Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

USARS Regionals 2012 Diary: A Rough Start

On four weekends throughout September and October, USA Roller Sports held its inaugural regional roller derby tournaments, which were in fact the first USARS-rules games officially played. Sixteen teams and hundreds of players braved the unknown to take the track and participate a style of game that turned out to be the extreme opposite of “slow derby,” the style most prevalent in the WFTDA. If you think roller derby should be played at a fast pace, then the USARS game delivered that during its maiden matches.

Unfortunately, a lot of teams might have thought it was too fast derby. The punishing style of play required massive endurance and constant physicality, causing many serious problems among players. The newness of the USARS roller derby rule set also caught out teams and even officials, leading to many confusing and frustrating sequences. The wide skill gap between competing teams also crated some very ugly games to watch, particularly when teams were forced to play in multiple bouts in the same day.

If I had to rate to the overall first effort of USARS roller derby, having watched three of the regionals via DNN and attended the fourth in person, I’d have to give it a straight “D” grade. In the end, the events did not feel well-organized from the USARS perspective, which one might expect to be the case when they were essentially scrambling to put together everything within a matter of weeks.

However, despite the rough start, there are a lot of positives that can be taken from what was essentially a large-scale test run at a new way to play roller derby. Assuming USARS can move quickly to work out their rule and organizational issues, they might actually be able to pull together a legitimately viable alternative to skaters that are wanting to put the “roll” back in roller derby. But if the first USARS roller derby regional tournaments are any indication, the issues USARS has to worry about are daunting ones.

With that, here are my thoughts and observations on the derby that took place in USARS-land over the last few weeks. These impressions will focus on the Southwest regional (which I traveled to Stockton, Calif. to see personally) though they will also touch on the other regionals as appropriate. There will also be a quick preview of the USARS national championship, set for December 14-16, and a couple of thoughts on some of the gameplay issues that cropped up.

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MRDA Championships 2012 Diary: Not Your Mother’s Roller Derby

Earlier this month, the Men’s Roller Derby Association held its second championship tournament in St. Louis. The event featured the top eight men’s derby teams in the country.

If you were fortunate enough to see it happen live on DNN, you witnessed something special indeed. There was speed. There was power. There was drama. Crowds (and announcers) were going ballistic. When it was all said and done, “Gateway to the Best” lived up to its name, and Your Mom Men’s Derby took home the 2012 title.

There is much to say about MRDA Championships 2012 and the state of men’s roller derby, so let me jump right into it.

Supercharged Competition

The argument could have been made that all the teams coming in with a top 5 seed—Your Mom, St. Louis, New York, Magic City, and Puget Sound—had at least an outside shot of winning the title, which is saying something considering a men’s roller derby championship has only been around for three years.

This showed in the contests between these teams during the 2012 tournament. Except for games featuring Dallas, which has had to deal with a weakened roster, the largest margin of victory between the top teams was about 100 points. Most were much closer than that. But even in the games the outcomes were in never doubt, their fiercely competitive nature made almost all of them must-see-TV.

“Fierce” is indeed the best word to describe the action. If you like hits, there were fierce hits. If you like fast jammers, there were some fiercely fast jammers. If you like scrum starts, there were fierce scrum starts too, though they tended to break up rather quickly due to the fierce jamming  at the front of the pack—which must be said, was greatly aided by front walls quickly stringing out to maintain pack proximity.

Some teams were much better at working together than others. I must say, the teamplay of St. Louis—when it happened—was marvelous. Magic City’s teamwork is also getting much better, although they need to stay out of the penalty box to best use the pick plays and screens they love to set up. Your Mom, the new champs, have come together very quickly with a deadly combination of (mostly) clean skating and and immensely talented pool of jammers to call on.

When it comes together, men’s derby played at its highest level feels like a supercharged version of the roller derby we’re accustomed to seeing in the WFTDA. Encouragingly, it appears as if it will only get better. If you consider the amount of progress teams have been making between the major MRDA events (Spring Roll and Champs) over the last few years, it’s almost scary to imagine the amount of potential the men’s game has.

However, for that potential to be realized, a few loose ends need to be tied up.

The Laces Were Out

Many, many memorable things happened throughout the weekend. However, the ones that I remember the most vividly happened in jams where skate laces were working themselves loose from the boots of player. Just a few jams, mind you. But I bring up this seemingly minor occurrence not because I’m a wacko obsessed with laces, but because the common thread between what happened in these jams framed things for me in a way I hadn’t seen before.

The first lace failure was simultaneously hilarious and incredible to witness.

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WFTDA Creates New Playoff Format for 2013

One of the persistent issues facing the WFTDA over the years has been that of competitive balance. Teams want to play teams that are nearer to them in skills and abilities; fans want to see games that are competitive and entertaining, especially in the postseason. The WFTDA wants these things too, and have taken a step to try and get that to happen.

The WFTDA has announced there will be a new playoff structure in place for 2013. Next year, the teams that qualify for the WFTDA Championships playoff tournaments will no longer be the top ten from each of the four current regions. Instead, all 159 members leagues will be lumped into one group, with the top 40 teams based on performance and ranking invited to play for the Hydra.

The geographical regional playoffs will be no more, to be replaced with four of what the WFTDA is now calling the Division I Playoffs, “Division I” being the new name for the top 40 WFTDA teams. Everyone else ranked 41 and below at the time the championship invites are sent will be considered “Division II.” The WFTDA says there will new tournaments added so another 20 teams in D-II will get more competitive action.

Fans and skaters have been wanting the WFTDA to put teams into competitive divisions for a while, and at first glance that’s what the organization has finally decided to do. But look past the “division” moniker and you’ll notice that the WFTDA has just made sure the true top (inter)nationally ranked teams are guaranteed a shot at playoff glory.

Teams will not be segregated by performance any more than they already have been, as being “in the playoffs” (Div.I) versus “not in the playoffs” (Div.II). However, now comparatively weaker teams in the bottom ten of a region, like the South Central, will not get into the playoffs over stronger teams at the bottom ten of stronger region, like the West.

Since the new playoff format will seed teams without regard to where they are located on a map, it will provide a level of competitive consistency across the playoff season. The inevitable blowouts will likely be limited to the first day of each tournament. As seed numbers get closer together, the probability increases that there will be more competitive games.

Strictly from a competion standpoint, this is a very good move by the WFTDA. This format means all four tournaments are sure to have good matchups, the games will get better as the tournaments progress, and the 12 teams that advance to Championships will definitely be the best 12 roller teams in the country (or the world, as it is) based solely on their performance. This is critical if the WFTDA hopes to grow its platform, making it easier to sell pay-per-view passes to the common fan if they know they won’t see too many bad games.

It’s also great news for the Hydra-have-nots, as more WFTDA-sanctioned tournaments will be added for the teams that just missed out on the Big Dance. This may be a consolation for the handful of teams that would otherwise be squeezed out of the top 40 due to the killing-off of the regional-based invite system, but I think it’s great that the WFTDA is making sure there’s going to be another event where the small guys can have their chance to shine—and to win.

But in thinking about it, there are a few initial concerns that I would hope the WFTDA has taken into consideration.

Immediately, the question must be raised on how the top 40 teams will be determined in the first place. When regions were voting for their own regional rankings, it wasn’t too much to ask of a league to vote for, at most, 40 leagues nearby them. Surely, the WFTDA isn’t going to expect its population to rank all 159 leagues from top to bottom. Perhaps a system similar to (human) college football rankings will be implemented, where teams assign ranked votes to the teams they think are in the top 40 i.e., 40pts for 1st, 39pts for 2nd, 19pts for 22nd, etc. Total points would then determine rank.

Assuming a viable ranking system is put into place, the next question becomes how leagues are going to afford potentially sending their travel teams to a tournament venue that is very far away from their region. Since geography is no longer part of the criteria for who goes to a specific playoff site, you could get situations where a team like Rose City needs to go to Florida for their playoff opener, or London to a Los Angeles playoff site.

S-curve seeding snakes down columns of seeds (numbers) to find the teams that go in each (part of the) bracket. Now you know!

If the WFTDA is going to go with a rigid S-curve draw, you could have a lot of teams travelling a lot of taxing miles due to how the seeds fall and where the tournament sites fall. On top of that, a team won’t know exactly where they are playing until the final rankings (or the brackets) are released, not giving them a lot of time to plan for the logistics of flying and lodging 20 roller girls to a faraway city.

Finally, there’s the matter of fan support and crowd atmosphere. If a team has to travel a long way, will their cheering sections also make the trip? Since events are more likely to have teams coming in from all around the country (or world), it will by default create a more neutral crowd. Also, a lot of derbyfolk like cheering for their region if they can’t cheer for their team. But when there’s the very real possibility that a tournament located in the south may only have one or two teams based in the south participating, that could lead to issues with marketing and/or event ticket sales, or worse, a mostly disinterested patronage.

So there are a lot of unanswered questions from this announcement. Potential pitfalls, too. However, since I’m a guy that only wants to see good roller derby happen on the track, I’m positive on this news. I like the fact that each site will have a mostly equal distribution of top-, middle-, and bottom-ranked teams. I love the fact that there will be an opportunity non-playoff teams to have a shot of taking home a WFTDA trophy of some kind.

The WFTDA will be releasing further details on their new playoff structure following next month’s 2012 WFTDA Championships, so we’ll see if there are already contingencies in place to guard against some potentially big issues with the new format. While no one can know how this, along with the forthcoming rules update, will shake things up for 2013, there is something we can do to get some insight into what we could expect come next September.

We already know who, roughly, the 25 best teams in the WFTDA were before the playoffs, thanks to the DNN Power Rankings. Just for experimental purposes, we can fill out the remaining 15 teams with an in-no-way-100%-accurate ranking of the remaining teams got in to their regionals. (Yes, this is leaving out some teams from other regions that would have been in the new Top 40, but that’s not what this about.) With this quick estimation, we can ask:

Which teams would have likely reached the WFTDA Championships if the new playoff format were applied this year? How competitive would the weekends wind up being? What would each of the four regional brackets have looked like? How much travel would teams have to do in total?

Before we can answer those questions, first things first: The 2012 Pre-Playoffs Forty are…

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WFTDA Westerns 2012 Diary: Simply the Besterns*

I’ve made this admission on Twitter before, but let me make it here, too: In the almost six years I’ve followed modern roller derby, I hadn’t attended a full-on WFTDA-sanctioned event until this year. (Not for lack of trying, it’s just L.A. is all about the banked track.) Aside from Rollercon, Bay of Reckoning, the 2012 WFTDA west region playoffs, was truly the first big-girl flat track derby showcase I had a chance to attend.

Let me tell you: I’m glad I went, and I would go again in a heartbeat.

Though I knew there was going to be an awful lot of non-derby to be had, the fact that so many derby folk were going to be there guaranteed that I would have a good time no matter what was happening on the track. Plus, with such a high concentration of skating talent and team experience out there to see happen in so many games in three days, there was bound to be a lot of good stuff worth watching.

Thankfully, there were at least three great games every day, and not just from the vaunted top six in the west; even the bottom four put on a fantastic show. The venue was rocking, the skaters were (for the most part) skating, and when everything came together during the close games, it was bloody fantastic.

However, that doesn’t mean that everything that happened in Richmond was worth celebrating. In addition to the action and excitement, there was a lot of bad derby and vibes where there maybe shouldn’t have been. I saw a lot of things happen on the bay that I didn’t like, and I’m not one to keep that insight to myself.

As I share my thoughts about both the good and the bad I saw at Bay of Reckoning, I’ll relive some of the moments via the live tweets I put out on the WRDN Twitter. I’ll tell you right now that my overall experience at the event was wonderful…but strictly going by the derby played on the track, there’s still work to do for the WFTDA.

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Into the Great Unknown, Part 1: WFTDA Playoffs 2012

For Part 2 of WRDN’s roller derby tournament season preview, the 2012 USARS Regionals, click here.

This month marks the beginning of the WFTDA Playoffs (neé The Big 5), where 40 qualifying teams from the four WFTDA regions all take their shot at advancing to the Championships in Atlanta this November.

Normally, this is something I’d be very, very enthusiastic about. However, the run up to this year’s playoff season, to me at least, feels different than the weeks preceding last year’s tournament run. That’s because there are a great deal of unknowns facing the run to the Hydra this year.

The biggest reason for that is because the new WFTDA rules update that was supposed to be released in May of this year … was not. Instead, they were delayed, to be released (likely) this November and to go into effect in January, well after this year’s playoffs are over and done with.

This of course means the playoff games played over the next several weeks will be done so under the rusty 2010 ruleset that began to pop rivets at ECDX 2011, finally cracking open during the west region playoffs last year when That Game happened. Later on we discovered that the there can be no-packs just as often as yes-packs, penalties were being committed at record rates, jammerless jams are still completely possible, and doing “whatever it takes to win” apparently includes taking numerous intentional penalties at the end of a game to guarantee victory.

So that this kind of non-skating, non-derby stuff can happen again during this year’s playoffs—potentially with a higher frequency now that teams understand why it is effective and know it may help them win—isn’t exactly getting my derby juices flowing as hard as last year, or (especially) the year before that.

Still, the optimist in me wants to be hopeful, and there are signs that despite everything there will be a lot of great games, and great stories to come from them.

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The Win Button

Good news, bad news time.

First, the good news: The WFTDA has announced that its next roller derby rules update will be released this fall, to go into mandatory effect on January 1, 2013. So far, it is confirmed that the new rules will have no minor penalties as well as other changes to be revealed later.

The bad news: The delay in the update has created a lame duck period for the current ruleset—flaws, loopholes, and all—which will continue to be used through to the end of the 2012 WFTDA Big 5 season.

We remember what happened when this same set of rules were put through the pressures of tournament level competition. It wasn’t pretty. Non-jams, booing crowds, a record high for penalties, and what turned out to be a false hope that it would all be fixed for 2012.

It’s a huge unknown what we’re going to see during the playoffs this year. We’re likely going to see some fantastic derby, sure. But one would be a fool to not think horrible derby were not as equally likely. It’s just a matter of how much of it we’re going to see.

As fate would have it, there’s a precedent for the current situation the WFTDA finds itself in. Ten years ago, another popular competitive game found itself faced with a game-altering flaw. When this flaw was used to help players win at the tournament level, it led the game down a path of a slow and quiet death.

The flaw in this game was very similar to the one found in the rules of roller derby. Spooky similar, in fact.

But you wouldn’t think that initially, considering the kind of game it is.

This isn’t just any old fighting game: It’s roller derby, ten years ago. (Really.)

The defining characteristic of this particular fighting game was the thing that eventually destroyed it. Having played it competitively for five years myself, I know first hand what happens when people abandon the original design and spirit a game in the single-minded quest to do whatever they can to win.

Modern roller derby has reached a critical stage. The choice that players and teams make during the playoffs could potentially determine what course derby will set for itself moving forward over the next five years. If they make the right choice, the WFTDA will head into 2013 and beyond stronger than ever. If they make the wrong choice…

Well, you won’t want to make the wrong choice. I know what happens when the wrong choice is made. I’ve seen an entire game—one of my all-time favorites—crumble before my eyes. I don’t want to see it happen again, especially not to roller derby and those that made the game what it is today.

The choice is such: Do roller derby teams want to win by playing roller derby, or do they want to win by doing something that’s as easy to pull off as pressing a button?

For the consequences of this decision to be best understood, let’s go back to the mark of the millennium and learn the story of a fighting game that, unbeknownst to its creators, landed in arcades with a flaw that would decide its ultimate fate.

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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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Victory Through No Pack of Effort (v2.0)

This article was originally posted on November 6, 2011. It has been reworked for ease of reading and clarity, and updated with new examples and a more direct conclusion. It’s like a Blu-ray special edition!

During the the Windy City/Naptown game at the 2011 WFTDA North Central playoffs, there was a sequence of events that, as a sports fan and a roller derby fan, that I truly appreciated.

Behind on the scoreboard during the second half, Windy City sent Jackie Daniels out to jam. Jackie got a fiver on her first scoring pass, but as Windy City bench coach and DNN editor Justice Feelgood Marshall recounted, when she went for her second run at the pack…

…she tries to go around a nearly stopped Sarge[ntina of Windy City] to the right, just as Sarge moves to the right. Sarge is what the military would classify as a hard target. Physics happen and Jackie goes from like 60 to 0 in an instant, hitting the floor on her back super hard. Everybody in the room goes “OOOOH” at the same time. As any derby player knows, the collisions you don’t expect — the ones you’re not braced for — are the ones that fuck you up.

So Jackie’s on the ground. Doesn’t move for a couple seconds but it feels like ten. Her jam ref is standing over her and looks like he’s about to call the jam on injury. Sarge is also obviously concerned. I’m sure Jackie’s got to be relatively seriously hurt, because otherwise she’d call it off, right?

But no. Jackie slowly rolls over, slowly gets up, and keeps fucking going. Amazingly. She is really interested in that scoring pass. She’s slower than she was before and obviously in some pain, but she’s also Jackie. She gets the 4 points and calls it off at 9-0.

When Jackie gets back to the bench, our lineup manager Angel Dustt and I immediately check to see if she’s ok. She’s gasping and holding her chest and can hardly talk; she sits down heavily in the back row of seats and unbuckles her chin strap.

Angel says something to her right then, something along the lines of “Nice jam” or “Are you trying to kill yourself?” I do remember exactly what Jackie says back to her in between ragged breaths: “I wanna win. I wanna win.”

The final score of that game?

Windy City 128, Naptown 117.

Due to the extraordinary effort of Jackie Daniels, that 9-0 jam was damn near the difference between Windy City winning and losing the game. The team ultimately achieved victory through no lack of effort on their part.

A case like this is a reminder that team sports rely on individuals to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. From start to finish, an individual’s best effort is needed to help the team succeed. However, just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an individual not putting in their best effort, or effectively quitting on the play, can be disaster for the well-being of an entire team.

Had Jackie not dug deep to keep going, she could have left those points on the table. She could have also been given three jams off for a medical stoppage, preventing Windy City from using her in their normal jammer rotation and opening up the possibility of losing out on even more points in future jams through unfavorable jammer match-ups.

It just goes to show that effort in sports is rewarded. If you work harder than your opponent (assuming your opponent is of similar skill and ability), or at the very least give it your all 100% of the time, good things will happen to you and your team. Even when it looks impossible, you never know what can happen if you never give up.

As the saying goes, winners never quit, and quitters never win.

However, the current state of modern roller derby, both flat track (WFTDA) and banked track (RDCL), quitters can win.

The rules make it that way.

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3 Thoughts on Moving Derby Forward (Literally)

The last few weeks have been good for roller derby fans. While the flat track season has yet to get into full swing, the banked track community is running full steam ahead with great games left and right. They’ve been having so much fun early in the year, flat track teams and skaters have been wanting to get in on the action.

Last month, the Oly Rollers came down to San Diego for their first-ever game on the bank. Last week, the WFTDA Champion Gotham Girls went Hollywood to take on the L.A. Derby Dolls. This past weekend, the March Radness exhibition bout at the Doll Factory featured some of the country’s top skaters sprinkled into the Los Angeles/San Diego rivalry.

For a derby fan like me, it’s heaven. For a derby advocate like me, it’s also heaven.

In a wonderful coincidence, these three games are perfect examples of why roller derby is at its best when players are in motion. A pack that naturally and constantly rolls forward (and rules that actively promote such happenings) makes banked track games faster, more dynamic, and a whole lot of fun to watch.

Though the style of play is different, the WFTDA and flat track roller derby in general could take a few lessons from the world of the tilty-trackers. After all, roller derby is still roller derby regardless of the surface it’s played on.

With that in mind, here are three observations from the last three banked track games played in Southern California.

Slow packs and rear blocker walls work great…until they don’t

Oly 123, San Diego 102
February 18 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

As is their style, San Diego heavily relied on rear blocker walls throughout the game in an attempt to trap jammers, goat blockers, split packs, and keep the pace of the pack nice and slow for their own jammers to pile on the scoring passes against Oly.

To facilitate this, the Wildfires blockers began almost every single jam with three or four of their blockers butting up against the rear of the blocker start box. As a result, San Diego usually started with the Oly jammer behind a 3- or 4-wall at the back of a very slowly moving pack.

This is a stiflingly effective a defensive tactic, one that’s very common in flat track play. The argument could be made that it’s even more effective on the banked track, as their rules make it illegal to skate backwards. This can make it nearly impossible for a team getting too far ahead of a slow pack to retreat and help their teammate through.

However, for as well as the rear wall strategy can benefit a team using it, there were two jams early in the game that demonstrated how devastating it can be for that team if it backfires.

This first example shows what happens when the San Diego rear wall breaks down. Psycho Babble, the Oly jammer, manages to slip around it and get lead jammer relatively easily. Here’s a video (no audio):

This left San Diego in the worst possible position. Their jammer was stuck behind Oly’s 4-wall at the front. The SD blockers couldn’t just let the pack split; not only would they get a clear penalty, it would give Psycho more time to make her scoring pass. Worst of all, they couldn’t do very much to break up the front 4-wall since Oly had position and were good in staying in front to keep it.

This made it easy for Psycho to get a full five points on the play. She could have gone for another pass or two had she not called it off early, actually, as there was still a decent amount of time left on the jam clock by then.

This jam shows the negative of an all-hands-on-deck rear wall blocking formation. To put it simply, if the wall is defeated before the pack splits, that team is fucked.

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For the Fans, By the Fans

A few days ago, I received an email. It was from a young woman who, like many playing the game, became enthralled with roller derby after attending her first bout. She immediately decided to play it, and committed herself to training to be a good skater.


“One thing I’ve since learned is the standard of athleticism is low, and occasionally non-existent, in the derby world. While this was enticing to me (and I assume many other skaters) initially, I’ve learned that it’s also created two schools of roller derby: The athletic school and the social school. The latter are the ones who worry the most about nicknames, boutfits, derby drama, and never move beyond the grassroots bush leagues.”

And very quickly, she has discovered the problem that exists with a sport that is meant to be “for the skaters, by the skaters.”

We all know what the spirit of this phrase is all about. But the WFTDA actually takes it a step further and has made it its governing philosophy. Says so right there on its website. “By the skaters” is not just an ethos; it’s their constitution. Everything that has to do with WFTDA roller derby is controlled solely by the skaters who play the game, for the benefit of the skaters who play the game.

This ideal has served the game well over the previous decade, as the explosive growth of derby across the United States and throughout the world has readily demonstrated. There are more than 200 leagues under the wings of the WFTDA (including apprentices) and of the almost thousand or so more unaffiliated leagues around the world, many more mirror WFTDA rules and policies.

The proliferation of WFTDA-style flat track derby puts the Association and its members at one of the top positions in the race to grow and expand the sport to new skaters and new fans. Since the WFTDA acts at the direction of the players who play the game, this currently gives the skaters a big chunk of control over what direction the future of the sport will head in.

Frankly, that’s a big responsibility. Are the skaters up for it?

That’s a tricky question to answer. As our young, aspiring athlete has figured out, the open-arms policy that allows anyone to play roller derby is a double edged sword: Anyone can play roller derby…including maybe the ones that shouldn’t.

If “the skaters” are the ones in charge, maybe it would be a good idea to find out who this group consists of. Because if the skaters are leading the charge to help foster and grow this game for the future, we should be sure the right people are doing it for the right reasons: For the good of those involved with the sport, and of the sport itself.

So just who are the skaters who play roller derby?

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