Monday, September 26, 2011


OK, modern roller derby, you need to have a little heart-to-heart with yourself.

You say you want to be on tv. To sell out large arenas. To be in the Olympics. To be taken SERIOUSLY.

Considering some of the shady things that have happened in derby past, from scripted games to pillow fights to the worst acting EVAR when skaters try to throw punches for titillation, I can understand why the modern derby movement says it wants to be SERIOUS.  Look at the changes in modern derby since its inception ten years ago: less fishnets, more dance tights. Less frilly skirts and elaborate skateouts, more aerodynamic hot pants and simple team introductions. Less team themes and skate names, more basic team motifs and more government names. So, SO SERIOUS.

All that change in a bid for "legitimacy" goes out the fucking window when the skaters take the "For the skaters, by the skaters" saying way too fucking SERIOUSLY and pull bullshit like this:

I had hoped that the above jam from this year's East Coast Extravaganza would be the exception to the loopholes in WFTDA rules about when/where teams line up at the start of a jam, and forward momentum after the whistle is blown. This happened with the pack lined up at the pivot line at last year's WFTDA Championals between Gotham and Philly. It was boo'd then. It was boo'd at ECDX this year. It was heavily boo'd when Rat City pulled it over and over again against Rocky Mountain on Saturday at Western Regionals.

How the fuck can you expect to be taken SERIOUSLY when you won't even fucking SKATE when the whistle is blown?! You're not playing a sport, you're jerking off and expecting people who PAY to see you SKATE to be pleased, impressed, and to take you SERIOUSLY with your athletic prowess that you're not showcasing by crowding the jammers at a standstill for two minutes at a time?! REAAAAAAAAAAALLY????????

Rethink that shit. Now. It's called roller derby, not noller derby. "Roll" is right in the name of the goddam sport, so try to, I dunno, ROLL when you're supposed to. I've heard some bullshit excuses for using "strategies" like this...Hey, we knew we couldn't outskate the other team, so we decided to mindfuck them. Well, now we know JUST HOW BROKEN the rules are! The other team is going to use it, so we should get used to it!

Uh, you have got to be fucking kidding me. Is this high school or SERIOUS ROLLER DERBY? If you want this sport to be taken SO GODDAM SERIOUSLY and eventually get paid to skate, then stop the shenanigans and JUST FUCKING SKATE when the whistle blows. You want new fans? SKATE. You want fellow skaters to stop booing you at tourneys? SKATE. You wanna be on tv for something other than a side human interest story for this cute little hobby of yours? SKATE.

I've talked to many skaters individually who say they'd rather skate than use noller derby. Yet it's still happening, so I have to ask what the hell is stopping the SKATERS in the "by the skaters, for the skaters" group from fixing these glaring loopholes? It's YOUR organization, YOUR rules, YOUR goal to grow the sport, so what are YOU doing to keep skating?

In other news, I actually had an otherwise grand time at Westerns this year, outside of the noller derby fuckery. Not only did I yell myself into a stupor, but I got to draw on NEW PEOPLE. Here, meet Tannibal Lector from the Oly Rollers(a league who likes to skate, and now they're getting more fans both inside and outside the derby community because they're not fucking around):

I won't lie, I was a bit star-struck with this one. I had also wanted to draw on Oly's Atomatrix, but at the afterparty she was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and to be honest, she totally intimidates me. So I FIALED. At least I got to get hugged by Rocky Mountain's DeRanged and Psycho Babble, and Assaultin' Pepa keeps thinking I don't know who she is. Which is hilarious, because she's Kinda A Big Deal to me as much as her teammates. I think I talked to more people this tournament than ever before, and I have to say, I fucking LOVED every second of meeting new people and getting to hang out with an ever-wider array of derby awesomeness. Tara tatt photos will follow soonly.

And that awesomeness is why the noller derby pisses me off too much. Because we all work TOO FUCKING HARD to be dismissed for alleged strategery that is not only short-term, but short-sighted. I want to build a legacy, not be a footnote to the early millennium. I know too many other people involved in this that feel the same way; why else would we give so much to something that isn't financially paying off for us? Because we want to succeed, goddam it. So let's put aside ego and silliness and make sure the walk--er, skate stride matches the talk, eh?


Roxy Horror said...

One whistle for everyone!

(Sharing the frustration)

Little Kenny said...

Hear! Hear!

FREAK said...

Amen! I have coached Roller Derby in the midwest for 3 years as well as skate on a mens team. I admit I have used the "slow" or non-moving strategy myself in the past. But the more I have watched the "top" teams and the more I learned about derby I found myself steering away from noller derby. I do respect the teams that try to come up with strategies that may even consist of SOME plays that stand still or move slow just to mess up an opposing teams rythem or to screw with one jammer. But over and over and over is kind of rediculous. Just my two cents. I will be at South Central Regionals and I hope that I wont get bored there. Much Derby Love!!
Coach Spanx aka FREAK

Joe Rollerfan said...

Tara, I agree with all of this. The rules must be changed to remove the incentives for slowing the pack to a crawl. WindyMan has some interesting ideas for how to do that:

Maybe WORD could experiment with these ideas in their ruleset, because the fundamental problem exists there as well, despite WORD's rule requiring the skaters to keep skating.

George Pollard said...

So, new rule:

Jammers start 15 seconds after the first whistle. If anyone is still in the starting box and gets passed by the opposing jammer, it scores as a point.

Armed Kandy said...

With all due respect, I FIRMLY DISAGREE. In any other sport, it's perfectly acceptable to do whatever necessary within the rules to win. One may find it boring, or annoying, but there's no doubt from that video that it was EFFECTIVE STRATEGY. Slow Derby is the opposite of a pillow-fight -- it is athletes choosing a play based on how it works, not pleasing the crowd.

The problem is derby is a growing sport, and the rules don't always keep up with the game. Slow Derby needs to be addressed on the officiating level soon, to keep the game challenging for athletes and entertaining for the fans. Until then, any team that deploys that strategy effectively is just being smart.

RedDiabla said...

Joe: I actually don't mind slow play. Slow doesn't equal stopped. Nor does it equal not skating at all. The not starting at the start whistle? Definitely over the top, IMO. Reading Windyman's posts takes a LOT of time, so I haven't digested alllllll that he says in his posts about pack play, etc. But to be honest, I zone out when he starts throwing Old School derby clips in his posts, because we're so not that.

Kandy: if you charge money for a crowd to see you skate, you owe them skating. Unless you want to lose the crowd. I paid money to see some of the best skaters in the world stand around and not skate. That's bullshit. If I hadn't already plunked down the dough for Nationalships, I'd reconsider going to watch, because not watching skating when skating should be happening is NOT a way to bring in and keep a crowd.

Strategy is great...when it works. When a team is behind and they run the clock by not skating, that doesn't smack of good strategy. When a team practices being boo'd at for using that strategy and then has a hissy fit on the internets when they're boo'd for real? It's ridiculous and out of line to expect to be congratulated on doing that.

As most mothers say, "Just because you CAN do something doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD do it". I believe it firmly applies in Noller derby.

WindyMan said...

"But to be honest, I zone out when he starts throwing Old School derby clips in his posts, because we're so not that."

I don't want modern derby to be completely like old-school derby, either. That's not what my intentions are. I hate the hair-pulling and fighting as much as the next derby fan.

All I want to see is real and legitimate roller derby be played 100% of the time, just like you. We all have different ideas for it. I have mine. And judging by the amount of positive feedback I've been getting, a lot of people seem to like my idea.

Just give it a fair shake. All I'm asking for.

Agata Chokabitchski said...

Personally I think it's a punk way to "play" and there is no honor in it. I'd rather go out in flames fighting for it, then to just keep manipulating the rules to the point where we are being ref'd into a corner. I've never cared for any shenanigans with loopholes. I feel it's not actually playing. What they are doing a perfect example, because they are, in fact, literally not playing.

Agata Chokabitchski said...

you know what I would actually like to see in this scenario. I'd like to see a team pick one skater from the non moving team, and just hit the crap out of her. Just keep on circling around gaining speed laterally or whatever and just knock her ass to the ground, over and over and over and over. If they don't want to move just help them get comfortable on the ground for a nap.

Joe Rollerfan said...

Tara, I was thinking that exact same thing this weekend: Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. It went through my head over and over, and I thought the same thing last week about Dutchland's forfeit. But after reading WindyMan's article (yes, it does take a long time to read, and I skipped the old-school videos too), I came to another realization: everyone has different opinions about what skaters SHOULD do, or what behavior is true to the "spirit" of derby. The rules are the only definitive arbiter of behavior, so if we want to change the behavior, we need to change the rules. Criticizing the skaters for their behavior is likely to be counterproductive if the rules allow it. It'll probably piss them off, it won't make them change, and it won't prevent other skaters from doing the same thing.

Troy said...

From the viewpoint of someone who knows absolutely fuck-all about derby, I'd have to say that what was (not) going on in the clip looked totally lame, and just made me want to send free drinks out to those poor jammers. How is a (paying!) crowd supposed to rally behind that?

If the professional gladiators pulled game-stopping shit like that in ancient Rome they'd have simply opened the gates and let all the tigers out, and they knew it.

But, as I said before, I am not an expert on derby.
I am also not advocating penalty tigers.

(Full disclosure: I would actually watch derby with penalty tigers as well.)

RedDiabla said...

I want to see what a penalty tiger looks like!

Troy said...

In a perfect world...

Dia Blow said...

Edie just explained to me how roller derby is getting slower, not faster, but WHAT THE FUCK!?! I did not train for years to do 33 laps in 5 minutes for THIS FUCKING SHIT!

btw, you were great Saturday night! I had to duck out early bc I work at 5am on Sundays. But I miss your face!