraska and in just a few weeks will offer the first college credit course anywhere on the game From January 6 through January 24 the subject will be History 266,”Hell on Wheels: skating through modern Amercan History.” And on January 9 the subject will be the sport from 1959 to 1973 “The Jerry Seltzer Reign and Fandom” and the class will get to see and hear me via skype. I bet if I had asked Steve Butcher (my boss at Brown Paper Tickets) he would have sent me a bus ticket, but what the hell.

All of these years I have built this reputation as a maverick in Roller Derby,NHL, Ticketing, Film Festivals and Hookers Balls (see elsewhere on this blog), associating with Hells Angels and Frank Deford, and this woman is trying to legitimize me. Well, I won’t let it happen. No matter what the result of this class, I will still be the same carefree bon vivant trying to convince all of you that what I learned about gorilla marketing from Roller Derby and Ticketmaster is available to all leagues FREE with Brown Paper Tickets (along with their amazing free services: jerry@brownpapertickets.com)

If you are near Hastings (and there is not a helluva lot to do in January in Nebraska) see if you can get in or audit Michella’s course…..It goes all the way through modern Derby……maybe Steve will still send me the bus ticket.

Legitimate? NEVER!

the subject of a thesis


Photo by Chris Greene from stock.xchng.com.

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 (realitychicblog.com) 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.