Board of Diplomats

My previous article, Board of Dictators, discussed how Founder's Syndrome (FS) has negatively effected Roller Derby leagues, sometimes causing leagues to split or even completely dissolve.  I received some great feedback through emails, personal discussions, and comments to that article and would like to clarify some points.

Leagues are Unique
Some of the discussions I had concerning FS and the previous article made me realize I didn't emphasize this enough: not all league founders will develop FS.  A founder, or anyone for that matter, can be in a leadership role for a lengthy period of time of a thriving league.  When I say thriving, I don't just mean monetarily. 

Thriving leagues have clear policies in place which are followed and understood by the members and also updated as needed to keep up with changes affecting the league.  Thriving leagues address issues head on and work with members to ensure their needs are not being overlooked.  Thriving leagues conduct business openly by properly informing and inviting members to attend important meetings and providing access to league documents (BOD minutes, financial statements, voting records, etc.).

Secrecy leads to distrust, which in turn causes frustration, confusion, and internal strife; however, it doesn't have to be this way.

Delicate Balance
As mentioned in the previous article, leadership turnover has its advantages.  Newly appointed leaders often bring different ideas to the table and may be able to view old issues from a previously overlooked viewpoint.  Fresh blood also helps to prevent burn out, which occurs when someone is in a position so long that they become bored while feeling overworked and uninspired. 

While many of us have felt burned out at some point in our lives, something special happens when we find a job we are good at that challenges and excites us.  If your league has a president who does an excellent job leading your thriving league and they happen to be one of the league founders, it's not necessarily a bad thing for them to continue to serve the league in that position.  The problem occurs when symptoms of FS cause issues to the detriment of the league's ability to thrive.

Big Picture
So, how can you tell if you and your league are suffering from FS or if you have found your place in the system?  Try to take a step back and look at the situation from an outsider's perspective.  Do you feel like you have to hide or make decisions behind the membership's back or are you comfortable bringing possible changes to a vote, ready to proceed no matter the outcome?  Do you conduct business behind closed doors or is information given and made readily available for the members?  Do you feel wiped out and physically/mentally destroyed when having to deal with league issues, or are you invigorated? After honestly answering these questions, you should be able to come to a conclusion as to which side of the fence you stand (or, in our case, skate).

I hope this was able to clarify a few points and show that just because someone is in a position for a lengthy period of time, and happens to be one of the league's founders, they (and the league) aren't necessarily suffering from FS.

Thank you to all of those who contacted me to tell me their stories and experiences with this subject matter.  To show my appreciation, I would like to give away some goodies!  In order to be considered to receive one of these goodie packages, all you have to do is come up with a Roller Derby themed haiku and enter it into the comments of this article.  I'll choose a few winners and announce them with my next Rollin News article.

Until We Skate Again!

About The Author

DOB: 6/2/1978

I'm an Alaskan chick who discovered Roller Derby (and started skating) 5 years ago and never looked back! For 4 seasons, I skated for the Rage City Rollergirls who are based in Anchorage, and last season I skated with the Boom Town Derby Dames of the Mat-Su Valley. Currently I'm a free agent, skating with leagues around the state and will consider any invitations from leagues to bout with them.

I travel around the world to lead boot camps and gear workshops for beginner-intermediate level leagues and, in addition to writing blog posts for Roller Derby Nation, I write the popular gear blog "Shocker Khan's G Spot." 

Three years ago, my partner and I opened 2N1 Skate Shoppe, the first and only Roller Derby Pro shoppe in the state of Alaska, which has become famous in the Roller Derby community for excellent product selection as well as quick and helpful customer service.  2N1 is also where you will find the super popular "Wheel Library" where, for $20, skaters can check out a set of wheels for 2 weeks in order to try before they buy.

To set up a boot camp or gear workshop (the later can be done over Skype), request a custom DerbyPunk item, or get answers/advice about gear, send an e-mail to and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Until we skate again!


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