Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Derby Etiquette Part Duh.

I get a hodge podge of emails and messages about random derby questions, and I like to lump them together in derby etiquette blog posts. I'm not going to "Dear Ann Landers" this one, but suffice to say that any issues I bring up in an etiquette blog have been raised by people who read my posts on a regular basis.  I am always looking for material, and I promise to never out you if you submit  questions.  Serious or humorous, I'm always looking to help people out when it comes to derby dos and don'ts.

First of all, let's start with #1, literally.  I hope nobody on your team is sporting the number one on his or her jersey, because that's a big derby nono.  Back in 1937, at least 18 people on a touring bus of derby skaters and support personnel died in a wreck.  The number "1" was permanently retired from all roller derby teams as a tribute.  I haven't seen any #1s out there yet, but just let your freshmeat know it just isn't done in derby.  Also, it would be a really arrogant number to take, or is that just me? Maybe it's just me.

Moving on.

Photo by Joshua R. Craig
Seems like more teams are having issues with the pregame greet line or "high five line."  Yeah, that surprised me too, but evidently some teams are opting not to slap hands with the opposing team. Don't be rude! Just do it!  It's good form.  I don't care if you don't like the other team; you don't have to be best friends, just be civil, and this is a tradition in our sport.  At the end of the bout, slap hands with them too, and then go and thank the refs.  Please don't give me that crap about "I'm a germ-a-phobe and I just can't slap hands with people."  You play derby, and according to experts, you're covered in microbes.  Get over it and be polite.   Also, you'd better give every little kid that is there a high five at the end.  You are a hero to them; don't burst their bubbles because you lost or had a crappy game.  They don't see you as losers. 

Derby peeps, I know we do this as a semi-hobby/semi-obsession; we sometimes find ourselves biting off more than we can chew.  What am I talking about?  Well, I've noticed a trend of derby people flaking out of derby commitments.  Everyone gets excited when invitationals are first announced, but then reality hits, or laziness hits, or forgetfulness hits and people start backing out.  This is not ok.  If you're going to sign up for something, make sure you are willing and able to do it!  It's not ok with an invitational, it's not ok with events hosted by your league, and it's definitely not ok when it comes to games your league is involved in!  Yes, I know that sometimes real life steps in and says "I don't think so" to your plans, but if you're consistently flaking out on events, don't make the commitment in the first place.

Finally, dealing with league emails is my last topic.  Never hit the "reply to all" option if you're just answering one person!  We all get two hundred eleventy bazillion emails on a pretty regular basis, and ain't nobody got time for a "reply to all" with a side comment in it.  Reply all is the bane of many derby leagues!  Try to keep the clutter out of your league member's email boxes!  Avoid the reply all!


  1. I'm still on the fence about the #1 thing... 1937 Derby and Modern Flat Track Derby are two different animals... Further, I think the only person in the entire world who'd be offended would be Jerry Seltzer, and plain old WFTDA game-play offends him, so why bother.

    I usually tell people about the tradition and then let them make up their own minds. I had a team-mate that chose the number one and he never caught any flak.

    1. I think it takes a certain amount of arrogance to choose #1, unless it's a part of your name. Just my two cents.

    2. Agreed... but I don't necessarily think arrogance is a bad thing all the time. Some people wear it well.

    3. Not In A Team Sport.People WanT To Be Arrogant? Go Play Tennis Or Golf...Teams Need To Gel. having An Arrogant Dickhead On Your Team Doesnt Help You Gel.

  2. I don't get it. If 18 people died in that wreck, why is only one number off limits?

  3. A skater on NRV Roller Girls has 1 because it originally was $1, which is an unacceptable charter number. $1 is related to her derby name, Psycho Jaweeya, so I presumed she kept 1 for that reason. No one in the league mentioned any issues w/ 1 as a skater #.

  4. Q - i'd never heard about the #1 being off limits. Where can I learn more about this? And while i'm thinking about it, what are some of the best books/resources for learning about early derby and it's start and the resurgence of the sport?

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_roller_derby

    Under heading disaster.

    On March 24, 1937, at least eighteen members of a touring group of Roller Derby skaters and support personnel were killed when their chartered bus blew a tire while going 40 mph down a hill on U.S. Route 50, collided with a bridge abutment, rolled onto its side and burst into flames, trapping passengers inside. The accident occurred near Salem, Illinois, as the bus was en route from St. Louis, Missouri to Cincinnati, Ohio for another performance. Only a few of the 23 passengers escaped the burning wreckage, and two of them died later from their injuries, bringing the total fatalities to 19 or 20 (sources vary).[37][38][39] The ghastly tragedy nearly put Seltzer out of business, but replacement skaters were signed and Roller Derby survived. As a tribute to those killed in the tragedy, the number "1" was permanently retired for all Roller Derby teams.

    My two cents. "Permanently retired for all roller derby teams." There doesn't seem to be a lot of room for interpretation there. I have heard the argument that modern roller derby doesn't/ shouldn't follow this tradition because "modern derby" isn't "Leo's derby." To that I say, then what are traditions for? (And let's face it, this is a more meaningful tradition than say, the penalty wheel. Though gods know I miss those too!) The first established league in modern roller derby (TXRD) has honoured those who came before by following this guideline. Personally, I don't think you/ we can have a clear sense of where you are going until you remember where you've/ we've been. *hide soap-box*


    I do have to wonder if we don't have "news" like this to thank for more and more athletes showing poor sportsman-ship. If it's really a concern about hygiene/ contracting something, may I recommend hand sanitizer? Better yet, if you're a part of your league's "welcoming" or "bout production" group (or whichever group in your league handles goody bags for visitors, refs, and maybe even you own players,) put some cheap-ass handi-wipes (you can get them at the Dollar Store) in those goody bags!

    The final two points, all I an say is YES! OH GOD, YES!

    Thanks again Q for another wonderful post and hopefully getting the thought ball rolling!

  6. I had no idea about the #1 thing, thanks for the education!