But let's start at the beginning. I joined derby when it was a little more wild wild west than it is now. Fast derby was the norm, people sometimes got into fist fights during a game, nobody was talking about stroller derby, and the term "fresh meat" had some seriously scary meanings attached to it. Being called fresh meat before a scrimmage was down right terrifying. Vets would gloat "there's a fresh meat in scrimmage today." It was enough to make you pee your pants. The people who trained me were hardcore derby girls. They weren't necessarily dedicated athletes, but they were hardcore dedicated to derby. I learned from them, and I took int all in because they seemed like they understood derby far better than I ever would.
|Is she a real derby girl? How can we tell?|
As time went on, I scoffed at the women who came into derby and basically only wanted to wear a jersey and call themselves derby girls. I'm not going to lie, in the past, I've turned my nose up at them more than once. How dare they call themselves derby girls when they barely show up for practice, and rarely seem to break a sweat when they do show up. I'd sneer when I saw them at every photo opportunity, dressed in their derby best, or at every after party. I'd roll my eyes when one of the "wannabes" would get ridiculously drunk or make a spectacle of herself at an afterparty. In my head I'd think "She hasn't earned that right." Like REAL derby girls have earned the right to make fools of themselves.
You see the flaws in my thinking.
I had this philosophy for years; it's not awesome to go around and be a secret snob in the past time you love. It may be an easy line to draw, segregating wannabes from real derby girls, but what about the ones that don't want to be hardcore allstars, or practicing five days a week? What about the part time derby girls? Not every person who steps into a pair of skates and braves the oval is going to want to train like Bonnie Thunders. Are part time derby girls less legit?
Honestly, if you would have asked me that question three years ago, I probably would have said "Go hard or go home!" I wasn't very enlightened or forgiving. Like I said, my derby training came from some very hard core people, and I've had more time to think about things as I've become a vet myself.
I have grown to believe that this sport is big enough to allow people to be part time derby folks. Football, soccer, hockey, basketball, all of these sports have weekend warriors in them. People get together and play once a week or even twice a month at the most. Do the professional hockey players, football players or soccer players sit and worry that some guy in a "sports team jersey" is pretending to be a professional athlete? Of course not! I'm guessing that professional athletes either A) don't think about it at all, or B) are happy someone is buying their sports paraphernalia. I think derby has grown past being an underground sport that needs to be protected from fakes and wannabes.
We want people to want to be us. Imitation is the sincerest from of flattery; as our sport is embraced by a wider audience, we're going to see more "wannabees." If we have personal issues with wannabees, we need to learn how to get past them. I don't have time to worry about who is a REAL derby girl anymore and who isn't.
*Caveat. The only reason I would care about part time derby girls if they complain about not making rosters over someone who is dedicated and working her ass off. Derby, much like anything in life, is one of those activities where you get back what you put in.