The Wrong Roller Derby

Posted on November 4, 2014 by

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Spooky - picture from Facebook

Spooky – picture from Facebook

Spooky is a retired renegade skater. During his derby career he won an impressive range of awards:

2009 Best Ass
2010 Biggest Showboat
2011 Biggest Showboat
2011 The Lead Jammer Award (Most Lead Jammer Stats)
2012 Biggest Showboat
2012 Unlikely Blocker
2012 Most Versatile
2012 Best Mustache
2012 Best Derby Persona
2012 Best Brawl
2012 Best Derby Couple (w/ Big Irish)
2012 Highest Scoring Jam (tie w/ Lima Bean)
2012 The Lead Jammer Award (Most Lead Jammer Stats)

Spooky - picture from Facebook

Spooky – picture from Facebook

You can learn more about Spooky and renegade derby watching this short video.

The piece below is from his facebook page, which you can follow here.

There is no such sport as the Wrong Roller Derby.

The Wrong Roller Derby is a concept that by its very nature is divisive and hypocritical – the byproduct of insecurity, fear, and prejudice.

Not words you expect to be thrown around in the “community,” but appropriate no less.

Wrong Derby is what splits teams in vulgar and dramatic fashion, allows inexperienced and single minded skaters to become hate-tossing thread-dwellers attempting to mark personal taste as “correct,” but has luckily been overcome by the evolution of thought in this sport on many occasions.

The Wrong Roller Derby showed up early in the revival. “Cat-fight derby” vs. something more “legitimate.” “Legitimacy” is a term often used when the concept of Wrong Derby makes unfortunate appearances. If you were around during the time when the OSDA attempted to present a variation on modern derby in honor of the old school, you heard claims of legitimacy (or a lack there of) from many ill-informed skaters on both sides.

Wrong Derby showed us what our community was made of when a large portion of it – the ones that helped to referee, train, and volunteer at games and events – were looked down upon for falling in love with the on-skates activity of the game. You guessed it: in a community that spent a lot of time talking about empowerment and equality, women were (and on the rare occasion, still are) actually angry with men for wanting to play the game. Anger at men for “stealing” roller derby from women (when, in fact, roller derby was originally a coed game). Fearful of the consequences of men being involved as athletes in one of the main sports that women dominated. Anger and fear. Which led to talking down about the male version of the game, and the men who played it. Because it was the wrong roller derby.

It was a perceived threat. Not a real one – one based in insecurity. Does this sound familiar to anyone involved in MADE or USARS? I’m sure it does, as the same fear and tired rhetoric was thrown at MADE and USARS upon their inception as well. MADE did itself no favors by how it initially promoted itself in the first 6 months, and USARS had to get over that insurance bad-blood, but neither of these were the reason behind nor an excuse for how their version of the game and the skaters who played it were spoken to or regarded.

And of course, the area I have the most first-hand experience with, renegade. The bastard step-child of roller derby. Coed renegade? The bastard step-child that was thrown out of the house and came back with a pipe-bomb. The book was thrown at renegade skaters on both coasts. Legitimacy, athleticism, passion… all called into question by those who’d never played the game themselves. Why? Because it wasn’t their derby, and so it was the wrong derby. I can tell you from personal experience that renegade skaters I’ve worked with put in just as much, and sometimes more hours of training on and off the track as others. There’s no difference. I was once told by a skater from another ruleset that the problem she had with renegade was that it was going to make “the rest of us look bad.” I’m curious as to how many die-hard renegade fans she thought she was going to get to come to one of her games, let alone to come back for seconds after seeing it. Further – I wonder if she knew how many times I’d been fliering for a renegade game, and had someone tell me that they’d checked out roller derby in another town and it was boring? If I had a lesser mind for how attendance works, I would be saying the same thing – it is myself and my team who have to struggle against what you portray as roller derby. But that’s not the truth. The truth is – our fans wanted our derby, and her fans wanted their derby. They should know there’s an option for either or both, not have someone try to convince them which is real or correct.

The real truth? It’s all the right derby.

We are slowly (very slowly) evolving from this mindset of “there can be only one.” Why? Because there ISN’T only one. And that’s fantastic.

There is a place for everyone in roller derby. If you prefer to play or watch LoCo derby, you can do that. If you love WFTDA, it is there and ready for you. Like CoEd? No problem. Banked track? Penalty wheel with pillow fights? Pivot breaks? Renegade brawls? We have it all here in roller derby. And its all the right derby, as long as its the right derby for someone.

What we have to accomplish in order to become the “community” we haphazardly claim to be, is to accept and encourage all forms of derby, regardless of who is playing or what the goals are of the skaters, rule-sets, or organizations.

Your derby isn’t the ultimate derby or the correct derby. It is, however, derby. I have forms I enjoy more than others, but I respect everyone’s enjoyment of their particular flavor, be they fan or skater.

Respect should be the cornerstone of every derby. As far as I’m concerned, the only Wrong Derby is a derby without it.

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Posted in: LimboLand