This year at the WFTDA Championships.


I am very excited about going back to Denver soon for the tournament November 11 through 13.

A year and a half ago an old friend from the ticketing days contacted me and since he is now the grand poobah in Denver with AEG (one of the two largest promoters of talent and building operators), he had taken over the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, halfway between Denver and Boulder and had made a promotional arrangement with the Roller Dolls. He invited me to their game and I flew into town.

I hadn’t been back since 1974 when Hal and I started our ticketing company and promoter Barry Fey as our first client. And Chuck Morris operated a club called “Ebbets Field”. I think you can guess where he was from originally. Chuck actually was our first client.

Well a lot has gone on since then, and today Chuck has a lot on his plate, from Bon Jovi to Justin Bieber, and much of what goes on in the Rocky Mountain state.

When I arrived, he had me booked on TV, radio and newspaper, and I gladly talked about Roller Derby, modern Derby, and why it is such a great up and coming sport. I met with the league, and at that time didn’t know anyone (pre-facebook), but soon realized I have a huge family. I also was able to go to the training center for the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls and was greeted just as warmly.

At the game the next night (the B team skated against Ogden, and Candis Rose had me autograph her panties – a new experience for me) – and the Denver team played Texas.

The building where this year’s Championship is being held is breathtaking; it seems as though it was built for Roller Derby. It has 7000 comfortable seats, great lighting and sound, all the electronic running lights, a huge jumbotron, and more. I know many of you will watch on WFTDA.com, but if you are near Denver, please join me and the thousands of others to see the 12 teams, the best out of the 1093 in the 36 countries that have leagues. There will be continuous action over three days. I met with so many women and men last year in Chicago who were at the Championships just to watch, learn and cheer.

I actually will be working in a booth (not all the time) with Doug Martin of completeteamoutfitters.com who provides uniforms for so many other sports and brings the professionalism to our game that I believe it needs. Also, (I wear a number of hats), I will show you how just with your cell phone (and everyone else’s) you can now provide completely paperless ticketing for your event; and I will be introducing the “Seltzer” line of products, with the design talents of Judi Flowers, Judy Alexander, and rock and roll patriarch Jeff Axelrod (among other things, he was responsible for the Grateful Dead skull logo).

I am going to have fun, party hearty, but mainly watch some of the greatest athletes in the world put forth all of their efforts to attain glory. Actually you might say they have already as they made it to the finals.

The only time you will see me leave the arena (when I am not working) is if anyone chooses to do the slow and stop play. But as Commissioner, that is my prerogative.

Mainly, though, I will just enjoy what I believe is rapidly becoming the most exciting sport ever. And I will be cheering for all those who have come before.

Thank you all for not only keep the game alive, but for making it “totally awesome”.

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What’s next for Derby?


Among other things in life, Roller Derby keeps me involved and excited.

The funny thing is, I last promoted Roller Derby in 1973, but as I have said to friends during the years since, people just won’t let it go away.  First there was the Rollerjam revival in 1999, and then in 2002 some women in Austin thought it would be fun to do a “Roller Derby” without even knowing what it was.  And out of that came modern Derby (mostly flat track and women) which has spread like crabgrass to about 1100 leagues today in 38 countries.

Photo by jimrhoda from stock.xchng.com

In a few weeks I will be heading towards Denver for the nationals, where 12 teams who competed in regional tourneys will be on hand to see who is the National Champions this year.  Rocky Mountain Roller Girls and the Oly Rollers (Olympia Washington) are expected to be the finalists again (RMRG defending champs, Oly 2009 winners) with Gotham Roller Girls and others right in there.  You will be able to watch on your computer all the action, November 11 through the 13th at WFTDA.com, or be there in person at the beautiful 1st Bank Center in Bloomfield, near Denver.

As Commissioner (unofficial title, but official Derby name), I will be accepting the usual adulation and also be in a booth with Doug Martin of Roll models, www.completeteamoutfitters.com,  whom I believe has the next generation of Derby uniforms, including some throwbacks to my era.  I have written before how professional uniforms add so much to the game without detracting from the fun that so many skaters display.  Also, I have a paperless ticketing system for the leagues and some wonderful new products from Judiflowersfootwear.com.  And yes, I will be juggling 6 plates at a time…if you are there, drop by and see me.

But mainly I want to watch and enjoy the action from the best that modern Derby has to offer.  I firmly believe the game is not about who can score the most points, but who really understands and has worked with the intricacies of the pack.  That is why RMRG, Oly, and Gotham Girls are above the rest.  Those who have followed my feelings know that the things I would love to see changed in the modern game are as follows:  shorten the jams to 60 or 90 seconds (ours were 60); penalize a team if they do not keep moving during the jam, no stopping or skating backwards; require a jammer from each team to be on hand at the start of each jam (if there was a penalty on a jammer on the previous jam, penalize the skater and not the helmet) and I think you will find a better game.

Now I have no power, the skaters rightly own the game and set the rules, but there it is again.

The old rules still have a lot to offer and MADE and OSDA and others are skating those rules, and there are also a number of leagues that now feature men and also others that are banked track. Although WFTDA is the largest and most influential, you have a choice on which game you want to see or participate in.

And if you have just been sitting around being lazy, you should look up a local league in derbyroster.com and go for the training and exercise.  Age does not seem to matter, there are literally hundreds in their 40’s who are participating as well as some in their 50’s and older.  Don’t believe me?  Visit Derby over 40 on facebook.  And there is Junior Roller Derby for the skaters in that classification.

There is a great book out on the history of Roller Derby from 1935 to 1999, “Roller Derby to Rollerjam”.  We recently found in a warehouse some first editions from 1999 (long out of print, on sale at amazon for up to several hundred dollars each).  Wonderful photos from the archives and fun writing by official Derby historian Keith Coppage.  Original price of $20 for one book and special till early November of $160 for a case of 20, all autographed by the Commissioner.  Available at www.rollerderbycommish.com.

I still believe there will be a professional league (all present participants are amateur and pay to skate).  This game which is drawing millions yearly around the world to watch is fully legitimate and competitive and has doubled in the number of leagues in the past year. I know the interest is out there.  It is just a matter of time.  If I were a few years younger I might try to do it, but I certainly don’t have the resources now.

If you haven’t seen a game (or “bout” as they are called for a reason I described in an earlier post), please find your local league and support them.  The rules preclude any violence and this is an ideal family sport to watch.  And if you see a gentleman in a Commish jacket come up and say hello, please smile.  I really am quite nice in person.