Sunday, November 1, 2015

How to Be a Good Sport by Tara "Silver Fawkes" Moscopulos

 I've been pondering sportsmanship this month, and Tara shared her views of sportsmanship in derby with me.

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” -Aurelius 

Recently, I had occasion to find myself on the receiving end of a high block. To put it plainly, I got a big ol’ bony shoulder to my right jaw. The hit was so hard, it knocked the plug out of my right earlobe. And it knocked me on my butt. I saw stars, little pieces of glitter in the corner of both eyes. I dropped like a sack and rolled around on the floor, not even aware of where I was on the track. The jam was called off and the person who had hit me skated over with my plug in her hand. She leaned down to me and said “are you okay?” I started laughing, mostly because I couldn’t get up, but also because I was completely loopy from the impact. I whispered back to her “did you feel that?” (translated-“did you feel how hard your shoulder hit my face”) and she whispered “oh yeah.” She offered me her arm, and I yanked myself to my feet and skated to the bench.
Forgive your derby mistress for face punching you (KDDB V DDG 2015) Photo by Chris Ramsay

Want to hear something really funny? Very few people on that track were aware of why I went down and what had happened. Why?  Because of mutual respect and the unspoken understanding that IT WAS NOT INTENTIONAL.

Because I am a good sport. And she is a good sport.

DISCLAIMER: BEING A GOOD SPORT DOES NOT APPLY TO DOUCHEBAGGERY. If you get biffed by someone and it’s either: A) totally bullshit and they do not acknowledge it or B) totally dangerous and needs to be addressed, then being a good sport does not apply.

That very same evening, I pulled two crap moves. Hit one person in the face and practically pushed another down. The two incidents did not get penalty calls, but I made it a point to acknowledge my actions and do the “good sport” thing and tell both persons that I was a spazz and I screwed up. And they responded with understanding and humor. BECAUSE THEY ARE GOOD SPORTS.

You see, each and every one of us is going to do something completely stupid on the track. Be it pulling someone down when you lose your balance, high blocking the jammer or blocker coming in hot, back blocking the person in front of you, low blocking someone because you fell weird. It happens. What is unique is how we, as teammates and opponents, react to accidental feats of stupidity.

If you are the dork that does something incredibly or even egregiously dumb, own it. Don’t make up five hundred excuses for why it happened. “Well, I wouldn’t have tripped you if Fancy McSkaterpants hadn’t pushed me” No one wants to hear that and frankly it speaks on your inability to take responsibility for your own actions. Even the rule set indicates that no matter what someone did to you that may have contributed to your penalty worthy action, you are responsible for your own body at all times. We are all going to be that dork. I don’t care how awesome you can skate, you will do something dumb. A true champion is humble is all that she does. Be a teammate, not a douche. Own your mistakes. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, allow yourself the vulnerability of a “oh shit” moment and the payoff comes when the roles are reversed.

If you are the person who has been wronged, don’t be a complete dick. We get it. It sucks to get bopped in the jaw. Or the knee. Or the back (in the illegal area, mind you a large part of the shoulder-blade is a LEGAL target zone, just in case you back block complainers forgot) Get mad, but do it somewhere else. On the track temper tantrums should never be excusable. Nothing is more detrimental to morale or team concepts than a cat fight on the track over a shitty hit. You most certainly will not be able to do that during a game and I can promise you that if you DO indulge in a juvenile hissy fit, the team you are competing with will file your tantrum among “THINGS TO KNOW WHEN I AM TRYING TO BEAT (INSERT LEAGUE NAME)” and “GOSSIP TO SPREAD ABOUT (INSERT LEAGUE NAME) AT THE NEXT GAME”

Again, see the disclaimer above. If you cannot say for certain that either of those two exceptions exist, quit bitching and allow your teammate the chance to acknowledge and correct. I can assure you, no one wants to play with the girl who whines and complains after every jam about what someone else may or may not have done to her. Roller derby is a contact sport. There will be contact. Illegal contact most assuredly. If you can’t handle that you may get hit in the face, or tripped, or pushed, maybe you should find another sport to play.

Every bruise I have incurred has a name on it. I know who has committed fouls on me. But unless the referee calls it, I am not going to spend my precious time making sure everyone from here to Buffalo knows that I am sick of getting kicked in the shin. If you go into this sport with a victim mentality, consistently focusing on who has wronged you, (more like perceived wrongs and not actual ones) you will miss out on one of the things that makes this sport unique: camaraderie.

Is it possible to go have beers after and THEN say “Hey bitch, you hit me right in my jaw, you owe me a beer!”? I think it is. I think it should be mandatory.

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