Friday, August 31, 2012

Derby Commandments: why they aren't accurate.

There's been this cute "Derby Ten Commandments" meme going around Facebook lately, and while I love the sentiment, it just doesn't really hit the problems we're having with derby the way it should, so being the person I am, I've decided to rewrite it!

Found here.
1.  "Thou shall not be a douchebag." I feel like any sport where you have a commandment like that means that there are a ton of douchebags, which makes me feel really awful about being a part of derby.  I'd like for the commandment to be "Don't be a self centered jerk!" instead, because that's usually the issue people have with other skaters.  Self centered behavior includes not coming to practice often because "you don't have to", or not doing your volunteer work for the league because you're "too important for all of that."  Self centered skaters suck the fun out of being on a team, and I'd like to remind them that no matter how freakin' awesome they might be at skating, try jamming when your four blockers decide to do nothing for you.  Some people honestly don't know when they're being selfish and self centered, so we all need to do a gut check and really examine our actions.

2. "Thou shalt not create drama."  I suggest we amend that one to say "Thou shalt not knowingly ADD to drama."  We are people; there will be drama.  Sometimes you can say one thing to your league mate and all hell breaks loose!  All you can try to do is not add to the drama by gossiping about it and taking sides.  Most of the time drama fades away if people don't keep feeding it.  Do not feed the drama llama!  It bites!

3.  "Thou shalt not take hits personally or give hits revengefully."  This one can be summed up by "Always be professional."  Part of why people get mad and take things personally is because they don't treat the sport as a sport, they treat derby as an identity.  Take the personal part out and you will be a way better skater.  Those who can't will get kicked out of games for being out of control.  As our sport develops, there is less room for temper tantrums, revenge hits, and bad behavior in general.  People get hit in the face on the track all of the time, and for the most part it is unintentional.  Get over it and keep skating; if you can't, then maybe this sport isn't for you.

4.  "Thou shalt not covet another's derby wife."  Personally, I feel like if we're going to have a commandment about coveting, it should be "Thou shalt not covet another skater's skill."  You can want to get as good as another skater, but some people just like to complain that they haven't had the same opportunities as a great skater, aren't as tall as so and so, aren't as short as so and so....blah blah blah.  Stop coveting and complaining, and start working your butt off to get better.

5.  "Thou shalt always respect your league mates and other visiting teams or opponents."  This one is a little tricky because you want to respect your league mates, but familiarity breeds contempt and sometimes your league mates can be a little contemptible.  Who doesn't have a bad day?  Also, some opponents make it very difficult to respect their behavior.  I would change this commandment to "Don't get butthurt and act on your butthurt."  You can be polite and keep your interactions with jerks to a minimum.  If an opponent is being a jerk on the track, I smile because I know she's frustrated.  If my league mate is being rude to me, I just move away from her until she calms down. 

6.  "Thou shalt always uphold a positive image of roller derby to the public."  This is another tricky one, because it depends what your definition of a positive image is.  I personally do not think that being a drunken mess while wearing your league's jersey is a great representation of derby, but others don't have a problem with it.  I would make this commandment say "Be a diplomat for the sport."  Derby is still so new and people are going to have misconceptions.  Try to clear those up without adding to them.  My own parents had a slew of ridiculous notions of what derby was, but after being exposed to it, they now support me and are proud of my accomplishments in my sport.

7.  "Thou shalt always give positive reinforcement and constructive criticism to other skaters."  I agree with the sentiment of this one, but I would change it to  "Give honest and constructive feedback to skaters.  Thou shalt not blow smoke up their butts."  False praise is WORSE than no praise.  It destroys people's confidence in the long run.  Keep telling someone that they're amazing and awesome, and when they play against someone who completely annihilates them, they don't understand what happened.  It makes people not trust your feedback.  If someone has an amazing booty block, tell them!  Don't just make a blanket statement like "You're a really awesome skater."  That helps nobody.  I coach the guys at Collision, and I make sure each one knows his strengths and what he needs to work on.  Accurate feedback is the best feedback you can give.

8.  "Thou shalt always be trying to improve your skills and help train others."  This one is perfect as it is.  If you're not improving your skills, you're stagnating, and nobody wants that.  Also, the best way to know if you've really grasped a skill completely is by teaching it to someone else.

9. "Thou shalt never steal from another skater."  I hope people in derby don't steal from each other, but we do have a terrible problem with borrowing stuff from each other and not giving it back.  I would amend this commandment to be "Thou shalt never steal nor borrow indefinitely from another skater."  How many people have lent out wheels to another skater months ago and haven't gotten them back since?  I know most of us don't mean to keep stuff indefinitely, but it happens. 

10.  Thou shalt always win at the after party." How about we change that one to "Thou shalt not be a poor loser or winner."  I don't train to win after parties, but I do train to be an athlete and portray a high level of sportsmanship when I compete.  Someone is going to win, and someone is going to lose, but neither people need to be sour about the outcome.

So there you have it, the updated version of the Roller Derby ten commandments.  I probably could have gone on to add ones like "Thou shalt not crop dust your teammates" or "Thou shalt poop before each bout and discuss it with your team" but I think you can fill those in for yourselves.

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