180776_142520732475267_7798976_n[1]

 

Right now Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby is in a small dilemma and is struggling with how to move forward. For a few years, we have been participating in and helping to promote Spring Roll, A coed roller derby tournament put on by the Ft Wayne Derby Girls. We love this tournament because this event and these girls were some of the first people to embrace men’s derby and to give it some national attention. In a way of helping to give back, in 2013, Your Mom participated in a prime time bout with a group of Midwest All-stars females in a “made for the fans” event.  This game provided an opportunity to merge the two sets of fans together and the spectators had loads of fun.

 

Move away from Spring Roll for a moment and enter the politics that are involved in the Men’s Roller Derby Association. The MRDA is fairly new but growing really fast as the governing body for Men’s roller derby. For the past couple of seasons (or since YMMD started our run of success) a few vocal people have tried to implement policies based on where people can play and how far players are allowed to go to play on a team. Before YMMD became a top team, a handful of teams in MRDA were already made up of players from different places. Most notable were the Magic City Misfits made up of jam skaters from different parts of the country. With only 44 current MRDA teams worldwide (nearly doubling in last 24 months) it is often necessary for players to travel numerous miles to play the sport. Also, with the sport in the recruiting and growth stages, many people are calling on relationships from all over to try and get them involved. Since people are more acceptable to trying new things with friends, it only makes sense that they may travel to do so at first. It is that very concept which made up the core of friends and jam skaters that brought together and made the Magic City Misfits so unique.

 

Currently the WFTDA (the women’s governing body) has nearly 350 member teams and it still has no travel or population restrictions for its competitive teams. I applaud the leadership for understanding that for a sport which is growing so rapidly, putting restrictions in place can only stunt the growth and take away people’s opportunity to play. Over the weekend I was able to spend some time with both Gotham (currently the top women’s team on the planet) and with the Garden State Girls (a top 100 team out of New Jersey). Gotham is and has been my favorite team in the sport because I love how hard they work and how they still play every game like they are the underdog…defending champion. They are in the biggest city in America and they have people moving into the big apple all of the time for numerous reasons. The charter for Gotham and the home teams is full of people who came from all over the country. Across the way is GSR. A fantastic group of ladies who are currently scratching and clawing to gain some respect in spite of the big giant just a few miles down the way. GardenState also has plenty of players to choose from as New Jersey is full of people and large cities. In speaking to some of the players from GSR they enjoy having Gotham next door. Yes, they say that they may lose a handful of players every year to players who want to try stepping up to the very top level, but they have just as many who want nothing more than to try and take down the king. Both teams have to deal with a few more WFTDA teams in the area as well as Philly right down the road in holding on to players. Yet the women’s sport continues to grow and the game play keeps getting better and better.

 

Back on the men’s side, the handful of very vocal members annually go on a witch hunt to try and place mile restrictions on how far people are allowed to travel to play for a team (with only 44 current teams I am guessing they may have to have a big ruler). They say it is to help the sport grow but the sport is not really having much trouble in growing right now. If we implemented population restrictions which are how high school sports are done, think about how many YMMD they would have to split our cities into. Try the MRDA second and third places, NYC and St   Louis. If DSM has 500,000 people and one team than NY with 8,300,000 would have to have 16 teams divided by geography or St Louis with 2,900,000 would have to have nearly 6 team divided by geography. They would never consider population to be beneficial for building a team or growing a league but that is because it doesn’t benefit them. They would rather see distance as the variable, which in my opinion is even more unfair. Think of the density on the east coast, west coast or down in Florida. Compare that to the upper parts of our country or even our farmlands in the Midwest (or try Australia). No pinpointed, radius circle could be fair for the globe if mileage was our marker (isn’t that what State Wars is for anyway?). If we are worried about growth and you want to argue one team is not helping… I am out on the derby road representing YMMD and spreading the message.

 

I will land this plane by telling you what is bothering me today. We were selected as one of the teams to play at the 2014 Spring Roll tournament. We were asked to submit our list of teams we would like to play from all of those who were selected. The initial draft list came out last week and we were asked to play a couple teams who didn’t list us and who we didn’t list. We immediately messaged Spring Roll and mentioned that it was a bit odd that this scheduling happened but we would be willing to play 2 of the 3 match ups but we couldn’t play one of them based on principal. Here is why; a specific team in our part of the country has refused to schedule any games at home or away with us and encouraged other teams to do the same based on the unhappiness they have with our team make up. We know we need to have home local games and local rivalries in order to help our league to grow. This specific team happens to be very competitive and would be an amazing rivalry to have as a home and away every year (much like NYSE and MASS have). Spring Roll scheduled one of our games to play this very team and we explained our the them our dilemma. We submitted that we would be happy to play the other two match ups and requested that if this other team agreed to schedule local bouts with us moving forward we would play the third bout or Spring Roll could schedule a different game for us as our third. After much deliberation, the other team still refuses to play us in regular scheduled games and Spring Roll refuses to find us another game to play in. I am certain that we are going to be made out to look like the bad guys (again). If the growth of the sport was really the key issue for everyone….The other team would play us (home and away) which would be great for fans, media and local people who do not know yet how amazing this game can be. Or Spring Roll would switch that one game for us as we are still playing other games we did not request to ease their scheduling pains.

 

I am not yet sure how this is going to pan out but the politics of men’s derby is killing my spirit. Ymmd is playing heck trying to find teams who will have a reciprocal game relationships with us. We love the great number of women’s teams who have stepped up to play us or have requested games. We love playing the women but we need men’s teams for growth and MRDA requirements as well. In any sport that I have ever played, if I had the chance to play the current best in the world, I would have jumped at it. Win or lose I know I would learn something and the fans would get to see something special. Although the easy answer might be to play the third game, but the hard truth is the league and the sport need local games and not just tournaments in order to grow. So we are stuck..

 

If you read the whole rant, thank you and I am sorry I had to vent.

 

Tony

Icon-round-Question_mark[1]

Be Sociable, Share!

12 Responses

Make A Comment
  • I totally agree with you. If MRDA was to put a distance restriction on teams, The New Orleans Brass would dismantle. We have 8 players from different cities in Louisiana, 3 from Mississippi, and 1 from Florida.

  • Welcome to the barrel……Roller Derby has always been a simple game, so why not muck it up as much as possible so people cannot just play it and enjoy it.

    You and Your Mom are the epitome of what the game is about, and it is amazing how a view try and seize control and make it so damn problematical……best of luck, we will be watching.

  • Hi Tony,

    Very interesting read, jealousy is a curse. Basically why I did not buy into Derby, was that last time around it was a disorganized rabble over this end of the World. Obviously you guys have lifted the bar & with a lot of non athletic type people involved, they begin to resent this. WE have a similar problem in speed her in N.Z. with my dream to create a new dynasty in our home city, less than 30,000 population & the furtherest South Club in New Zealand. We have lifted the bar & over all N.Z. divisions under 9, under 12, under 15, under 17, senior & masters, we won 57 % of all the N.Z. National titles. After years of people being able to get soft medals the bar has been lifted & people are not coming to race us. We travel the furtherest to the N.Z. indoor 100 track & road champs, costing every family a fortune, yet we have 3 times more competitors than any other N.Z. speed club & all the cities are only 1 club cities & we have the smallest population by a long way. only 3 skaters were from another city south, as they have no skating club.Apart from the established senior men ( our ones are not old enough yet, as we started from scotch 5 years ago with one master skater ) others don’t want to come and race us & we are having to look overseas if we want to move ahead. They say we are buggering the racing here, as we have caused people to give up, even though our ones go head to head with there own team mates & don’t team up against others. In the ladies Nicole has not gone out & destroyed the field, as she wants the juniors in the opens to learn to race in a pack. She was criticized by another team that if the racing was hard there girls would go better against her. ( one was 6th at the last junior worlds in the track 1,000 ) & there team had a 5 to 1 advantage against her in the 20,000 nationals road elimination at the end & could not do nothing. So for the 10,000 bank track points / Elimination I said shut these buggers up & show them what happens when you do what you are capable of. well 1 1/2 laps ahead of second & 2 laps ahead of the rest & 30 secs off the National record. So you guys are obviously running into similar ground, as you chose to want to be the best you can be. Jealousy is a Curse.

  • Tony, you and I have discussed this a lot. Being one of the people who proposed those policies, you’ve thrown all the population arguments at me, and I’ve refuted every single one of them. But the point of me commenting here is that if this team refuses to schedule with you, then they are doing so to show their disapproval with the way your team operates. Deal with it. Not everyone thinks what you’re doing is helping the sport grow, or is good for the sport. The other team has every right to choose not to schedule with you. However, Spring Roll also has every right to schedule you against them. Seems like you have three choices here: 1) play the game, 2) back out of Spring Roll, or 3) change your charter eligibility. Since I’m pretty sure you’re not going with option 3, considering how vehemently you defend it, you’ve got option 1 or 2. Posting a public rant about it isn’t going to change your options, but rather it will only serve to perpetuate the drama you said you dislike. You very easily could have gone to Spring Roll, played the game, beat the other team (honestly, is there any question that you would win?) and not have to deal with them again. But instead you’re playing your own brand of politics here. Is this an attempt to sway Spring Roll to your opinion? Because that’s playing politics. And I thought you’re sick of politics.

  • Tony,

    Your Mom was the first bout the Wreckingballs played last year at Spring Roll. Playing you guys opened my mind to playing derby at higher level, and I am a far better player for the experience. Don’t worry about your critics. Perhaps they should focus more on becoming better players.

  • All I hear is whinning! If you just want to play derby then suck it up and play against the rival team at Spring Roll. Just keeping it real since it seems like you are upset because you are not getting your way.

  • I have heard plenty of people who want to place restrictions on players. It’s an amateur sport. We pay to play. So if someone wants to travel 4 hrs. each way to practice or play with a particular team, power to them.

  • South Wales Silures will have a game relationship with Your Mom! We just both need to fly over the Atlantic twice a year! Come to wales boyos! … But seriously we would kill to build a relationship with a high class team and not to do so only stunts your own league.

  • If you look at ANY professional sport, they aren’t regulated to live in the state they play. Like I stated before, if those other teams that are hating on us for our greatness would learn from us by playing us in normal season play this wouldn’t be an issue. It seems to me that those that are the closest to us in travel would want to create these games to create more growth in the sport and grow the fan base.
    Why can’t we all just get along?
    Thank you Tony for this outstanding post!

  • This was a beautifully worded post and I love that it highlights the value of high quality, competitive teams in furthering the sport as a whole. This isn’t some super team sponsored by a company paying people all over the country to take over MRDA Champs. It’s a highly competitive and dedicated team fighting to keep this sport alive despite the difficulty of maintaining a full, competitive charter at this growth stage. As Beat said, Brass has to take in boys from 3 different states and still doesn’t have even 20 bout eligible skaters last I checked. As far as the people complaining that you should shut up and skate or that you’re just perpetuating the drama, I say: Are you fucking serious? When someone comes at you politically, (and refusing to bout you AND ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO DO THE SAME certainly qualifies), defending yourself and offering your opinion on how proposed policy changes would negatively impact your league is somehow gossip or drama? That’s like saying WFTDA leagues should shut up and skate and not voice their opinions about rules sets, voting policies, or gender policies. This is your sport, be invested, share your opinions, but do it in the open, do it professionally, and do it for the love of the sport. Make it constructive and meaningful. Tony did all of that, in my opinion.

  • read his post again.
    No one is refusing to play YMMD at the tournament. YMMD is refusing to play based on their principles, even though the team in question doesn’t want to play (but is going to) based on a differing set of principles. So to sum, YMMD is allow principles but other teams are not should they differ with YMMD’s.

    YMMD is trying to hold the game hostage by requiring a home/away game from the team. How are they being victimized here? Oh wait, they’re not, they’re being bullies.

    A little reading comprehension goes a long way.

    And honestly (not to be a complete dick as I love the league and everything they do to help facilitate Spring Roll as a landmark event for men’s derby every spring) but Fort Wayne could have avoided this by actually scheduling the games requested by the teams versus (I’d guess, please someone from FW tell me if I’m wrong) picking a high level match-up to likely be a marquee evening game. It is a bit of a slap in the face to be told to arrange your 1-5 choices and get someone that neither team chose.

  • hey Tony – was awesome meeting you when you came out to NJ!

    As a newer men’s team in NJ next door (literally!) to one of the top men’s teams in the form of Shock Exchange – its really surprising to me to hear that people wouldn’t want to have that relationship.

    Yes there are people living in NJ who go into NY to play for Shock. If they dont mind making the commute, good on them! When Jersey Boys was starting up last July we were frequently told it would be so hard to recruit people and there was no way we’d have a full team in a year – in six months we had scrimmage ready bench and we’ve played two games with 5 more lined up, one against the Dow Jones Average which will be a fantastic learning experience.

    Perhaps I am coming from a different perspective, as myself and a lot of the team are rookies (with a few noteworthy veterans) but getting to play against teams like Shock, the PA All Stars, GSR’s charter team the Ironbound Maidens has been and will be fantastic opportunities for us to not only see where we are at, but also showing us where we should be headed.

    Ultimately I dont care about the win loss ratio, I care about the team. Is it growing? is it improving? Cannot do that without challenge. I’d much rather have the group of high intensity, low ego people on my team who are hungry to do more, than be worried about ratios.

Leave a comment

*