ESPN the MAGAZINE Ignores Roller Derby Community

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With 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 website.

As 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.

Roller 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 . . . “

Twitter 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.

Roller Derby went from being unknown to being ignored.

It 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.

The 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.

Perhaps 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. 

About The Author

DOB: 4/19/1987
Leagues: Bio:

Born in the USA, but now living in the UK, I skate for the Red, White, and Bruise Rollers out of RAF Lakenheath. 


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espn.go.com/.../meet-julie-brandt-glass-usain-bolt-roller-derby

There is obviously a lot of room for improvement but this came out September 17th. I know I will retweet the article and ask ESPN to keep 'em coming. I don't think the roller derby community will let the sport be ignored.

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Thanks for posting this! I'm really glad to see that their website is paying attention. And I think you're right- we won't let them ignore us.

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