It's your fault!

Go find a mirror and look into it.

No, seriously, I'll wait.

Did you see that person looking back at you?  Yes, they're responsible for everything going right in roller derby today.  And everything wrong as well.

The beauty with our democratically-run sport is that, at the end of the day, we're fundamentally left holding the bag as to why things are the way they are.  Don't believe me?  Think about scrum starts.

Several years ago, the rules had separate whistles for the pack and the jammers.  Then, more and more teams decided that they'd like the jammers to take off right away.  They could make it happen by taking a knee and creating a "no-fault no-pack" on the whistle.

Pretty soon, the whole of the derby world had decided to take a knee.  The world had voted that jammers should start right away, and the rules committee made the change.  Democracy had taken effect.

The same thing's happening with some leagues and scheduling.  Every so often, someone writes a post about how there should be a "Derby League" making schedules, keeping standings, promoting/relegating, and so fourth.  Every so often, these posts get replies, both positive and negative.  

But, then, Heartlands was started and has grown ever since.  Clearly, a large number of skaters want this, and are voting with their participation.  They may just change how derby's understood by the non-skating populace.  They've made derby's DIY democracy happen.

At the same time, I hear complaints and read rants.  About all sorts of things.  There are loads of slacktivists in derby, and that leads to bad blood with no improvement.

People complained about passive offence.  Loads of skaters don't like it, but what do they do about it?  Many complain on facebook.  What could they do?
  • Not use the passive offence.  Might risk losing bouts, but it'll preserve your view that it's not a part of derby.
  • Come up with a strategy that works equally well against it.  Might incur penalties, but you could break a strategy you hate.
  • Not schedule bouts against leagues that use it.  Might ruffle some feathers, but you'll only skate the derby you like.
Any of those will cause derby democracy to work.  That last strategy, especially, is one great way our sport takes care of poor sportsmanship.  When leagues don't play fair, they suddenly end up with a dearth of opponents.

What won't work is just whining online.  It doesn't matter how well thought out the complaint is, it's just whining unless it's accompanied by action.  There are skaters who take action against passive offence, it worked recently at the MRDA championships quite well!

Someone once complained to me about a tournament, claiming to be a championship, was run by a non-elected group.  "Why don't they change?" was the question.  It took all my strength not to respond "You're why not.  You're not stepping up, you're not boycotting, you're not demanding change.  You're just whinging online, and to someone with no say in the matter."

Part of the point of derby being DIY and democratic is that we're all responsible for it.  We're all responsible for the trajectory it takes and where it is now, both for better and for worse.  Don't like something?  Do something about it.  Like something?  Do something about it.

Fundamentally, it's all up to every single person in derby.  If something works or something doesn't, it's up to me.  If something changes or something doesn't, it's your fault.

About The Author


Stat Man is an announcer, tournament planner, and analyst.  He proudly chairs the MRDWC, as well as planning broadcasts and keeping people informed about derby at all levels.

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