Friday, September 13, 2013

Excuses Excuses, Are You Flaking Out?

Derby is an all consuming hobby-sport.  Period.  For most of us, derby doesn't pay the bills; we pay to play, and until that changes, most people try to fit derby into their busy lives the best way they can.  And yes, real life does interfere occasionally.  A good example of this is I was signed up to volunteer this Saturday at the D1 tournament in Richmond, but a family situation got in the way and I had to cancel on my obligation.  Am I bummed out?  Yes, but at least I was able to give some advanced notice to the volunteer coordinator.  I still feel bad though. 

Unfortunately, it seems that some people don't know what is a legitimate excuse for not making it to a derby event you signed up to do, and being a complete flake and just backing out of commitments.   Yes, derby has its share of flakes, and I'm going to guess that each and every one of us has flaked on doing something derby related, such as practice, playing in an away game, staffing a derby event, or doing your league work.
Listen to the unicorn. Picture by Ava Gore
So how do you know if you're flaking out?  Each case is different, but here is a  guide to whether or not you're flaking out, or you actually have a legit excuse.  Add up all of your flake points and see where you fall on the scale.

1. You promised to be playing at a game or an invitational or attending a training, and when the day arrives you're just too overwrought to go. (Worth ten flake points each time you've done it) THIS IS NOT OK!  I understand that real life is busy, and you really honestly thought you'd get your laundry done before that weekend, or balance your checkbook, or get your house cleaned, but you didn't.  Let's face it, you had an inkling that you probably weren't going to be able to get all of that real life crap done; have you ever gotten all of that done in a derby free weekend?  Probably honest.  It's ok if you occasionally get overwhelmed and ditch an event.  Once every two years is human, but any more than that, and you're crossing over into flake territory.  Ok, maybe once a year...but no more than that!  If you find yourself in this situation more than once in a while, you need to reevaluate how much free time you have to dedicate to extra derby stuff.  

2.  You were headed to practice, but traffic was bad so you just went home.  (Worth five flake points each time you've done it)  Hey, I hear you.  Traffic can really mess up your plans, and if the road is going to be closed for hours and hours, yes you might as well go home. My drive to our practice space is pretty congested with rush hour traffic.  It can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the morons on the road that day, but I've never gotten so disgusted that I just turned around to go home.   

3.  You have a bout day job, but you can't do it at that time because....(Worth fifty flake points every time you've done it) If you answered anything other than "my job wouldn't let me take that time off" or "my family member was in the hospital" or "my babysitter fell through" then you had a flaky moment.  I've heard people say things like "It's just too early" or "I had a hair appointment then" or "I just can't do a job before I skate in a game!  It's just not conducive to my concentration."  Really?  Flakety flake flakerino!  Remember, this is a team sport and everyone needs to do his or her job.  It ain't all about you!

4.  After learning of all of the obligations of the travel team, you commit and make the roster, but then you decide to bail on an away game. (Worth 100 flake points each time you've done it) You are definitely falling in the flake category if you pull this on your own league, without a real life situation coming up.  I understand that money gets tight for travel, but if you promised to meet all of your travel obligations for your league, you should plan on saving the money to go.  Now, you don't give yourself flake points if your financial situation has changed between the time you signed up and the time of the game.  Did you lose your job?  Did your car die?  Is a family member in the hospital and you have to help care for them?  All of those reasons are legit.  No flake points are earned.  You can't go because you don't want to?  You can't go because you need to work extra to pay off that bitchin' pair of shoes you bought?  You can't go because you went on a last minute trip to Vegas and now you have no extra cash?  You my friend have earned those 100 flake points, and your team deserves a hug for having to have dealt with your flakage.   

Now add up your score.  If you have 100 points or more, you are a derby flake, pure and simple.  Maybe you see derby as a fun hobby or leisure pursuit, and that's all fine and dandy, until you join a team and make a commitment to other people.

If you have 90 points or less, you are in danger of becoming a flake.  Seriously reconsider the urge to flake out on your next commitment!  Flaking might not be in your core nature, but you are cultivating it as a permanent habit, so stop now!

If you have less than 50 points, you're doing all right.  Flakage happens, just keep flaking out to a minimum.

If you have less than twenty points, you are derby obsessed.  Maybe you need some flake time.  I kid, I kid, a little.

I understand that real life interferes in derby; that's normal and healthy!  I also understand that sometimes you need a break from derby drama and derby obligations, and that's normal and healthy too.  Sometimes we over book ourselves with derby activities, and then we feel overwhelmed; learn your limits.  Maybe pass up that invitational that would take you out of town yet again in the same month you had two travel games.  Maybe take a day off from practice to clear your head (just let your captains and coaches know what's going on) and come back to derby with a tighter focus! 


  1. I skipped a practice last week to catch up on sleep and it was too weird and made me feel bad but I so needed it. I do have a "too-too-much-til-I'm-burned-out" problem though.

    1. That happens, and it's good you noticed that trait about your derby love. It's something we have to keep in check for ourselves.

  2. You were missed this weekend, for sure. It was so...I really just don't have words for how amazing it was.

    Also, I hope everyone I know in derby reads this article. I could just post it on people's pages, LOL.

    Awareness/Community Events are another one of those that bother me when people flake.

    Great column, as always!

  3. Our league has a Leave of Absence Policy, and it's been a life saver. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a break when you get burned out *we derby year round, so that you can give 100% when you are there.

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  5. I had to work on a practice day and hubby was to take chips and salsa for the derby baby shower and slept through it. I felt bad.