Roller Derby Fan Base Explodes!

FOLLOW: Editorial
Or will it?

Have you ever seen a soccer game?  Im not talking about one on TV, but live in the stands?  If you haven't seen one live, then I emplore you to watch the video below.

Do you see the excitement?  Do you see the utter chaos that unraveled after a goal was scored?  It was just over one point.  One measly point.  Now I am not here to talk about the point nor the amount of points in a game.   I am hear to talk about how to keep that 1 fan or those 100 fans that you have.  To grow this base, you must first wrap your head around the fan base of a very old sport, soccer.

Soccer fans are strong, supportive, wild, fun, energetic, exciting, moving, celebratory and engaged.  This is exactly what we need and want in Roller Derby.  So lets walk through how they got there and what your league can do to get closer to how the soccer fans support their teams.

In the beginning, there was only a few fans.  Which now has grown to the worlds most popular sport.  Remember, we are talking about the world and not just one country.  One famous team is out of the United Kingdom called Manchester United.  Have you ever wondered why they have United in their name?  Well, I surely don't know, but I can take a guess.  United stands for all the fans and clubs that support them.  Have you ever known about the soccer clubs that support the soccer teams?  Well they exist and they are the die hard fans.  The ones that make the celebration, make the cheers and make the excitement happen. They are the ones who make the experience for the fans.  So how do we get that sort of excitement and energy in Roller Derby?

1. Create a Club around your league and give it a name.  Everyone of these teams have several clubs that support the team.  The club is built around 1 single idea.  Go to the event, join the party and cheer on the team.  Each of these clubs are usually built around 1 or 2 people who start them.  They then grow with these few people.  They generally talk via an online forum or a list server.  From there, they setup a time to meet before the game.  Most of the club members are decked out in some sort of team/club apparel with the club and team names.  Once in the game, the club cheers on their team wildly.  Now I understand stadiums are much bigger at soccer, but the point is the same.  These official clubs are the folks who give the crowd energy.  They are the folks who make the game more energetic, more exciting and much louder.  Each club usually assigns a couple of cheer masters for the games.  They are the ones in charge of driving each movement and cheer by the club towards the game.  When DCRG creates their club, they could call it "The Lobbyists".

2. Give the clubs that are created a heavy ticket discount.  These are the people that come to more than half of your leagues games.  I know leagues really rely on ticket sales, but I need you to think of cost vs benefit analysis for a minute.  Cost, your losing upfront, but your going to be gaining in the long run.  Clubs make the game exciting, build excitement and allows fans to get into the type of game your league plays.  What ever that may be.  Now, if a fan comes to one of your games, sees the excitement building up around the club, they will be more inclined to come again.  Not just because of Roller Derby, but the experience Roller Derby offered with its club excitement. So give the clubs a heavy discount, which could be half the ticket price or more.  Show them that you love their energy and support the games they come to.

3. Steer head the club.  Don't sit on the sidelines and wait for one to form.  I have been apart of many roller derby leagues, so we both know by now nothing like the club atmosphere of soccer exists within Derby.  If it does, it will probably be born out of TXRD or LADD.  Create a formal committee or rep to steer head the idea.  Once that person is assigned, start collecting emails at the bouts.  Start up a list server or email group.  I know that RDNation will soon be releasing a email subscription group free along with a league subscription.  Once you have say, 20 or more emails and/or phone numbers.  Reach out and blast them about a club forming.  Not just any club, but the official club of the league.  Tell them your league is interested in creating more team spirit during games.  Make sure to give them deep discounts for those that show up to the first few club energy games.

4. Once at the game, assign your most rambunctious group of girls/boys/fans to be cheer masters.  Then start the cheering. Thats it.

If you want to really understand the semantics around soccer clubs, go to a soccer game first.  Sit in the supporter section and take it all in.  Second, go check out the movie Green Street Hooligans. Forget the violence, but pay attention to the soccer club and take notice, because soccer has been doing it for decades.  Now its Derbys turn to learn from success.

If your really serious about increasing your game attendance, if your really serious about growing derby, then you really need to stop trying to just sell tickets or promoting the games with banners.  Its time to get involved in the fan experience and see why they aren't staying around.

Just start with a email group by RDNation and go from there.  Its not about you or the league.  Its about the sport.  Grow it and grow the attendance by getting involved in the fans experience.

About The Author

DOB: 4/29/1984
Leagues: Bio:

I have been a Referee for Roller Derby both the WFTDA and MADE rule sets with over 5 years experience.

I am now the Owner of

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