Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 2

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. Part 1 of the story, along with various disclaimers, can be found here.

Chapter 2: Fishnets

Well, not specifically fishnets, but what we’ll call Skater Determined Uniform pieces. The traditional, lingerie-inspired looks are giving way to purely athletic gear. Once again, I am fine with this from a sport-growth perspective, but I think that when the day comes that all skaters look professional, dri-fit and, well, uniform we may have lost something. I’m not talking about sex.* A skater has no responsibility to dress sexy according to my standards, but, as the sport stands today, neither is it her job to dress according to someone else’s notion of what an athlete should be.

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…Or Is It?

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the flame wars. Modern Derby is the first sport to grow up entirely inside the internet, and that has influenced the level of discourse surrounding it. “You got Jocks in my subculture!” “You got Hipsters in my sport!” I think the blending of these ingredients, like peanut butter cups, has been as delicious as it is surprising. But that blend is also contentious and uniforms are just another battleground in the Derby Culture War currently underway.

There is a gap in perception between how derby players actually dress and the more traditional images being used to market the sport. I don’t actually know too many people who dress like the girl in the poster above. But the posters persist. Personally, I don’t think this is necessarily bad for business. We know that we’ll all be driving Chevy Volts eventually, but that hasn’t stopped GM from sticking the Camaro front and centre in the marketing materials.

I’m sure in time all will be well, and consensus will eventually be reached (or not, whatever we pick looks bad on at least one body type). I just hope this process is left up to evolution and not done by fiat. Nowadays whenever I see a Fresh Meat Tutu I hope that she’s given the chance to grow out of it herself without a) somebody on the internet telling her she’s Dragging Down The Sport or, more horribly, b) being given the gears by her own teammates, something that would be called “hazing” in traditional sporting context. Ain’t nobody joining derby for that.

My Unwanted Advice: For your charter team, get the jumpers on if it makes you feel profesh. Make sure you still allow some of your fan favourites to show some flair.** For home teams and rec leagues, establish some guidelines for colour and then go to town.

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*WTF. I know.

**Black-Eyed Skeez’s Darth Vader Helmet is the perfect example of where functionality, uniqueness and sheer terror intersect.

Questions? Concerns? Outrage? Please feel free to hit the Comments section.

Next time: The Marquee d’Obsolescence

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9 Responses to “Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 2”

  1. The bruises get more attention than the game itself. http://flattrackfink.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/derby-myth-bruises/

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I joined a rec level team last year and found a place where body image issues were crumpled up and spit out.

    Sure, after the first few months, the fishnets and the short skirts naturally are replaced with more functional sporty gear, but it’s very telling that I didn’t have to shop[ at a “special” store to get some plus sized derby skinz.

    On practice night, I have no qualms about buying gas or stopping for milk in my rainbow socks and hot pants, but any other day of the week, you’d be hard pressed to get me in shorts. I love derby for the sport, but I also really appreciate what it taught me about being myself, the rest of the world be dammed.

  3. […] Roller Derby & Madness « Deals & Steals: That’s a Lotta Vikings! Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 2 […]

  4. […] 1 concentrated on derby names, and Chapter 2 was about uniforms and flair. This time let’s look at something outside the […]

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