Archive for Sports

Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 4

Posted in Lists, Roller Derby with tags , , , on May 14, 2013 by Lightning Slim

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 – Nameyology

Chapter 2 – Booty Short, Legacy Long

Chapter 3 – Billboarded

Chapter 4: No Boys Allowed

This post is a confession, and an apology. And possibly a challenge.

In my time, I’ve been a Men’s Roller Derby hater. I’m working to correct it.

I believe that the sport of women’s flat track roller derby provides a necessary corrective to male-dominated sports culture, and a unique opportunity for women to explore team sport, physical fitness and camaraderie outside the paradigms of conventional athletics. I also believe the necessity for that unique corrective measure is still very much with us. I know, Mr. Seltzer, old-school derby was always presented co-ed, but the revivalists dumped a lot of stuff, including fakeness, and they did so by design.

That being said, merby’s here and it isn’t going anywhere. More and more men are playing, usually with the support of their sister leagues. One day, assisted by genetics and centuries of warrior ethos, some dude will set a record on the flat track in scoring/jumping/protein shake drinking that some very competitive women will spend a long time trying to match. And that will bum me out.  Is men’s derby an amazing sport played by passionate athletes? Hell yeah! Is its growth, right here and now, perhaps weighing heavily on the coat tails of a small but important aspect of the women’s movement?

My answer to that used to be yes, without question. Now I’m coming round to realize that it could be a problem, but it doesn’t have to be, so I can’t judge it until it happens.

I know a lot of male players. These are people who have shed blood, sweat and tears building the women’s game and have spent so much time with it they have come to love it, and want to experience it for themselves. They tell me that they can think of no higher compliment for the game they love than to put themselves to the test in its crucible. I have no counter-argument for this. I can’t tell them to get back in their Widow/Ref-kitchen and make us a rule-set sandwich (hold the Minors). They should play and they shall.

And yet I remember the first time I saw a group of parents, children and athletes gathering together for an autograph signing after a bout. Everyone within 20 feet was a female. I thought “You don’t see that every day.”

And then I thought “Well shit, you should!”

So, do I still hate the Bro-ller Derby? Can you love the player and not the game? All the songs suggest you can, but I know it’s not that simple.

My gravest concern remains, which is that the men’s game will draw the public’s eye and we’ll end up in a situation where the male game is the default and the female is the alt-version. You know, LIKE EVERY OTHER SPORT IN HISTORY. I’m going to sound like a pompous ass when I say this, but I can’t think of any other way: Men, you have been given partial custody of something women hold precious. Don’t screw it up.

That’s the main thing. There are other nitpicks too:

I’m still inclined to cringe when I’m at a tournament and I am told that Team X’s star player cannot participate because she was taken out in a co-ed scrimmage, likely by what Captain Lou El Bammo calls the “Dude Major Penalty”.*

At the moment, I still think the guys took a game that was just finding its feet in terms of complex strategy and put the hamfist right back into it.

I think I will always hate the uniforms.

But I love Roller Derby. I love the game, and I love the people. All the people: Refs and NSOs and announcers, volunteers and fans. I love roller girls and roller boys, who I guess I should just call “skaters” henceforth.

Mea Culpa. I’m working on it. Work with me.



*Simultaneous High/Back Block with Forearms. Guy Jammers new to the game do not check speed when approaching walls.

Comments? Hit the form below! Just don’t tell MRDA where to find me.

Next time: Andrew WK Does Not Approve.

Five Reasons to Support the Tri-City/Royal City Rivalry

Posted in Roller Derby with tags , , , , , , , on May 18, 2011 by Lightning Slim

Orignally published at

As previously mentioned in this space, Thunder is now in full swing across the North Central Region playing in WFTDA sanctioned bouts and tournaments in a push to make their mark. But there’s plenty of derby to be had back home, much of it featuring the rivalry between the Total Knock Outs and the three teams of Royal City. These ladies are getting to know each other well this season, and here’s why you should get involved:

1. It’s close. No serious 401-style driving involved in the Highway 7 Series. You can stop by the after-party and still go home for SNL, if that’s your thing . That leads me to my next point:

2. Fan Invasion Potential. Visiting teams can bring a full-strength cheer squad. Packs the house, makes lots of noise – good for everyone!

3. Non-Sectarianism. Sure, the rivalries of any sport can be passionate and raw, but the community-based, DIY, family-positive nature of the modern roller derby phenomenon mean that you can attend these games looking forward to a good time without fearing for your kids’ ears or having to duck a flying pint glass.

4. Developing Relationships. As the two leagues play each other, familiarity will engender competition. They will push each other to greater levels of skill and teamwork, and we’ll be able to watch the games as they get closer and more exciting each time. Which reminds me…

5. Early Adoption.The TKO’s and RCRG are relatively new to the game, but their potential is limitless. Could you be seeing one or more women who might hold aloft the 2016 Hydra? Choose your favourites, exercise your lungs and help them get there, for the privilege of saying you saw them back in the day.

6. I’m almost always there. What, you come for the skaters and not me?

See you in the Suicide Seats,


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