Monday, December 05, 2011

Scrambled Rant Just In Time for My Birthday

Remember that time the Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup happened in Toronto? I sure as hell do. And the kvetching that went along with it from the online spectators has put me in an incredibly foul mood.

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)?!?!?!?!?! 







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.

Other notes:

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.


Aileen said...

Oh HAI, voice of reason.

RedDiabla said...

Thank you! It's less of a voice of reason and more of a yell of frustration, but thank you anyway! :D

Stevie (Hull) Emerson *vulgar vixen* said...

I found myself nodding in agreement the entire time I read this post. The people who bitch about blow outs are the same who bitch about 'bad' practices... It is all what you make out of it. I learned so much just watching these bouts, regardless of the scores. I tried to pin point how one team is dominating and determine what I would try to do if I were in that situation. There is always an opportunity to learn if you choose to make it.

OH and if you want to make the sport 'legit', shut the fuck up and skate, put your money where your mouth is, and make yourself more of an athlete, inspire your team to do the same, and be an ambassador of this sport.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching the World Cup, we are so lucky to have such amazing people who make this all possible!

I love your rants!

Raisin4Cookies said...

I only watched it on the live feed, but I had no reason to complain whatsoever. The gritty venue just added to the charm.

Rhayfen said...

I must confess I was one of the 'oh ffs! Wheres the feed!' crowd. Having read this I realise thats not helpful. At the time I was venting my frustration. I had been able to watch Thurs and Fri but sadly not Sat and Sun. I was gutted as Team England where doing so well. Maybe I let the wine I had drunk dictate my status updates. Its not DNNs fault I couldn't get the feed, shit happens. I doubt my comments hurt anyones feelings as am pretty insignificant in the derbyverse. Still I take them back. I allowed myself to become a hater and that shit just ain't cool.

To everyone involved in the World Cup. OMG! thank you.

Harry said...

Well said - reminded me of Adam Carolla's rant on the whiney "participation ribbon" winning generation out there.

Anonymous said...

Plus ten bazillion

- Bette Noir, London Rollergirls

Roxi said...

*APPLAUSE!* Thank you for the wonderful read :) You are absolutely right :)

mad maggie said...


Bette Noir said...

+ ten bazillion

Allie Gator said...

Agree, Agree.
I HATE the "skate name" argument. We can have our own bitch session about this sometime. ;)
PS. It was great hearing you announce on the feed!

gringostarr said...

your so right

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this entire piece, and appreciate your giving the time to be a part of derby as a skater and announcer and to offer thoughts this heartfelt.
I cannot; however, seem to reconcile these observations, thought out, and fair as they are with the flippant, rude and heartless douchbaggery that Team Heckle regularly dispenses upon these very same volunteers, D.I.Y.'rs and uncompensated Officials, organizers and participants that you champion here.

Is this "article" a sign of a mature change of heart, or just a response to finally being on the receiving end of criticisms similar to those flippantly issued by Team Heckle and the like?...
Time will tell I suppose...


Simba said...

If I didn't love you before, I sure as fuck love you now! (i loved you before) it's nice when someone voices their opinion and has experience and logic to back it up. Kudos tara!

Clare de Lunatic said...

Yes!! Thanks for saying all the things that have been rattling around in my head this weekend. Well done to TORD and all the volunteers who made this weekend possible. Sorry for all the bitching I overheard around me! The event kicked ass, and you deserve kudos for making it happen and for making it run so smoothly!

Costa said...

it's more like "your" perspective than the "right" one. Remember opinions are like @$$holes, everyone has one.

Bitchy Kitten said...

I was excited to see leagues from all around the world as most 99% dont boutcast. Anyone not knowing that this was derby for derby sake didnt have a clue. The sport has to grow and this is one of the main routes it will take. Come together, Learn, Return Home, and TEACH. Derby has a lot of growing to do and some of the bitchy fans do too.

alassinsane said...

A yell of reason then. Thanks.

Cannon Doll-X said...

Thank you for laying it out right! You hit all the points right on the head!! Aileen is correct.. yelling or not..voice of reason!

Grim said...

Great article. I did personally find the blowouts kinda not-as-exciting, but that didn't make the skating less amazing! It also didn't make the other countries any less awesome. All it meant to me is that derby has a way to go, but DAMN, look how AWESOME it is already!

Also, even if the venue wasn't fancy, the feeds weren't always the best (still super thankful they were available, though!), and there were a few blowout games, it's still an exciting time to be playing derby. All I can think of are years from now, when I can say, "I remember when..."

Thank you DNN for hosting the feeds, and Blood and Thunder, for making the magic happen. :] And thank you Tara for reminding us that derby needs to humble it up.

Troy said...

This post will be annoying, since it doesn't address anything but the headline, but happy birhtday anyway, you!

Anonymous said...

Soooo. Are only "Team Heckle" douchebag comments "legit"???

Got hypocrisy?

Grace N Motion said...

Yes, but your yells of frustration are so LOUD and effective.

And thank you. Because I never got into Derby thinking I was going to be a superstar. It's always been about being part of something, being the best I can be, and having a good time. Has it taken over my life? Of course. But most days, I don't mind and I really couldn't have it any other way.

RedDiabla said...

Thanks for the feedback, folks!

Costa: just for the record, I think you stink pretty bad. Enjoy!

Anonymously Vexed about Team Heckle: Team Heckle usually isn't absolutely vile. MY heckling isn't, at any rate. I'm well aware of how horrible it is to be on the receiving end of real honest-to-goodness heckling and it's not fun. Team Heckle is humorous, and part of that comes from the real Team Heckle being skaters themselves, and so know what it's like.

Emmylee said...

I enjoyed be able to watch the live stream as I worked! My biggest complaint was that the US team was made up of a bunch of skaters from the same league--but I also admit that I have no clue what the selection process was so maybe they were the only volunteers; who knows!

I can't wait for the next World Cup; keep up the good work everyone!

Anonymous said...

also, the team heckle fan page was not made by anyone who you probably know as team heckle. its some girls from mission city who heckle in an entirely different way.

old mother heckle