Interim report: Roller Derby today

I am sure others as I did watched Roller Derby streamed on our internet devices this past weekend.

The banked track action as Battle of the Bank VI was uneven because of the disparity in the leagues,as there were the very talented LA Derby Dolls, San Diego, Arizona, Tilted Thunder, and the others, although Sugartown showed great progress.  The continuous action on the banked track and the rules modifications by those leagues definitely sped up the games and kept the large audience involved.  The best game was the semi-final between San Diego and Arizona, only to be decided by what I consider the largest deficiency in the rules, that a jam can start without a jammer on each team  (penalize the skater, not the helmet).

Image by leonardobc from

Image by leonardobc from

Maybe the only reason for that happening is to have the power jam which goes against the spirit of the game, learning to play offense and defense at the same time.  Unfortunately Arizona was pretty tired after their semi-final just an hour before the  championship game against LA.  The Derby Dolls would have won anyway, but I feel Arizona could have put up a better showing.

I was fortunate enough to see the telecast of Seattle and London, and the game was definitely a faster and almost non-slow game than others I have seen recently.  And Elwood Bruise and others said that the Oly-London game was an absolutely barn burner of great conditioned players, excellent position skaters who knew their function, and balls-out(?) action. Congratulations to the Brits for a great showing against 3 of the top teams in the world.

You can get as upset with me as you want, but slow derby, for all the great strategy ramifications that might be talked about, is not good Roller Derby from the fans perspective, which may or not be your concern.

If your object is to increase your fan base, sell more merchandise and keep the league functioning, it is my opinion that you better have your blockers blocking regardless of the passive offense or whatever you call it, or just have private games.

It may be your version of Roller Derby, but it certainly isn’t of most, and it isn’t just the opinion of the pain-in-the-ass commissioner.   I love Roller Derby – not cobweb Derby.

There was a there in Fresno

The Convention Center did not have a lot of traffic around the area.  But there was a lot of excitement inside.

I think you all know that I love and support all Roller Derby.   There is much that I like and some that I don’t like, but that is only my personal preference.  When I think of the game of my day, I think of the players (men and women) flying around the track, trying to pass blockers within the 6o (!) second time limit, with usually a jammer from the other team close behind and if they could get 1 or 2 points before cutting it off, that was usual…..Our games were in the high 20’s or low 30s for score, and some  jams had no score at all.  There always had to be at least one jammer at the start of a jam for each team; the player was penalized, not the helmet.  A maximum of 2 players would be in the penalty box at any time; if there were more, they would go to the box as other players came out.

And the jammers started at the rear of the pack, the skating was continuous, there was usually time between the jams for the skaters to change helmets (maximum 8 skaters on a side), and the jam would start when the pivots, blockers, and jammers were all in position, the referee would signal the start…..going backwards and blocking moving backwards were not allowed, as was stopping; the referee would warn, and if not changed immediately, the penalty would be called.

The USARS rules are closer to the original game, although not completely; jams are still 2 minutes which seems ridiculous as jammers catch the pack in about 20 to 25 seconds which of course leads to power jams (I don’t like them, but they are part of a ruleset) where skaters just skate as they are passed lap after lap, to me throwing the game into a scoring imbalance.  but there other aspects that make this ruleset allow fast and furious action:  skating or blocking backwards is a penalty; and the pivot skater takes on a new meaning with the ability to go on a jam after the other teams jammer has left the pack, thus partially solving the no jammer situation.  There were no slowdowns except of the start of the jams from the starting line (yawn) with one whistle……and the interminable official timesout.

If you were in there skating, you skated.  There were basically four levels of ability among the 8 teams.  at more of a starting level:  Birmingham, Deep South, and Underground; intermediate, Tulsa;  at a proficient level, San Diego, Resurrection, Port City; and at world class level, Oly Rollers.  Oly rolled through the preliminary rounds, and you can’t say it was a close game against San Diego in the championship, but there were constant action and great effort with Oly winning 181 to 35.  Many of the jams had skaters from each team out and it made the game exciting.  One thing I saw that I hadn’t seen a lot of, was good sportsmanship in the scoring.  Oly knew they had it won going in to the last two jams, but the player who could have gone on a 30 or 40 point power jam against the tired San Diego team got her grand slam and a few more points and called it off. (my goodness, no piling on!)

This is a game I prefer just based upon the speed and the action.  If all teams could skate like the final four in the WFTDA Championships, then there is no need for the slow down game which is so common now.  Again, I urge you to look at those final games at WFTDA; but very few teams have that kind of skill, and to me, that is sad that the fans don’t get to see what Roller Derby is in my mind.

Champion Oly Rollers with the Seltzer Cup. Photo by D. E. SIGN

Champion Oly Rollers with the Seltzer Cup. Photo by D. E. SIGN

I was honored to have given out the Seltzer Cup to Oly, and the medals to them, San Diego, and my own home team, the Resurrection Roller Girls of Sonoma.  The whole tourney was just a joy and fun to be at.

I can hear the criticisms coming, but remember, I am not part of USARS, WFTDA, MRDA, MADE.  I am a fan of the game that I like to see, which has often been skated at the BAD girls games that I attend.

Enjoy the game you skate; and those of you who over defend or condemn others for changing the “original rules” better stop and think before you say that to me.

I will continue to see and love all Derby that I can…..personally I and most fans want to see an action game which has strategy, but does not just stop in front of us.  I have a feeling more leagues will be learning to skate more rulesets……hey, it is supposed to be a game and fun to skate!

And USARS gave me an official jacket AND an extra ticket for my granddaughter Sydney (Leo’s great-grandaughter) to attend. Yes, the games are archived at DNN.  And Danielle Fairbanks and Fernando and all the volunteers are to be commended for a very professional and friendly event.  And Notown were great hosts!   Can’t wait until next year.

while I am away

Leaving tomorrow for Seattle to consult with a great company (no, not that one).

Totally founded on a green and humanitarian basis, what you always dreamed might happen if greed didn’t prevail so much in our society.  More on that later.

For all of you devoted followers (?) I won’t be as likely to be doing as much facebook, twitter, wordpress posting.  I have a “boot camp” schedule set up and want to be brought up to snuff (strange expression) as fast as possible.

I haven’t been to Seattle in years.  And at night I am going to try and get around to what many consider the most Derby region anywhere:  Fabulous Rat City Rollers, the Oly Rollers (just a few miles south) Donna Kay’s whole new concept, OneWorld Derby, home of Elwood Bruise, I think Derby Deeds, and so many other teams and Derby things.  And you want banked track skating?  Just go to Everett a few miles to the north.

I often wondered why did Seattle develop so much?  I am originally from Portland, and certainly the Rose City Rollersare no slouches; the best junior Derby is here.  And Cherry City (Salem) showed so much heart and compassion in the memorial (and auction) for Jennacidal Tendencies’ surviving children (almost $9000 raised to date!) and I am proud of how the whole northwest (and I include British Columbia – Roller Derby needs no passports when it comes to being international – and remember, the fabulous Lucy D is from somewhere up there).

Image by Rattlhed from Wikimedia Commons.

OK, so I am known for occasionally shouting my political outbursts, but I hope I am also a positive influence in our world and my guidance is helpful. I want to see a game that is safe but has action, and I don’t think the players in any other sport compare to the depth of passion and sibling love that is in Derby;

And I will find out in this coming week whether it is the water, rain, fish throwing or whatever that has created this hotbed of Derby and the wonderful utopian company I will be visiting.

Keep those cards, letters, and posts coming.

before we trash Oly…..

Three prime-time stars have left their team to join Oly just in time for the Nationals.

My good friend (and Pastor) Dumptruck calls it a douchebag move, and it does seem to give the Washingtonians an unfair advantage.

But let us look at a couple of things.  There apparently is no money involved, as I believe that would be illegal under WFTDA rules.  And as more and more players are trying to take advantage of their star power to add to their income and careers, the only true national showcase for coverage is the Championship tourney.  Look what the game has done for Suzy Hotrod, although I personally feel she (and Val Capone and some others) have done far more for a game that does not seem to be actively promoting itself.

And this activity seems real small potatoes when on this day the LA Dodgers picked up a quarter billion dollars in payroll to acquire three players from the Red Sox who they feel will lead them to the pennant this year.

Now having watched the 2010 championship in Chicago, it appeared that Oly might have been jobbed on some questionable calls, and the fact that present rules don’t stipulate a jammer on every jam, they had to face the final play with only RMRG having a jammer on the track….guess who won?  And by the way, I felt that Rocky Mountain was a great team that year, but this could be motivation for Oly this year.

And I haven’t seen Oly skate lately, but if they are not doing stroller derby, stop derby, and conga line, that should give them a bye to the championship game and bring fans back to the game.

Just my opinion.