Banked track, flat track


Maybe people are choosing up sides unnecessarily.

I am amazed at how inflammatory the subject is.  So I will try to discuss it in a rational manner.

Obviously Roller Derby evolved as a banked track game and was enjoyed by millions, albeit many times as an exhibition.  We, the management and the skaters, never even thought of it as possible to be skated on a flat surface.  So we were proved wrong, as almost 700 leagues around the world are doing it successfully today.  And if the game is skated by skilled players before two evenly matched teams, it is very exciting.

Image by Mary LaVenture

However, that doesn’t mean that banked track skating should be dismissed, because it isn’t going to be.  As many leagues as can afford it and can figure out the logistics of storing, setting up, training, more will keep appearing.  I am very interested in what the response will be to the banked track skating game in Chicago on December 11 and I am certain to hear from the players and spectators.

My belief is that the game on the bank is a better game for the spectators and maybe for the players; they can go faster and use the physics of the track to their advantage.  It definitely creates a more focused arena; remember, I was a promoter and always judged what the audience would appreciate to make the game much more of an event.  There is little doubt in my mind that when professional women’s Roller Derby is presented to the public it will be on a banked track.

Does that mean that flat track derby is doomed?  Of course not.  Many leagues will never be able to play in an arena large enough or cost efficient enough to play the other game.  And the more that Roller Derby is seen by the public (witness what happened when “Whip It” which was filmed on a banked track came out), then all leagues should be even more successful.  I personally never want to see what brought my family’s game back in such a great way disappear.

Many of the current skaters who have other professions want to keep things the way they are; they would not consider joining professional skating teams.  Others will want to.  And unlike when we promoted Roller Derby, there are thousands of skaters out there who not only know how to skate, but even more importantly know the strategy of playing this very complex contest.
From my point of view I think it will be so important for everyone to see how empowering this game is to women, who are playing a rough contact sport where the rules have not been altered for them.  But it is also a necessity, as far as I am concerned, that some kind of acknowledgment or even compensation be set up for the existing leagues, much as the minor league systems now work for baseball.

The majority of cities will never see the new development, but they can certainly benefit from it.  Obviously – and here is another sore point – the rules will probably have to be altered, but the game will remain the same legitimate sport all of women have created, at a great cost of time, money and effort.

Think of the excitement of major league teams of what will eventually be an international league.

The above is what I think will happen;  I of course (as a promoter) have guessed wrong more times than not, but this fastest growing sport cannot be ignored any longer.  If it ends up flat track, that is fine by me.  Ultimately whoever creates the professional game will decide.  If it does occur, I will do my best and whatever influence I have to make certain that those of you who have worked so hard not be forgot.

So let me know how you think it will roll.

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