Things Roller Derby Must Lose (and Why I Will Miss Them)
Since the sport is in the throes of another “OMG what is happening to our hobby” spasm concerning the new WFTDA skill requirements, I thought now would be the time to share some personal reflections on the evolution of the world’s greatest and fastest growing game in a series of posts, here on my personal blog so no one but me gets the blamethrower.
So one more time with the disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. I do not represent WFTDA, AFTDA or any of the teams with whom I have the pleasure of working.
Derby is changing every day, inching along a continuum that leads from burlesque to mainstream sporting endeavour. It’s where the sport seems to be pulling itself due to (and in spite of) a great deal of debate, so I’m fine with the march toward legitimacy. I will however, mourn the passing of some of the following reminders of the game’s past. They are things that still exist in roller derby, but are under fire, in flux or otherwise doomed to be ground under the wheels of history.
Chapter 1: The Name Thing
Recently some of my favourite skaters decided to eschew the punny derby names of their youth and go by their actual names. This made me sad, but that’s how things are going. A lot of ink has been spilled on this matter by finer minds than mine, but let me explain myself a bit better:
I’m not sad because it’s bad for the sport – I will miss Semi-Precious but I will still have the privilege of watching Hanna Murphy skate a tremendous bout. That doesn’t change.
I’m not sad because they are doing anything wrong – It’s their name and they can do whatever they want with it for whatever reason. AHA – there it is!
I AM sad if that reason is because they believe that dropping silly names will propel the game forward. In the here and now, it won’t. Derby’s not ready yet, and won’t be for a while. As long as we still need Demo Jams, we’re probably safe keeping the names. I feel like our children may skate under their own names, but we should enjoy the fun ones while we can. To paraphrase the ever-useful Homer Simpson, this sounds like a problem for Future Derby.
I’m not touching the question of whether certain names are appropriate or not. My profession has a procedure for clearing that (hosting league sets community standards) and that’s working so far.
I’m also pretty close to this matter personally. As an announcer, the names add a lot of spice to what I do. I have reasons to be attached to my own moniker as well. My real name is Steve Arkle. Say that out loud and then ponder this:
I should stick to Lightning Slim, no?
My Unwanted Advice: Live it up for now, they’ll get Grandmothered out eventually.
Questions? Concerns? Outrage? Please feel free to hit the Comments section.
Next time: What Not To Tell A Woman Not To Wear