How many leagues can one major city accommodate? Adelaide has a population of approximately 1 million people. It has four adult roller derby leagues and a junior league. Given that our oldest and most prominent league has a policy against growth beyond four teams it’s convenient to have other leagues to take on the rest of us derby wannabes. But what does it mean for the sport?
The L in AFL for example, stands for league. That’s one league across all of Australia with teams in major cities. There’s something about roller derby, though, that says if the teams can’t all train together in the same space then they can’t be in the same league. I’d say it all ties back into the ‘skater run, DIY’ ethos of roller derby. It’s much easier to co-ordinate and manage teams if they are co-located.
My concern is what this means for interleague bouting. If we wanted to play the best of Vic against the best of SA, for example, would we just take the best players from the best league? Some of the best players from the second best league might be worthy of the team but miss out. Or do we hold state try outs and end up with a team that is weakened by having players who’ve never played together before?
All this came to the fore when I found out that someone is investigating founding a fifth adult league in Adelaide. The woman who is allegedly starting this new league was asked to leave her last league amidst a furore surrounding the financials of that league. This brings me to another concern. If someone does something so offensive as to be asked to leave a league, is it fair for them to simply start another and potentially weaken the status of derby in that state?
What’s your city’s population and how many leagues does it support? How does it combat the weaknesses of having multiple leagues? If it manages to have just one, how does it sustain this in the face of fractures, dissent and expulsion?