Y'all have already forgotten modern derby's roots. And they're important to remember, especially in this very transitionary period of the derbz.
Remember that time when modern derby started as a DIY sport? And still is? Remember because of that, things aren't going to go as slick as it would if, say, Adidas and Nike were footing the bill to put on an inaugural event such as the World Cup. When the planning is done by a small group of skaters and volunteers and everything is new and there's no money, shit isn't going to be as grand as some of the events you see covered online, whether it's WFTDA Championships or Derby Dolls games.
And then when things don't go off as exactly as planned, it really, REALLY doesn't help to get a constant stream of bitching. WHERE'S THE VIDEO FEED (that you're watching for free)?!?!?
WHY IS THE AUDIO MUDDY(that you're hearing for free)?!?!?!?!?!
WHY IS THE CAMERA IN THAT SPOT?!?!?!?
HOW COME THE TRACK LOOKS DARK!??!?! WHERE'S THE LIGHTING?!?!?!?!
OMG IS THAT CONCRETE?! THAT CAN'T BE SAFE. IT'S PAINFULLY EASY TO GET SPORT COURT.
THOSE PILLARS ARE STUPID. WHY COULDN'T THEY GET A BIGGER AND BETTER SPACE?!?!?!?
BLOWOUTS ARE BORING. WHAT ABOUT THE FANS?!?!?!?! THEY MUST BE BORRRRED!!!! THANK GOODNESS THIS ISN'T ON TV OR ELSE WE'LL LOSE OUR (very small compared to other sports)AUDIENCE!!!
WE SHOULD GET RID OF SKATE NAMES SO THAT THIS WILL BE A "LEGIT" SPORT!
For fuck's sake, people. I want to punch each and every person who made such comments. Because those comments didn't come from people who were working for the event. Yet these came from people within the derby community as a whole. You should know better by now. You really should. Derby has eaten your life and you're still not getting paid. Guess what? Neither was anyone involved in this event.
There's some heavy-duty expectation failure going on here. It's completely unreasonable to expect this event or derby overall to hatch fully formed, perfect and ready for tv, the Olympics, or whatever form of "legit" you kick around a la Athena bursting out of Zeus' forehead. It didn't work in Seltzer's era, it's not going to work now.
The way these criticisms were presented is no bueno, because they fail to take into account the volunteer nature of the event. Would the people who said the above in that tone (in some cases much ruder tones) do that to Black Dahlia, Robin Graves, ToRD, Hurt Reynolds, Gnosis and Justice Feelgood Marshall's faces? I would hope not.
Constructive criticism is needed to make the future of derby better. Key word here is CONSTRUCTIVE. You got something to say? Don't be a doosh about your presentation of the criticism. Think very carefully about said presentation when handing out criticisms to a volunteer unless you're angling for their job. Derby is a microcosm of life in that I've found that those who bitch the most don't necessarily volunteer to do the heavy lifting the most. My message to you: PUT UP OR SHUT UP. If all of this was so damned easy, everyone would be doing it.
Petty shit first: getting rid of skate names is a red herring to making the sport "legit". I can't even get a decent definition of what "legit" is supposed to mean. TV? Olympics? Sponsorship? No one can really tell me. I had an online viewer repeatedly say that skate names is holding derby back. I asked how, but he couldn't explain why and kept dodging the question. It finally came out that his wife started with a local league and was stressed out over her skate name, not her skating ability. Dude. REALLY? Sounds like misplaced priorities to me if one is so worried about being in a "legit" sport. But I can tell you this: if getting rid of skate names would've bought a tv deal for derby IT WOULD'VE HAPPENED ALREADY.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to the meat of the situation...
If you want derby in the Olympics or on tv, you need double-digit numbers of leagues who can play TOP-LEVEL derby. The US isn't at that point yet. There's a handful of top leagues, and then the dropoff of gameplay is dramatic. Look at the top teams in the world...sooooooo not ready for the Olympics right now. I don't think the Olympic committee is going to buy, "OK, the US is by far the top team now, but just you wait! By the time you approve of our sport for Olympic inclusion, we'll have other countries up and running! We promise!" You have GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME. Rethink your approach and timeline and be more realistic.
That is not a slam on any league or country that's skating derby and putting everything they have into it. I don't think most of the US skaters realize how goddam difficult it is for non-US skaters to even get a space to practice in, much less establish a functioning league, getting equipment(hello, most derby skates are Riedell, a US brand, so they have to be imported. NOT CHEAP. And unless you're in Australia, the other major boot manufacturers are in Australia. ALSO NOT CHEAP.), and setting up competitive interleague play. The stories I've heard this year both from when I went to the UK and Amsterdam and over the weekend reminded me just how goddam LUCKY US skaters are. Growth isn't going to be quite at the rate it's been in the US. But WOW, I saw some amazing skaters from all the countries who represented this past weekend. I was so happy for them and their experiences!
Because of that difference of derby skill this past weekend, it's good that this wasn't televised on mainstream tv. For someone who didn't have any previous exposure to derby, seeing many of the games with blowout scores would have indeed been boring. Hell, according to my many hours of time spent in the DNN chat rooms, derby fans were bored. But the thing is, interleague is THEE KEY to get everyone's gameplay up. The next World Cup in two years is going to see a dramatic improvement of gameplay by the participating countries, and probably a few new countries, based on the exposure to new people, new strategies, etc. Enough to justify mainstream television coverage? I don't know. Look at how long the US has been doing derby and then look at how many of the US leagues are in that top tier of gameplay. Again, if it's not enough leagues to create televised interest here, then expecting televised coverage of the World Cup at this juncture is kind of a wet dream.
A note about the venue: the Bunker is very similar to the LA Derby Dolls' Doll Factory space in that they're both warehouses with sometimes primitive nuances that make the overall ambiance less about SPORRRRRTS and more about an experience. Which I as a Derby Doll especially appreciated. The Bunker lacked the lighting, paint, and overall spit and polish that the Derby Dolls have done to their space over the past four years, but from what I understand, ToRD hasn't been in that space very long, and finding a suitable mid-sized venue that was affordable was researched but turned out to not be an option.
Overall, my impression of the first World Cup was nostalgic. It was derby 3 years ago. And I liked it. I'm so glad that I decided to eat the cost and go work the event. It made me hopeful for the newer leagues in far away countries as much as it made me frustrated with the expectation failure and "legit" talk from people who haven't realized that we need some out-of-the-mainstream-spotlight growth time to make the sport as good as it can be.