Second, I've had to come to the realization that I am a derby relic. Already. It hasn't even been seven years since I first got started in this adventure, and I'm already on my way out. Some would say I've lasted a damned bit longer than most. Which is true, but I'm not solely talking about my actual time as a team skater that I'm talking about. It's also my attitude towards this so-called sport/lifestyle/mental illness.
I've yakked about derby attitudes in general on this-here blog before, so I guess today is Chapter Two in the continuing saga of Tara Armov Has A Big Fucking Mouth With An Attitude To Match. It started with listening to one of my new favorite podcasts, Derby Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. They focus on all leagues whether flat or banked track on the west coast, which is fantastic.
On a recent episode, "derby fashion" was discussed. But it wasn't really about "fashion" as much as it was about looking like a professional team out on the track. There was the skater viewpoint of: It's best to look as much like each other as possible so that it confuses the other team as to who the jammer is. Then there was the announcer/audience viewpoint of: It sure would be great to know who the hell is who...put yer names as well as yer numbers on your fucking uniforms because we don't know who the fuck you are if you don't. Somehow this conversation evolved into a comment made along the lines of, When you see a team that doesn't have wonderfully matching uniforms, don't you think that they won't play the game as well?
Back in the "good old days" of modern derby(not even ten years ago, btw), part of the goddam POINT of it was to not be like other sports.
To not be mainstream.
To not blend in.
Because we do that every damn day in our regular lives, for the most part. Roller derby was never really considered a mainstream sport, ever.
And to see how many people that have a spotlight in this adventure who wouldn't get it otherwise...whether it's announcers like Windy City's Val Capone to Denver's Dumptruck, or entrepreneurs like Wicked Skatewear's B-Train, or BAD Girls' Motley Cruz, Derby News Network's Hurt Reynolds and Justice Feelgood Marshall, or even Demolicious of our league as a league founder...how fucking boring would the sport be without all its colorful characters that don't need a damned thing manufactured about them like Old School boring-as-fuck derby?
Despite all this, there is a growing group who want the current modern/DIY derby to go mainstream and professional. To be covered in the local sports page. To be in the Olympics. To look and act completely and totally like professionals, whether the skaters are paid at this point or not.
Which takes away the attraction to this non-mainstream sport to begin with. At least for most of the current crop of involved skaters, of which there are...what, 10,000 or so worldwide?
Some people think derby names and fishnets are stupid for sports, but roller derby isn't like all other sports. Even though I've been involved in derby for so long, I still don't give a rat's ass about other sports. Sorryyyyyyyyyyy, but I don't.
I like that Tara Armov can skate around, be loud, hit skaters, and say a lot more than I can in my everyday life. Tara gets away with a shit ton of stuff AND she's liked for it. When I try even one fifth of what Tara does in real life, I get in trouble.Tara doesn't need validation from a weekly update in the LA Times sports section. Tara doesn't need validation from being in the Style section either. Whatever I get from derby, it does NOT come from the mainstream, so why try to pander to it?
It makes me appreciate the acidity of Hellarad so much more in the face of "We must make derby more palatable to the masses" mentality that's going on now.
And I'm going to be an asshole now...
A lot of people are all up in arms about the Oly Rollers. A league that started in 2006 with a bunch of former professional speed skaters and until this past Sunday had a 22 game winning streak in the WFTDA and were even National Champions last year. A lot of people hate them. Why? Because they act like a professional team in a still-amateur sport.
So what's the big deal? you may ask. Isn't that one of the goals of modern derby? To be professional?
Sure, for some. But that doesn't mean a team or league should be anti-social d-bags in the process.
They never hang out or are social or involved in the general derby community. Before a game I can understand that. But after a game? Fuck you, that type of snobbery is why I fucking hated jocks in school. School's out, kids. Time to act like adults. No one's gonna steal your winning essence if you go to an afterparty and and get to know other skaters from other leagues or even say hi right after a game that you fucking won, for fuck's sake. NO, I'M NOT KIDDING, YOU WON'T LOSE ANY OF YOUR MAD SKATING SKILLZ IF YOU GET TO KNOW OTHER SKATERS FROM OTHER LEAGUES.
So it's no surprise that at WFTDA Western Regionals last weekend when Oly got their asses handed to them by Rocky Mountain, the derby crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of Rocky Mountain. Rocky Mountain not only had expressions on their faces so that they didn't look like derby robots, but their uniforms weren't absolutely perfectly uniform, and some of them wore face paint. THANK YOU for being interesting while having bad ass skating skills, ladies. You were THEE most fun to watch!
So with this rant I now realize more than ever that my skating time is definitely doomed. It is anyway just by the mere march of time, but heading full-force into the mainstream when it sucks the soul out of what attracted most of us into this madness just doesn't make sense to me. So as the entitled old woman that I'm quickly becoming, I'm going to bitch a lot.
Get used to it, people.