The Evolution is Complete

Spring Roll was this past weekend, which has become a showcase regular-season event for the Men’s Roller Derby Association. This year, 13 teams played 20 MRDA-sanctioned games over two days to effectively determine league rankings for the 2012 MRDA Championships, to be held this October in St. Louis.

Many men’s teams were seeing their first meaningful action of the year, including newer leagues like the Sioux City Kornstalkers, Portland Men’s Roller Derby, the Rock City Riot of North Dakota, and the up-and-coming Your MOM Men’s Roller Derby of Iowa.

There was a lot of great derby during the weekend. Though there were blowouts, there were also upsets, including a big one: Your MOM dominated the 2011 MRDA Champion New York Shock Exchange, soundly beating them in Saturday’s main event, 199-148, on their way to an undefeated weekend. The hosting Ft. Wayne Derby Girls also capped off Saturday’s action with a great (though lacking of defense) WFTDA sanctioned bout, taking a 215-185 victory over Killamazoo.

The Mother’s Day games on Sunday also contained some gems. The Central Mass Maelstrom held off a remarkable comeback by Rock City, barely hanging on to a 1-point victory after some intense final minutes of gameplay.

The Magic City Misfits, who also went undefeated, put up 617 points on a short-benched but hard-working Kornstalkers team, demonstrating to the derby world that the teamwork they were lacking last year has arrived in full force this year.

Finally, the marquee matchup of Spring Roll was the highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s St. Louis Gatekeepers vs. the New York Shock Exchange. The first 30 minutes of the bout went beyond everyone’s expectations—and quite frankly, even my own—and at just a two point game coming into the second half, it had the makings of an absolute all-time classic.

With all the great stuff that was happening during Spring Roll weekend, what happened in the first half was seriously a great way to put a cap on it:

…except that the ugly, ugly side of roller derby reared its ugly-ass head during the second half of the game, culminating in a last jam that highlighted how far the “evolution” of roller derby strategy has come.

Because when a team essentially cheats to win a game they had no right to win, and there is clear video evidence to confirm this, the game can go no further.

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Even with all the good stuff that happened during Spring Roll, there were just as many not-so-good things that one would be remiss to ignore.

First of all, the jammer line starts. They’ve got to go. They’re getting out of control. It got to the point where players were pre-scrumming on their way to wall up against the jammers even before the 4th whistle of the previous jam had sounded. I’m not the only one beginning to think these are ridiculous, as even the announcers calling the game began to revolt against them:

When the WFTDA releases its 2012 rules update in a few weeks, if there isn’t something done to directly address these types of derby-cum-rugby jam starts, a lot of people will be angry. Mark my words.

No-pack, no-effort power jams were also in full display. The worst offenders were, unsurprisingly (and disappointingly) some of the best skating teams in the country. St. Louis, New York and Your MOM, among others, had no reservations in giving their pack blockers the day off  from the moment the other team’s jammer got sent to the penalty box.

Sure, a team down a jammer to a penalty needs to suffer the consequences. But there were several comically bad sequences where four grown men on roller skates would be standing in place a few feet behind their struggling jammer teammate, knowing that eventually the rules will do all their work for them by putting their opponents out of play during the ensuing no-pack split. Again, the announcers at the event couldn’t help but wonder aloud about it:

Even the incredible NY/StL first half wasn’t without its downsides. Twenty of NYSE’s 45 first-half points came during power jam runs where the entire NY pack stood around at the back of the pack like a bunch of lazy boobs. Though, as much as I hate that, what they did was completely legal and preventable (albeit barely) by the Gatekeepers, who did yeoman’s work to limit the damage to just two 10-point power jams against.

It was much the same story in the second half. Multiple no-effort power jams by both teams turned into 15, 20, and 25 point scoreboard bombs. Just one of these boring no-pack power jams cancelled out five or six jams’ worth of exciting, hard-earned penalty-free points. It was if gameplay and scoring during the even-strength jams was almost doomed to be as pointless as Hogwarts’ Quidditch goals being cancelled out by Draco Malfoy’s grabbing of the golden snitch.

In fact, NYSE was even inducing no-pack calls during even strength play, using them to free their jammer—without contacting the Gatekeepers blockers—from the pack, second in line behind the St. Louis jammer. Sometimes this cost NY a destruction of pack blocker penalty, but sometimes too that penalty got washed out by a matching blocking out of play penalty to St. Louis at the front during the sudden no-pack situation.

This tactic didn’t always work for the Shock Exchange, however, as they lost a few points by putting themselves in the crosshairs of the St. Louis jammer at the back. But it definitely prevented St. Louis from getting in multiple scoring passes, something that would have happened easily had New York taken longer to try and physically clear the way for their jammer via blocking.

So despite the Gatekeepers thoroughly dominating even-strength play, the no-pack roller derby the Shock Exchange was engaging in was keeping the score uncomfortably close.

Which leads me to the incident that occurred during the last jam of the game.

Down 15 points going into the last jam and knowing that the game was on the line—as well as the possibility of a two-loss weekend—the whistle that sent the St. Louis jammer to the penalty box gave New York a power jam and a chance (a chance, not a guarantee; or so we’d think) to win the game.

But the 2011 MRDA Champs decided that legally splitting the pack during power jams or trading one penalty for a jammer break-out wasn’t enough for them to cash in on this “chance.” They wanted to guarantee victory. Suddenly, New York all the motivation they needed to do something that they have been probably waiting for just the right moment to do:

Cheat.

After scoring 5 points on a vaporized St. Louis pack, the NYSE blockers deliberately committed three consecutive pack destruction/failure to reform major penalties on three of their next four scoring passes. Each of these created a no-pack situation, making it illegal for St. Louis to stop the NYSE jammer from getting through and scoring points. Even though St. Louis quickly returned to full blocking strength, there was nothing they could do, legally or otherwise, to stop the NYSE jammer from passing them by during the no-pack.

The video evidence is indisputable, as you’ll see at the end of this video of the last jam of the game:

New York was deliberately letting the pack separate, intentionally skating out of bounds, and showing no attempt to reform the pack once it was destroyed by their actions. With each scoring pass, they were effectively trading one blocker penalty for a guaranteed 5 points.

Gatekeepers were also getting penalized for blocking out of play, but that was because that was their only, futile option to put up a defensive stand was to block during the no-pack. It mattered not that they enjoyed a significant pack blocker advantage for most of the jam—and indeed, superior blocking walls throughout the entire game—because all New York had to do was commit a penalty to make a no-pack and render it useless.

NYSE ended the final jam with one unpenalized blocker remaining on the track. They won the jam 25-4, and won the game, 131-125.

This dramatic points swing was a direct result of New York breaking the rules that require they maintain a pack and reform it when it is destroyed. Clearly, the rules (made “by the skaters, for the skaters”) were of no concern to the Shock Exchange, who chose to break them when it was most convenient for them to do so.

When you break the rules on purpose, and directly benefit from it, you’re cheating. Plain and simple.

…except, it isn’t cheating.

And they didn’t cheat.

Well, they did cheat. But it isn’t their fault.

This is what happens when you play roller derby under hopelessly flawed rules. Long story short, modern roller derby (WFTDA/MRDA/RDCL) is the only sport where a team can immediately, directly, and irreversibly benefit from breaking the rules. 

In real sports, it is 100% impossible for a team to score points if they commit a penalty on a scoring play.

In roller derby, it is 100% guaranteed that a team will score points if they commit a no-pack blocker penalty on a scoring pass.

Does this discrepancy exist because roller derby is unique from other sports? Or is it because roller derby has it terribly, terribly wrong?

The fact of the matter is, New York won (another) roller derby game because the rules gave them the opportunities to pile on the points without having to play by the rules. Or at the very least, the penalty for breaking the rules was not severe or effective enough to deter the offenders from doing so.

The discouraging thing about this past weekend’s turn of events is that it was something I saw coming over a year ago, forecasting in The Pack Problem (Chapter 7) that the rules made it plausible that a team could intentionally commit penalties and win a guaranteed points advantage during a jam.

This could have been prevented. This could have been stopped before it started. But no, some out there insisted it’s all about the “evolution” of the game, that counter-strategies would be developed, that it would work itself out.

Instead, it appears that the “evolution” of roller derby is complete: Teams are breaking the rules to score points, and teams have no choice but to counter this by breaking the rules to themselves to play effective defense. All of this, in a supposed “legitimate” modern version of roller derby.

We can do no worse. This is the end of the line. This is the ultimate.

This is quite a game you’ve created for yourselves, skaters.

I hope you’re enjoying it.

Because we’re not.

99 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by braf on 14 May 2012 at 1:14 am

    Perhaps this is what is necessary to force the issue, to prove that the pack definition has to change? Of course I have no reason to think that NYSE had that agenda, forcing the issue to it’s breaking point, but it may well be the result. So the question is if it has to get even a little more bad for it to change, i.e that more teams have to use the NYSE pack destruction penalty cheat to force rule change – or will the rule change come now? I would really not want to see this become the standard over the next year…

    Reply

  2. Posted by Joe Rollerfan on 14 May 2012 at 2:43 am

    Maybe it’s time for MRDA to consider using a different ruleset, such as USARS. The only benefit of skating under WFTDA rules is that it’s easier to find experienced refs. But if the MRDA members agree that the situation is ridiculous, and if the upcoming WFTDA revision fails to improve it, then MRDA should look elsewhere for solutions.

    Reply

    • Posted by Poor B on 14 May 2012 at 5:58 am

      Those of us that have the great pleasure of already skating under different rule sets that don’t allow for this type of crap to happen are really starting to feel bad for everyone that does.

      I’d hate to have travelled half-way across the country to participate in what should have been an amazing weekend of top-level men’s games just to have everyone’s lasting impression be that games were won or lost based on who could exploit the most loopholes, and not who skated the best.

      And no, pulling your fellow blockers out-of-bounds with you is NOT skating…

      Reply

  3. Hope you all in the Skaters United Coalition are enjoying this, because we 5 fans who ACTUALLY CARE certainly don’t!

    Reply

  4. Posted by prairienyx on 14 May 2012 at 3:09 am

    I’m impressed with your presentation and I’m coming to the conclusion that you’re right… re-posting on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LESBRO

    Reply

  5. Posted by maim-bow brite on 14 May 2012 at 6:09 am

    Wow, this has GOT to stop. Its gotten to the point where your team literally not being on the track is an advantage?? This will never be viewed by the public as a real sport if this continues.

    I mean…in that last jam, if st l got lead jammer and didn’t get a penalty, why not just fake an injury if you’re the shock exchnage so the jam is called and reset? You would get another chance at lead jammer then. Its just as unethical as standing on the sidelines. Not only are we to the pt of cheating in the game, we are getting close to faking…

    Reply

    • Posted by N8 on 14 May 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Fake injuries already happen. Ythere was a bout at Easterns a couple years ago where one team failed to field a jammer and one of their blockers faked an injury to end the jam.

      Reply

    • Posted by N8 on 14 May 2012 at 7:11 pm

      And they happen all the time in other sports. See soccer (football).

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:19 am

      uhmmm, and take yourself out of the bout (not able to play for the following three jams after an injury)? Honorable, but if this other stuff occurring isn’t honorable, I don’t see faking an injury happening.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 6:35 am

    I thought that last jam was exciting. Gatekeeper jammer shouldn’t have gotten a penalty. If he was more patient he would have been able to get through on a no pack as well. 15 point lead means you play the game differently on the last jam. Gatekeeper blockers were not organized enough to keep in play. I’ve seen WFTDA teams manage to keep it in play during a situation like this. They need work on their special teams situations.

    The game is evolving. It is still awesome. The sky is not falling.

    Reply

    • Posted by Hammer on 14 May 2012 at 8:02 pm

      To be fair, the penalty called on the St. Louis Jammer was a really bad call. He got a misconduct for being in the air and making contact with another player even though it was the New York player initiating the contact. The rule was interpreting incorrectly in this case.

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:21 am

      “They need work on their special teams situations.”

      Yes! the Gatekeeper Jammer could have played defensively for two minutes.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Derby Nerd on 14 May 2012 at 7:52 am

    Windy Man, you seem to hate the sport (or maybe I only read your articles where you despair about the constant ruining of the game–they often seem vitriolic and panicky); why continue to punish yourself???

    Reply

    • Um…how is expressing a desire to see changes that are negatively impacting a sport you love considered “hating the sport”? Your argument is tantamount to saying: “Well, roller derby has major flaws that bug everyone, so rather than working for change, I’m going to stop watching it.” I like that there are thinkers like Windy Man out there helping to point out areas of opportunity for the sport. I want to see roller derby flourish and working through the growing pains will do that.

      Reply

    • Windy Man, you seem to hate the sport (or maybe I only read your articles where you despair about the constant ruining of the game–they often seem vitriolic and panicky)

      Maybe you should dig into the archives and educate yourself on how wrong you are.

      History in the Making? (Spring Roll 2011)

      Battle on the Bank IV Diaries:
      Part I: The Revenge Game
      Part III: Pride (probably my most favorite post so far)
      Part IV: Birth of a Superstar

      Me and My Bump (my skating history, my derby league, and my chronic injury)

      WRDN Gamecast: Men’s Derby from Battle for the Coast (because I take the time to film derby and share it with everyone because I hate roller derby, apparently)

      why continue to punish yourself???

      For the same reason that the people playing the game keep punishing themselves.

      Because I fuckin’ love roller derby.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Derby Nerd on 14 May 2012 at 7:57 am

    Need I remind everyone that flat track roller derby is about 9 years old. If WFTDA manged to perfect a sporting rule set in less than a decade it would be an absolutely momentus (and potentially miraculous) feat. Mean-spirited railing against the fact that they haven’t perfected game yet is NOT helping.

    Reply

    • Nor is complaining about one man’s opinion. Criticism is a healthy, necessary thing. You don’t like the fact that I’m negative about certain things? Don’t read my blog. Pretty easy.

      What’s not helping roller derby is everyone focusing on the positives of the sport and downplaying the negatives as “we’ll figure it out” or “it’s evolving strategy!” If you want to help, start suggesting fixes to an obviously growing problem. Or do what I’m doing and take action to make it happen.

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:24 am

      “What’s not helping roller derby is everyone focusing on the positives…”

      Oh my! Don’t give out compliments.

      Reply

  9. Posted by John Connelly on 14 May 2012 at 8:01 am

    Oh how I wish WFTDA would implement your ‘Modest Pack Solution’. Sigh.

    Reply

  10. Posted by John Connelly on 14 May 2012 at 8:03 am

    The solution I refer to is here (Scroll down to Chapter 3): http://windymanrd.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/the-pack-solution/

    Reply

  11. Posted by Bo Toxic on 14 May 2012 at 8:12 am

    We all know it’s a problem, nobody likes it not even the skaters doing it! What is the solution? I would love to read thoughts on how to resolve this instead if hearing over and over how bad it is. It’s either no pack bullocks or a game of chase, both are horrible. How do you suggest the rule be written to avoid these situations without causing new loopholes?

    Reply

    • Actually, roller derby *is* a game of chase. Jammers chasing down the back of the pack for points, and blockers trying to prevent/enable that is the core purpose of the game. Look out for future parts of the Another Derby series, where I explain the “why” behind that idea.

      Modern derby rules are missing a lot of basic fundamental concepts that make to game function correctly, such as the true role and purpose of the pivot. A situation like this is what happens when those incomplete rules are stretched to their limits.

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:26 am

      “nobody likes it not even the skaters doing it” – so why do these skaters go along with it? I dare say, if they are “doing it” they agree with it to some degree.

      Reply

  12. Posted by Bo Toxic on 14 May 2012 at 8:53 am

    So you prefer the chase? I read your solutions. I see your points but do you remember a few years ago before the no pack situation? We would all just skate around track as fast as possible, the jammer would rarely make it for a scoring pass. People complained about how bad it was, skaters hated it and that is what brought teams to this destroying the pack situation. When discussing rules we try to find solutions to promote more roller derby play. Original thinking was stricter no pack calls would encourage more engagement, unfortunately that didn’t happen. I’m just looking for a solution that could address both problems.

    Reply

    • I prefer to see roller derby where effort is rewarded, penalties thoroughly punish a team regardless of which position/player commits them, and the only way to beat a team is with true teamwork. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this in roller derby. It’s just a choice of whether or not to keep it simple or to heavily complicate things for everyone.

      But I understand the problem here. One factor that people don’t seem to bring up is that back then, everyone was still learning the game, still learning to skate, still lacking basic skills to play the game at a competent level. (To be blunt: Everyone stunk.)

      But Jesus H. Christ, look how quickly people are improving! It may be a good idea to go back to the ideas that were left behind and apply some of the knowledge that has been gained since then. Remember, for a “runaway pussy” situation to be prevented, a team of four blockers need only keep one opponent behind them.

      We call that goating now, and all the best teams can do it easily…which means they can just as easily prevent a pullaway pack. So I don’t see what the big deal is about going back to that, with the appropriate adjustments (i.e., The Pack Solution).

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Goating solves nothing for the pullaway pack problem. All the goat has to do is take a knee and take the penalty.

      Reply

    • And all the jammer needs to do is call off the jam, an ability the only jammer on the track should have at all times to counter the situation. If they take the intentional blocker penalty and the team on offense loses containment of the pack, no sweat. Call off the jam and put the defending team back where they started things with one less blocker. They’ll run out of penalties to give before they prevent the other team scoring on the power jam.

      Stop trying to make this difficult. It’s not.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Again, does not solve the problem of this final jam you are complaining about. I can get a team to do pullaway derby for the rest of the game easily enough by taking penalties. No problem at all.

      Reply

    • There wouldn’t be a problem to solve if the defense had a fair way of blocking the opposing jammer no matter what nefarious things their opponents tried to do, now would there?

      Here’s a fair way: Force the offensive blockers to engage the defensive blockers. If they don’t, they won’t score.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 2:27 pm

      Your solution does not solve the problem you just presented. However, if you say the offence can’t score unless they engage the defence then you are encouraging the defence to prevent the offence from engaging them. You create a whole new set of problems that are worse than the current ones.

      Reply

    • Your argument against seems to be missing a rather crucial aspect.

      It seems that you’re saying that if the offense was forced to engage the defense, which if I’m not mistaken, is how every other team sport known to exist works (oddly, no other sport has the problem you’re describing) then the defense will be able to do nefarious things to the offense and this same problem will exist, only in reverse.

      Well, what exactly? Give me some examples.

      Remember, the offense won’t want to pull away or speed up the pack too fast, because their jammer will never be able to catch up to it and score. (Not a good idea when you’re down a lot of points!) What can the defense do to fuck over the offense in The Pack Solution rules environment that an appropriate blocker penalty, an offensive jam call-off and, an even weaker defense can’t resolve?

      And remember: You can always slow someone down by engaging and blocking them. You can never speed someone up if they keep trying to disengage you.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 7:46 pm

      The defence simply runs away under your Pack Solution. No need to stop the jammer. No need to engage a blocker. No need to do anything to stop the team from scoring on them except for running away.

      Defence does not need to play defence under the pack solution. They just need to run away.

      Reply

    • The defense “simply” runs away, eh? So the four blockers on the offense are just going to fall over and die, then? Because they could just as easily, you know, keep one of the defensive players behind them at all times. With blocking.

      You remember…blocking? It’s what blockers used to do. In the pack.

      Of blockers.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 7:59 pm

      I suppose the good news though is that by running away they won’t be breaking any rules under the Pack Solution. It’ll just be mind-numbingly boring to watch.

      Reply

      • You mean, unless the offense helps their jammer block the defense from getting away. Or, unless the jammer calls off the jam if they do.

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Blocking can keep a pack and jammer in play right now. You just have to do it right.

      Reply

      • Okay, so let’s say your team is “doing it right.” Everyone on my team immediately drops to a knee.

        NO PACK is called.

        Now what can you do to stop my jammer without getting a penalty?

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Again, in the situation we are discussing, the Pack Solution does nothing to prevent a team from running out the clock by running away. Calling off the jam does not help. Time is the enemy.

      Reply

      • It doesn’t. But you say that as if it were necessarily a bad thing. You fail to acknowledge that for a team to run away, they need to get by the other team’s blockers.

        You say a team can “run away” and kill the clock, as if it’s their fault. I say, a team can “run away” because the other team failed to keep them contained. So if a team can’t block, they don’t deserve to control the play.

        Is this somehow unfair?

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Try to block someone who can do anything to get around you in order to win the game. Cut through the infield? Sure, no problem. Skate on the outside to get away? No problem. Worst thing that’ll happen is you get a penalty and you are the last skater on the track so you get to stay there. The game is over, you’ve won. The only way to stop that blocker is to block them illegally. Same problem only you want to reward the team whose jammer went to the box. I think it should cost them points which the current system does.

      Reply

      • We’re going in circles, dude. This is fun, but going nowhere.

        I’ll just end this now by saying that all major sports have different timing and penalty rules during the last minutes/last play of the game for the very reasons you’re talking about. So here’s the final solution: Any defensive penalty in the last jam of the game will result in a new (period clock) untimed last jam, if said penalty may have effected the outcome of the game.

        Then the defense can foul all the want. They’re going to get scored on no matter what, so long as the offensive blockers can do their job.

        By the way, I hate it when people post anonymously. Grow some balls and claim ownership to your words.

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Good, that means we don’t need the Pack Solution, we just need to change the rules on the final jam. Got it. I look forward to your detailed article describing how this will work. Glad to see you’ve been cured of your runaway derby idea.

      Reply

    • Except in current rules, the offense is the one committing the penalties and changing the outcome of the…

      Oh, never mind.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 8:36 pm

      See, I knew you could do it! Love ya buddy!

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:40 am

      By the way, Windman, what’s your real name?

      “…I hate it when people post anonymously. Grow some balls and claim ownership to your words.”

      Always the “last words” of a chump. Big deal that you don’t know who this person is. Why is it so important that instead of starting your point with asking who is writing a contrary view you now decide to end your lost cause with it?

      Sounds more like you are grasping at straws rather then resting on your solid argument.

      Reply

      • By the way, Windman, what’s your real name?

        Steven Rodriguez. If you would have bothered to check my about page you would have been able to find that out quite easily, because I’ve had it there since the beginning of this blog.

        Always the “last words” of a chump. Big deal that you don’t know who this person is. Why is it so important that instead of starting your point with asking who is writing a contrary view you now decide to end your lost cause with it?

        The real “chumps” are afraid to associate their names with their opinions if they’re afraid of being wrong or (more commonly on the Internet) want to attack someone without having to worry about their own reputation being tarnished. It’s really easy to fling mud at someone when you’re behind a shield of anonymity. Doubly so for roller derby, where people are going so far as to hide their fake derby names with fake Internet-names.

        Sounds more like you are grasping at straws rather then resting on your solid argument.

        The readers of this blog will determine whether or not my arguments are solid or not. All I’m doing is putting my opinion out there. For someone like you to waltz in here and attack my opinions without offering a counter “solid argument” reeks of being a hypocrite.

        People like you sadden me.

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 1:13 am

      “People like you sadden me.”

      Windy, you are the one who is trolling your own blog, I’m just here for the first time.

      Reply

      • You must be really bored up there in Seattle to be posting comments on a dinky little WordPress blog for an hour straight at 1:30am in the morning.

        By the way, I still haven’t caught your name?

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 1:23 am

      “You must be really bored…to be posting comments on a dinky little WordPress blog for an hour straight at 1:30am in the morning.”

      It beats looking at porn, but why do you care? I’m keeping your “hits” up and improving your search engine optimization.

      Dinky blog, is that all you think of your endless hours of hard writing? I suppose you think your opinions [if that's what the boys are calling them today] are dinky too.

      “By the way, I still haven’t caught your name?”

      Really, what’s the point. Can’t you have a discussion with someone you don’t know? I promise I won’t offer you candy from inside the door of my van.

      Reply

      • Really, what’s the point. Can’t you have a discussion with someone you don’t know?

        Why is it so important that instead of starting your point with asking who is writing a contrary view you now decide to end your lost cause with it?

        but why do you care?

        Why do you care?

    • “Why do you care?”

      come on, my little brother can do better.

      Reply

    • What? It must be 1:30am where ever you are too…..oh yeah, if I could find that “about” link on this [not-at-all] dinky blog I would know you are somewhere that I am not.

      Reply

    • Posted by Willy Tarreau on 6 June 2012 at 2:41 pm

      “I’ll just end this now by saying that all major sports have different timing and penalty rules during the last minutes/last play of the game”

      That is in no way true. As far as I know no major sport either in the USA or the world adjusts their rules for the final moments of a game. Unless…..you are referring to non-calls (NBA) or the change to a shoot-out situation (soccer or hockey).

      Please enlighten your readers to at least three examples of actual rule changes in the final moments in each of these major sports: Baseball, football, basketball. Otherwise, please stop lying to your readership.

      Reply

      • That is in no way true. As far as I know

        Then you don’t know very much about sports. Educate yourself:

        NFL timing/penalty changes in last two minutes of a half/game:
        Among other things, any offensive injury/penalty requires a team take a time out or suffer a 10-second clock runoff, any fumble cannot gain yardage, a QB sack does not stop the clock, any defensive foul in the last play of the game gives the offense a untimed down after the game clock has expired, the umpire changes position to behind the defense….

        NBA timing/penalty changes in last two minutes of half/game:
        Among others: Team goes in penalty after second foul even if they hadn’t used up their 5-foul allotment in the period, clock stops after every basket (a running clock otherwise), a team using a timeout after a basket can advance the ball to half-court for the in-bounds, free substitution allowed during 20s timeouts, fouls away from the ball give the offended team a free thrown and the ball back…

        Baseball:
        There are no timing or penalty rules in baseball in the traditional sense, so there wouldn’t be different rules for them, either. Duh.

        College lacrosse:
        A team with the lead in the last two minutes of the game is automatically and immediately issued a “keep it in” stall warning in an attempt to give the defense a better chance of getting the ball back.

        Cycling and auto racing, while not “timed” in the traditional sense, also have slightly different rules for what happens during the final sprint or last lap of a race.

        Otherwise, please stop lying to your readership.

        How about you do some research on something before deciding to dish out a baseless attack on me?

  13. Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 9:11 am

    I think one of the main problems is that people are used to seeing Offence and Defence happening at the same time in Roller Derby. However, over the years, people have figured out that only Defence needs a pack. You can score points without the pack.

    This become even more apparent when one team only has to concentrate on Offence (ie. power jam). The pack does not benefit them. The defence then not only has to stop the jammer but also make sure the pack is formed.

    This is as it should be. Teams should know this by now.

    Let’s be fair. The reason the Gatekeepers lost is because their jammer broke the rules and was sent to the box. If that jammer skates clean, they win that game.

    If you give up a power jam, expect 15 to 25 points to go up against you. It happened before the no-pack strategy and it happens now.

    Reply

    • Let’s be fair. The reason the Gatekeepers lost is because their jammer broke the rules and was sent to the box. If that jammer skates clean, they win that game.

      I don’t disagree with you about the St. Louis jammer. Gotta be more headsmart in that situation.

      However, the Gatekeepers only committed one penalty. The Shock Exchange then went on to commit three penalties, a factor that you seem to be ignoring. If this were truly fair, those NYSE penalties would have benefited St. Louis in some way, shape or form. They didn’t, because they actually benefited New York no matter how you look at it.

      So if you want to be “fair,” I’m going to be realistic: The reason the Gatekeepers lost is because New York was playing the no-pack rules more often than their opponents on the track throughout the entire game, keeping the it close enough to where NYSE could take advantage of an unfortunately timed StL penalty by deliberately breaking the rules in order to ensure their victory.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 14 May 2012 at 10:58 am

      Or you could add that the Gatekeepers were unable to adapt to the NYSE no pack strategy and that is why they lost in the end. The game is evolving. Strategies are evolving. That is the way it is supposed to happen. As BB mentions, some teams actually are practising defences against the the NPPJ.

      The game is still growing. More fans are still finding the sport. This game was exciting. The sky is not falling.

      Reply

  14. Posted by B. Bruze on 14 May 2012 at 10:00 am

    9.7.2.1.2

    There are rules that should have stopped NYSE’s behavior and I coached my team in this last year when the last opposing blocker had been blocked off the track and our jammer got zero points for the pass.

    The moment NYSE’s blockers removed themselves from play the jam should have been called dead for failing to field a blocker. Since the last jam would not have reached it’s natural conclusion, there would have been an additional jam with those blockers penalized.

    If NY continued to refuse to field blockers the head ref could use 9.2.7.1.2 to declare NYSE forfeited.

    The rules are there to stop that cheating, they simply weren’t enforced.

    Reply

    • NYSE could have just as well taken a knee or sprinted backwards on the track to induce the intentional no-pack. Just because they stepped off of it to achieve the same effect doesn’t automatically qualify them to get a forfeit.

      There are already rules in the rulebook that punish their offenses. Problem is, those punishments are pathetically weak, especially considering the benefit infinitely outweighs the penalty.

      Reply

    • Posted by B. Bruze on 14 May 2012 at 10:39 am

      Yes, they could have done those things. But they did NOT do just those things.

      Yes, the rules are weak in a last jam no one serves their penalties situation.

      My point is, there are powerful rules for failing/refusing to field a blocker that would have forced NYSE to suffer those penalties and given the Gatekeepers a chance to retort on the track. Calling for rules changes when there are sufficient rules to address the issue is calling for the wrong reform. The jam should have been called dead, NYSE blockers penalized for insubornination (refusing to return to the track when ordered by the head referee), JRS were not valid from that point in the jam. The Gatekeepers showed they had what it took to turn that back to their win.

      NYSE once called for their competit to forfeit a game they were losing. Perhaps it’s time they get a taste of their own medicine from the Games Committee.

      Reply

    • I’m not disagreeing with your point. But in the end, what you’re arguing for comes down to referee discretion or the decision of a rules committee, i.e., someone’s opinion. People may agree or disagree with that opinion. Controversy would arise. Slippery slope, that.

      Here’s my point: Negative reinforcement doesn’t work that well in sports. “I broke a rule and they punished me, but that won’t stop me from trying to get away with it again.” See: Football players killing each other. Positive reinforcement is better. “If I follow the rules and work harder than my opponents, my team will be rewarded with points or a victory.”

      If you create a rules environment where a player committing a penalty or otherwise gives up on a play immediately puts his or her team at an immediate disadvantage, to the tune of making it exponentially more difficult to score points (or prevent from being scored on), things will take care of themselves on the track without having to call an OTO every single time some weird penalty thing happens. Because the chances of it happening in the first place drops dramatically.

      Simpler is better.

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:48 am

      hmmmm. You say, “Here’s my point: Negative reinforcement doesn’t work that well in sports.”
      But previously you also said, “What’s not helping roller derby is everyone focusing on the positives…”

      So don’t say anything bad nor say anything good. What’s left to say?

      Reply

  15. MRDA should really consider switching to the M.A.D.E. ruleset…normally used for co-ed leagues but has been adopted by numerous leagues looking to switch from WFTDA and OSDA…plus, it’s extremely fan friendly. http://www.skatemade.org/

    Reply

  16. Posted by Billy Rae Siren on 14 May 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Such talented skaters, such awful rules. So happy my league skates M.A.D.E.

    Reply

  17. Posted by N8 on 14 May 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Windy, you are an idiot, and you’ve been singing the same song for far too long. I almost don’t want to reply, because it just gives you more attention that you don’t deserve, but I can’t resist.

    First of all, the reason the Gatekeepers won is because their jammer went to the box. If the ONLY way you can lose is by going to the box, then DON’T GO TO THE BOX! If you aren’t a good enough skater to avoid a penalty when the game is on the line, then you earned the loss.

    Beyond that, this type of game play is in EVERY SPORT! I could list them all, but the best example is intentionally grounding in football. It’s incurring an intentional cost so that the other team has NO opportunity to get possession and score.

    In fact, this is even better than grounding because THERE ARE WAYS TO FIGHT IT! They take a penalty to destroy the pack? Then you take a penalty to floor the jammer when there’s no pack. Just because you’ll take a penalty does not mean you’re physically restrained from hitting them.

    And you know who IS allowed to hit the jammer in a no pack situation? YOUR JAMMER! They can hit him anywhere.

    This game was lost because the Gatekeepers threw away the game on the last jam. You calling out NYSE for cheating is just bush league, and this article indicates how little you really understand this sport, and other sports as well.

    Reply

    • Beyond that, this type of game play is in EVERY SPORT! I could list them all, but the best example is intentionally grounding in football. It’s incurring an intentional cost so that the other team has NO opportunity to get possession and score.

      In an intentional grounding situation, the quarterback has two options:

      1) Intentionally ground the ball and the penalty. Lose 10 yards, lose a down.
      2) Get sacked, avoid the penalty. Lose around 10 yards, lose a down.

      The intentional grounding penalty simply gives to the defense what they likely would have gotten had the other team not committed it. No matter what the QB does in that situation, it’s the same result: Bad for the offense, good for the defense.

      Could you please clarify what you mean by your example?

      In fact, this is even better than grounding because THERE ARE WAYS TO FIGHT IT! They take a penalty to destroy the pack? Then you take a penalty to floor the jammer when there’s no pack. Just because you’ll take a penalty does not mean you’re physically restrained from hitting them.

      The whole purpose of this post was to highlight exactly what you’re saying. Roller derby’s strategy “evolution” has in fact devolved to the point where teams must counter intentional penalties with more intentional penalties. This sets a horrible precedent that’s basically saying, two wrongs will put things right.

      I want to see roller derby where legal defensive pack blocking can only be countered by legal offensive pack blocking under any and all circumstances. Don’t you?

      You calling out NYSE for cheating is just bush league, and this article indicates how little you really understand this sport, and other sports as well.

      From Wikipedia:

      Cheating refers to an immoral way of achieving a goal. It is generally used for the breaking of rules to gain advantage in a competitive situation.

      I saw the New York Shock Exchange breaking the rules in a competitive situation. It looks like they gained an advantage from it, too.

      Or maybe you can educate me on how intentional grounding works again. Since you seem to know about it more than I do.

      Reply

    • Posted by N8 on 14 May 2012 at 8:10 pm

      As to the cheating, they didn’t get away with the rules breaking, nor did they even attempt to get away with it without penalty. They received their penalties. They just properly weighed the cost of those penalties. While the paragraph you quoted doesn’t mention getting away, all of the examples they list show people attempting to break the rules and get away without any penalty. This is implicit in the definition of cheating in regards to sports that differentiates it from simply violating the rules to earn a penalty.

      My bad, I meant taking a knee, not intentional grounding. Replied too quickly. It’s intentionally killing the play so that the other team has zero chance to score any points and running out the clock at the end of the game.

      But if you don’t like that example, then go for basketball, and the end of games where teams intentionally foul the other teams for clock and point maintenance. It’s normal play in sports.

      Besides, 25 point power jams were the norm even before the current no pack rules. That is not the reason NYSE won and Gatekeepers lost, and saying it is, is at best disingenuous and beyond that indicates a lack of understanding of the sport. The Gatekeepers lost because their jammer got sloppy and went to the box. Obvious to all of us is that roller derby is different from any other sports when it comes to scoring. Losing your jammer is equivalent to a turn over, and if you want to win you have to prevent that when it counts.

      Reply

  18. Posted by N8 on 14 May 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Oops, missed a part:
    “I want to see roller derby where legal defensive pack blocking can only be countered by legal offensive pack blocking under any and all circumstances. Don’t you?”

    I want a unicorn too, unfortunately, the physical laws of the universe make that an impossibility. You want a sport where instead of this you get skaters racing the pack. I find it incredibly hard to believe that you watched much derby when this was so easy to do because it was the most boring derby ever. The ease with which it can be done has nothing to do with the difference in skill level. Your comments above talk about goating which, if you’ve been watching any of the top 25 teams (at least), is something that the best right now can avoid 95% of the time (and when skaters do get goated, all it takes is to get knocked down or out or get sent to the box and it’s over). The only times it works regularly is when a top team is playing a team that they clearly outclass. The current solution is unfortunate, and there is room for improvement (both in rules and in strategy), but it’s still far better than the alternative for all of us that used to watch the racing pace lines.

    Reply

    • My bad, I meant taking a knee, not intentional grounding. Replied too quickly. It’s intentionally killing the play so that the other team has zero chance to score any points and running out the clock at the end of the game.

      Okay, that makes more sense. But I think you’re still barking up the wrong tree.

      In football, taking a knee is completely legal, and is only a viable strategy when the defending team has exhausted all possible ways of stopping it. If the offense gets to the point where they can take a knee to win the game, it’s the other team’s fault. They lost the game in the 59 minutes preceding the victory formation sequence. They had their chances already.

      But unless you mean this some other way, what you’re basically saying is that a football team that is behind on the scoreboard can take a knee, give the other team chance zero chance of stopping them….and then score the winning points as time is running out.

      Is that what you’re talking about?

      But if you don’t like that example, then go for basketball, and the end of games where teams intentionally foul the other teams for clock and point maintenance. It’s normal play in sports.

      If I’m losing in a basketball game and I intentionally foul a player, I’m potentially giving their team two points on free throws. If they’re better at shooting than me and can sink those free throws a majority of the time, it won’t help me. The more I foul them, the more points I’m giving them. It’s a high-risk strategy that doesn’t work if the other team is better than I am.

      If I’m losing in a roller derby game and I intentionally destroy the pack, I’m definitely giving my team five points on the pass. If they’re better at blocking than me, it won’t matter because they can’t legally stop my jammer from scoring during the no-pack, so it’ll help me every time. The more penalties I commit, the more points I’m giving myself. It’s a no-risk strategy that effectively guarantees my team wins, even if the other team is better than mine.

      Please tell me why you believe these are the same.

      Losing your jammer is equivalent to a turn over, and if you want to win you have to prevent that when it counts.

      True. But turning over the ball to the other team doesn’t guarantee they will score. Without a jammer, a team should have their fair rights to mount a legal defense, regardless of what the other team does. Because you’re basically trying to tell me that after the turnover, the team with the ball can then freely commit an intentional foul, pick up some free points, and keep the ball so they can do it again.

      You want a sport where instead of this you get skaters racing the pack.

      I want a sport where the threat of racing the pack is a defensive option that a team can use to counter the threat of a dead-stopped pack. I want balance where both can happen if tactically necessary, not just only one of the extremes. It is possible, despite what you believe.

      Have you ever seen a game of legit derby with a pivot that can break and score on the fly? I’m curious, because there’s a very good reason why they do that and it’s related to balancing the speed of the pack.

      I find it incredibly hard to believe that you watched much derby when this was so easy to do because it was the most boring derby ever.

      I felt it was boring because the players playing back then had scant skating experience, rudimentary blocking skills, and by their own admission, had no idea what they were doing. But they were having fun doing it, dammit.

      You threw some sports analogies my way, so here’s one back at you:

      Baseball is exciting (to millions of people, if not you) because of the intensity and mindgames of the pitcher-batter duels, among other reasons. However, if you have players that aren’t strong enough to pitch the ball accurately or coordinated enough to hit the ball out of the air, baseball would indeed be piss-poor boring.

      But if you have players that can’t pitch well or can’t bat balls out of the air, but they still want to play the game, you dumb down the rules so they will be able to do so. Say, get rid of the pitcher altogether, and put the ball on a batting tee so it won’t move and the player will have a fair chance to hit it.

      Now you have a competitive game again. But this game isn’t called “baseball,” because the players playing it lack the minimum skills necessary to play baseball under the historically established rules. It’s called “Tee Ball.” Lots of people play it. And they’re having fun doing it, dammit.

      When Tee Ball players get to the point where they can pitch and bat the ball without assistance, they stop playing Tee Ball and start playing actual baseball. But what’s happening in roller derby right now is that a lot of teams and players have the minimum skills to graduate and play baseball, as it were, but for some reason they’re keeping the batting tee in the game and are hitting grand slam after grand slam out of the park.

      So with each and every power jam, teams are getting two, three, four, five grand slams at a time. Just keep putting that ball on the tee, and they’ll just keep hitting them out of the park. Entertaining? You tell me.

      Reply

    • Posted by N8 on 15 May 2012 at 5:33 am

      Forgive me for doing this, but I’ll have to take a minute to explain things I know you know, but you seem to be neglecting some key ideas.

      Derby is not like other sports in that both teams are allowed to score at all times. When making analogies, it’s important to remember where this breaks down. “Scoring” in derby is less like scoring in other sports and more like racing, except that instead of trying to go a certain distance the fastest, it’s who can go the furthest distance in a given amount of time. In other sports the teams take turns progressing in this race (increasing their score) but in derby both teams can do it simultaneously.

      In the football analogy, both games have 59 minutes and the comparison is that in the last minute, one team is able to take an action that 100% denies the other team the opportunity to progress any further. This is how I was attempting to compare them.

      As for basketball, the intentional fouling at the end is an attempt to intentionally take a penalty in order to prevent the team from running down the clock. You know you’re likely giving up points, but it’s the only way to get the ball back into your hands. I brought it up because it’s an established sport where it’s accepted to commit penalties and nobody calls it cheating.

      “Because you’re basically trying to tell me that after the turnover, the team with the ball can then freely commit an intentional foul, pick up some free points, and keep the ball so they can do it again.”

      No, because they only “have the ball” as long as the jammer is in the box for. The analogy to most other sports breaks down here due to most sports having only 1 point per possession, but it’s closer to football, where a turnover can result in 0, 3, 6, 7 or 8 points.

      “I want a sport where the threat of racing the pack is a defensive option that a team can use to counter the threat of a dead-stopped pack. I want balance where both can happen if tactically necessary, not just only one of the extremes. It is possible, despite what you believe.”

      The word ‘balance’ is the problem here though, because it’s just way too easy for the runaway pace line. That’s why the rest of us hate on your idea. You believe it would be a rare tool, but it would be the strategy that everyone employs if their jammer didn’t get lead. It would lead to jam after jam of 2-minute racing pace lines.

      “Have you ever seen a game of legit derby with a pivot that can break and score on the fly? I’m curious, because there’s a very good reason why they do that and it’s related to balancing the speed of the pack.”

      Not live (yet), but I don’t know why you bring this up. Your proposed solution was to allow for runaway pace lines. Unless you’ve changed your mind on that?

      “I felt it was boring because the players playing back then had scant skating experience,”

      Untrue. Derby had lifetime speed skaters and they were doing it and having it done to them.

      “rudimentary blocking skills, and by their own admission, had no idea what they were doing.”

      It’s clear to me that you think the problem was only in the general skill levels of derby, but you clearly weren’t following derby back then because that’s untrue. It happened in the top levels too and I think you need to provide references of many of the top teams saying they ‘had rudimentary skills and no idea what they were doing’.

      Baseball is my other favorite sport so feel free to bring it into the discussion all you want. :)

      Of course, your analogy to the skills between tee-ball and baseball as compared to derby is ridiculous and indicates you simply do not know derby like you think you do.

      Reply

      • Derby is not like other sports in that both teams are allowed to score at all times.

        …except when there’s only one jammer on the track, which is the situation we’re having this point of contention over. So it’s not at all times. You can’t put roller derby in its own “unique” protective bubble for this reason, which is strange since you’re the one who started comparing derby to other sports that don’t play offense and defense at the same time.

        If only one team has a jammer, the game changes. Only one team plays defense. I’d like to say that the other “team” plays “offense,” but as we are quickly seeing, the offensive blockers on the power jam are simply not doing anything, or worse, intentionally taking penalties. No bueno, mi compadre.

        In the football analogy, both games have 59 minutes and the comparison is that in the last minute, one team is able to take an action that 100% denies the other team the opportunity to progress any further. This is how I was attempting to compare them.

        Right. But this strategy only works when a team is leading at the end of the game. A team that’s behind isn’t going to take a knee, are they? Nor are they going to take a knee on 2nd down with 6:42 left in the 2nd quarter in a tie game. They could if they wanted to, since they have the ball and the say-so over what happens, but there is no competitive advantage to doing so. They could also take an intentional penalty. That’s their choice. But the rules prevent them from making any kind of competitive gain if they do, and for good reason.

        Not so in derby, where everything is backwards. The “take a knee” strategy in football happens under very, very specific end-game circumstances. But it never gains yardage or gives them points, which is why you don’t see it happen when the trailing team has the ball during a close game, even though it’s a legal gameplay option. I can’t see how this justifies something illegal (or skirting illegal) happening all the freaking time in derby, and a team gaining a significant competitive advantage for doing so on top of that.

        The word ‘balance’ is the problem here though, because it’s just way too easy for the runaway pace line. That’s why the rest of us hate on your idea. You believe it would be a rare tool, but it would be the strategy that everyone employs if their jammer didn’t get lead. It would lead to jam after jam of 2-minute racing pace lines.

        When both teams have their jammer on the track, why would there by nothing but running pacelines? Because neither team would ever score if they just kept skating and skating around in circles forever. They’d need to throw some blocks and slow down the other team enough to get their jammer out (something the other team is doing at the same time, hmmm) and then keep those blocks going to allow their jammer time to catch up and score. Isn’t that how roller derby works?

        If one team’s jammer got sent to the box, then yeah, a pullaway pack would be possible. But the team on offense would know this, so they would need to make absolutely sure they’re well-positioned in the pack (with teamwork!) to make sure they don’t waste the opportunity. If the pack pulls away, it’s their own damn fault that five players couldn’t contain but one opponent to prevent it. It can be boring, I suppose. But so can power plays in hockey if the defensive team can play keepaway with the pack puck on the penalty kill. It’s just a natural part of gameplay sometimes. That both teams are going in the same direction doesn’t change this.

        [Pivot] I don’t know why you bring this up

        Because it brings the balance to the game that you claim is impossible to achieve. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. The active pivot virtually guarantees that both teams will have a jammer/pivot out to score on every play. This naturally regulates the pack speed: Teams aren’t going to want to sprint the pack, since neither team would ever score; Teams aren’t going to bring the pack to a dead-stop because that would give both teams an excellent scoring chance. In most situations, that’s bad for both teams. So the pack goes as fast as it needs to as teams position themselves within the pack to offend/defend against the incoming lead jammer, knowing they’ve only got one shot at getting as many points as possible.

        If you watch games with a double jammer-breakout situation, the pack is actually moving and there are few rules shenanigans going on. This is especially the case during banked track games, where the lead jammer is always the jammer in the lead, another thing that helps regulate pack speed.

        I aim to demonstrate this (and all the other stuff I’m on about) in the six parts of the Another Derby series, so rather than continue on about it here I think I’m going to get back to getting part 2 finished. (It’s going to be DEVASTATING!!)

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:56 am

      “It’s a high-risk strategy that doesn’t work if the other team is better than [my team].”

      Yet, Windy, this tactic happens in nearly every close basketball game because of the three point shot. If my math is correct on this, three points are more than two points.

      Reply

      • Yes, and a three-point shot is much easier to miss than a two-point shot, and therefore a riskier score to go for.

        So what’s your point?

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 1:09 am

      Thick skull? Fouling is still the preferred tactic by nearly every basketball coach in a close game. Your comparison is irrelevant.

      Reply

    • FYI Candy……http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/54102208-77/rondo-boston-points-rebounds.html.csp

      Unless the players is fouled in shooting a 3 point attempt, the fouled only gets two shots.

      Reply

  19. Posted by Angus Con on 15 May 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I’m just happy to see a team actually get penalties for pack destruction. WFTDA’s championship tournament was pathetic because a couple of teams used very similar strategy and weren’t remotely penalized for doing so. Is that progress? Maybe. I also have to wonder where NYSE picked their version up from. Hmmmmm? That’s a brainbuster.

    My grand sweeping statement is this. Roller derby, especially the highest levels, is more concerned about loopholes to win than being the better team. Every sport has a no douchebag rule. This type of deliberate no-pack is not much different than 2008′s no-pack when, surprise surprise, we had the same champion. They play a style that is the same as a Mortal Kombat leg sweep. They don’t beat teams because they’re more talented or more athletic or even because they are better at teamwork. They are just better at not skating during power jams. And that’s enough to win.

    As someone who endured plenty of the hate directed Denver’s way back in 2009, I have a hard time understanding why there’s not more public disdain for two things that dominate this season and last’s roller derby, the scrum starts and the no skating power jams. These are decidedly more unwatchable tactics to a fan than our old “unbearable slow game/stroller derby” was. I swear we can put monkeys in skates and train them to fade to the outside to score points. And because you’re training an animal, it’s just more fun for everyone.

    It’s bad for the sport in a big way and eventually winning just isn’t good enough. If you lose the majority of the fans who don’t also participate at one level or another, then nobody is left to watch a douchebag team win. And honestly, that’s probably the best result to hope for because WFTDA’s rule changes always create more loopholes than they close anyway.

    Reply

    • And honestly, that’s probably the best result to hope for because WFTDA’s rule changes always create more loopholes than they close anyway.

      The no-minors penalty revisions that are going to be introduced in the 2012 rules update were beta-tested and (likely) written for a gameplay environment where packs still mostly stayed together and offensive blockers were still defaulting to assist their jammer during power jams.

      They’re going to be implemented into a gameplay environment where blockers are finding every possible reason to disengage and ignore their opponents when it is tactically beneficial to do so, which is starting to be all the time.

      If the rules did not account for this on the fly—extremely likely considering how long it takes WFTDA to move rules revisions through the pipeline–the 2012 rules could potentially be a total disaster, creating more loopholes and unfair derby situations than they fix.

      Sigh.

      Reply

    • Dumpster calls BS in 3….2….1….

      Reply

  20. Windyman: you are angry that Roller Derby currently doesn’t solely reward physical skill and you can’t seem to find merit in a team that cleverly and yes, perhaps shrewdly can quickly assess a situation and adjust in a way that allows them to win, even if that means taking penalties to do so. You used a WIKIPEDIA article to define “cheating.” I’m assuming that if/when you checked an actual DICTIONARY (as I have) the actual definition didn’t fit your planned narrative as well. You are probably correct in that the rules need to change but you are being childish and irritatingly provocative by needing to cast aspersions on the NYSE as “cheaters” in order to illustrate your point. You want a soapbox? You have one and you probably got the attention you wanted by shocking us all with your video title, but it’s more than a little disingenuous and you know it. The more nuanced and less reactionary among us would like to see a change in your rhetoric.

    Reply

    • I’m assuming that if/when you checked an actual DICTIONARY (as I have) the actual definition didn’t fit your planned narrative as well.

      Definition of CHEAT – Merriam-Webster

      transitive verb
      1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
      2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice
      3: to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting

      intransitive verb
      1a : to practice fraud or trickery
      b: to violate rules dishonestly
      2: to be sexually unfaithful —usually used with on
      3: to position oneself defensively near a particular area in anticipation of a play in that area

      The question isn’t whether or not NYSE broke the rules blatantly. They did. The heart of the matter was whether or not they did so honestly or dishonestly, if we are to use Merriam-Webster’s definition. One could interpret New York’s actions as defrauding the Gatekeepers out of a fair chance of defending their victory by taking three intentional penalties, depriving St. Louis of a legal chance to mount a defense against the consequences of their one penalty.

      With that, I have a question for you: If this incident isn’t “cheating” in roller derby, what would be? Just the act of breaking the rules is not cheating, of course. But when you break the rules with intent, it most certainly is. If a roller player derby or team tries to cheat, they by definition must be breaking the rules with the intent to gain unfair advantage. It doesn’t matter if the rule is “no razor blades allowed in your equipment,” or “no intentional destruction of the pack.” If you break it on purpose and you know it’ll help you win a game why is that not cheating? Does getting caught or punished after the fact change that?

      This is why players and teams breaking sporting rules are punished to the point where they are put at a bigger disadvantage than the advantage generally would have given them, to dissuade people from cheating. Which is why you don’t see it often (with the exception of steroids, which is damn difficult to catch people doing; they’re still violating a rule, though!) and certainly never see it blatantly happening in plain view of people. But if the “punishment” doesn’t fit the crime, that doesn’t change the fact that a player/team committed the crime, knowing full-well why they did it, what the outcome would be, and that they could get away with it scott-free.

      Anyway, if you don’t think they cheated, that’s cool. But right now, a lot of people think they did. If New York was totally innocent in this debacle, no one would be agreeing with me. So don’t convince me about it. Convince the thousands of other people that, according to you, don’t know the meaning of the word “cheater.”

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 12:59 am

      Jacob,

      “Posted by WindyMan on 16 May 2012 at 8:14 am”

      Windy totally proved your point.

      Reply

  21. Just because you highlighted a definition doesn’t mean it applies to NYSE. There was no deprivation of victory “by the use of deceit or fraud.” Skating off the track and destroying the pack may be shrewd, but it’s not fraudulent nor is it deceitful. You’ve already softened/backpedaled your stance on the DNN thread about them being “cheaters,” so it’s funny to see a resumption of such blatant chest-beating here. Trash the rules; stop trashing the skaters. It’s unbecoming, unnecessary towards making your point, and damages the sport every bit as much as the style of play your are justifiably railing against.

    Again, I agree with much of what you say, but wholly disagree with how you say it. My home league, The Long Island Roller Rebels, played a bout against Gotham and lost by 600 points, which a bunch of blowhards used to rant about how (and this reads as very ironic when read literally) “this sport is broken without divisions.” Neither league needed to be used/trashed to make this point.

    You could have easily made your point without demonizing anyone involved in this bout. Please stop dumping on skaters for being innovative within the framework of the rules as they are. I’m not defending their actions as they pertain to the image of the sport, but I’m not trashing them either. There’s a key difference here, and I wish you’d recognize that, but I guess you’re not after nuance and reasoned debate; controversy is what you’re looking for and what you’ve generated. I hope it has the desired effect that we all want, but I wish you’d gone about it differently.

    Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 1:02 am

      ahhh, sobering reality.

      Reply

    • Posted by Joe Rollerfan on 22 May 2012 at 2:01 am

      I agree with Jacob that it’s unproductive to argue over whether NYSE’s behavior counts as cheating. It’s actually worse than that, since it deflects conversation away from the deeper problem of how to address the behavior. Does it really matter whether it qualifies as cheating? It’s more productive to discuss whether we should encourage or discourage taking intentional penalties, and to discuss whether some illegal behavior (like destroying the pack) should have such high rewards.

      Reply

    • let me guess-you also believe ORENTHAL didn’t kill Ron or Nicole either.

      Reply

    • Posted by Costa Ladeas on 4 June 2012 at 11:13 am

      Because DNN will BAN YOUR ASS if you say such things. Which is why I AVOID Fat Chris’ & girlsname site like the plague.

      Reply

    • @jacob at a certain point the point margin becomes so HUGE adding to it is RUNNING UP THE SCORE, something that isn’t very sportsmanlike.

      @joe breaking a rule (9.7.2.1.2) to win isn’t considering CHEATING???

      @costa OH MY BROTHER, TESTIFY!

      Reply

  22. Posted by lynneelf on 17 May 2012 at 8:55 am

    I agree about the cheating issues. I won’t name them but… I’ve quickly grown to dislike (ok, hate) my own local team simply because of this. The packs are loose, the skaters face-backwards and apply brakes (to the point of *stopping*) to block, they re-enter where they chose to gain position. And our zebras themselves won’t call them out on it until 3/4 through the game … thus ensuring the home team wins.

    The ONLY time I see them skate fairly (and the zebras call fairly) is when they skate against themselves. Against other teams however and … yeah. Rules are apparently just “suggestions”.

    However they’re not an official WFTDA league so … I’m not sure anything can be done to rectify them. Except being shunned by the other teams.

    Only reason I go to games is cos we already have the season pass. I just cheer on the other teams instead.

    The sad thing is, the local team IS good. They don’t actually HAVE to cheat to win. It’s not stopping them from doing it though.

    Reply

    • Posted by lynneelf on 20 May 2012 at 12:36 pm

      i find it funny that people voted my reply down. what? Is it BAD to notice that the local team here cheats? Should we close our eyes and pretend they’re not breaking rules and praise them for “creative winning techniques”? Or should we call a spade a spade and not sugar-coat the truth?

      hmm?

      Reply

    • I think the fact that there are so many thumbs-down ratings on simple, honest comments just goes to show how deranged some people are in defending the modern game. Take this comment from earlier in the thread:

      Such talented skaters, such awful rules. So happy my league skates M.A.D.E.

      Two people thumbed this down. Uh, why?? WFTDA has talented skaters. (True, obviously.) WFTDA rules are awful. (It’s possible to break the rules to gain advantage and have full jams where no one skates. How is that not awful?) The person is happy skating under a different set of rules. (What’s the problem with that?)

      What’s probably happening here is some people have a blind allegiance to the WFTDA, choosing to ignore or downplay the negatives as if they’re not affecting people, skaters and fans alike. They’re finding it easier to rate down or attack the “haters” (and do so anonymously, I might add) instead of discussing the real issues the organization is facing now, and will be in the future.

      I mean, all of the major articles on this blog have middle ratings of about 3 out of 5 stars. A vast majority of ratings on posts are either 1 star or 5 stars, meaning either people completely agree with my points, or completely disagree with my points. Or as is the case, my opinions.

      So even if people think I’m completely wrong about something, the fact of the matter is at least the same amount of people think I’m completely right. So at least we can agree that there’s a divide here, one that wouldn’t exist if the status-quo was all flowers and rainbows as some people would like to believe.

      But the incredible thing about this is that there is something that EVERYONE has agreed on: The Pack Solution is approaching 12,000 views, and it has a near-perfect 4.5/5 rating, multiple reblogs/blogger likes, nearly 1,000 shares, and has been passed around by thousands of skaters, coaches, refs, and internally at the WFTDA itself.

      These are the people that would know best about the game they’re playing, and their continued and overwhelming positive feedback outweighs the negative feedback.

      From all I’ve received, I have only seen 3 outright-negative responses to it. THREE. Three non-skaters are saying I’m completely wrong and I don’t know what I’m talking about, and nearly 12,000 skaters and fans say I’m right enough to keep sharing it among their peers.

      So if someone wants to thumb this comment down, go for it. Click that button right down there. The depressing of your index finger in a negative connotation will surely help roller derby regain its feet and grow this sport forward in the right way. Just like plugging your ears and ignoring the rapidly-growing outcry for meaningful, positive, active change in this game will make it go away.

      Reply

    • Posted by Candykitten on 22 May 2012 at 1:05 am

      [Introduce: sucking noise.]

      Reply

    • You got it in one, Windy,as Candy clearly proves your point.

      Reply

  23. [...] We has them. Our friends has them too (*coughcough*WindyMan*cough*). Minnesota All-Star/Team USA skater Juke Boxx is another friend with opinions. She talks [...]

    Reply

  24. there is a lot of confusion on what is really going on here. first off the word cheating applys only to deceitful tactics, these actions were honest, and blatant.

    this scenario can be played out at any point in the game, the rules say a referee cannot take the last blocker off the track for a penalty. i understand that pack definition is the hot topic right now, but look past that and you’ll see that if a ref cannot penalize a player under certain circumstances than no matter what rules are written we’ll always have an issue with this “last man standing” scenario.

    an idea i was trying to play out in my head all day was something along the lines of “no penalty goes unattended unless the penalty box is full” ie: including jammers. in this scenario the third blocker to be given a penalty would have sent the jammer to the box, releasing Batwing (which would be a short stay, thereby releasing Jonathan soon afterwards) and we all would have seen roller derby.

    i think pack definition is fine, what id personally like to see is the pivot position not be so handicap that blockers would need to be vigilant on two fronts. (to me, guarding two fronts is a real strategy) i guess instead were worrying about the confusion caused by having two levels of penaltys, oh well

    Reply

  25. [...] despite constant inner-bickering about the state of the sport on the track, despite the dire, apocalyptic exultations by some of the game’s more prominent commentators, the sport is not destroying itself, fans are [...]

    Reply

  26. Posted by Dixie on 3 October 2012 at 8:55 pm

    You know what the solution is? All the opposing team’s jammers jump off the track too. One of the conditions of recieving a point is that the jammer must pass a player who is inbounds to receive their point. So, leave the track as well. Since the jammer would not be able receive even a first point for any blocker they would not get any NOTT points either. No points, no moving, no nothing for anyone until everyone agrees to play nice. NYSE would have stopped these shenanigans and attempted to win fairly, or would have fairly lost for not trying.

    Actually in this scenario it’s better for the Gatekeepers to jump off the track and stay there until the end of the jam so the joke would really be on NYSE.

    Reply

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