Friday, July 31, 2009

4 Men's Sports that are Wussy Compared to Women's Rollerderby

Men like to visualize themselves as the warriors of the species, which explains their interest in football, MMA and American Gladiators. But once you get past the first few genuinely badass sports, you find that there are plenty of places where men couldn't even hold the jockstraps (so to speak) of the women of roller derby. For context, here a couple of examples of the sort of estrogosterone-fueled awesomeness you will see at a typical women's rollerderby bout:

( for those who can't view embedded videos.)


In contrast, here are a bunch of sports where the men should be holding purses and digging for a Pamprin.

The people of Brazil call soccer "The Beautiful Game" and that's the perfect name for a sport where so many of the players act like they're afraid they'll chip a nail. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a soccer hater, in fact I'm one of the eight or so people in America who actually like it and pay attention to it. (True story, while my ex-wife was in labor delivering our son we were watching the 1998 World Cup Romania vs. Croatia third place match between her contractions.) But the wheeled warriors of roller derby get blasted to a wood or concrete floor over and over again and get up with a "thank you may I have another" attitude. The men of soccer? Not so much.


Even anthropophobic hemophiliacs think these guys need to man up and stop being whiny little bitches.

Traveling on wheels counter-clockwise on an oval? Sounds like the first-cousin of rollerderby doesn't it? Right up until you see how the drivers react when they get a slight bump from someone ON THEIR OWN TEAM!


Derby girls take hits ten times harder than that from opponents, chase them down and hit them back, then buy them a beer and motorboat their cleavage at the afterparty.

WhiteSox pitcher Mark Buehrle just made it into the news and the baseball historybooks by throwing a perfect game. Perfect game you say? That must have meant nonstop heart-pounding action right? Well unfortunately for fans of the game, in baseball the phrase "perfect game" is a euphemism for "one entire team did absolutely nothing interesting all night long." Try to picture a rollerderby bout where one team never bothers to put a jammer on the track, scores no points, never even complete an initial pass. *yawnbarf* As we all know, a perfect rollerderby bout would involve 60 minutes of carnage where someone gets "can openered" in turn two and plows into a group of nuns, there are two different stoppages where the track crew searches for someone's teeth and the home team jammer runs off a double grand slam in the last jam to come from behind and win by one as the earsplitting roar of the crowd registers on a seismograph 200 miles away.

In this sport, touching the body of someone who is trying to score or touching the body of a defender while trying to score is a foul. Seriously! Whereas in derby the players feel like they had a sub-par game if less than 3 opponents are sporting a bruise shaped like her shoulder, the motto in basketball is "Don't touch that guy or you might smear his makeup!" This leads to Soccer 2: Electric Boogaloo or as they they call it in roundball, the flop.

Rollergirls get hit harder and more times heading for the bathroom at halftime than these mama's boys do in a whole season.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Skaters vs Referees vs NSOs vs Stat Geeks: The ultimate showdown

Let's say you're a pretty tough little cookie of a lady, and you've been watching local thrilling, action-packed roller derby bouts with pride, and then one day your friends look at you and say, "hey, Little Lady (because that is your name), why aren't you out there?"

Brief pause. "Why," you say, "I don't know."

You go home, and you think about it. Why not?

Oh, right. You don't know how to skate. You don't know the rules. You have irritable bowel syndrome that crops up at inopportune moments. But other than that, why not? You can read, you can learn, and you can wear an adult diaper. No problems there.

You know your local league is recruiting, and they need everybody they can get their hands on. How do you choose what bout role you should play?

There are 4 different types of people working during bouts who are fairly directly involved with gameplay itself.

1. Skaters
2. Referees
3. Non-Skating Officials, or NSOs
4. Stat Geeks

1. Skaters: The girls out on the track.
Pros to being a skater:
- Fame and glory
- Fun outfits
- Excellent workout
- People are scared of you
- Little girls adore you
- You can skip venue patrons in line at the bathroom
- You're in all the pictures of the event

- Creepy people adore you
- Your workplace may not approve if they found out, especially if they knew your alias
- Broken bones, recurring knee and shoulder problems, premature arthritis, torn ligaments, etc
- Expensive: good skates + good pads + good medical insurance = good money

2. Referees: Your stripedy friends on the inside and outside of the track.
Pros to being a referee:
- You get to be loud and yell and scream and blow a whistle
- You get to scold and boss around girls and finger them to the box
- You become a smartypants nerd about the rules but it's OK because you're supposed to be
- You don't get hurt as often
- You can also skip patrons in line at the bathroom because they think you're a skater
- Great exercise and you can skip the scary blocking drills

- You have to guest ref a lot to get good, and traveling costs money
- Also expensive for the same reasons as skaters
- You can still get hurt because of skaters flying out of bounds
- Everybody hates you and wants to do evil, hateful things to you and they tell you so every chance they get
- You're only in pictures if you're the Jam Ref, for the most part

3. NSOs: the people not in skates standing inside the track or at a table just outside the track
Pros to being an NSO:
- You can be involved and not have to skate
- Cheap as hell unless you want to get a really fancy clipboard like this
- You also get a fun name if you want
- Wide variety of positions such as: penalty tracker, scoreboard operator, penalty box timer, scorekeeper, jam timer, etc

- You don't wear any type of jersey, so nobody knows who you are
- You're probably going to be standing in one spot for the entire bout
- Your f*&%ups can delay the game
- Generally no photographic evidence of you even attending the bout

4. Stat Geeks: don't even bother trying to find them for they are invisible
Pros to being a geek:
- Total anonymity
- Fun pocket protectors
- You understand the action better than anybody because you're watching and documenting individual plays
- You track different things like lineups, actions, and errors
- Math, yay math!
- And spreadsheets! Woo!
- Very little chance of getting dismembered, unless there's a particularly rowdy crowd

- Total anonymity
- Pretty thankless
- You could be out in the crowd and therefore not have the best seat ever
- Don't even bother looking for a picture of you unless you got in a fight

So there you have it. I chose reffing because I'm a pussy when it comes to blocking, bossy, and loud. What do you want to be?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Strategy Smackdown: The Intentional Fourth Foul

Flat track rollerderby has many quirks that differentiate it from other sports. The rollerskates, the .7 to 1 ratio of referees to players, the corsets and fishnet stockings, all of it contributes to a uniquely exciting sport. These quirks extend to the underlying strategies used by the players and none is quite so unusual as the intentional fourth minor penalty. When a player commits a single minor foul, there is no immediate consequence but when they reach their fourth minor foul, they have to spend one minute of gameplay in the penaltybox, putting their team at a disadvantage. This puts players in a quandry when they are lining up for the next jam knowing they have three minors: Should they try to avoid commiting a fourth foul or go ahead and get it over with so they can start with a clean slate? The answer to that question isn't an easy one because it depends on the skater position and the game situation. So to make it easier to understand, I've assembled the following information to explain when the intentional fourth minor should be used or avoided. I'll be using what has become the standard penalty of choice for this situation, lining up intentionally offsides. Also, the rollergirl for this illustration will be represented by Ms. Pacman.
Ms. Pacman endorses Suregrip Fugitives.

Playing it Straight - No Intentional Fourth

This is the strategy to choose in the following situations:
  • You're a blocker and there is more than 10 minutes left in the game.
    If you're a blocker and get the intentional fourth every time you have three, you will end up spending more total time in the penalty box than you would have otherwise, penalizing your team more. Play clean for as long as possible.
  • You're in the game as a jammer.
    Never never never ever ever ever commit an intentional fourth as a jammer. No nyet nein nicht nanka. Not unless you're ticked at your own team and want to give them the in-game version of the one-finger salute.

Riding the Perpetrator Pine - Comitting the intentional fourth

This is called for in certain specific situations:
  • You're normally a jammer but in the game as a blocker.
    Serving a penalty as a jammer hurts your team far more than serving as a blocker. A jammerless team can only lose ground to the oppostion or hold even if they're lucky. Checking in as a blocker and clearing your slate can help you avoid causing your team the agony of jammerlessness, the number one cause of scoreless jams.
  • You're a blocker near the end of a close game.
    If the game is close and you suspect it will be tight at the end, you might want to get your intentional fourth fairly near the end of the game when the team is at full strength so you know you won't be tossed during a critical game-deciding jam. The 10 minute mark is an approximate guideline, adjust according to your own fouliness.
  • Its a blowout.
    If you're winning, this gives the other team an extra glimmer of hope. If you're losing then, you know, screw this B.S., time to chill for a minute and look for hotties in the audience.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to win an afterparty

One of the important aspects of roller derby is the after party. The after party is what sets roller derby apart from all those other boring sports where the teams hate each other and all they want to do is beat the crap out of each other if their opponent so much as farts in their general direction. In roller derby, we may not particularly care for certain people or teams, but that won't stop us from going out and getting piss drunk with them after the final whistle blows and then sleep on their bathroom floor with their epileptic dog.

In order to make the after party a night to remember (or not, if you've done it right), there are a few things you should do. I have compiled a list of actions that when performed singly aren't especially Derby Royalty inducing, but in conjunction with each other will ensure that at the very least you'll be regarded as pretty alright.

  • Leg wrestling.
  • Limbo.
  • Hickey contests- on which body part is your choice
  • Cock blocking other girls. Extra points if you are a straight girl.
  • Twister.
  • Clothes swapping. Nothing better than taking off clothes covered in bodily fluid and beer and putting on someone else's.
  • Hump people/objects/random passing animals and take pictures.
  • Think of the grossest shot you know and buy everybody a round. At an after party, every thing tastes good!
  • Karaoke. It wouldn't be an after party if there isn't SOMEbody singing Journey at the top of their lungs. Extra points if that song isn't actually playing.
  • Dance offs! Best done with the entire league at one time. Thriller is nice, but more obscure songs are better.
  • Naked time! Cops love us, so they'd never arrest us, anyway. Streak until you poke somebody's eye out with that frozen nipple. Then give them a complimentary hickey for being a good sport about it.
  • Spankings. Use anything but your hand. Preferably not somebody's $90 pool cue he or she got from Dad, however.
  • Discuss WFTDA rules! This is best done around 3a.m. after consuming approximately 1.5 pitchers of beer, 4-6 shots, and a few TicTacs. Wintergreen flavor.
  • Makeouts with random people. Well, they are not that random seeing as you probably know them, but let's just say you should make out with people you wouldn't normally. Hey, you might make yourself a good friend, if you know what I mean.
That should get you started. Remember to have fun, take lots of pictures, and be TOTALLY AWESOME. You earned it. You survived a night of roller derby!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rollerderby Roadtrips: A Survival Manual

So there you are on a Thursday evening, looking at a wide-open weekend before you and craving a dose of the red-hot derby action that you've grown so addicted to. But alas, your local league has no game scheduled this weekend. The hunger within you for bone-jarring impacts and fishnet stockings grows stronger by the hour. How will you feed it before it consumes you? By hitting the highway on your very own rollerderby roadtrip!

(Remember, seatbelts are for pussies.)

Here are some great ways to plan your trip and to maximize the fun therein:

  • Research the bouts happening in your region. Finding a neighboring league to drive to watch may sound daunting but fortunately for you, it turns out that the internet actually does help you find things other than tentacle porn. You can get a listing of derby leagues by state or country over at They have a map of leagues available there too but if you're looking for something to actually help you plan your route and in some cases show you a picture of the venue, try the league map at Both sites contain links to league websites where you can find out when and where they will be playing. If you already know which leagues are nearby, you can look for them in the schedule listing located at

  • Pick a Saturday night bout if possible. Friday bouts limit you to a range that can be driven to in the time between when you get off of work and when the bout stops. Sunday nights are tougher than Fridays in a way because most people are limited to a range that they are willing to drive back home starting after the bout ends. A Saturday bout date allows you the luxury of driving there on Friday night, seeing the local sites, a leisurely drive back on Sunday and time to recover from your hangover before work on Monday. Which leads us to...

  • Find out the alcohol constraints of the venue. Bouts at skating rinks will almost never have booze available due to insurance restrictions. They do however sell Coke, Sprite, Pepsi and a variety of other things that I like to refer to as "mixers". (It would be irresponsible of me to point out how easily a person can sneak a flask in via a purse or pocket and it would be doubly irresponsible for me to point out the fine selections at and so I definitely won't do that.) Locations that sell beer or liquor onsite are better in terms of ease of access but the downside is that you can expect to pay double the average bar price for each drink. The holy grail for the derby/booze fan is a venue that allows you to BYOB. I attended a doubleheader at the Shrine Hall in Atlanta where they allow the audience to bring anything they want as long as it is contained in plastic. The first bout was a blast but I don't remember much from the second bout except that a drunken member of my group started yelling "FU** JESUS" and I woke up the next day with bible-shaped welts on my face and neck.

  • Get the location of the afterparty before you book your lodging. If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at a hotel or bed+breakfast that is within walking distance of the afterparty, you have booked yourself one nights stay in the land of awesomeness. My local league once played a travel bout where the hotel we stayed in was about 100 yards from the bar where the afterparty was held. This facilitated a night of massive rounds of shots, wrestling matches in gravel, geeky girls swinging on a stripper pole, firetrucks, teethmarks, a group of puzzled migrant workers, a licenseplate bra, skater hotel room booze raids and my wife having a rollergirl hickey contest on her cleavage.

    (Your results may vary.)

  • Buy tickets in advance. Many leagues use which allows you to buy online without doubling the price thanks to a string of made-up mysterious fees. (I'm looking at YOU TicketMaster.) Other leagues will allow you to have tickets left at Will Call if you contact them in advance. If either of those options are available, trust me, its worth it to pay whatever the extra may be and do it. We had people drive 3.5 hours to watch their team play my local team only to discover that the bout had sold out before they even walked up to the doors. I think we can assume that this sucked the air out of that trip.
So there you have it, derbylover. The highway beckons you. Now call your friends, hotwire your grandma's 1939 DeSoto and hit the road!