the exception of Suzy Hotrod’s appearance in ESPN’s Body Issue, Roller Derby hasn't materialized very much in mainstream sports media. In August of 2014, EPSN the
Magazine asked its readers which chronically ignored sport they would like to
see in their Fansourced issue. Ironically, readers were only given 5 choices:
rugby, wrestling, lacrosse, motocross, and softball . . . Readers could vote several
ways. They could leave a comment on the magazine’s Facebook post which
announced the poll, they could vote via Twitter, or they could vote through the
most people involved with the sport will tell you, Roller Derby is more unknown
than ignored. The derby community wasn't fazed. The write-in votes began. This
writer did not have access to the website poll, but was simple enough to
roughly calculate the votes via Facebook and Twitter. By the time the deadline
had passed, there were almost 15,000 comments on the Facebook post, and 1,400
votes via Twitter. Of these votes, almost 7,000 called for Roller Derby, with
rugby coming in second at roughly 4,000.
Derby not only surpassed more established sports, it blew them out of the water.
With such a response, many thought Roller Derby would get more attention from
the mainstream sports media. The only acknowledgement, however, was in the form
was a Tweet which stated “PS we see you, too, roller derby and water polo
fans!! Keep in coming and maaaybe we’ll have to another vote for yall for a
later issue . . . “
seemed like the wrong medium to address the write-in votes. Of the 7,000 calls
for Roller Derby, all but 13 of them were via Facebook. Most voters either did
not have a Twitter account, or did not use it frequently enough to catch ESPN
the Magazine’s Tweet. The tweet also avoided all hash tags, so anyone searching
for a reply would have to go to ESPN the Magazine’s Twitter profile and scroll
through the Tweets to find it. Water Polo voters were also addressed at the
same time. Of the write-in votes on Twitter and Facebook, there were only 8 for
Water Polo. Water Polo’s 8 votes got the same attention as 7,000. The winner of
the poll was also never announced on the ESPN the Magazine’s Facebook page,
only on Twitter. Perhaps they were trying to avoid the backlash of 7,000
voters, or perhaps it was just a lapse in their social media.
Derby went from being unknown to being ignored.
seemed short-sighted. Roller Derby is a sport loved worldwide across a plethora
of demographics, and supported by the hard-work of skaters and fans. It is also
one of the few sports that receive the majority of its participation from
women. Few sports can draw the same
amount of the interest from such a large range of demographics.
data infers two conclusions.
1. Derby is
well and alive on Facebook, but not on Twitter, which seems to be the preferred
method of communication for organizations like ESPN the Magazine. Facebook
comments are easy enough to ignore, but as Twitter is a continuous
conversation, would be harder to overlook such a large volume of Tweets.
2. Roller Derby
still has a long way to go before it is accepted among more established sports.
Especially if wrestling, lacrosse, and rugby are considered
‘critically-ignored,’ as all three sports have very large followings worldwide.
ESPN the Magazine will follow-through and cover Roller Derby in a later issue.
As a community, we may be dodging a bullet by being ignored. As Motocross
voters pointed out several times, the photo ESPN the Magazine chose to
associate with Motocross was actually a different sport altogether. Maybe it is
better to be ignored, then misrepresented by a magazine who does not understand
Roller Derby, its skaters, or its fans.