My Daily Rant- Roller Derby IS a Sport

Since we founded our league, Fort Wayne Derby Girls, in 2005, we’ve been fighting the preconceived ideas about what roller derby is and who participates. First, no, we are not strippers on skates, as one potential sponsor referred to us our first season. And second, this is not your grandmother’s roller derby folks. This is all-women roller derby and we play on a flat track. Nothing about our bouts is staged. We have a 43-page rule book that we study. We train hard (well, I am not a part of the “we” anymore since I retired, but you get it) 3 or 4 days a week, not to mention the off-skate stuff we do at home or at the gym to strengthen our core and build lean muscles. We consistently sell out the expo at the Memorial Coliseum (2,000+ fans). We take it seriously. And we love it.

When we were a fledgling league, we took any and all media coverage we could get and we weathered through the “professional by day, terror on the track by night” human interest stories. I get it- that is interesting, for awhile. But after 6 years of working our butts off, it’s getting old. There’s more to this story than simply exploring how an overworked school teacher takes out her aggression. For the most part, our local media gets it, though we are still working on those local sportscasters on TV. Guess what? We are way more entertaining the high school football 🙂

When I ran across this national news story, it got my blood boiling. Yes, I am glad that the national media has finally caught up, but we should be way past this. We’ve grown from 0 to 300 leagues in 8 years and exist on 6 out of 7 continents- dang you Antarctica! We host regional and national tournaments. We have collaborated to form a national governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. We represent over 60,000 skaters. Heck, even Nike included us in their most recent commercial. We have arrived.

CBS, I wish you would have done your research. While we may not be “mainstream,” we deserve a little more respect than this human interest story provides. Back in it’s hay day? Really? This is the hay day! And escapism? Whatever!


5 thoughts on “My Daily Rant- Roller Derby IS a Sport

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said, though take comfort knowing that that article is a few years old. I remember seeing it at least 2-3 years ago and know that some of the skaters they showed with GSR have been on Gotham for at least one season or more!

  2. I actually have to disagree with you here. I appreciated the fact that they repeatedly referred to roller derby as a sport and the women as athletes. The fact is we are not professional athletes at this point. It may come to that someday; however, I will not be qualified to be a derby girl professionally. I know we deal with a lot of frustration in terms of getting the recognition and credit we deserve, but I think that the fact that we AREN’T professionals is a big part of the appeal. We don’t get paid to do this, but we are willing to risk our personal well being simply for the love of the game.

    Sure there is more to the story; however, when you only get 3 minutes to tell it, you have to present what will be the most appealing to your target audience. Considering the show, that target is women who are at home at 9am. As far as saying the 70s was its hay day, it was on prime time TV then so as far as the general public is concerned, that was the hay day. Naturally, you and I know better, but we still have people out there who don’t what roller derby even is. So we still have some work to do.

  3. As Josie noted, that story is old, 2008 to be exact. GSR no longer plays in that venue and a lot of the people in there are no longer with the league. I was surprised to see this pop up on Twitter, too.

    – Rogzilla, Garden State Rollergirls

  4. Glad this is outdated, probably about where we were in 2008 too! Local news sports coverage would be nice…………………we have to be getting closer. 🙂

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