Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 3

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

Chapter 3: Posters

Photo by Sara Montgomery. Images found at Fracture Magazine

Poster by Sara Montgomery. Images found at Fracture Magazine

The Leafs don’t produce a poster for each game they play. Neither do the Knicks. Nor even does your local little league T-ball team.You don’t see the Boston Bruins advertising their next game with a marquee billboard of Zdeno Chara lasering a fighter jet from the sky with his eye-beams,* and I’m pretty sure the next Monday Night Football will not be billed as a Hallowe’en/Wild West/Mardi Gras/Star Wars Showdown**.

And one day, derby will have evolved beyond the need for such things, and I will actually rejoice, because then we will have made it. Spectacle requires a poster. Sport does not. I will miss the rock and roll, Russ Meyer-inspired graphics, but in my perfect future, the evolution progresses thusly:

2009: “Hey, check out that poster. We should go to that.”

2014: “When’s the next roller derby?”

2020: “Check the sports feed to see who Gotham is playing this week”.

The loss of the need for this talent would be an excellent problem to have, derby-wise. The poster designers could apply their genius to merchandise and t-shirts. In my perfect future I would have homes for many of them at my wildly successful clothing line Burns and Buckle.


Poster by Adam Swinbourne, Future VP Creative of Burns and Buckle

Right now, derby is (of necessity) selling the sizzle and not the steak. However, slowly but surely, we’re teaching the fans what a good steak tastes like. All we have to do is keep the steakhouse standing long enough for the glorious day when Ma and Pa Derby, all on their own, have a hankering.

My Unwanted Advice: Keep Derbying On. This is going to be an awesome problem to have one day. Hang on to those soon-to-be-vintage posters, and check out the awesome repository of graphics over at Fracture Magazine.

Lovers? Haters? Venture capital for my non-existent business? Hit the comments below!

*Any Photoshoppers out there willing to do this for me? Because it’s the best idea I’ve had in ages.

**Never do a Circus theme. People see you on the way to the afterparty and yell “Juggalo!”

Next Time: They’re gonna MRDA me.

5 Responses to “Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 3”

  1. Busta Armov Says:

    The assumption is that these things will be gone, as if derby will be lifted up to professional as a whole. It won’t. Most of derby is recreational, even in the WFTDA. The teams affected by encroaching “professionalism” are the serious teams. When “professional” hits eventually, it will take maybe the top 20 teams (give or take) and the rest will be like most sports.

    Roller derby is a “beer league” sport. Some leagues and teams are pushing to make it more than that. But most…well they have work and family commitments which don’t enable them to show up for 15 hours of practice a week. They don’t have the money to travel to play challenging teams which make them better, or even the money to pay travel expenses for visiting coaches. They are recreational, and will always be recreational.

    There are 500,000 people who have registered with local leagues in hockey. There are 1700 professional hockey players (and maybe double that in “semi-pro”). The ratio is even steeper with soccer, with 265 million registered participants and maybe 10-20,000 pros.

    I think the traditions of roller derby’s beer league heritage will be upheld for generations to come in most of the places derby is played today. The assumption that the professionist movement in derby will spread to all of derby, is about as valid as the assumption that all roller derby leagues will be equals to Gotham.

  2. Hey Busta,

    Guilty as charged. I am speculating on one possible future for that segment of flat track derby which is currently making a move towards the mainstream and striving for parity. For a variety of reasons, that’s the branch of the tree upon which I sit, and the kind of derby I feel comfortable discussing.

    Maybe it will take, maybe it won’t. I’m happy to agree that I think the sport has enough steam to continue to be played at the recreational level all over the place.

    in any case it’s nice to know that wherever the sport goes, there are passionate folks like you and I who will be there to relate, debate, and every once in a while remember to sit in the stands and enjoy it. Thanks for reading.

  3. […] Heavy Music, Roller Derby & Madness « Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 3 […]

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