after 2012, what?


OK, so “Derby Baby” is out soon, there is talk about considering Derby for the Olympics (I wouldn’t be too excited…..it would be a long ways off), and from what I have seen, this looks like a great start to the year.

I know some of the great players retire every year, but a greater number are showing up, and  a star from Colorado did so at the Doll House last night.

Those of you with four or five years experience really know the game now, and are aware of the need for conditioning, diet, practice, and a great lifestyle.

And I often hear from those of you who say things are just fine as they are now; you want the rules to remain the same, to have the costumes and fun and after parties.  And nothing is stopping you.

And please all realize that.  There is no need for a great unification of style of play….no need for ownership.  If you want to flat track, go backwards, renegade, MADE, OSDA – that is your prerogative.   And one of the first things I heard after it was released that Roller Derby was being considered in 2013 for the 2020 Olympics was “we don’t like the rule set they will be playing”.

Will you still be playing in 2020?  And if you think there is a possibility of getting in before 2024, you are dreaming.   And you think all current rules will remain constant for 12 years?  Relax and enjoy the games……and you are not the ones that this post is addressing.

For those of you who are serious athletes and competitiors, I offer the following:

1.  It is time to associate with a league that is going to skate on a banked track, and I would love to see that happen in New York, Philly, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco………it will allow the teams and skaters to progress at a accelerated rate……all who want to skate flat track should continue…..it is a different game.

2.  Get serious about what you wear at your games.  Uniforms that are really professional, with numbers on back (not #1), your real name on the back and a dynamite design.  I strongly suggest Roll Models,  go to http://www.completeteamoutfitters.com, click on Roll models link…..they do a lot of other sports and quite a number of Derby Leagues.

3.  Really get your PR and Marketing going full tilt to attract new skaters, and especially a larger audience so you have the funds to work with.  And most of you need to skate more home matches (more games, more concessions, more merchandise,  more revenue)……

4.  Do not play teams that you can beat up….may be good for rankings, terrible for paying audience….they want to see contests.

Now realize you don’t have to do any of the above.  Obviously this is what I and a few others would like to see.  By the way, I make no money from selling banked tracks or uniforms.  I just want the game and you to be as professional as possible.

Please don’t bitch and moan at me……one-sided games are  fine, not-ready-skate-players are fine, tattered uniforms, fine, bad attendance fine, keeping your league hidden, fine.  1 game a month, fine……I just don’t think it is the way to go.

10 years and Denver this weekend!


In January modern Roller Derby will mark its 10th year anniversary.

It started as an extravaganza in Austin at TXRD and somehow organically became 1105 leagues in 38 countries today.

And the end of the 10th year will be marked by several huge events:  the WFTDA Championships this weekend in Denver (be there, I will be), the first World Cup in Toronto in December with at least 13 national teams from various countries; the Derby Dolls championship, OSDA, and much more.

I have such feelings for all the teams in the finals:  Portland is where I was born; Chicago is where I grew up, the home of Roller Derby, and my first view of modern Roller Derby in 2005.  I have met and am in touch with players and friends on all the final teams.  And my choice……don’t skip to the end, because you will be cheating.

The Commissioner will see as much Derby this weekend as I can.  I love the arena, just the perfect size for the event.  about 7000 seats, all comfortable, with a running light board and a huge Jumbotron scoreboard and video.  And Chuck Morris, who is AEG-Live chief of the area and of this building, is a great old friend of mine.

So when I am not watching Derby, I will be giving out prizes:  I will be handing out badges (not exactly) and lanyards at our booth at 1-1, each one numbered and signed by me.  When you come by the booth either to see the unbelievable uniforms of Doug Martin or to try out Mogotix, the ticket system on a mobile phone that requires no additional system, has no paper ticket or will call, or learning about Seltzerbrand.com which will be launching soon with very different apparel and other items (“bringing tradition to modern Derby”).

And we will be giving away some tee shirts, Roller Derby to Rollerjam books, “Derby” videos, Judi Flowers footwear and luggage tags, sample jerseys, headbands, etc.  If you are at the games, and are wearing the lanyard, check booth 1-1 in the early and late afternoon each day to see if you are a winner of the dozens of prizes.

I will be selling Lori Milkeris bracelets (see “I like women” posting on this site) for fund raising for her upcoming surgery.  Also, $5 of every sale of “Roller Derby to Rollerjam Book” will be donated to Lori……Make certain we see a lot of purple bracelets at 1st Bank Center.  And you can leave a check with me for Lori or just go to Lori Aid 2011 to donate through paypal.

In late afternoon each day we will be giving away 1 free (!) Mogotix.com  service for any upcoming game….this can handle all of your ticket sales including walkup (people can buy on their phone as they walk to the entrance!), any advance game sale (announce your next game and it will be on sale to the people in the audience) with no fees to the winners.  Completely green, no paper, no will calls except on the phone.  Be one of the three winners.  You will only be charged the credit card fees on ticket sales that you now pay.

And Doug Martin has what I think are the best uniforms, including names and numbers and ways to help teams raise money for them…He also is showing some retro Roller Derby designs.

All right, I haven’t seen all the teams play in person, although I have seen them on DNN or WFTDA.com.  I think Gotham will come in with their strongest squad to date, but to me you have to go with the past champions.  I think it is between Oly and RMRG with Oly coming out the winner.  I am such a fan of all the teams, that I would be happy with great competition, great skating and blocking, and -I hope- no slow play.

Please everyone come up and say hello and if you see me I would appreciate a hug at least.

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.

I am not in charge


You don’t have to listen to anything I say because I am  powerless….Although I am the Commissioner (look it up on the official Derby name register), all it means is I get to rant and suggest and I don’t have to worry about what anyone thinks.

Assassination City Roller Derby. Photo by channelinspire.com.

But I do.

If some of you can take criticism (oh what a way to start!), I would like to talk about Derby presentation today.  I know that I have mentioned before about making your games into events.  Yes you have to be concerned about the skaters;  without them there is nothing.  But if you want to grow and expand your audience, concentrate also on the spectators.

I got the feeling at Rollercon that many leagues do not really have a plan in how to promote your events and how to maximize your presentation.  I am  not talking merely about the production.  If you don’t figure ways to  promote, people except for friends and family will  not come.  And if they walk into your venue and they don’t get a little bit excited you are already in trouble.  Is the front of your arena clean and fan friendly…..do you have well-appointed members of your league there to greet them; give them programs, tell them where the vendors are, and more?  And when they go into  the rink area is it well lighted enough so they will focus on the game and  not be easily distracted.  Are there decorations or other types of banners to enhance the setting.  And I would love to see the minor  penalties go away so there are no excess people standing in the infield.

And the warmups:  are they disciplined and exciting…..at the end do all the skaters get in a line and do a fast powerful pace for a few minutes to show the teamwork and skill?  And I am certain there are other things you can think of…..Are your announcers in sync with what you want to present?   so important….and how good is your demo  of the game?

Roller Derby now has over 1000 leagues worldwide and the attention on your league will only increase because of the growing interest.

Now here is the part that just pushes everything to a higher level as far as I am concerned, and it was so important to me and Roller Derby of my day…..what are the skaters wearing and how do they present themselves.

OK right away I expect to hear ” it is our game, we put our numbers on our sleeves, wear tattered hose etc”….I understand and those that feel that way will continue to do so.  But to look at what you need to in order to move to the next level; your uniforms and gear must be of the highest order and signify sleekness, power and speed.  They should have numbers on them, not added, your league’s name and logo on them all part of the original design.  The leagues that are doing this are setting themselves off from the street-skating look.

I will continue this discussion with some suggestions that I have for you.  Stay tuned or just throw a skate at me.

Derby Love,  Your powerless Commissioner.