Into the Great Unknown, Part 2: USARS Regionals 2012

For Part 1 of WRDN’s roller derby tournament season preview, the 2012 WFTDA Playoffs, click here.

Now that the WFTDA playoff season is underway, it’s time to take a look at the playoff tournament for that “other” derby organization that, for better or worse, everyone is keeping an eye on: USA Roller Sports, and the group’s first-ever national roller derby championship.

In a playoff season filled with unknowns, how the USARS tournament will go is the greatest of them. Teams entering the competition have effectively volunteered to be guinea pigs for an unproven (but on paper, sound) ruleset in live competition, where most players, officials, and the greater roller derby community alike have little to no experience with them in practice.

In fact, just about all the participating leagues only started learning the USARS game a little more than a month ago, when USARS announced out of the blue that it would be accepting applications for the tournament. However, participating teams have been finding out that the new rules are relatively easy to pick up, as many of the contact rules and penalties in USARS derby are virtually identical in that of the WFTDA game. Most players and officials have had little trouble with the basics; after all, at the end of the day, roller derby is roller derby.

Still, USARS is giving the impression of coming off underprepared in organizing what is an altogether different beast for its first go at a team rollersport. When they announced that entry applications were open, they hadn’t yet figured out where the locations of the regionals would be, let alone who would host or officiate them. Plans were made for eight regional tournaments (of the nine USARS regions) with each capped at the first 16 to enter … but hosts were only found for six regions. Of those, only four had enough team entries to make an event worthwhile. None had gotten anywhere close to the entry cap limit.

So in the end, 16 total teams across four USARS regions will be taking part in the maiden voyage. (At least five more had shown interest but were not able to participate, including a league in New York that has gone all-in and switched exclusively to USARS rules for the foreseeable future.) Compared to the six-year old WFTDA, that’s a minuscule number … but on the other hand, that’s 20 more leagues than USARS had interested in its rules than there were three months ago, and you’ve got to start somewhere.

What USARS roller derby will look like next year is just as much of an unknown as how the first real games played under its ruleset will look like this year. Whether or not they can do a better job of being organized as they continue offering their roller derby option to leagues, players and fans is also an unknown. How they fare and how their success (or lack thereof) may or may not affect the greater community is also a big question mark.

But here and now, there is roller derby to be played, and there are more than 200 skaters ready to be pioneers in a different way to play, one that certainly has the potential to be fast, fair, and perhaps even more exciting than any form of derby before it. Or maybe, it’ll just be a big flop.

Though it’s unclear if we’ll see the game at its best in the regionals—the entrants are of the potluck variety when it comes to individual and team skill—one thing that is for certain is that if you think there ought to be just as much skating as there is blocking in roller derby, you’re going to see a lot of both in the USARS game. Not just because the rules mandate it, but because the style of game requires it in order to win.

With that, here are the 16 teams that are crazy enough to want to try and skate to play roller derby. For those who are only familiar with WFTDA rules and basic gameplay strategy, I’ll also touch on the hows and whys of the USARS game, its differences, its default strategies, and yes, even a loophole or two that might crop up during the course of gameplay.

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North Central Region

September 22 – Dubuque, Ia. – Hosted by Eastern Iowa Outlaws
Live Streaming Coverage on Derby News Network

The first-ever regional tournament played under the USARS tournament will also be one of its shortest, and to be honest, one of its weakest. With only three teams to show for and not much experience to be found within their recent results, it’s a big unknown if the derby played on this first Saturday will be any good at all.

But what is a known is probably one of the most silly things about this tournament: All three teams participating in it will qualify for the national championship by default, as the top three in each region get an invite. Really, the only question is whether or not any of them can manage to make the trip to Fresno this December … but the first place cash prize of about $400 won’t hurt the winner’s efforts to do it.

USARS Tournament Info Page
Tournament Structure and Schedule (PDF)
Team Rosters (PDF)

Participating Teams:

Eastern Iowa Outlaws (Dubuque, Ia.)  – Host Eastern Iowa is an unaffiliated roller derby league that normally plays under WFTDA rules. Their interleague record on the year looks to be about 6-1. The loss was a 232-147 game against Mid Iowa, who recently gained full WFTDA member status and entered the WFTDA regional rankings at #S11, just missing out on a playoff spot.

Tulsa Derby League All-Stars (Tulsa, Okla.) – Tulsa is formerly a WFTDA Apprentice League that dropped out of the program to revert back to independent status. Though solid info on their games are scarce, they “just bouted a WFTDA North Central Region team and took the victory 151-141.” Skaters from their league (not their all-stars) also played against two ranked WFTDA South Central teams in 2012, a 312-91 loss against #S25 Springfield, and a 312-57 loss at the hands of #S29 Oklahoma City, but how strong their main team is at this point in time, however, is not known.

Rushmore Rollerz (Rapid City, S.D.) – It’s a little hard to pin down info on Rushmore, a team out of western South Dakota (Southwest Dakota?) but they did have one result of interest in their light interleague schedule: The A’Salt Creek Roller Girls out of Casper, Wy.—who later in September will be hosting Rocky Mountain(!)—beat them 353-32. What is for sure is that these girls are coming to Dubuque looking for a challenge; of the 15-player game roster (one more than WFTDA rules), Rushmore will be bringing only ten.

Just going by the few results I could find for these teams (PROTIP: keep your websites updated and submit your scores everywhere!) you’d have to give an edge to to Eastern Iowa, given their halfway-decent showing against a near-playoff caliber WFTDA team. The other two in this group had some pretty big blowout losses against leagues who would normally get blownout themselves, but you could say that about any small-town league that may be relatively limited in practice time or real nearby competition.

Then again, when lined up next to each other these teams may be relatively equal with one another. Plus, all these leagues have been playing WFTDA games up to this point, and the different rules in USARS could lead to naturally closer games, if not more entertaining blowouts.

The reason for this is because of one of the primary rule differences between the WFTDA and USARS: The scoring abilities of the pivot position.

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The Pivot

In a WFTDA game (or an RDCL banked track game, for that matter) between two good teams, occasionally you’ll see a jam where both jammers blast through their opponents’ respective 4-walls simultaneously, creating a situation where the lead jammer has the trailing jammer right on her behind.

Naturally, the crowd goes wild at this, anticipating some jammer-on-jammer action. However, this moment of elation is generally short-lived, as the lead jammer will inevitably call off the jam immediately, either before or after she gets passed. Once in a blue moon you’ll see an eat-the-baby situation, but with rare (or situational) exceptions jammers with the ability to call off the jam in a WFTDA game will never enter the pack on a scoring attempt if their opposite number is about to do the same.

The defensive jam call-off is considered a smart play in WFTDA derby, and considering the risk vs. reward factor, you could hardly blame players for doing it. If they can call it off defensively and secure a 0-0 jam result, that’s better than potentially getting a penalty while trying to scrape off a few risky points, which may cost them a swing of 20 points or more on the ensuing power jam.

However, this passive philosophy creates a vacuum of potential game strategies within the WFTDA that teams have no reason to try and discover: If a lead jammer is effectively forced to enter the pack with the opposing jammer hot on her tail, what sort of pack blocking strategies and jammer tactics might come about because of that?

This is the environment that the USARS roller derby rule set is bringing to the table. In it (as well as in MADE and OSDA rules) the pivot can break from the pack to become an active scoring player (a jammer) without a panty pass, but only after the opposing jammer gets out of the pack first. (When a pivot breaks, their jammer teammate immediately becomes a blocker while still wearing the star.) Given that the pivot starts a jam at the front of the pack, they are in a prime position to do this.

During the initial pass, blockers still have to help their jammer and hinder the opposing jammer to help earn that all-important lead jammer status. But they also have a secondary goal, that of protecting their pivot and keeping them at the front of the pack as well as trying to push the other pivot back into it. If a team can hold back both the opposing jammer and enemy pivot within the pack, that team’s jammer can go to town on the pack unopposed and earn a maximum opportunity to score points.

A pivot controlling the front of the pack is important to a team’s offensive and defensive success. A) If a team earns jammer, a strong pivot in good position will make sure her team gets a scoring opportunity by preventing the other team from immediately sending out a scoring player in response. B) Likewise, a pivot not able hold the front (red) will put their team in a bad position to score.

This setup forces teams to use more creative pack teamwork and blocking schemes than just the “make a 4-wall, wait for the pack to split” play you see all the time during initial passes in WFTDA games. That’s because there are two scoring threats to defend against, not just the one; sort of like how a football team needs to spread their defense out to defend against the run and the pass at the same time.

Understandably, this is a lot more difficult to pull off with regularity. More often than not in a USARS game you’re going to see a pivot chase immediately after a jammer that has just broken out of the pack, particularly if a team doesn’t play an appropriate amount of defense to prevent that from happening. But this appears to create a dilemma for the lead jammer on the majority of jams: How are they going to keep the other team from scoring if there is an opposing scoring threat right behind them?

Well, do what is always done in roller derby: Have their pack blockers figure out the best defensive strategy for stopping the opposing jammer (or pivot) from entering the pack to score, while simultaneously executing an offensive plan for helping their jammer score as many points as they dare before calling it off—or risk losing lead jammer status as the other jammer passes them on the track.

The active pivot game forces all players on a team, be they lead jammers, chasing scorers, or pack blockers, to be super-tight with teamwork and blocking plays, particularly during a scoring pass. Oftentimes a team will only get one shot at scoring during a jam, and if they can’t deliver it will likely cost their team points instead as the other jammer can steal lead status (like in banked track rules) and do what she’d like with it, either calling it off herself or keep going for a bigger score differential.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping the lead jammer from calling the jam off early, an ability they can use at any moment they’re in front of the other team’s scorer. But to do so is to effectively throw away a scoring opportunity—if a jammer does it every time a pivot breaks after them, they’ll never score and they won’t win. Simple as that.

So really, a lead jammer has no choice but to plunge into the pack with the opposing jammer and count on teamwork, skill, and timing to grab more points than their opponent can on each scoring pass. It’s this facet of the USARS game that could breed strategy plays never-before-thought-of in WFTDA play, and just one part of why it could be very exciting to watch. Even during the inevitable blowouts, a whole team will truly be forced to work for every point from start to finish.

At the start of a jam in WFTDA roller derby, there’s the excitement of seeing which team will get their jammer out first on the initial pass. USARS rules simply extend that potential excitement to the scoring pass, where there’s something much, much more valuable on the line: Points. The better team will be the one who gets more of them, more often.

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Southwest Region

September 29-30 – Stockton, Calif. – Hosted by Port City Rollergirls
Live Streaming Coverage on Derby News Network

From one of the smallest regionals to the biggest, the Southwest region will have six teams playing in 12 full games over two days. Though the USARS North Central tourney will also be streamed, the Southwest will probably be the best look-see the derby community will get at USARS rules, as all 12 games will be webcast—no paid access pass required. (Although, it will be going up against the WFTDA East regional tournament, happening simultaneously.)

The USARS Southwest region also includes teams residing in the states of Arizona and Nevada, but only teams from California elected to enter the tournament. Despite this, none of the participating teams appeared to have faced each other recently, if ever. However, the few common opponents among them indicate that this tournament may a pretty competitive one.

USARS Tournament Info Page
Tournament Structure and Schedule
(PDF)
Team Rosters (PDF)

Participating Teams:

Port City Roller Girls (Stockton, Calif.) – Hosts Port City has had a good interleague season, going undefeated in WFTDA-rules games against their fellow mid-tier unaffiliated leagues within the state. Their most significant win of note was a 219-144 game earlier this month against the Ventura County Derby Darlins, a newly-added WFTDA Apprentice League.

San Diego Roller Derby (San Diego, Calif.) – You might recognize this team as the 2012 Spudtown Knockdown champions, beating the likes of #W11 Jet City en route to that title. Hockey Honey—when she’s not skating for the Oly Rollers—calls this her home team, which is an independent league that also has mens and juniors squads. (HH will be playing for Oly at WFTDA Westerns, then playing for SDRD at this tournament a week later.) Like most teams here, SDRD normally play other teams under WFTDA rules, but have been more than happy to try out something new for the USARS regional.

Resurrection Roller Girls (Rohnert Park, Calif.) – This is a very new league based an hour north of San Francisco that got started just less than a year ago, again playing in the WFTDA rules environment. To that effect, there’s no knowing what this team will bring to the tournament, except for two things: First, they share a common opponent with Port City in the Lake Tahoe Derby Dames. Port beat them 159-113; Resurrection beat them 235-104. Second, they were one of the teams attending the world premiere of Derby Baby at the Sonoma Film Festival, which is just plain awesome.

Sactown Smacktown (Sacramento, Calif.) – All I could find out about this league from the state capital is that they formed earlier this year and are based out of a roller skating rink within the city. That’s all I got. (This is a preview about unknowns, you see…)

Merced Grim Reap-Hers (Merced, Calif.) – Another unknown league, although there is a significant game of reference against the other teams they may wind up facing in this tournament, or at least, there will be once the scores get posted: Just this past weekend, Merced played against a split Lake Tahoe squad in half of a doubleheader. (That result will be posted here in an update once I can locate it.)

SINtral Valley Derby Girls (Modesto, Calif.) – Another league light on info and results, but there is a common WFTDA-rules opponent between them and the San Diego Roller Derby team in this USARS regional: The Undead Betties out of Antioch, Calif. SINtral defeated them 156-96; two weeks later, San Diego beat them 201-116. Considering how strong a team San Diego is, SINtral Valley doesn’t look half-bad themselves if just going by one game is enough to make that determination.

Going by the few results available, at least four teams here appear to have decent squads put together. The early favorite will still have to be San Diego Roller Derby, though, since they’ve won a mid-level WFTDA tournament and have played against top WFTDA teams in the region, including #W8 Angel City (albeit in a loss, 287-148). Hockey Honey herself may have put it best, when she told me that if her team could play in a game of skating, not scrumming, they “could beat Oly.”

While they may actually get a chance to play against Oly later in the year—more on that shortly—they’ll certainly get a chance to do some skating. This is because of how USARS rules define the pack and how those rules dictate how teams and their blocking corps will have to keep control of things within in it.

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The Pack

You know those strong, defensive blocker 4-walls you see all the time in WFTDA derby? They’re not going to be as effective in the USARS game.

In USARS rules, the pack is normally defined as the largest group of blockers in proximity, regardless of where that blob of blockers is. Just like in the WFTDA game, this allows an entire team to wall up on a single opposing blocker to slow the pack down to a favorable speed, such as during a power jam. The pack will not be able to slow to a crawl or stop, though, as the rules mandate that players skate forward at all times, and “stepping” forward is not considered skating forward.

But doing this against a jammer during the initial pass is a bad strategy. If a team has a 4-wall on the jammer at the rear of the pack, that means their pivot is back there as well. If that lone jammer can defeat the wall, a pivot buried that deep in the pack (and the jammer behind the other team’s 4-wall) won’t get out to score anytime soon, putting that team at risk of giving up multiple scoring pass attempts unopposed.

More critically, if a team is in a 4-wall at the rear of the pack, they have lost control of the pack altogether. The USARS pack definition redefines the pack to the entire team at the front (or the group at the front in a mixed split pack), meaning a team holding the front effectively gets unlimited time and speed control to keep their jammer defense up; the team at the back must stay within 10-foot proximity, or risk falling back out of play and let the back jammer get through for free. Even if the forward jammer can somehow get by without blocking help, the other team’s pivot will be free to break unopposed to chase, making it difficult for the lead jammer to pick up meaningful points.

No more ignoring the other team’s blockers: If you want to score big, you must block the other *team,* not just one player on it.

Therefore, initial pass strategy during the USARS tournaments are going to look a lot different than what you’re used to seeing in the WFTDA game. The pivots, by rule, start on the pivot line and will be inclined to launch off of it, making sure to stay ahead of the opposing blockers (and each other) if they want to stay useful to their team. Pack blockers—who, by rule, must start standing up within 10 feet of the pivot line—will have to balance pushing forward to capture the pivots, blocking back to hinder the opposing jammer, and assisting their own jammer through the pack.

Conveniently, there are three pack blockers on each team that could individually assume one of those specific roles. Or you could see a team favor defense, with two blockers stopping the jammer and one tying to help their pivot hold back the other pivot, hoping their jammer is good enough to get out on her own. Or maybe, all three blockers can focus completely on offense, hoping their team’s pivot is good enough to keep the other pivot, as many opposing blockers, and if it comes down to it, the enemy jammer from getting out of the pack before their team’s jammer can do so first.

There are a lot of variables a team must deal with during the initial pass, and exponentially more strategy plays at their disposal as a result. (Such as: Does a jammer about to break out delay doing so, if they see the other pivot guarding the front of the pack? Why not see for yourself?) But considering how relatively difficult it will be for a team to hold both scoring threats from a team within the pack, many times what you see on the initial pass will quickly develop into teams positioning themselves, or maintaining position if a team is exerting their dominance, for the scoring pass.

When both teams have a jammer (or a scoring pivot) out just feet from each other, the lead jammer can help her own cause by taking out the rear scoring plater with a legal block and buy a few extra seconds of unopposed scoring pass time. But barring that, teams will need to decide how many blockers they’ll risk keeping in the back for defensive blocking or offensive assisting…also known in roller derby terms as potential points.

Again, a team who has a rear 4-wall and a trapped goat is in a great spot for pack speed control, but maybe not so much when both jammers are coming in at it at the same time. If the 4-wall holds, the lead jammer will probably just get the one point in the pack, likely to call it off before the other jammer can score. But if the goated player is a great 1-on-1 blocker, they may be able to prevent the lead jammer from scoring any points at all, before her scoring teammate passes her for lead status and calls if off defensively. Or even better, if the goated player can manage to open up a hole in the wall, her jammer could follow her through it and pick up all 4 points before (or while, since scoring points ends at the 4th whistle of the call-off) the lead jammer calls it off.

Obviously, the more blocking help a team has at the rear, the better chance that team has of scoring. However, if both teams have scoring threats out, it putting more blockers at the rear of the pack simultaneously offers their opponent that many chances of scoring themselves. So much like anything else in roller derby, how a team plays in a tight jammer race situation is a balance of offense and defense. If you want give your jammer a chance to score, you’d better block the other jammer from doing the same, or at least limit their scoring opportunity by keeping your blockers forward in the pack.

But that doesn’t mean pack blockers can keep ignoring the blockers on the other team, for reasons I’ll explain shortly.

~~~ Continue to Page 2: The South, the Northwest … and Runaway Pussy ~~~

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52 responses to this post.

  1. Can 3 teams really be called a tournament? My biggest issue with this attempt by USARS is how hurried and under thought it seems. As far as we know, only a handful of games were played under the USARS beta rules, and none by the final set (which aren’t very different). Now, my opinion differs from yours about how they look on paper. They may encourage forward play, unlike the WFTDA rules, they are very incomplete. From a reffing point of view there’s a major lack of direction on how to actually interpret the rules. That’s going to lead to severe inconsistencies in officiating, which can ruin a bout/tournament very easily.

    What’s worse about this USARS attempt is the lack of any men’s bouts. Apparently they decided there weren’t enough interested men’s teams to put on any men’s tournaments. I don’t recall anyone asking my team. USARS prides itself on being coed, not just a single gender. Well, how about showing it? Rather than a lame attempt at regional tournaments (again, I don’t qualify 3 teams as a tournament anyway) they could have hosted a national tournament that had women’s and men’s bouts. Nope, easier to go about it the wrong way.

    The only saving grace that USARS has is WFTDA’s paywall. If WFTDA was giving out their feed for free like last year, then USARS would pretty much be ignored.

    If I watch at all, it’s because I like a good train wreck. If it goes well, good for USARS I guess. My expectation is that it will be a mediocre mess.

    Reply

    • Can 3 teams really be called a tournament? My biggest issue with this attempt by USARS is how hurried and under thought it seems.

      Well yes, 3 games does a tournament make. Technically. I guess. But I agree, the whole thing feels rushed and kind of held together with glue that could come undone at any moment. Still, they got it together by some miracle, and even though the number of entrants is almost laughable, it’s … more than they had last year.

      USARS prides itself on being coed, not just a single gender. Well, how about showing it? Rather than a lame attempt at regional tournaments (again, I don’t qualify 3 teams as a tournament anyway) they could have hosted a national tournament that had women’s and men’s bouts. Nope, easier to go about it the wrong way.

      I disagree with it being “the wrong way,” because you have to consider that all the problems you rightly pointed out about the rules and the officiating have to be worked out, and they can only be addressed through meaningful interleague gameplay. USARS putting all their eggs in one basket with a showcase national invitational tournament, but then having all those problems happen when a lot of teams traveled a potentially long way to play, would be even a bigger disaster, wouldn’t it?

      USARS stated that they were only going to do a women’s tournament (uh, “tournament”) this year, and start doing men’s/co-ed next year. Given how they handled things over the last two or three months, that’s probably a really smart decision. Because even if they won’t admit it publicly, this whole national tournament is really a big proof-of-concept/continual beta test for their rules. If they don’t completely suck, they’ll fix what needs fixing, clear up what needs clearing up, and see how many teams want to try it again. Like I said, as long as the teams have fun, there’s no reason to think they won’t try it again in the future. That’s the most important thing.

      By the way, I’ve been talking with a ref who is of the understanding that USARS will be providing tests and other materials to assist them with interpreting the rules. So even if they aren’t doing it publicly—and they should be doing it publicly—doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t in the process of trying to address it.

      My expectation is that it will be a mediocre mess.

      Like I said in the preview, this is a potluck tournament in every way. There’s no denying how good teams like Oly or San Diego RD are, but everyone else? Who the fuck knows. I’m trying to temper my expectations so that I won’t be completely disappointed if the train flies off the rails. But I also know that there are certain things in this rule set that have been proven to work, either in other modern rule sets or in the previous history of (legit) derby. I’m just hoping the teams that play it (and the officials that call it) are good enough to make a competent showing of it all.

      Reply

  2. Hi, WindyMan. Just wanted to let you know that USARS SW is NOT going to be the first chance people have to see the USARS rules in tournament play. I’m broadcasting the USARS NC tournament from Dubuque, Iowa this weekend. As you pointed out, it will be the first ever USARS roller derby tournament – a historic event! Read more about it here:

    http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com/live/events/2012/09/usars_north_central_derby_regionals_2012

    You might want to update your preview article accordingly.

    Reply

    • Yes, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I didn’t realize DNN had also secured a stream for the NCs. I added a link to the DNN live page for the region, but I maintain the Southwest still should be the first real showcase of the USARS rules to the community at-large, if only because there are a lot more games spread out over two days.

      Reply

    • Because 3 games isn’t a tournament.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Another view point on 18 September 2012 at 12:34 am

    USARS would have been better off spending the next year doing open invitational tournaments with plenty of lead time rather than trying to fake a National tournament structure with only 16 teams competing in it. It would have allowed them to showcase whether their ruleset worked, train officials properly and fine tune things where needed.

    Personally, I think the ruleset is a disaster, easily exploited by any half-skilled team and will result in tedious games but we shall see. I also believe that Oly, if they choose, could make it so that no team involved ever scored a point against them.

    I’ll be watching the first ‘casts but I fully expect a boring mess.

    Reply

    • Personally, I think the ruleset is a disaster, easily exploited by any half-skilled team and will result in tedious games but we shall see.

      You say this, but you don’t explain why. So I’ll ask: Why do you think this? Please explain your reasoning, specifically.

      I also believe that Oly, if they choose, could make it so that no team involved ever scored a point against them.

      Team USA beat Sweden by like 630-6, didn’t they? They almost had a shutout there. Regardless of the rules being used, if a team is on a completely different level than their opponent, they scores will be comically lopsided. If (and probably when) we see that during the USARS games, that’s not necessarily because the rules are bad, it’s because one of the teams are bad compared to their opponent.

      To that effect, you’re basically complaining that the better team will win in a boring blowout, which happens all the time in the WFTDA.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 18 September 2012 at 12:37 pm

      I think Oly could hold pretty much any team in the world to zero with the USARS ruleset if they chose to do so.

      I think people greatly the underestimate the difficulty in preventing runaway pussy, especially without being able to go clockwise on the track. Also, since there is always a pack, if you are the goat, you just abuse RD40.07 and the race is on again.

      The false start rules are a mess and can let a jammer kill vital time off the clock if they wish.

      I dislike the pivot role in USARS / MADE / OSDA. I find it makes for boring games.

      The penalty system is a mess. I know the style of play reduces physical contact (which is one of the reasons I dislike the pack is front, pivot/jammer game) but 2 minutes is a long time to be in the box for what would be still be 1 minute in a WFTDA game. Why bother trying to keep your balance when you can dive to the ground and draw 2 minutes? 3 majors and you are out which means most skaters will be reluctant to engage at all during a game. If they do, I will not be surprised to see a team have to forfeit a game because of all their skaters fouling out. And really, 4 skaters/team in the box at once?

      Essentially, USARS has set up a rule system where blockers need to skate like pylons so they can actually continue to play the game. At least that is the case if the game is properly refereed. It is a low contact version of roller derby and I’m sure that appeals to some but the full contact nature of the sport is what attracted me in the first place and this is not what I care to see.

      I fully realize that these are MY opinions and I could be dead wrong about how the games work out. However, no one has really cared enough about the rules in order to bother finding all of the loopholes. There is a lot of wiggle room in there for a team that wishes to game the system.

      Reply

      • I think Oly could hold pretty much any team in the world to zero with the USARS ruleset if they chose to do so.

        Among others, Gotham, Rose City, Bay Area, the L.A Derby Dolls and Team USA would disagree with that. But again, you’re essentially complaining that the better team will beat a worse team in a boring fashion; I again refer you to Team USA’s blowouts, and Gotham’s 500-point-plus wins earlier this season. Those were played under WFTDA rules, and I don’t see you discrediting them like you’re trying to do with USARS rules.

        I think people greatly the underestimate the difficulty in preventing runaway pussy, especially without being able to go clockwise on the track.

        I’m not disagreeing with you that it’s difficult to prevent runaway pussy. (Although, what does skating backwards have to do with that?) I even pointed out situations where it would be virtually impossible to do so, but those are loopholes will probably be closed immediately.

        But ignoring the loophole aspect of it, guess what? Sports are supposed to be difficult. The question is just as much whether or not the teams playing by the rules are good enough to play in them, as much as it is whether or not the rules themselves are good. Again, that’s an issue facing roller derby on the whole, not just one rule set.

        However, no one has really cared enough about the rules in order to bother finding all of the loopholes.

        Uh, hello? Of course no one has “cared” enough about the rules before this point. Because no one has played games by them before this point! Now, 20 or so teams care and 16 of them will begin working out the loopholes. That number will either shrink, grow, or stay the same next year, depending on how things get worked out.

        Like I said in this preview, the number one determiner of success is whether or not the players playing the game had fun. Even if you may personally hate the rules, hate the style of gameplay, and think the games are boring, if a skater walks up to you and says, “I had fun playing this game,” are you going to tell them, “sorry, but you’re wrong?”

    • Posted by Another view point on 18 September 2012 at 8:22 pm

      So, since the majority of skaters are having fun playing roller derby using the WFTDA ruleset you are going to stop demanding changes to the rules?

      I’ve gone to see low contact roller derby before and I know full well that the skaters are having a blast and I would never tell them that they aren’t. However, it is, as a viewing experience, intensely boring to watch.

      You hate the conga line but that does not happen in every jam of every WFTDA game. I hate the pivot being able to become lead and that pretty much will happen in every jam of every USARS game except when there is a big enough power disparity.

      I hope WFTDA fixes their ruleset, over time. Adopting pack is front and pivot as jammer is not the solution though.

      Reply

    • Posted by Crotch Rock-It on 19 September 2012 at 6:32 am

      [I]I think people greatly the underestimate the difficulty in preventing runaway pussy, especially without being able to go clockwise on the track. Also, since there is always a pack, if you are the goat, you just abuse RD40.07 and the race is on again.[/I]

      Not true. If a goat intentionally goes out of bounds to alter the status of the pack, she will be subject to a skating out of bounds minor penalty. At which point, the opposing team may have more blockers on the track and will be able to define the pack and control the pack speed at will. Runaway pussy is only possible when the pussy team has at least as many blockers on the track as the opposing team.

      Reply

      • You sure about that, Crotch Rock-It? Here’s what I think is being referred to:

        When two or more groups of Blockers exclusively comprise players from the same team, the Pack is the group comprising all Blockers on a team and positioned most forward on the track.

        This is one of the exceptions to the “pack must contain members from both teams” default definition, and as I understand it (and as I originally envisioned it) this means once a team gets to the front of the pack, they are the pack regardless of how many skaters they have in it. Technically, that means a minority of players could be defined as the pack, including a lone skater for a team if they can get to the front as they would be the “group comprising all Blockers on a team and positioned most forward on the track.

        Unless USARS gave you specific clarification on that, this is what I’m assuming will be the case, and why I’m worried that things may not go completely well this first go-round with the regionals.

    • So all a team needs to do is recruit speed skaters (of which USARS has a huge membership) and just race the pack forward the entire time. Hell, then roller derby would be right back where Leo Seltzer started it! A marathon race. Woot!!

      ……..

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 20 September 2012 at 6:55 am

      That is the way I’ve read the rules regarding runaway pussy. Speed skating is the requirement now.

      The only way to stop it is for a goat to allow themselves to be a goat. Take the penalty, or just make it look good since it is “his/her best efforts” and stop your opponent from scoring points.

      Reply

    • Posted by Crotch Rock-It on 20 September 2012 at 8:59 am

      WindyMan, you are correct. I had misread the last sentence in RD40.05. The exception would be if the goated team only had two blockers on the track. If the goat gets sent to the box for skating out of bounds, the sole remaining blocker would no longer be considered a pack, because you need at least two skaters to form a pack.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 20 September 2012 at 10:26 am

      Hmm. Can you point out where the USARS ruleset says 1 player cannot be a pack?

      Reply

    • Posted by Crotch Rock-It on 20 September 2012 at 11:32 am

      RD40.05
      “The Pack is the largest group of Blockers…”

      One player is neither a group nor a plural form of the word blocker. I did clarify this point with USARS to make sure that I didn’t put my foot in my mouth again. :)

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 20 September 2012 at 12:22 pm

      That makes for an interesting loophole where a team with only 1 blocker is extremely disadvantaged (they were already but…) and it means we should still see some slow derby with extremely devastating consequences because the pack will be with the opposition and moving as slowly as they can skate.

      I’m not sure that makes things better or worse. I can see some entertainment value in one skaters running for their lives from a pack of four opposing blockers in the hopes that their team mates get out of the box. One blocker trying to stop the jammer while 4 skaters skate as slowly as possible without the need to engage though? Hmm, that sounds even worse than the WFTDA Sausage. Looks like winning through non-engagement is in USARS as well.

      Reply

      • One blocker trying to stop the jammer while 4 skaters skate as slowly as possible without the need to engage though? Hmm, that sounds even worse than the WFTDA Sausage.

        And this is just ridiculous on your part. Here’s what I’m hearing you argue: “This extremely rare happenstance is the exact same thing as in the WFTDA, but it’s worse just because it’s USARS and not WFTDA!!”

        Now look, I agree with you that having four people in the box and one on the track for any extended period of time is dumb. But trolling isn’t going to get you anywhere.

        Looks like winning through non-engagement is in USARS as well.

        What’s better, in the context of being more fair: Winning by non-engagement, or losing by non-engagement? And which ruleset, for the most part, does a better job of ensuring one or the other?

    • Posted by Another view point on 20 September 2012 at 10:22 pm

      WFTDA does not really allow for only 1 blocker to be on the track. It happens occasionally but only for couple of seconds.

      USARS is set up so that 3 blockers can be in the box for 2 minutes at a time. When that happens, the lone blocker can do nothing to move the pack.

      WFTDA has a problem with the sausage because of a loophole.

      USARS has this problem officially built into the rules.

      When it happens it will be FAR worse than the problem you see in the WFTDA ruleset. It could easily result in massive point jams. When you consider the scoring under USARS should be considerably lower than in WFTDA, these Death Jams will be the pivotal points of the game and nearly impossible to overcome unless you get one of your own.

      A team getting the first Death Jam of the game can likely run up the score and then skate fast for the rest of the game, keeping contact to a minimum and win handily.

      Reply

  4. Posted by maim-bow brite on 18 September 2012 at 4:29 am

    I’m super excited to see USARS play personally. When USARS contacted my team we all wanted to do it, but we have a very small team and many of our members can’t travel super far. We were going to make an all star team with other teams from the area, but then as far as we know all skaters have to be in the same USARS league…so we couldn’t do that. We are however forming an all star team over the next few months and transferring the skaters insurance to all one league so we can skate in next years USARS tournament.

    I think the USARS rule set is better than WFTDA. Even if “runaway pussies” happen, I’d rather watch people skate fast to prevent points than skate slow to get points.

    Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 18 September 2012 at 8:21 am

      If you had been watching in the days before WFTDA fixed “runaway pussy” then you would not be saying that. It would have killed the sport if they had left it that way.

      Reply

    • Posted by maim-bow brite on 19 September 2012 at 9:41 am

      I would posit that slow derby is killing the sport now…but either extreme is probably not great to watch. However, as a spectator, I would rather watch blockers have to BLOCK to slow a pack down rather than just skate slow and wait for the pack to break…i.e. skating with your “ducks in a row”. How embarrassing is that to explain to an audience? “And here you see team A pretty much stopped on the track- why are they doing that you ask? Oh, because they are choosing to win through no effort. Awesome to watch folks. Awesome.”

      As a skater, I would rather win through effort than manipulating rules to allow lazy skating to work to my benefit. Does that mean I don’t skate “lazy” now? Hell no! Just like most other skaters, I’m going to do what is most effective out there, even if I hate it while I’m doing it. When I’ll yelling at my fellow skaters to “slow down, stop skating forward, let the pack break”, I feel like an idiot. When I coach this technique to other skaters, I feel even worse. But, as much as I would like to take the high road and play “fuck you get past me derby”, I can’t do that if I want my team to win when the other team is playing slow stroller derby.

      This rule set is going to have some problems for sure. I don’t like the longer penalties (2 mins is a LONG time) and I don’t like that you foul out after only 3 penalties. The pivot being able to score could be interesting, or it could be dumb, I don’t know that yet.

      And, who knows, I could be totally wrong with all of this. Maybe runaway pussies will be worse than backaway pussies after all, and I’ll be singing the praises of WFTDA rules by the wintertime. Either way, I’m glad to see an alternative rule set getting some attention and skaters being able to test them out- because if they work, awesome, lets incorporate them…if they don’t, awesome, lets ditch them.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 20 September 2012 at 8:43 am

      When does “the sausage” happen in WFTDA play? Generally during a power jam.

      When should “runaway pussy” happen in USARS play? Every jam if teams are executing strategy properly.

      Reply

      • As I believe I made clear in my WFTDA preview, the sausage is beginning to happen during many regular jams, too. It doesn’t matter if a team is on a power jam or not, dropping back and splitting the pack is the easiest and fastest way to get a jammer past the other team’s blockers, no matter the game situation. I expect to see a lot of this happening in the rest of the regionals.

        And you’re actually incorrect about runaway pussy happening on every jam. If a team is executing strategy properly, they will be holding back some members of the opposing team to score points. It’s silly to think a team will want to purposely sprint the pack on most every jam, because if they do, they’ll never score points and will lose the game. Besides, with a pack that’s moving at a moderate speed, accelerating around someone takes more time to do, which therefore makes it easier for a blocker to keep another player behind them.

        Not to say runaway pussy won’t happen during power jams. But I anticipate the sausage happening during more regular WFTDA jams than I do runaway pussy during regular USARS jams.

    • Posted by Another view point on 20 September 2012 at 10:16 am

      Are you being deliberately obtuse Windyman?

      The team that has lead jammer obviously does not want Runaway Pussy to happen.

      The team that does not have lead jammer obviously does want Runaway Pussy to happen.

      There are two teams on the track. At least one of them wants Runaway Pussy to happen.

      Therefore it is the correct strategy for at least one of the teams in every jam.

      How many times did the Sausage happen during North Centrals when there was not a power jam? I watched every game. I can’t think of a single time. I’m sure you were taking notes though so I look to you for information regarding this.

      The sausage works, to a degree, during power jams because one team does not need to worry about points being scored against them. You can try to pull it against a team in a regular jam but if it does not work immediately, you’ve allowed the opposing jammer to get all the way around the track and all of your points are waiting for her.

      I’m not saying it hasn’t happened. I’m saying that it is a losing strategy, in the long term, in a regular jam.

      Runaway Pussy should be a regular feature of USARS if the teams know how to play. The Sausage will happen only occasionally in the WFTDA tournament and most of the time it will be during a power jam.

      Reply

      • Therefore it is the correct strategy for at least one of the teams in every jam.

        Yes, it is. But you make it sound like the other team is just going to fall over and die to let that happen on every jam. You’re calling me obtuse, but you don’t stop to consider how difficult it would for a team to do this on a jam, let alone every jam. Is there a reason why you’re ignoring the fact that even if it’s sometimes good “strategy” for one team to race to the front, the other team isn’t going to let them do that?

        Because unlike the WFTDA sausage, the USARS pullaway has a fair and effective counter-strategy: Keep some of the other team’s blockers behind you. (As I pointed out on this blog previously, if a pack is moving it is easier to keep players behind you.) You make that sound as if such a basic roller derby skill is beyond even the most inexperienced teams—which it might be. But I’ll take my chances in trusting a team’s blocking skills to make this a relatively minimal, albeit possible, problem.

        How many times did the Sausage happen during North Centrals when there was not a power jam? I watched every game. I can’t think of a single time. I’m sure you were taking notes though so I look to you for information regarding this.

        I said in my WFTDA preview that the North Central teams rely the least on non-skating tactics. I wasn’t expecting much, if any, of that kind of crap to happen during their tournament, and it didn’t. But I am expecting it, to varying degrees, in the West, East, and South Central, which I’m basing on the observation that teams in these regions (particularly the East and South) have been doing it more frequently as of late.

        I’m not saying it hasn’t happened. I’m saying that it is a losing strategy, in the long term, in a regular jam.

        Again, in my WFTDA preview (do you even read my blogs?) I singled out Rat City specifically for this reason. In their game a few months ago, Bay Area was crushing Rat City defensively. But Rat was constantly splitting the pack to free their jammer instantly, preventing Bay Area from racking up big regular jams. This allowed them to keep the game close enough—with nothing Bay Area could do about it—to where they could have a chance to do nothing during a power jam and win. And Rat actually won the game, if not for a last-jam mistake on their part.

        The point here is that the splitting the pack isn’t a “winning” or “losing” strategy. All that matters is that is can be extremely effective, it allows completely outworked and inferior teams to keep games unnaturally close, and it’s pants-shitting boring and stupid to see.

        Runaway Pussy should be a regular feature of USARS if the teams know how to play. The Sausage will happen only occasionally in the WFTDA tournament and most of the time it will be during a power jam.

        Let’s see how the games pan out before jumping to conclusions. That applies to me just as much as it does you, my friend.

  5. Posted by Amy Handyside-Rule on 18 September 2012 at 2:57 pm

    My name is Rowdy Piper, I am a player, assistant coach, and manager of the Tulsa Derby League All Stars. First off I would like to thank you for inspiring my team and other teams to bring their best to the USARS regional tournaments. Your article not only inspired players but it has now intrigued other leagues and spectators. I hope that DNN’s coverage of these events will be watched by derby skaters everywhere.

    You mentioned in your article under our league, Tulsa Derby League All Stars, that we were a former WFTDA Apprentice Program, please note that our decision of leaving the apprentice program had nothing to do with the USARS Regionals; our decision was made on what was best for our league. On another note, you posted scores from our past bouts from the 2012 season, I would like to state that yes, the point deficit was high on both bouts, however the Tulsa Derby League All Stars team was not the team playing those bouts. With that being said we just bouted a WFTDA North Central Region team and took the victory 151-141. But the point being you didn’t have all the facts straight to which you tried to make us look bad.

    We all know the Oly Rollers are a top contender with WFTDA and is going to be a good contender at USARS Tournaments as well. But, the team that is going to be the victor of the USARS Nationals will be the one that not only plays as a team but also keeps their players from fouling out. Many games have been lost by sitting in the penalty box. And just maybe the new USARS rules will have a surprising twist to your predictions. This is not to imply anything about the Oly Rollers just stating how the new rules may change things up.

    Athletes and Teams don’t always become instant Champions, they all start somewhere and sometimes it’s at the bottom. Our team may not be the first ever USARS National Champions, (but who really knows yet), but that WILL NOT stop us from training, bouting, and striving to be the BEST we can be. And may some day become the USARS National Champions which is what all of the teams competing would like to be.

    Another thing, the roller derby world needs to realize we should not be trying to bring leagues and players down, but we should be trying hard to inspire and build them up. Bringing something new to the table like the NEW USARS RULES might spark new interests in leagues, players, fans and hopefully will help to promote roller derby in small towns and cities everywhere.

    Again, I would like to thank you as your article has motivated us to work even harder. We look forward to the new challenge ahead of us. And I, Rowdy Piper, along with the Tulsa Derby League All Stars wish all the leagues in the North Central, Southwest, Southern, and Northwest Regions the BEST OF LUCK at their USARS Regionals.

    Reply

    • Thanks for the info on your results. I updated the article with a few clarifications. And note, I never set out to make a team “look bad.” I just go what what I know and make an observation based on that. There’s so little current info on a lot of these teams (and frankly, the game itself) that I’m not going to be surprised if I’m completely wrong about anything I’ve previewed.

      But I’m glad I’m helping leagues like you follow your dreams. Now get out there and play some good roller derby!

      Reply

  6. I am with the host league for the USARS North Central Regional. While I agree there will be probably many bugs to this 1st tournament as we truly did not have time or enough information to fully prepare and this ruleset is new to both the skaters and the officiating crew. I think we all feel like Bambi on thin ice.
    We were just as saddened by the fact we only have 3 teams participating. I believe this tournament should have been planned earlier allowing more teams to enter and have more notice to be available this weekend. Many teams in the area already had their season booked naturally. With anything new there will always be opposition. I am not sure I will like the ruleset- but I am willing to give it a shot. Everything has to have a beginning. So while we are not well known in the big scheme of roller derby- we are excited to be hosting and look forward to trying something new. As far as possibly playing Oly in the Nationals-that thought is very intimidating, but if we weren’t playing in this tournament we would NEVER get the chance to play Oly. So while USARS is new it did open a door to play with some high level teams that we would have never received the chance to play against. Win or lose- we all gain something invaluable-EXPERIENCE.

    Reply

    • I would like to add to Michelle’s post…..I am the Captain of the Rushmore Rollerz….that team of 10 that looks as though you are mocking.

      WE ARE FROM SOUTH DAKOTA NOT NORTH DAKOTA!! Yes, there is a difference! Look up Mt. Rushmore (hence the name) and you will find Rapid City!

      Now….rather than mock teams with blowout losses seriously look up everything and anything you can about these teams. I know for a FACT that there is a ton out there about our team. Blowouts…of course…but as far as the A’Salt Creek loss you should
      look up the Roster, we had 8 with 5 new players who were willing to travel due to wether here on the Plains…to their full team at home of seasoned players.

      Reply

      • Oh good heavens! Sorry about the state mix-up. I fixed that.

        But on the other hand, you’re telling me to look up your rosters. Okay, where can I find those? Because I spent a good hour trying to locate as much info about your games as I could, and I wasn’t finding much. And the only reason I picked out that one game is because it’s the closest connection that I could find against a team everyone knows (Rocky Mountain).

        I made every effort to gather as much info as I could about all the teams in the USARS regionals. Remember, just because YOU know about it, doesn’t mean that everyone else does. Please understand that.

        Regardless, I’m genuinely thrilled you ladies are giving the USARS game a try, and I hope to see you do well. Good luck, and have fun skating!

    • Posted by Chaz Pearson on 6 October 2012 at 12:30 pm

      I found their roster in less than 15 minutes.
      http://www2.teamusa.org/USA-Roller-Sports/Roller-Derby/Roller-Derby-Events/2012/September/22/2012-USARS-NORTH-CENTRAL-DERBY-REGIONALS.aspx
      Click the ‘Rosters’ link very near the top of the page.

      After checking around the usual sites (DNN, USARS, Rushmore’s website; where I wasted most of my time), I searched (google) for “USARS North Central Derby Regionals 2012” It’s the very first link result.

      Reply

      • She was referring to the rosters of the WFTDA-rules game between Rushmore and A’Salt Creek, weeks before the USARS regional. Rosters are not publicly available for that; believe me, I would have found them if they were.

        By the way, I had linked the USARS rosters in this very preview; that’s why I knew Rushmore only went to the regional with 10 skaters. It was on the roster!

  7. Great article, WindyMan! I will be watching the USARS tournaments and look forward to your comments about the games.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Moonbat on 22 September 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Watched the first tournament and now I know what runaway pussy mean because I saw a lot of it. Big thanks to Rushmore for making the long trip and congrats to the Okies for bringing the speed skates.

    Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 23 September 2012 at 12:21 pm

      It will only get worse once teams actually figure out the strategy appropriate for the USARS ruleset.

      I don’t think this first tournament was a good test of the ruleset. However, if the Westerns had not been on and I was not already parked in front of the computer in derby-watching mode, I’d have turned off the USARS tournament within about 15 minutes of starting to watch.

      Reply

  9. Posted by Another view point on 30 September 2012 at 5:24 am

    Week 2: I find myself unable to watch the feed for any extended period of time because:

    1) one of the teams obviously does not know the rules

    2) one of the teams is lacking in skating ability and should not be there

    3) the ruleset makes for mindnumbingly boring roller derby on a level I did not imagine.

    The USARS ruleset will destroy roller derby fast than any sausage ever could. I’m glad the WFTDA Easterns has been on as well so that I can cleanse my palate every time I decide to dive back into the USARS cesspool. At least there is contact and physicality when the pack stops (even during a sausage) under the WFTDA. All I see is bad skating under USARS.

    I’m trying to find the good in it but I can’t.

    On a side note, I heard mention that Windyman himself has received funds from USARS. I don’t know if this is true but if it is, you should probably disclose it in the interest of clarity.

    Reply

    • AVP, I’m *this close* to putting down strike two on your trolling scorecard. Consider what you’re saying here:

      1) one of the teams obviously does not know the rules

      2) one of the teams is lacking in skating ability and should not be there

      3) the ruleset makes for mindnumbingly boring roller derby on a level I did not imagine.

      In point 1, you’re blaming a team’s inexperience with the rules a problem. In point 2, you’re blaming a team’s lack of skill and ability a problem. But then you directly blame the rules, when you just said team inexperience and lack of skate skill were issues? Did it ever cross your mind that the derby was in part boring because the teams playing it weren’t very good at skating (would a football game be good if the players weren’t very good at running?) and/or trying to use WFTDA strategies in a rules environment where they don’t work?

      Naturally, there was a large discrepancy of skill between many of the teams playing at the SW regional. I counted five completely worthless, horrible games with little to no entertainment value. Four others were, in my opinion, as competent as your average competent WFTDA game. But another game–Port City vs. Resurrection-was an absolute gem, and if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it and tell me how much action you see in the pack: http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com/live/bouts/2012/09/port_city_vs_resurrection

      I should mention that the atmosphere in the building during this game was off the charts. If you don’t get excited watching this, that’s fine. But you should at least attempt to appreciate why the crowd was going insane during this game, at the minimum.

      At least there is contact and physicality when the pack stops (even during a sausage) under the WFTDA.

      See the above game.

      On a side note, I heard mention that Windyman himself has received funds from USARS. I don’t know if this is true but if it is, you should probably disclose it in the interest of clarity.

      This is absolutely ridiculous and not true. Pulling rumors out of thin air in an attempt to discredit me, for whatever reason you think you need to do that, isn’t going to help anything.

      Reply

    • Posted by Another view point on 2 October 2012 at 9:47 am

      Windyman, my comments were in regards to multiple games that I watched on the weekend, not a single game.

      I have watched the Port City v Resurrection game and it is BORING. I stuck it out for the whole damn thing and it is still boring. Even with the close finish, it is still boring. There is no flow to these games. They are horrible to watch. It was the closest thing to a proper roller derby game USARS has managed so far but it is perhaps a 2 on a scale of 10 for entertainment value (every other game gets a zero from me).

      BTW, my bringing up the rumor was to give you the opportunity to address it. It is something that is being said out there and if it is untrue then I’m glad you have had an opportunity to say so.

      I have no doubt the crowd was into it. I once attended a rec roller derby game that ended up being close and all the moms and dads and family friends were going nuts. The game was horrible but they enjoyed it. Good for them but it doesn’t make it good derby.

      Reply

    • Posted by Doomsayer on 18 October 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Receiving funds from USARS is quite an accusation. I have never heard such, but perhaps this rumor lies in the possibility that Windyman is on the USARS derby BoD.

      Reply

      • perhaps this rumor lies in the possibility that Windyman is on the USARS derby BoD.

        Hilarious. I guess this “rumor” got started because I’ve been down on the WFTDA for the past two years—never mind that a lot of people in derby have been as well—and simultaneously cautiously optimistic on USARS. Imagine that, I have opinions that differ that most people!

        Get your heads out of your collective asses, children. I love roller derby. That’s it. That’s all. If someone out there is playing some form of roller derby, no matter what it is, I’ll give it the time of day. If I like it, I’ll support it. If I don’t like it, I’ll respect it. Either way, you sure as hell know I’m going to have my opinions about it.

        Don’t read into it any further than that. If you try, all you’ll be doing is exposing your own personal biases.

        I will say this, though: If I got offered a paying job that let me do nothing but roller derby all day, why the fuck wouldn’t I take it?

  10. Thank you for your insight. You were a great resource leading up to the tournament. Thanks for your coverage and breakdown of the USARS game. We participated in SW Regionals and loved the game. I don’t like that people dismiss the game without really understanding it yet. As a team, we agree that this game is really exbiting! We trained hard learning the rules for this tournament and I think our game play proved that. We’ll see you at USARS Nationals! We couldn’t be more excited. -Dirty Carie, Resurrection Roller Girls

    Reply

  11. Posted by Moonbat on 1 October 2012 at 8:57 pm

    So this past weekend I saw quite a few more bouts and all but one were blowouts, (I didn’t see ALL the bouts so there may have been others that were close or even fun to watch…) The one that wasn’t a blowout was still quite boring with scores not topping the 50’s if I recall. Lot’s of scoreless jams, at least two forfeits, broken skaters and a broken photographer. I only saw one lead change which means the drinking game has to have new rules as well. Lots of TO’s as the refs and coaches try to figure out wtf is going on so I guess those could take the place of lead changes as far as that goes.

    Afterwards there was still a tournament going on in Australia that I was able to watch and I have to tell you, it was refreshing to see “normal” rules and real contact once again. But I don’t know If I’ve seen the requisite ten bouts yet under the USAR rules yet. I’ll keep watching for now just in case teams learn how to play “capture the goat” since that seems to be the cure for the boring play, or so I’ve been told. . I’m no expert by any means, but I think the pack definition rules should Require that in order to be a “pack” it has to include players from both teams. When there are two packs I don’t see how you really have A Pack..

    Other ways to equalize teams would be to require any team with a 20 point lead to remove one skate from everyone on the team, or maybe have to carry a NSO on their back. This would eliminate the RP problem for the most part I believe…. and it would be fun for the NSO’s! And the scoring pivot.. it’s confusing for everyone. It confuses the refs, it confuses the blockers, it confuses the jammers, it confuses the fans, it confuses the people selling popcorn… It makes for more scoreless jams though. So far it ain’t making for closer scores though as far as I can tell… so what’s the point of it?

    Reply

  12. Thank you for posting the Port City vs. Resurrection game. It reaffirmed that THIS is the derby I want to play. It was incredible watching the skating abilities and the strategy needed to win the game. I really think that if you give it time, more games will look like this one than the other ones that people are saying were boring to watch…people need time to understand and execute a different rule set, and USARS didn’t give teams the time they really needed to do so.

    Reply

  13. I felt a lot like where derby was in 2006.

    Reply

    • Posted by genxmike on 14 October 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Which is not a good thing.

      Reply

    • Not a good thing? In 2006 roller derby moved and didn’t stand still. Teams and skaters were interested in making the game fun to watch. There was action and excitement. Nowadays roller derby is all about winning. I remember when we were taught that winning isn’t everything. There’s also integrity of sport, sports(wo)manship, fans, etc. I wish derby would go back to where it was in 2006.

      Reply

      • Actually, the problem isn’t that derby is “all about winning.” It’s that the method for winning and the methods for having fair and entertaining derby are not the same. Teams wanted to win badly in 2006-2009 just as badly as they want to now, but they were under the impression they had to work and skate hard at all times to do that. As a result, the derby was great.

        But that was before teams realized their rules let them win more easily by not working hard all the time. Before this slow derby mess, they thought they had to skate hard to win. Now they know they don’t have to skate hard (all the time) to win. The only way this issue is going to be fixed is if the rules are made so teams know they have to skate hard to win. Then, we’ll get back on track.

  14. Posted by Trent Rasinor on 19 November 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I like the game that the ladies created, not the one usurped by the big ol’ nasty governing agency. I know some would rather a big bureaucratic organization be in charge so that the skaters can focus on skating but it’s better for everyone when private organizations are sailing the ship creating a product that many people can get behind and feel like they have a voice in decision making. That’s democracy!

    Reply

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