I'd like to thank all of you who responded to my last article, "Blow it Out Your Bank Account
." While many of the comments left on Rollin' News, FaceBook, Reddit, and other social media outlets were on point, a few of them made me think I should write an additional article on the issue of blow out bouts.
As previously discussed, blow out bouts occur when teams are so mismatched that it's obvious who is going to win after a handful of jams and the score ends up being lopsided, sometimes ending with a difference of hundreds of points. These types of bouts are not only frustrating for fans to watch, but also for many skaters to play.
The last article mostly focused on blow out bouts from the fan perspective. The suggestions focused on mitigating the circumstances whether you anticipate a lop sided game or suddenly realize you are playing a mismatched team. However, since many (if not most) Roller Derby leagues' other main source of income is member dues, skater perspective should also be considered.Skaters Want to SKATE
I personally know former skaters who retired, quit, or transferred to another league because they were never given an opportunity to play during bouts. They knew they weren't all star skaters, but they gave 100% at every practice, were heavily involved in league functions, and were the first ones to help out when random issues came up. Skaters in this type of situation often understand they probably won't be playing when time is running out and the score is close or tied, but what about when the score is such that the winner is obvious? Why would a coach continue to play the same handful of skaters, having plenty of other skaters to choose from, when the score differential is 100 or more points?
The answer for many WFTDA leagues...rankings. (I discussed some other reasons for why blowouts may occur in the
previous article, please read that one as well if you have not already.)
Ranking has become the religion of Roller Derby. Leagues worship their WFTDA rank as if it were some sort of deity, often putting it above all else...including the league's welfare. Until recently, score differential (the difference between how much your team scored vs the opposing team) could greatly influence a league's WFTDA ranking. Teams that were used to the old ranking calculation method may have a difficult time changing their "win every jam" mindset - even though the new WFTDA Ranking Formula greatly reduces score differential impact.
If teams actually do end up playing their less experienced/skilled players during a blow out bout, it's often only when their team is winning. Some would say this is better than nothing; however, it can actually convey a negative message, especially if the skater has skated a few seasons in her booty shorts. When you play a skater in this type of situation, you are basically saying they aren't an important part of the team. They end up being an afterthought, only given a chance to play when they can't screw anything up.
I believe a better time to play these skaters is when the team is losing in addition to the above situation. Skaters get a gleam in their eye and have more confidence on the track when given the chance to help the team close the gap. I've witnessed skaters, previously thought of as perpetual bench warmers, surprise everyone when given the chance to skate with and against more experienced and higher skilled players. Giving skaters a chance to shine when the team needs their help as well as when the team is winning shows players they are an important member of the team.
Skaters sweat their hearts out at practice, give up personal time to
serve on the Board of Directors, and spend countless hours as well as their own
money supporting the league. It's only fair for the league do the same
for them, even if they aren't the best skaters on the league. Treating loyal league members with respect and giving them the chance to shine on the track (like they do off of it) leads to better overall league morale, helps retain loyal members, and attracts new ones. All of this leads to an increase in income from member dues.
Lastly, it is important to play rostered skaters for reasons other than morale and dues income...bout ticket sales. Friends and family come to watch the person they know play Roller Derby. Sometimes bout attendees are almost all friends and family members! So, when you only play a handful of the 14 skaters (or 28 if both teams play the same way) on the team, you potentially have more than half the fans watching their player sit on the bench. How.Fucking.Exciting. If I were attending an event to watch a friend or family member perform and they ended up sitting on the sidelines the whole time, I would think twice before returning.
Hopefully I've given you some ideas to try next time you find yourself in what is turning out to be a blow out bout. If you have other ideas or comments, please post them below. I look forward to hearing what you all think on this subject.
Until We Skate Again,
P.S. I'm going through all the goodies I got from the awesome vendors at RollerCon and will have another giveaway soon! I'll announce how to enter to win in my next blog post which will be published early September.