Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Roller Derby - Give it a Try!

I'm one of those guys who just never appreciated team sports all that much. Maybe it's because of all the standing around doing nothing in football/baseball...what are they doing, composing a mission statement? Maybe it has something to do with coming from Buffalo and having the Buffalo Bills repeatedly flub 4 Superbowls in a row. Disappointment like that can break a man. In any case, I like some sports with more continuous play like hockey but don't even follow that very consistently.

This Winter, though, I discovered a sport that I enjoy tremendously: Roller Derby! A buddy from the motorcycle community and his wife participate (she plays for Camaro Harem, he is a ref). On a lark, I went to watch a bout on the night that Seattle's January Snowpocalypse was just getting underway. I've been to every game since and plan on volunteering in some capacity.

Here are a couple photos from that first event:
 Camaro Harem and the Pink Pistols...

...skating past the hardworking refs and other officials. Outside, the Snopocalypse has begun...

In case you haven't been to a roller derby bout, the basic idea is that 4 players from each team enter play as blockers, with the goal of preventing the other team from scoring. Behind them, the lead jammer from each team tries to get through and score points by skating laps past opposing team players. That's the dummy's guide version, here is a link to a YouTube video that explains the game play in much more detail.

What is it about roller derby that makes it so much fun? I can think of a few things:
- the action is continuous, with none of the "board meetings" and dorking around you have to waste time on when you watch football or baseball.

-  There's a carnival (or CarnEvil, as the case may be), "fishnets and derby names" aspect to the sport but you can also tell that a lot of the players are serious about competing and are very athletic. Baseball players wanking and being deceptive about whether they use steroids and hormones are just lame. These women are very very serious.

- The atmosphere at the roller derby events I've attended is just neat. Very friendly, very supportive of the players. Fans are there smiling and having a good time. Derby nights in Everett include raffles and winners tend to donate back half of their winnings. It's very pleasant social environment.

This final picture, while not literally from derby, embodies for me a lot of the superficial contradictions and actual awesomeness of the roller derby phenomenon. The rider in this picture has styled her bike with pink and a teddy bear, which is great. But she's clearly at home on her KTM Adventure, the most hard core adventure bike out there. She's feminine and a very serious player, charting her own course. It doesn't get any better than that.