Posts Tagged ‘WFTDA’

2013 WFTDA Rules Analysis

Finally, after a too-long revision cycle and a six-month delay, the WFTDA has officially released its new rule set for flat track roller derby.

Although this is something that probably should have happened in 2011, that it’s finally out now is good news no matter how you look at it. Just about everyone had something negative to say about the outgoing 2010 rules, or specifically, the kind of game those rules created on track once teams and players began to understand what kind of loopholes existed between the lines.

With the new ruleset, which will become officially active on January 1, 2013, some of those loopholes have been tied off. However, because of the popularity of some of the newly discovered tactics, some of them have remained in the rules.

Still, regardless of what the general public may think about the rules and the resultant gameplay that is created from them, they were a consensus of the 159 WFTDA member leagues who voted on virtually every bullet point in the rulebook. So whether the new rules ultimately turn out great or wind up being just as spotty as the outgoing ruleset, it’s the rules the skaters wanted to play by.

But let’s not get ahead of things. The 2013 WFTDA Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby, as well as a multitude of official and unofficial resources for getting up to speed on the newly updated rules, can be found below:

Official Resources:

2013 WFTDA Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby – Online Version | PDF Version
MRDA-Branded Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby (PDF)
WFTDA Rules Central Page
Change Summary for 2013 WFTDA Rules
Minor Penalty Reclassification Guide (PDF)
WFTDA Rules Reporting Database
May 26, 2010 WFTDA Rules (PDF) (for reference)

Official Resources – Coming Soon:

Official German Rules Translation – January 2013
Official Spanish Rules Translation – Mid-2013
Official French Rules Translation – Mid 2013

Unofficial Resources:

Derby News Network Rule Changes Overview
Roller Derby Rule of the Day on Facebook
Comprehensive Line-by-Line Rule Changes from RDRotD (PDF)
Zebra Huddle WFTDA Rules Forum

I have personally gone through the rules to take a look at the changes and see if I could get an idea of how the game might be played next year, compared to how it has been played in the last couple of years. Below is a comprehensive analysis of what the updates might translate to in terms of actual gameplay, based on past history, current strategy trends, and the overriding competitive nature of doing whatever it takes to win.

So without further ado, let’s jump right into it, starting with…

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Kola Loka: A Skater’s Story

Now that Gotham Girls Roller Derby have claimed their third Hydra as champions of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the 2012 WFTDA season is, for all intents and purposes, done and dusted.

The offseason gives most players time to take a well-deserved break at the end of a hard year of roller derby. However, for some it also can signal the end of a chapter in their derby careers.

There have been a few high-profile skaters signalling their retirement from the WFTDA this year. To name but a few: Heather Juska, White Flight, Soulfearic Acid, Joy Collision, Hockey Honey, Psycho Babble…and that’s just from the west region.

Another player ending her time in the WFTDA is Kola Loka.

Before Kola Loka discovered roller derby and joined Windy City in 2006, she was no stranger to the bouting world. “I was boxing at the time, preparing for the Golden Gloves and I preferred the team aspect of it, but loved the physicality and the training,” she said of her derby pre-history.

Like most derby players, she got sucked into the game and found it was right up her alley. According to Kola, what kept her drive for derby alive was “never ending learning curve and the satisfaction of being part of a team that had a goal to win together.”

That goal was met year after year, with Windy City going 62-23-1 in WFTDA play from 2007 and staying undefeated in the North Central since the beginning of the WFTDA four-region format in 2008, winning the North Central regional playoff tournament every year since.

Along the way, Kola had some amazing highlights that she’ll never forget.

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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 WFTDA.tv 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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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.

However…

“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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The 2011 WFTDA Penalty Derby Championships

September 13, 2009 was a very significant date in the history of modern roller derby. Do you remember what happened then?

Because I will never, ever forget it:

(Derby News Network) RALEIGH, NC — Philly and Gotham provided what was by far the most dramatic bout of the Eastern Regionals, trading the lead all through the second half — and 4 times in the last jam alone — before Philly scored a one-point upset of Gotham to end Gotham’s two-year, 18 game winning streak by just one last-second point, 90-89.

It was the day Philly upset Gotham. Their game was an epic contest that featured everything that makes roller derby, roller derby: Speed, constant action, great blocking, amazing teamwork, and competitive on the scoreboard the whole way through. As if that wasn’t enough, the last jam of the game went the full two minutes, culminating with Philly’s Teflon Donna literally making a last-second pass to pick up a point on the track and a ghost point in the box…the two points they needed to overcome Gotham and win the regional title.

The game was amazing in every respect. Personally, I hold it near and dear to my heart. It instantly sold me on flat track roller derby, and showed me everything that was good about the modern game.

There are two things about it that will forever be ingrained in my memories.

The first is what happened at the end of the game. When Philly realized they had won, their entire bench came out and dogpiled onto Teflon in mad celebration. By itself, this moment was amazing.

But then Gotham joined in the celebration and also jumped onto the dogpile.

That made the moment legendary.

A pile of humanity containing Gotham and Philly skaters. Awesome!

Right then and there, I got it. I understood how teams could be fiercely competitive and still be part of a community that just wants to have fun playing roller derby. That winners and losers can mingling in the same ball of joyful humanity after a nail-biting finish told me all I needed to know about the people playing the game.

It was absolutely wonderful.

However, it’s the second thing that I took away from Gotham/Philly 2009 that has been on my mind a lot lately.

As exciting as the finish was, I was more impressed with the start of the game. In light of recent events, you may have a hard time believing this: For the first ten minutes of the bout, there were no major penalties committed by either team.

I was gobsmacked. Finally, I thought. The best teams playing the best roller derby, skating hard, skating fast, and skating clean, playing the game five-on-five for an extended period of time. As it should be!

Inevitably, penalties factored into the game. A penalty directly influenced the final result, obviously, as a last-minute blocker penalty by Gotham gave Philly the last-second ghost point they needed to topple the giants and end their years-long win streak.

Even so, this game showed me how quickly derby skaters were bettering themselves and their abilities, proving that they could skate hard without committing penalties. I envisioned roller derby games with fierce action and very few penalties, as is the way in other sports. I was stoked. Surely, I thought at the time, this was the springboard towards a bright future.

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.

Two months after Philly’s historic upset, Denver started to tug on loopholes in the rule book at west region playoffs. Ever since then, derby has been getting slower and more sloppy, ultimately culminating with Gotham solving the rules and coming up with unbeatable strategies, directly resulting in red-faced referees gasping for air, whistling more penalties than ever. This has turned derby into a mindless farce, and a shadow of what the game used to be just months previously.

This isn’t my opinion. This is a fact.

With the help of Rinxter, we can look at bout statistics and prove—beyond the shadow of a doubt—that the “slow derby” game has been bad for roller derby, turning beautiful games featuring clean skating, into ugly affairs filled with penalties.

If you’re someone who likes the “strategy” game, then you’re going to have some explaining to do: The numbers will prove that you also like games filled with rule violations and box trips galore.

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