This week has been thoroughly entertaining and frustrating in online derbyland.
It started with a posting of this new documentary about the Old School Derby Association:
Where do I begin?
To put in a bunch of old footage of fake skating doesn't help OSDA's cause. And the new footage they included? Uhm...a little underwhelming. You can see skaters without writstguards on. In my mind, if you don't need wristguards or a helmet to skate derby, you're one step away from Couples Skate at the local rink listening to Journey and the Motels.
To say they're "pro" is ludicrous until their skaters can quit their day jobs and skate full time. To put down the modern DIY banked leagues by calling them "amateur" reveals entitlement issues and a touch of jealousy. If you have to put down others in your promo material to try to look good, then you ain't lookin' good.
Oh, and it's not REQUIRED to have a skate name in modern DIY derby. I don't know where they got that idea from, but it humors me.
And my new favorite phrase: "We're going to take it to the next level". I've read that a LOT this week. You can hear it in the above clip. But I've also heard it from people who are supporting another organization that wants to take derby to some type of other level, the NRDA. As you can see by their fancy website that lists all their participating leagues with corresponding season schedules, they're definitely the next level. Here's some clips that take derby to the "next level":
THAT'S the next level of roller derby?!
That "next level" was invited to Battle on the Bank II in Austin under the "Las Vegas Renegade" name. They got their asses handed to them in both games they played there, and they tried their "next level" gameplay of switching jerseys of ejected skaters to stay in the game, to boot. It didn't do any good.
A little reminder of what the pesky amateurs are doing:
So, yeah. If the "next level" of derby is coasting, minimal contact, and fake fighting, then no thanks, I'll stick to Amateur Hour.
The thing is, is that people's memories are painfully short. Why did derby die to begin with? Because it wasn't a sport, it was a sideshow. See the NRDA clips above. The modern DIY version of the game has elements of the ludicrous with skate names and team themes with a dash of unicorns and mustaches thrown in for good measure, but once the whistle blows to start the game it's allllll sport. Not that the modern game doesn't have its faults, but hey! it's not a staged circus act.
For those who want to bring the sport back to where they say it should be? I wonder if it's about them reliving their younger days instead of realizing that their time was done. There's no doubt the old school skaters back in the day had skating talent, but it's too bad that talent wasn't used to best results.
Reminder to new skaters: do yourselves a favor and watch this doubleheader of derby documentaries:
Jam: The Movie is about the Old Schoolers in the Bay Area in the late 90's. It's sad yet fascinating. I first saw this at SXSW in Austin the first time the Derby Dolls played an interleague game. You'll learn that derby drama is nothing new, and so learn to avoid bullshit like this.
Hell on Wheels is about the start of modern DIY derby in Austin. It's basically a how-to on how NOT to start a league. EVERYONE should see this, because the problems that caused the Mutha of All League Splits are still prevalent in DIY derby today.
And the overall message on all of this is the old proverb of those not knowing the past are doomed to repeat it. Let's not repeat the past, shall we?