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Rocky Mountain Rollergirls Take It All

  • Frida Beater celebrates as she calls off the last jam, ending the game with a win for RMRG. Photo: Jules Doyle
  • Amanda Jamitinya celebrates RMRG's win. Photo: Jules Doyle
  • The team celebrates victory with smiles, tears and hugs. Photo: Phil Peterson

CHICAGO, IL -- Given the intensity and drama of Rocky Mountain's hard-fought victory over Oly just a month ago in the championship bout of the West Region playoffs, it was hard to believe that it was possible for them to play a more exciting sequel. That was exactly what they did, though, delivering a classic that was evenly matched all the way through and featured two hugely dramatic lead changes in the final two jams. In the end, Rocky was just one point better -- but that point was all they needed to become the 2010 WFTDA Champions by a final of 147-146.

Rocky Mountain wasted no time making an opening statement with a 12-0 win for DeRanged over Oly's Heffer, who was lapped twice before finally breaking pack. After a couple of quickie 1-0 jams to Rocky, Oly got on the board with a 2-0 for Heffer, but it'd go to 18-2 for Rocky Mountain before Oly got handed a early powerjam on a very strange confluence of events.

Rocky Mountain's Amanda Jamitinya had lined up to jam for Rocky, but was switched out at the last second for DeRanged. However, Amanda didn't get fully off the track before the jam started, and received a minor for being an extra skater on the track -- which was her fourth minor -- and since she was wearing the jammer star at the time, she ended up being boxed as jammer in the following frame. The unopposed Atomatrix made Rocky pay for it with a 13-0, and suddenly it was a tight game at 18-15 with about 20 minutes left in the first.

The Rocky Mountain lead hovered in single digits for the next few jams and peaked at 11 points at 43-32 with about 12 minutes to play in the half. Unfortunately for Rocky Mountain, Oly's Rettig to Rumble forced Whipity Pow into a big track cut at the end of that jam, and Oly's Atomatrix dropped a 15-0 on the following powerjam to put Oly in front for the first time at 47-43. They'd hold the lead by a jam's worth of points for most of the rest of the half, and going into the last jam of the half, they were up 59-49. However, they'd get their biggest jam of the game right there, a huge 25-0 powerjam for Atomatrix as RMRG's Amanda Jamitinya and Winona Fighter had the rest of their team in the box. At the break, Oly held a 84-49 lead built almost entirely on Atomatrix's powerjam victories.

Both teams seemed eager to stick with their strongest jammers as the second half began. Rocky put up Urrk'n Jerk'n As Booty Blockya and DeRanged back-to-back in the first seven jams of the half; Oly had Heffer and Atomatrix jam the first five before Tannibal Lector and Blonde an' Bitchin joined in. After the teams traded jam wins to start off the second half, it was finally Rocky Mountain's turn to get on the right side of a big powerjam. Oly was looking a 4-2 disadvantage in the pack and Heffer in the penalty box; Urrk'n Jerk'n As Booty Blockya rumbled for a 24-0 that effectively erased the impact of Oly's half-ending blast. That made it 89-78 Oly with about 22:20 to play, and it'd also prove to be a critical contribution for Urrk'n, who was mostly marginalized by Oly blocking in the rest of the game -- she scored 24 of her 34 game points on that one jam.

Two jams went scoreless before Tannibal Lector scored a 4-0 that was followed by a lengthy referee timeout with exactly 20 minutes left in the game, and Oly added 5 more to open up their lead to 98-78. Rocky Mountain had a big opportunity end up vanishing two jams later, when DeRanged had a minute to jam unopposed and scored 10 points before Oly got their jammer on the track -- but then attempted to call off the jam while not lead. It was a fourth minor, and Atomatrix scored 13 in the same jam to win it. With 13 minutes left in the game, it was 111-93 with Oly still on top.

Rocky Mountain had narrowed it to 111-98 going into a full-length jam between DeRanged and Atomatrix. In a jam that was oddly reminiscent of a big jam in the last few minutes of their meeting at Westerns, Atomatrix found herself boxed on a 4th minor early in the going, and a tired but determined Deranged pulled out a 14-2 that got Rocky within just one point at 113-112. And on the following jam, almost the entire Oly pack went to the box - along with the jammer Atomatrix, who returned from her previous penalty only to get sent right back. That left a lot of space on the track for Frida Beater, who picked up 12 points and put Rocky Mountain back in the lead, 124-113, with six minutes left in the game.

RMRG suffered a significant loss on that jam, though, as Urrk'n Jerk'n As Booty Blockya fouled out. After a quick 1-0 to Heffer, there would be yet another full-length jam, this time 9-6 to Atomatrix over Frida Beater, and another major loss for RMRG, as Psycho Babble fouled out. To add to the trouble for Rocky Mountain, Frida also ended the jam in the penalty box. This left things at 130-123 Rocky Mountain with 2:23 on the clock -- and Oly's Tannibal Lector unopposed on the jam line.

Oly wasted no time picking up lead jammer, and Tannibal Lector was absolutely on fire in what looked, at the time, to be what would be the game-winning jam. Sassy, D-Bomb and B Tease N completely had Frida Beater's number for almost the whole frame as Rocky's blockers couldn't build any walls. But after picking up 23 points, Tannibal was boxed on a back block, and Frida somehow found a way to get 8 points out of it. With 20 seconds remaining, Rocky Mountain called timeout to stop the clock, needing eight points to win the 146-138 game.

They'd give the star to Frida Beater for the third jam in a row, and she had the benefit of going up against a extremely light pack of just Femme Fatale and D Bomb for Oly and Amanda Jamitinya and Winona Fighter for RMRG. Frida was through quickly for lead and picked up her first five without too much trouble … and scooted through once again before Tannibal was able to get out of the box. When her jam ref showed she'd gotten the full 4, she'd scored exactly enough to win -- and with no time remaining on the clock, called it off for an intensely dramatic 147-146 win.

Atomatrix had a huge impact as a jammer in this game, scoring 101 points all by herself and establishing a jammer point differential of +32; Rocky Mountain scoring was almost equally led by Deranged (52 points, +18 JPD) and Frida Beater (51 points, +11 JPD). Oly's Sassy was voted tournament MVP.

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Wow!

So amazing! Huge congrats to a classy group of women. You rock, Fight Club.

Classy?

Dave Wood wrote:

So amazing! Huge congrats to a classy group of women. You rock, Fight Club.

There are lots of words to describe Rocky Mountain, "classy" not being one of them.

Congrats. you guys are the shit!

Yes, classy.

I'll stand by it.

Lost in translation

Dave, it's worth noting that is some of the 'Radder parts of California, "classy" can be considered a derogatory term.

Wow

I vote we all just comment with that headline. Congrats to Rocky Mountain, and to Oly for an epic bout. Unbelievable, glad I could see it in person. And thx Justice for explaining that odd Oly power jam in the 1st half.

an amazing bout

I had tears in my eyes at the end.

Holy Smoke!

Congrats to the Ladies of Rocky Mountain! You skated an awesome game! So how does it feels to have the Hydra! Party like rock stars tonight you earned it!

Wow

Fantastic bout. Glad I found it online and was able to watch it live.

Thank you DNN! Thank you Val Capone and Dump Truck for the awesome announcing.

Thank you Oly and RMRG for a fantastic game of derby.

I couldn't breathe

I swear I didn't breathe at all in the last 10 minutes of that game. So exciting!

Thank you DNN for sorting the feed out so we could all watch the most amazing bout EVER (since RMRG and Oly last played a month ago, anyway).

I love watching those teams play each other, they make each other work so damn hard!

Not by herself

I wouldn't say Atomatrix was "scoring 101 points all by herself". She had some pretty amazing blockers helping her out. That was an amazing game - props to both teams and of course to DNN for streaming it. Congratulations RMRG!

Huge thanks to DNN for all

Huge thanks to DNN for all the thorough coverage. I was there for most of Saturday's bouts, but couldn't make Sunday's, and these recaps made me feel like I was still in the stands. Love you guys!

Sassy!

So glad Sassy was named tournament MVP: she is, for me, the prototypical pivot. Here's hoping she can encourage Oly to add more pack-strategy to their game.

As much as I loved being there, I missed the DNN coverage!!!

Photographer's Myopia

If you stare through a camera lens for an entire tournament, you can miss a lot of things until you crack open the pictures and start piecing together the narrative. I haven't seen a lot of Oly - just the two championship tournaments so far, but I knew a few of the skaters who skated for them. I'll admit that I didn't know who Sassy was when she was named MVP, so I took it at face value that she made a serious impact on the tournament.

Then, when I was asked for a shot of her, I figured out why she won the award. In every single Oly game she was in every single pack that made a difference for the team. If she wasn't blocking or hitting, she was directing the pack and making hell for the other team's jammer.

So, yeah, I'll know the next time I see Oly skate that I need to pay closer attention to #2. She made a heckuvan impact on those games.

1st blocker

I believe Sassy is the first blocker to win the MVP of champs. This makes me happy,

2nd, but in very good company

The MVP for the 2006 Dust Devil (which was, for all intents and purposes, the first WFTDA Championship Tournament) was 8 Track from the Texecutioners. Like Sassy, 8 Track spent a lot of time at the front of the pack, slowly eating into opposing jammers' will to live.

Such a great pick. It's so easy to get hung up on flashy, high-scoring jammers (whose contributions are of course worthy of attention!), but a front-of-pack blocker who can singlehandedly tie up a jammer long enough for her teammates to recycle will seriously win you games. Sassy's one of those skaters who never quite grabs headlines, but when I talk to skaters who have to deal with Oly, that's whose name comes up again and again.

Congrats, Sassy, and well earned!

agreed - Sassy rocked it

I agree, Sassy completely deserved the MVP award. As I primarily play pivot it was great to see such a powerful force at the front of the pack and to be able to take note and learn from her. I only hope to be as good as Sassy one day, and it seems like that was a thought that a lot of other players and teams had this weekend as well.
It's very easy to see a jammer's impact on the game when they go out there over and over and score tons of points, but every jammer will tell you that it's her pack of blockers who allow her to do her job well. Offense is flashy, and people love to see teams score - but defense wins games just as often as offense does. It's great to see that our players and fans recognize the importance of both.

Blogosphere Shout Out

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/09/2010-national-roller-derb_1_n_7...

My heartiest congratulations to RMRG and the great derby we saw during Uproar!!!

I have to say that Sassy's

I have to say that Sassy's pivoting performance this weekend was the best that I've ever seen. It wasn't flashy and she didn't deal out huge hits all the time. Just try to count how many times she just sat in front of an opposing jammer and let her pack swallow them back up. It was truly stunning to watch how often she held that last line of defense. MVP is much deserved!!!

Couldn't have said it better

Absolutely. Sassy is phenomenal.

caption is misspelled

probably just a quick typing error but it's Frida Beater (no e)

Oly/Rocky Last Jams, you make the call...

Is that back blocking at 1:41 against Oly? And at 2:45 is that a major or minor cut by Rocky at all? From where I was up in the stands kind of in turn 2 the cut looked like a major but from this angle not so much. But the back blocking call to me just looks like good hard derby. This is a contact sport, women hit hard and they sometimes fall down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBGOpHIXykc

Hard to tell from the video...

but the calls look good to me. The Oly blocker clearly collides with the RMRG blocker's lower back before they both fall. The track cut is harder to tell from such pixely video, but it appears the Oly blocker's skate crosses the line after hitting Frida out. I remember watching it live, thinking she might've cut, but the ref gave that "no pass, no penalty" hand signal.

not a cut

Oly's blocker stepped out of bounds on the hit. Even though I was trackside, at first I wasn't sure about it but some video floating around on facebook (Quadzilla's I think) shows the blocker's foot going over the line pretty clearly.

*edit* I have to hand it to the ref's too. I was trying to take photos of this bout and everything was moving so fast about 90% of my shots were out of focus. I don't know how they keep track of everything.

Another perspective

If a different camera angle helps all y'all with yer armchair reffing, I've posted the final 20 minutes of the bout on the boutcast page.

Why only the final 20 minutes? Because I'm cruel and I want you to go buy the DVD. In fact, if you haven't already ordered this DVD, I declare that you are either very, very poor or you hate America. Or both.

Actually I am & do

That is why I am trading all my aluminum cans for Day-Glo fabic and moving to Montreal.

Bought the dvd

while we were still in Chicago. I really hope that the proposal will be at the end of the dvd. Can you believe I have family and friends who weren't watching that epic bout and I want to share it with them in dvd format.

Thank you for posting it so we could all relive it before the dvd arrives:)

I get to make the call?

Well, that's a treat. On Tannibal, I wouldn't have called a backblock at all, not even a minor. But, when Tannibal falls and kicks AJ's legs out, that would be a major low block/trip. It's splitting hairs though. I'd say one of those actions was probably a major and even if the specific call wasn't what I would have made, the result of Tannibal getting a major was accurate in my mind.

As far as the potential cut, it's clear from that Youtube clip (to me at least) that Femme went out of bounds with Frida and it was not a cut. Only thing that could be questioned is whether Frida gets past D legally in bounds before getting hit out by Femme, but you most assuredly can't see whether that did or didn't happen from that clip.

Congrats to Rocky and Oly BTW. Hell of a bout.

Just curious...

Angus Con wrote:

Congrats to Rocky and Oly BTW. Hell of a bout.

So how many points do you get for the pack if they give you a no pass no foul?

Points

In that situation, Frida wasn't given Femme's point because she only got four out of the potential five on that pass (Tannibal was still in the box if I recall correctly).

Oh Jeez. Rocky won. Fair &

Oh Jeez. Rocky won. Fair & Square! 4 point pass, no cut. 3 points for passed blockers 1 point for the Jammer in the box.

agreed

That game was played at mach 10.

The refs did a good job.

RMRG won.

The end.

Not normal yet

I am still affected by this one. That was a f**king classic. Probably the best bout in the history of the WFTDA (because of what was on the line).
I was there as an Oly fan, but if you're a fan of this sport, you can't help but celebrate this one for what it represents ... A sport growing into one as legitimate as any other professional sport.
A "repeat" is nearly impossible in sports that are 100+ years old, and it's now proven, that it's not easy for any one team to dominate in the young flat-track roller derby either.
CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT SEASON!

WTF??

There is nothing in this sport that bothers me more than armchair quaterbacks. WFTDA ref's have an almost impossible job of calling a bout 100%. What I witnessed was great calling & a good definition of the rules. It was an amazing performance by both Rocky & Oly. Both teams should be proud of the performance. Don't taint the excellence of this season with some Captain Hindsight, staring at the video for ever call from your couch. Both teams should be proud & the referee crew should also be proud of a job & season well done!

Derby Love,
Rev Al Mighty

I agree, the reffing was

I agree, the reffing was great. No complaints, other than why wasn't AJ given MVP? It was her anticipation and positioning that forced Tannable into the back block. She was pulling plays like that all year. I said this before, Rocky would not be number 1 if AJ didn't transfer from Duke. Sassy played well, but was relatively quiet. Not as dominant as she was last year.

June 4, 2011: Re-Rematch

Oly vs. Rocky
Denver, Colorado

Can't wait!!!

Possibly

EDIT: Oops, I just saw the date in your header. n/m. Re-match in JUNE?!?!

really you honestly think so ??

So having AJs boyfriend a ref in this bout (jam ref i believe) and making some controversial calls is good fair reffing to you? not saying the game would be different but the unprofessionalism by this ref by tanting the bout just by not pulling himself is stupid, he should not have reffed this bout or any bout that rocky played i think he was on the ref crew for the gothem bout and it was not called right either and sorry its not a romour it was seen and started at westerns. really and this is why the sport will not be taken seriously until stuff like that is fixed! i thought refs are not allowed to ref any game if they have a tie to any team. at least that is what the contract i have seen that refs sign.. but hey what do i know except im beting there is some things being brought up behind the scenes on this! because frankly i was track side and i didnt see a fair call on this game at all. but what ever.. most know who won that game.

well

If you were trackside at the same bout I was you'd have seen more penalties on Rocky than Oly. Including 2 key players fouling out. Some bias. Go back and read the bout cast and count the times someone mentioned Rocky's penalty trouble, I'm sure there were a few.

Basically your so-called "biased" reffing hurt Rocky more. They won even though they had players in the box on nearly every jam.

Well well

Your observation that Rocky incurred more penalties than Oly does not prove a lack of bias. All it shows is that Oly was playing cleaner than Rocky. If you want to prove the reffing "hurt Rocky more" you need to show that refs ignored Oly violations or penalized Rocky when they shouldn't have.

Jay's point is clear, when you put a ref in a bout who has a connection to one of the teams you leave yourself open to questions and accusations. Whether the ref made bad calls or not has no effect on whether those questions will be asked.

Cue cane waving

People are seriously discussing this in 2010? I thought this was put to rest after people accused A Certain Ref Who Will Remain Nameless of bias because no skater would be caught dead sleeping with him.

well 3

I don't want to show that the refs hurt Rocky more because that part of my previous comment was made in the context of Jay's implication of bias.

I think the refs called a tight and clean game on both teams which is why Rocky, who made more mistakes, was penalized more. That clearly shows the refs didn't give them an inch contrary to Jay's implication.

Lets let Rocky enjoy their win...

Do you really think one

Do you really think one dude's comments in the middle of a DNN thread is really going to take any enjoyment from Rocky Mountain?

It's something that change. Change it and move on.

i think..

If you ever met Tootie you would not question this at all. He is one of the strictest, most unbiased ref's I have met so far (and to be honest I've never really met a Ref that wasn't strictly professional.)

From what I'm aware the Ref's have their own measure for any person to work the final bouts and that he was chosen to work the final game at national's means that he was under scrutiny of his peers and passed.

So in the end it feels like you are trying to create something that is just not there.

If boy friends didn't ref

If boy friends didn't ref there wouldn't be any refs. I'm joking of course, but that does sort of suck considering it affected your perception of the athletes ability. The compliant "if X wasn't Y's bf that call would have gone my way" probably echoes in all derby leagues around the world. I also love the "if the ref wasn't from the other team that call would have gone my way". I'm sure there are a 1001 "if that call would have gone my way." excuses. Why does wftda still allow boy friends/husbands etc... ref for their team? It's not like there is a shortage of refs these days.

Reffing bias is problem in all sports. Reffing was so bad in the early days of hockey that players started fighting each other because they knew the refs were worthless. As a result, teams started to recruit enforcers to purposely fight and serve as protection for their star players. There is a huge article written by ex-NBA ref that describes how the NBA uses refs to influence outcome of big games in order to favor higher populated markets so they can sell more swag. In that case the ref's themselves weren't at fault, it was more of the NBA league officials telling the refs to focus on certain calls due to player tendencies, which influenced the outcome. Moral of the story is always bet on the big market team.

http://deadspin.com/5567321/tim-donaghy-on-game-7-how-the-nba-influences...

aw man

I was hoping the sentiment would be "if boyfriends didn't ref than only refs could be boyfriends."

I know derby isn't perfect, but how about we let Rocky enjoy their victory for a little while?

I agree rocky can enjoy it

I agree rocky can enjoy it they did win and i get that, my whole point is that ref should of pulled himself so he didnt cast a doubt on this game i think that was very unprofesional then anything i mean come on it was for the national championships. and if everyone is trying to get this sport in to the main stream you can not have this type of thing.. the wftda needs to put something in place to rate and punish the refs when a panel of peers reviews the games. this kind of behavior needs to be delt with so the wftda is not looked aat like wwe or something like that. but until this is delt with derby will be a joke when it comes to media such as espn and such.

I don't agree that there was

I don't agree that there was any wrongdoing but refs definitely should NOT be reffing games of teams they're associated with in tournaments. It is completely unprofessional, like you said, but at the same time, nobody outside of derby will find out about it until derby starts getting bigger so there's no need to freak out unless the WFTDA doesn't change anything for next year's playoffs.

Agreed thats all im saying.

Agreed thats all im saying. not freaking out its just something that is a downfall that wftda needs to address because its not fare for any team and im not just talking about this game its across the board.! everyone sees it. even though people wont admit to it, its just a more visable thing when its in a national championship. usars doesnt go for anything like that they have punishment and most officials will pull them selfs if it is a conflict of intrests but that is in the speed side of skating and by all since and purposes has their crap together.

Its just something that was seen i can go through and make a highlight reel of the bad calls to prove it but i have better things to do you know when your sitting trackside with a couple of the most well known refs in wftda and they were saying it also, i am pretty sure they would know what is a bad call and what is a good call but i know everyone probably isnt on here to discuss real issues or anything but you know its the fans that need to voice a opinion on this so that wftda will do something about it. Its called being supportive of the sport and wanting it to get bigger and better and not have these issues come up.

Rocky won the Hydra

Congratulations. And though one point separated these two teams, quite honestly is isn't enough for me to say one team is any better than the other. (an opinion shared with me that I truly believe is correct) But what I saw on that track in the Championship game was some of most unbelievable skating from athletes that in 1hr of game propelled Flat Track roller derby to amazing heights.

Problem is the refs did sway the game as refs do in every sport (sh)it happens. I want to believe in the sake of their integrity they performed at the best of their ability, the thing is Roller Derby has been brought to an amazing level of intensity, spirit and pride. These conditions are tough for anyone to perform at their best. Players are in the back barfing, nerves have their legs shaking, refs are looking the crowd, lights are going off, that would definitely give some people performance anxiety. So as ref that is a level OMG certified ref should totally ref the best game hands down right....

Its ok, it is what it is. bad call, bad jams, bad strategy, not playing to par, ok it happens. Its the big show now, primetime. So skaters dancing, hey I am down, that was great, showtime baby!

Whats not ok is the simple disclosure of having relations with a certain skater in the Championship game or at Regionals. Now this is all second hand, so if so many are talking about it sure paints an ugly picture of what many could perceive as a tainted game, and that would be UN-fair for the 28 amazing skaters that laced up those skates and performed like they were all earning NFL salaries (actually performed better in my opinion).

Girls.... Rocky and Oly, I love you for giving this fan the best damn game ever... again. Thank you.

Referee Conflict of Interest

I sent the following letter to the WFTDA Board earlier this evening:

I am a huge fan of women’s roller derby and was thrilled to witness the national championship at Chicago -- a terrific bout, which my team lost by a point. It was a big disappointment, but hey, that’s what happens in sports.

So I am absolutely stunned to learn today on the Derby News Network that the lead jammer ref in the championship game is the boyfriend of one of Rocky’s skaters. I have a sickening feeling about the bout now. How can the Olympia skaters – who worked so hard and skated so well – have any confidence in the fairness of the officiating? The lead jammer ref makes decisions every few seconds over the course of an hour. What would the 5,000 fans at the pavilion have thought if they had known that the person making these calls was in an intimate relationship with a skater from one of the teams? Do you think they would have thought it just might have made a single point difference? Not only am I offended by the decision of the referee to work the game, it astonishes me that the Rocky team could somehow rationalize this choice in a National Championship bout.

The Code of Conduct Agreement for WFTDA certified referees – which they all sign – states that one of the basic tenets of officiating is “neutrality.” The code reads: “Recognize that any action which may lead to a conflict of interest, either real or apparent, must be avoided. Special treatment or privilege for any skater in the league, which can compromise the perceived impartiality of officiating, must be avoided.”

I call on the WFTDA board to investigate this situation and publicly address it for all skaters in the League. This is not a matter that should be swept under the rug by comments on a blog. Unless the board stands by the Code of Conduct, how can anyone have confidence in the outcome of the tournaments?

Sincerely,

Dan Silver

I knew this would come in handy someday

Kittensaves

you're right about that

Has anyone mentioned San Diego yet? I have an observation -

As a DNN discussion grows longer the probability of a comparison involving WFTDA and San Diego approaches.

Is bringing up San Diego the

Is bringing up San Diego the roller derby equivalent of Godwin's Law?

Actually, I think that is...

"Your argument isn't valid unless you volunteer for your local roller derby league."

Re: Referee Conflict of Interest

Dan Silver wrote:

I sent the following letter to the WFTDA Board earlier this evening:

I am a huge fan of women’s roller derby and was thrilled to witness the national championship at Chicago -- a terrific bout, which my team lost by a point. It was a big disappointment, but hey, that’s what happens in sports.

So I am absolutely stunned to learn today on the Derby News Network that the lead jammer ref in the championship game is the boyfriend of one of Rocky’s skaters. I have a sickening feeling about the bout now. How can the Olympia skaters – who worked so hard and skated so well – have any confidence in the fairness of the officiating? The lead jammer ref makes decisions every few seconds over the course of an hour. What would the 5,000 fans at the pavilion have thought if they had known that the person making these calls was in an intimate relationship with a skater from one of the teams? Do you think they would have thought it just might have made a single point difference? Not only am I offended by the decision of the referee to work the game, it astonishes me that the Rocky team could somehow rationalize this choice in a National Championship bout.

The Code of Conduct Agreement for WFTDA certified referees – which they all sign – states that one of the basic tenets of officiating is “neutrality.” The code reads: “Recognize that any action which may lead to a conflict of interest, either real or apparent, must be avoided. Special treatment or privilege for any skater in the league, which can compromise the perceived impartiality of officiating, must be avoided.”

I call on the WFTDA board to investigate this situation and publicly address it for all skaters in the League. This is not a matter that should be swept under the rug by comments on a blog. Unless the board stands by the Code of Conduct, how can anyone have confidence in the outcome of the tournaments?

Sincerely,

Dan Silver

Notice how Rocky had players in the box almost every bout. Other then this "it can't be fair they're dating", there is no substantiated evidence on player x at such and such a time.

It's not your place to call in a board to investigate. If your team had a specific gripe with a play they could contest it. Your letter shows a lack of faith in them.

Your team is more graceful then you with your whinging. Support your team in victory and defeat. It was a great game that could have easily gone either way.

Signed,
A Baltimore Fan.

Really, Mytheral?

You kind of missed the point, Mytheral. Do you really think it's OK for a ref to be sleeping with a skater they're reffing???? Really???? what goood is a Ref Code of Conduct that ignores that kind of conflict of interest? The Ref's behavior certainly undermines confidence in the professionalism of roller derby.

Before WFTDA talks further with Olympics officials, maybe they should get their own house in order first.

Is the Olympics thing real?

It's a joke, right? I've heard it a few times but it just doesn't seem like it could possibly be serious. If you know anything about the decision to drop baseball and softball then you'll realize that roller derby has zero chance in the next 30 years of even being considered for the Olympics.

Premature

Derby has come a long way baby in 5 years. Let's not assume that a possible reffing issue (which happens in a variety of sports, e.g. the NBA ref issue mentioned in another post) dooms the sport from wider exposure in the Olympics in say another 10 years or so once derby gets much more competitive on an international level. Derby has the potential to field more competitive countries than baseball and softball.

Besides, if you follow current events, you'll know that the public has a short memory:).

The reffing thing has nothing

The reffing thing has nothing to do with my comment. I would have said the same thing 2 weeks ago. Although, it is funny to think of a boyfriend reffing the Gold Medal game of the Olympics. Ha.

There are currently no roller sports being played in the Olympics and roller derby is the youngest and least respected and only recognized by one country. That's really all that needs to be said but I'll keep going.

Roller derby has not proven any kind of staying power as it has only been competitive since 2004. It has not proven itself to be popular enough to be a ratings boost for the television broadcast in any country. It is also a sport that is played over the course of hours rather than seconds or minutes which is not what NBC wants for its Olympic broadcasting model. There are currently only four countries with a chance of getting a medal and the USA would be winning the gold medal for decades and every game they'd play would be a blowout. As far as I know, there has never even been a game of roller derby held in which top players from two different countries met. There are only two sports currently in the Olympics that are not played by men and they are both artistic. There are many IOC recognized sports that are not currently being played in the Olympics that I would imagine would be selected first: Cricket, bowling, surfing, squash, roller speed skating, roller hockey, baseball, softball, etc. There is currently one player in the world that played the game when she was younger than 18 and now plays at the top level of the sport. I seriously could keep going.

I f'ing love derby but I also live in reality.

reality

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

There are currently no roller sports being played in the Olympics...

Roller Derby is recognized in the larger scale of being a Roller Sport under USARS. The Olympic committee is reviewing USARS sports to add into the Summer Olympics.

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

and roller derby is the youngest and least respected and only recognized by one country.

WFTDA just became international... there are a ton of leagues starting in a lot of countries now. I admit that their leagues will take a while to get to an olympic playing level but still.

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

It is also a sport that is played over the course of hours rather than seconds or minutes which is not what NBC wants for its Olympic broadcasting model.

Basketball? Volleyball? Soccer? Triathalons? I'm pretty sure all of those are take more than a couple minutes to play.

I agree with you that Roller Derby is way too new to really be considered right now but the Olympics is a slow process so it's possible that by the time we get approved we will have enough strong foreign teams to compete with. All I'm saying is don't dismiss the possibility.

You're probably looking at

You're probably looking at 2020, which is 2 1/2 times the length of time that roller derby has existed as a sport with a unified rule set.

This sport has come a very long way, but in terms of Summer Olympics sports, it isn't even out of diapers yet.

Here's What I Think I Know:

USARS doesn't matter.
It's the FIRS that matters. The FIRS doesn't recognize roller derby. Under the umbrella of the FIRS there are numerous national federations, of which USARS is only one.
The first step for roller derby is to be recognized by more national federations. Currently, only USARS and Skate Australia recognize roller derby. Once that happens, roller derby should be recognized by FIRS.

The IOC is reviewing FIRS, not just USARS. From what I've heard throughout the years, the most preferred is inline speed, which is logical, as it's the most popular, wide spread, fitted to the format of Olympics, etc.

Most of my knowledge of this stuff is from the viewpoint of sports that are primarily ran/governed/whatever by USARS. I'm not sure how the involvement of WFTDA would change things. I would imagine WFTDA would have to become associated with FIRS first, since it is now international and not just in the US. Or, in my dream world, the WFTDA would be large enough to not need FIRS and just be able to tackle the Olympics on it's own. But that's the distant, distant dream.

I want roller derby in the Olympics.
My dream as a kid was to skate in the Olympics. Obviously that was a loaded dream, and now the possibility of doing it as an artistic skater is impossible. However, I'm only 21. There's plenty of time for roller derby to get large enough, and for me to get good enough. =)
I'm also very realistic about this. I spent my childhood surrounded by people working towards getting any roller sport in the Olympics (but really hoping for artistic to make it).
In my opinion, inline speed or any roller sport making it will help increase the odds for roller derby to make it in the future, and will be a huge victory for any of us who skate on wheels.

You forgot about Pol- I mean, Canada.

lexistentialcrisis wrote:

USARS doesn't matter.
It's the FIRS that matters. The FIRS doesn't recognize roller derby. Under the umbrella of the FIRS there are numerous national federations, of which USARS is only one.

The first step for roller derby is to be recognized by more national federations. Currently, only USARS and Skate Australia recognize roller derby. Once that happens, roller derby should be recognized by FIRS.

RSC also recognizes roller derby up in Canada. Though I'd estimate that maybe a bit fewer than half of the leagues up there are members. More of them in the East than the West, last I looked. CWRDA is more prevalent in Western Canada.

It's my general understanding that there's already been a move on to get BRSF to recognize derby in the UK. They require a national organization of clubs to already exist, hence UKRDA's formation.

lexistentialcrisis wrote:

The IOC is reviewing FIRS, not just USARS. From what I've heard throughout the years, the most preferred is inline speed, which is logical, as it's the most popular, wide spread, fitted to the format of Olympics, etc.

IOC already has long since accepted FIRS as the IOC-affiliated international governing body for roller sports. FIRS managed to get rink hockey (then called roller hockey) into the 1992 Summer Games as I believe a demonstration sport. G. No Evil was there to watch it, I remember him telling us. Roller Hockey didn't return in 1996. FIRS has had no success before or since at getting any other roller sport discipline into the Oympics. Including inline speed.

I do however think you're correct that inline speed would be the most likely roller sport to get into the Olympics. Perhaps inline or rink hockey, then maybe figure? If any of us get into the Olympics real soon, maybe it'd be Diesel, as a judge. Heh.

lexistentialcrisis wrote:

Most of my knowledge of this stuff is from the viewpoint of sports that are primarily ran/governed/whatever by USARS. I'm not sure how the involvement of WFTDA would change things. I would imagine WFTDA would have to become associated with FIRS first, since it is now international and not just in the US. Or, in my dream world, the WFTDA would be large enough to not need FIRS and just be able to tackle the Olympics on it's own. But that's the distant, distant dream.

In my opinion, inline speed or any roller sport making it will help increase the odds for roller derby to make it in the future, and will be a huge victory for any of us who skate on wheels.

You're right that inline speed would probably need to get in first, and that it would help grease the rails towards derby being accepted. To be perfectly honest, roller derby getting in (or even inline speed) anytime soon is a faint hope at best. Derby does not meet a number of the requirements for inclusion in the Olympics. It's not played by enough countries on enough continents just yet. The two leagues in Asia's skaters all seem to be American military personnel and wives, with maybe some expats as well? There's no leagues in Africa, though one supposes something could pop up in South Africa and/or Israel?

A more realistic goal would be to get the sport into games that are not-quite Olympics. The Pan-Am Games? U.S. and Canada, of course, but derby is starting to be practiced (but not yet played) in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru. Oh hell, right about now I'd probably settle for the Empire State Games. Though honestly I can't see my league wanting to stick with USARS a moment longer than necessary.

My take on it? The Olympics would be wonderful if you could move the mountains it would take to get in. Good luck with a sport that is played by 95% one gender though. Realistically, it's the disciplines that don't draw crowds that need it more than we do. Derby is spreading everywhere. And people are interested enough in it to pay to see it. Who really pays to attend inline speed, roller figure or rink hockey if they aren't players, ex-players or family members?

The needy disciplines are the ones who get the NGB attention. Why? Because their reason for being with USARS or whatever local FIRS-affiliated NGB is to have a dim hope of being in the Olympics someday. It's the same goofy hopes that have parents taking their kids to ice figure skating practice, gymnastics and all the other sports that nobody cares about more than once every four years.

we're international!

I'm pretty sure that South Africa is starting a team.

Also, on looking at Derby Roster (http://derbyroster.com), the countries that at least have teams starting:

Argentina
Australia
Belgium
Brazil
Canada
Chile
Columbia
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Ireland
Japan
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Peru
Sweden
Switzerland
UK
US

It seems to me that the

It seems to me that the reason the Olympics are so desirable for derby is that it is the ultimate arbiter of what is legitimate in amateur/semi-pro sports. Derby struggles to be recognized as a legitimate sport, and while it's got all the major ingredients down, it's still not quite ready to be served to company for dinner.

But I've noticed that the Summer Olympics tends to shy from team sports overall. Inclusion of something like Soccer tends to work in reverse to most sports, in that to an extent its presence confers legitimacy on the Olympics...as the world's number 1 athletic endeavor, a lot of people are not attracted to the Olympics for its other sports.

Basketball has also been involved for some time. But not baseball. It's been on and off. I think there may be some prejudice against anything that seems "too American". Basketball was spread internationally through the "Y", so it kind of lost that American aftertaste.

I also might point out that women's soccer wasn't included in the Olympics until 1996, after it was already included for a century. There may actually be some prejudice against sports that are perceived as "women's sports".

I do think 2020 would be a good goal to shoot for "demonstration games". It's probably too late for 2016, and by then it'll just barely be mature and stable. There are just far too many different issues floating around today to say how they'll be resolved by then. By 2020, the game will have been relatively unchanged for a few years.

Cue sports history nerd

Since you mentioned basketball, here's some quick dates to help compare it to derby:

1891 - Basketball invented and first game played
1893 - First game outside the USA
1893 - First college game
1898 - First pro league formed, abandoned in 1904
1903 - Introduction of an open bottom net
1908 - Forebearer of NCAA formed to regulate college basketball
1909 - First international game
1932 - International Governing Body formed (FIBA)
1936 - Basketball played at Olympics
(on an outdoor clay court)
(in the rain)
(while Rutger Hauer cried on a rooftop)
1939 - First NCAA Championship
1946 - NBA Founded
1950 - First FIBA World Championship

Is it OK?

What would be an acceptable relation for you between ref and skater?

umm date a skater but

umm date a skater but disclose it and pull your self from the game. dont ref it plain and simple that get rid of anyone coming back and saying that you called the game bias. ..................or at least bring it to the attention of both teams and let them decide before the bout

So...

Is this just if you are sleeping together? What about if you are dating but haven't slept together? What if you are friends with benefits? What if you had sex in a drunken stupor? What if you have had a child (but didn't have intercourse), but have never been in a relationship - you were just a donor? There are a myriad of questions as to what is an acceptable relationship between skater and ref. However, I agree that it should be out in the open for the teams to decide. At least that way everyone could contribute to the decision. Good call.

If the calls

If the calls are good I have no problem with it.

If the calls weren't good the teams have the ability to appeal the decision, there is a reason there is a head ref is a different person than the ones on the floor.

There are a million reasons why a ref could have a bias. It's the ref structure that is in charge of preventing abuses.

I don't think the call is in any doubt.

yeah, okay, maybe it back blocking and then tripping?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/type2b/5175576449/in/set-72157625265485831/

pictures say a few things.... or do they? who cares GREAT PHOTOS

nocklebeast wrote:

yeah, okay, maybe it back blocking and then tripping?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/type2b/5175576449/in/set-72157625265485831/

Funny, you of course picked the picture of the one that looks like a back block. LOL

What about the good booty block the BlueJ and the BlackB position was not changed.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/type2b/5175577127/in/set-72157625265485831/

or maybe this

http://www.flickr.com/photos/type2b/5176182712/in/set-72157625265485831/

Great pictures by Jules by the way.

I honestly think it was the garden hose that was getting everyone that weekend, and led to some questionable calls. But that is JMHO.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/type2b/5175577563/in/set-72157625265485831/

Where I come from that is

Where I come from that is what we called getting OWNED! I think tripping is when you make contact below the mid thigh area to cause the person to fall. You might have an argument that AJ took a dive to draw the call, but Tannable does take a nasty fall herself because of the speed that they were skating at. In hockey that would have called charging on Tannable, or simply a clean hip check from AJ with no foul on either side.

I thought it was clear that the sequence of 5 photos

had been taken over the course of the same two seconds.

I simply picked the first photo in the time sequence.

The Zebra Commission

To be staffed by experienced refs and WFTDA officials to examine the single backblock theory evidence. To re-ratify the call and hopefully put the derby nation to rest on this.

One thing to note (RE: Photos)

There may not have been a back block at all. From my looking of the photos in sequence ( awesome shots btw) it appears the Rocky skater initiated a block INTO the OLY skater with her behind. That would then be a clean and legal hit, the subsequent tripping however.. Major Low Block.

using the right medium for the task.

Photos are great for capturing single moments in time, but most derby penalties cannot be judged from a static slice -- momentum and motion are critical elements in judging who is the initiator and who is the receiver of an action, and what level of impact that interaction had. Even stellar shot from an optimal angle, like these from Axle, can still be interpreted in several ways.

The right tool for this job, though, is video, and this bit of sideline video captures the action in question pretty clearly, starting at about 5:25:

yeah, I was just pushing the "next photo" button really fast on

flickr, but yeah, it's even more obvious from the video. That's pretty much going to be called as back blocking every time.

Just to throw a little gas on the fire...

At about 5:21 when the Rocky jammer (Frida Beater?) cuts around Sassy, was that a minor or major penalty? Release the Kraken! This ought to keep all y'all going for another 10 days. ;)

Well.

Since she enters behind Sassy, it wasn't either.

it's actually a really sweet move

When I posted this clip up, I actually found myself rewinding that bit just as much as the drawn back block, just to be sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. Frida reenters by just barely touching her right skate in behind Sassy, then stepping right around her on the inside. Sassy doesn't get beat like that very often, and you can see in her expression just how astounding the move was.

Folks, Frida Beater can *jam*.

Umm, Also

The official making that call is Conan (you can tell by the shiny gold skates), from Angel City, not the ref with the relationship.

and, um, also

none of the refs in the championship bout

Rev Riot
Sir Osis
Great Scott
Hambone
Tootie Tinwhistle
Conan the Vegetarian
JC Chaotic

belong to either Oly or Rocky according to the WFTDA roster of certified referees

http://wftda.com/officiating/certified-referees

Low block?

Or she just fell? Intent is a part of these determinations, yes? What I see is a hard fast skater meeting with a harder faster frontal block- and, guarding her ribs with her forearm, ran into her, simply fell backward, unintentionally kicking feet forward.
I don't even think calling it a low block would be 100% fair....but likely for most refs.

Intent is explicitly not a

Intent is explicitly not a part of most penalty calls. Refs can only judge what happens, not what a skater wanted to happen, because generally there's no way of knowing that. And because the rules explicitly say to presume legal intent when there is doubt, for those few cases when intent actually must be judged. One of which is actually intentional low blocks (tripping), which is considered grounds for expulsion.

srsly?

I'm running low on coffee, but this is the only stuff I saw in that post:

Dan Silver wrote:

[...] my team
[...] The Code of Conduct Agreement for WFTDA certified referees – which they all sign – states [...]

Considering you have to sign an NDA in order to see the code, let me openly hope that "your team" is okay with you airing this in a public venue.

Maybe

Maybe WFTDA ought to place him on Double Secret Probation. Also, I miss vowels.

second result on Google . . .

Apron, you are dead wrong that one needs to "sign an NDA in order to see the code." If you search for: wftda referee code of conduct - the second result is this:

http://wftda.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/2009-wftda-referee-code-of-c...

It is also available by going to the WFTDA site here: http://wftda.com/officiating/about-certification

Of note, refs agree that they will "[r]ecognize that any action which may lead to a conflict of interest, either real or apparent, must be avoided."

Fancy that...

As a non-ref, I had no idea they had a separate Code that was available on the WFTDA website.

In doing my own bit of Googling, the bigger Code that league members sign after they agree to an NDA is not available on the Internet.

"your team" does not have to

"your team" does not have to tell you about the nda and all of that google works just great to find all that info out. i found it all printed it and read it just cause i was curious. im sure thats how he found out

Check yourself!

"Not only am I offended by the decision of the referee to work the game, it astonishes me that the Rocky team could somehow rationalize this choice in a National Championship bout."

It's news to me that as a member of the 5280 Fight Club that we had any say at all in who would be reffing our game. I can't say I disagree with your feelings in regard to refs with relationships with skaters working such a high level game. But to call out our entire team who have worked our asses off for some time now to get to where we are at and call our integrity into question really pisses me off. I had no idea Tootie was even reffing our game until after it was all over since I'm focused on the game I'm playing and not the people reffing it.

That being said, I do hope that in the future WFTDA is able to prevent this kind of situation from happening again so that the teams can enjoy their hard fought win & not have it tainted with whispers of cheating.

Misdirecting Blame.

As Winona points out, RMRG had no say in the ref selection for the bout. It is our understanding that refs are vetted through their organizational and rules structure through WFTDA.

RMRG's 5280 Fight Club skated onto the track with Oly and played the game with the refs they were dealt. Both teams played a highly competitive and well fought bout. At the end of that bout, RMRG had one more point. That's a win.

Fight Club has trained hard over the past year for this moment and the direct accusation that the league has in any way officially "rationalized" the ref selection truly crosses a line, Mr. Silver. There is no reason in the world RMRG would want a national championship tainted. We are saddened that our all stars cannot truly celebrate their win without something so beyond their (and our) control tainting it.

I understand and appreciate the conflict of interest concerns you and others have pointed out. I hope that the appropriate organization addresses those concerns, if they have not already, but RMRG is not that organization.

Dangerous Leigh A'zon
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls

agreed you guys earned this

agreed you guys earned this win and you all are amazing skaters and athletes im am not tearing you all done at all the game was won by you anyone that is a oly fan cant help but be a fan of you girls also skating styles and just the way everyone works together you are great bunch of girls. with that said congrats and i know you all had no idea who the ref crew was for the most part but i just think it should have been on tooties shoulders to speak up and remove himself from the game not yours!

That was directed at Dan Silver

My post comes in directly under yours Jay so I can see why you thought I was talking to you, but I was addressing the statement that Dan Silver made in his first post with the letter that he wrote to WFTDA.

Your letter would work better if...

Dan Silver wrote:

I sent the following letter to the WFTDA Board earlier this evening:

I am a huge fan of women’s roller derby and was thrilled to witness the national championship at Chicago -- a terrific bout, which my team lost by a point. It was a big disappointment, but hey, that’s what happens in sports.

So I am absolutely stunned to learn today on the Derby News Network that the lead jammer ref in the championship game is the boyfriend of one of Rocky’s skaters. I have a sickening feeling about the bout now. How can the Olympia skaters – who worked so hard and skated so well – have any confidence in the fairness of the officiating? The lead jammer ref makes decisions every few seconds over the course of an hour.

Your letter would have been much more effective if you were referring to a position that even existed. What on Earth do you think a "lead jammer ref" is? There's two jammer refs. Neither one is "lead." One jam refs for this team in the first period, then switches to the other team. Neither jam ref has priority or authority over the calls of the other. They work together a tiny bit (sometimes communicating a bit) but that's basically it.

They either signal their jammer lead or signal her not lead. Then they count the points she does and doesn't score and signal them to their scorekeeper. They generally only call penalties on the jammer they are reffing. In a pinch they could call a penalty against a pack skater that the pack refs missed. On average, that would probably be even more unusual happenstance at a tournament than it would be in a normal game.

The head ref (who isn't called "lead") is per Best Practices an inside pack ref. I'd go further to have the head ref be the rear pack ref so as to have better visibility of the full pack more of the time. Pack refs tend to call penalties on blockers and pivots.

If you check the boutcast, Amanda Jamitinya was put in exactly once as a jammer. There was a lineup mix-up, and she spent most of her one jam as a jammer in the penalty box and failed to score any points whatsoever. As I haven't gotten my DVD yet, I couldn't say if it was Tootie that put here there, but it wouldn't shock me if he did. She spent the rest of the bout as a blocker, possibly as pivot as well?

To everyone defending reffing your favorite team

Please explain why this should happen instead of putting a group of neutral refs together. There are more than enough refs at each tournament to cover each game neutrally. Give me one reason to use a ref that could possibly have a conflict of interest.

Whether that ref is the greatest of all time and would never let that conflict enter their mind during the game doesn't matter. It looks bad and this issue will come up again every other time this ever happens.

If you are worried about what looks bad...

I guess I won't be skating in nothing but a Speedo and pads at ECE (I might wear a cowboy hat, too). Just sayin'. Of course there are going to be people who are upset about this, but I am not worried at all about ref bias. Sure it happens, but romantic relations doesn't necessarily mean that a particular ref is going to be biased any more than a ref who is a friend, relative, or harbors deep-rooted longing for a particular skater. What if a ref USED to date a particular skater and then had to ref their game? Would he/she be more harsh towards that skater or team? What if a particular skater killed the ref's parents or ran over their cat? My point is, I just trust that the refs aren't going to be biased. There are far too many variables that could play into a ref being biased, and since we can't gauge their brain chemicals when they make a call, I just don't even worry about it.

what about a ref...

That doesn't have a relationship with anyone on either team? That's great that you think that ref bias doesn't exist but all your questions are legit. Why even put a ref in that situation when there are plenty of others there to fill that role? Again, the point isn't that this ref is horrible and biased, it's why did he even ref the game for people to question it? There is nothing positive that will come from him reffing the game. Only negatives.

such a ref

probably would have made the same call?

I understand the concern.

I suppose that if it can be avoided, it should be. Really though, it isn't about the refs, but the perception.

It's about both

I think perception is the most damaging but we definitely don't want refs to swing games because they don't want to send their girlfriend to the box. Obviously, it's easy to institute hard rules that family members and those in relationships should not be reffing those games. I'd add a ref shouldn't be reffing a game that involves their league in tournaments.

But, refs should also be responsible and notify the WFTDA that they have a conflict of interest in that game. It doesn't matter if they will be 100% unbiased or not. Saying that you have a conflict of interest says to everyone that you are a good ref because you want the game to be called as fair as possible. Selfishly keeping yourself in the game makes you a bad ref even if you can call the game 100% fairly.

Now that...

is a very sound suggestion.

Perception of Bias

Perception of bias is just as, if not more detrimental than actual bias.

Having referees who go home and make sweet love with players they officiate over is a conflict of interest big enough to be visible from space.

Folks who say that significant other/relative refs are not a problem for derby should try announcing that relationship before every bout and/or printing it in their programs and see how their audience reacts - especially in big markets where bouts pull in thousands.

This is another example of how modern roller derby willfully and purposely ignores lessons learned from the rest of the sports world.

Full Disclosure: It has been controversial and contentious, but our club has had a clause in our bylaws since they were written 5 years ago preventing persons with romantic or familial relationships with players from officiating games in which that player is rostered.

Thank you

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

I really can't argue that.

However, I would say that a ref could be just as biased officiating a bout that includes one or several close friends, an unrequited love, etc. Hell, one could be more biased toward a derby girl/guy who served them an awesome/awful meal at a restaurant the night before. I'll go on record saying that the enforcement of this rule is a nice gesture and I don't disagree with it (historically it is the way to go in ALL sports), after all, romantic involvement and relatives are something concrete, while friendships, admiration, attraction are much more abstract and open to interpretation.

That list

Bazooka Joe wrote:

This is another example of how modern roller derby willfully and purposely ignores lessons learned from the rest of the sports world.

That list is becoming rather long.

Can't we accept...

...that just maybe the lack of any rules in this area is a carryover from a time when pragmatism (i.e. having enough refs to run a bout) trumped orthodoxy (having a full crew of refs with no purported biases)? Instead of "willfully and purposely" ignoring the lessons of the rest of the sports world?

Is there really a perception problem when the supposed conflict is in no way, shape or form common knowledge? I was at this bout, I am not from Denver, I had NO knowledge whatsoever that a ref was romantically involved with a skater. All I saw was a hell of a bout.

Exactly, Biff

And this conversation pains me. Rocky fought hard. Oly fought hard. It was an amazing bout. Let Rocky enjoy their win. Not happy with the ref pool? Get off the internet and volunteer.

exactly...

lady quebeaum wrote:

Not happy with the ref pool? Get off the internet and volunteer.

the end.

Haters Hate, Skaters Skate

They probably don't want to be refs because they think it'll hurt their chances of getting to date a skater.

I WISH!

There was a "like" button on here for the above post!

Pragmatic?

Biff Mixalot wrote:

...that just maybe the lack of any rules in this area is a carryover from a time when pragmatism (i.e. having enough refs to run a bout) trumped orthodoxy (having a full crew of refs with no purported biases)?

Of course that's where the origin lies. That doesn't make it less problematic.

Carry that logic a little further. Is it healthy to let people play who aren't yet ready just because your team is short handed? Should new teams put on bouts before they are ready just because they are eager?

Biff Mixalot wrote:

Is there really a perception problem when the supposed conflict is in no way, shape or form common knowledge? I was at this bout, I am not from Denver, I had NO knowledge whatsoever that a ref was romantically involved with a skater. All I saw was a hell of a bout.

Correct me if i am misinterpreting your post, but it seems like your solution to the problem of perceived bias is to keep referee/skater relationships secret. I don't think that's a healthy situation and I don't think it is conducive to growth.

I didn't know about it in this case. Neither did a lot of people. When it became public (sort of) knowledge, people got upset. That's the point. If the audience was the widespread 'general public' we are all hoping for instead of the insulated, derby culture indoctrinated one we have here I have to think there would be lots more outrage.

And to be clear, I am not knocking Rocky, Oly, the refs or anyone else. I am saying that I believe allowing officials to work at bouts in which someone they are in a romantic/familial relationship with is playing is bad for derby - on any scale. I have been saying it for years and I will continue saying it.

Thank you

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

I think...

...perhaps you've read a bit too deeply into my post.

I definitely agree that skater/ref relationships are a potential source of problems and WFTDA would do well to specifically address the issue for the future, especially now that the pool of potential referees has grown, particularly for tournament play. I just don't see it as an issue where WFTDA or its predecessors were trying to pull a fast one.

I didn't intend the second part of my post as any kind of "solution," just a personal feeling that my newly discovered knowledge of a relationship between player and skater has not tainted my view of what was a fantastic final bout. Others feel differently.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Oh Gosh

All I have to say is . . .

If you have a problem with the reffing, then become a ref and fix it.

Reffing roller derby is not an easy task especially when it comes to the most intense games. Also, when it comes to tournaments, WFTDA doesn't just throw any ref out there. They pick the best of the best.

If you think you can do a better job...then do it.

Oh Golly

Skittle wrote:

All I have to say is . . .
If you have a problem with the reffing, then become a ref and fix it.

Reffing roller derby is not an easy task especially when it comes to the most intense games. Also, when it comes to tournaments, WFTDA doesn't just throw any ref out there. They pick the best of the best.

If you think you can do a better job...then do it.

With all due respect, the issue being discussed isn't really quality of reffing. I have not, am not and will not criticize the refs or downplay their importance, contribution, dedication and skill.

I am saying that the practice of officials working at games in which people they are related to or in romantic relationships with are playing is a conflict of interests that will hinder the growth of roller derby in the modern era.

Biff Mixalot wrote:

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

No problem, I'm sorry if I misread you.

Thank you

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

P.S. I love tiny kitten babies

"Honey, the cable is out."

"Oh, well, crap. I have no right to tell the cable company that there is something wrong because I don't work there."

Same illogical argument. Fans are customers. They pay for tickets, merchandise, and contribute to DNN. If all fans became refs, there'd be no money for roller derby to exist. Fans have just as valid a reason to point out a problem as anyone else.

And, really, how is becoming a ref at my local league going to somehow change a WFTDA problem?

(Sorry to take it out on you but I see this argument all the time, including other times in this thread, and it really bothers me)

Can't have an assumption without an...

Hold on for a minute... this is a really big paintbrush and it takes a little time to wield.

Roll for initiative.

Your outrage, and everyone else's, suggests that refs have some level of bias when they ref games involving their intimate partners. There's a problem with this, mostly because YOU HAVE NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST A BIAS EXISTS.

Your outrage is one mostly borne out of a desire to have an outrage and not one with actual merit. You flail at some imagine problem that a ref would rather sacrifice their moral compass in pursuit of tail. But you lack any concrete proof that a ref has ever done this. Why? Because such evidence does not exist. Why not? Because there hasn't been a documented case of ref bias based off of a ref whetting their willy with a skater.

So let's take a step back and think about this for a second. What does this mean? Is it, and I'm taking a stretch here, does it suggest that an adult has the ability to do their job... you know, the one they've sworn to do... regardless of who they sleep with after the game? What kind of person would do that? Here's a hint: A MORALLY UPSTANDING ONE.

Yes, I'm being dramatic. I really don't care. Feel free to mentally masturbate about a problem that doesn't actually exist. I'm sure there's a tiny sliver of the derby world popping popcorn and enjoying the show.

Standing O

*clap clap*

Really?...really?

Clearly you haven't been reading the arguments or you're not paying attention.

Actual bias DOES NOT MATTER. The appearance of bias is all that actually does matter. You can try to write that off as lame and who cares and whatever you want to say but if roller derby ever wants to become a big girl sport, this is an issue that has no reason to be an issue. This WOULD NEVER HAPPEN in any other sport. There's no reason for it. Roller derby has enough refs at tournaments so there is absolutely no excuse to put boyfriends on games that their girlfriends are playing. Give me one good reason for it. You can't because there isn't one. I already asked for people to give a good reason and I didn't get a single response.

Again, a good ref would be one that says "I might have a possible conflict of interest in this game so we should use another ref, even though I'm pretty sure I can be 100% unbiased." A bad ref says "I might have a possible conflict of interest in this game, but screw it, I'm the best most-unbiased ref there is so there is no possible way I could possibly let that relationship affect the game."

I don't care about the Rocky Mountain game. I think we're all past that. Just fix the problem and we can all move on. But, the first step, is to acknowledge it's a problem instead of making lame excuses for something where the WFTDA is clearly in the wrong.

Whole lot of squirming goin' on

I totally agree, Big Chuck. Seems like there's a whole lot of squirming goin' on to excuse this ref who presumably signed a Code of Conduct, then violated it, IN A BIG WAY!!!

It doesn't happen in other sports...

because roller derby is the only sport where refs have the ability to be attractive. I'd rather have intercourse with unwashed derby pads than any ref I've ever seen in baseball, football, etc. I mean, refs for all other sports are just cranky old men. However, I see the point. I don't think that having your boyfriend, mother, or pet llama ref your game means that there will be a bias, but it certainly avoids controversy just to refrain from reffing that particular game. Nuf' said. That being said, I would never want to ref. F that noise.

Ok . . .

Then instead of becoming a ref, become a member of WFTDA :-)

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

Again, a good ref would be one that says "I might have a possible conflict of interest in this game so we should use another ref, even though I'm pretty sure I can be 100% unbiased." A bad ref says "I might have a possible conflict of interest in this game, but screw it, I'm the best most-unbiased ref there is so there is no possible way I could possibly let that relationship affect the game."

I guess some people have a different definition as to what makes a "good ref".

My point was that not all refs are created equal and if WFTDA picks a ref for the Champioinships (or any tournament game for that matter) it is becuase they are the most qualified to do the job. Just because it seems like there is an abundance of refs, doesn't mean that one is as good as the next.

Some of the best refs would never be used because they have "conflicts of interest". . .and I would rather be reffed by someone who knows the rules and has experience than someone picked only because they have no "conflicts".

My opinion . . .a good ref sees plays. . .not players or teams. Truth is, every ref would have some bias by your definition because they train with a particular league or live in a certain state etc. Where do we draw the line??? Anyone can be bias for any reason. Say I accidentally took a ref out during a game. . .what is going to stop them from holding a grudge and watching me with more scrutiny??? I believe the refs are more upstanding than that.

That is a valid point but

That is a valid point but your argument ignores the fact that there are enough qualified good refs without conflicts of interest that can work these games. Certainly, the same crew didn't ref every single game which means there were extra refs there, and if they're qualified to referree a semifinal game, then they're qualifed to ref the final game.

Where do we draw the line? I love that line of thinking, "well, we can't do anything about it because there's no clear line." Of course there are lines. A ref should not be reffing in a game that features their relative, spouse, or league. Any other conflicts of interest should be acknowledged by the ref when he/she is selected to ref the game. Pretty simple.

I just don't understand the rationalizing going on. There were plenty of qualified great refs in Chicago to fill that roll. There is no possible rationale that anyone can come up with that would ever make that a good decision. It happened and that's fine. Learn from it and move on. The problem is nobody is learning from it. People already think roller derby is fake. Having boyfriends ref games for their girlfriends only solidifies that reputation.

I disagree

I disagree with pretty much everything you have said.

I feel that your lack of knowledge as to how refs are trained, picked for tournaments and layed out on games is so apparent that I no longer need to post.

Thank you for supporting the sport though.

:-)

Huh?

Skittle wrote:

I disagree with pretty much everything you have said.

Really??!?
Uhhhh.....wow!

I agree that if it can be avoided...

it should be avoided. However, I trust refs by default for two reasons.
1. I don't have a choice.
2. I have no reason not to.

By avoiding the perceived conflict of interest, we are certainly aren't hurting ourselves. After all, look at the controversy going on here. If that can be avoided, it certainly should be. I would say that good refs are hard to come by, but that simply isn't true. I really can't think of anyone I would call a "bad" ref. Avoiding the controversy is our main concern.

let the ref's decide

i've definitely never met a bad ref.. but an inexperienced ref? oh yeah.

Currently I really do trust the Ref's process of picking the best referees at tournaments. It's interesting to think that if this ref might not have worked this game we could instead be talking about a blatantly bad call that cost one of the teams the game. Everything seems to be boiling down to a bunch of "what ifs" isn't it.

I completely agree that in the end all Refs should tell their governing body of their associations with leagues. I don't know if he ever declared his relationship with AJ but it was known that he is from Denver and has worked many RMRG games in the past.

I cannot speak for something when I was not present, but the deciding committee that chooses Ref's more than likely knew Tootie's history and STILL chose him to work the final bout. Therefore you must reason that they felt that his abilities outweighed any possible bias from his history with RMRG.

Therein lies the issue

Skittle wrote:

I feel that your lack of knowledge as to how refs are trained, picked for tournaments and layed out on games is so apparent that I no longer need to post.

Of course he lacks the knowledge of how refs are trained and picked, he's a fan! That's a key point that I think a lot of people are forgetting.

As members of WFTDA, skaters and officials within the organization have a much better understanding of how the process works. Our fans, however, don't have access to that information. After all, wasn't there mention of the WFTDA non-disclosure form earlier in these comments?

I think the derby community often forgets that the general public sees things a bit differently, and the more our sport grows, the more we need to consider these other points of view and how we might be perceived. Plus, a knee-jerk reaction of "You're wrong!" every time a criticism comes up isn't going to win us any new fans.

I would love to join WFTDA...

but I pee from a different place, so I can't. Ha. I kid, I kid.

Who keeps working my side of the street?

Apron wrote:

Your outrage is one mostly borne out of a desire to have an outrage

Dammit, everyone wants in on the act now!

Not exactly.

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

If all fans became refs, there'd be no money for roller derby to exist.

Well, actually, that's not quite true. Roller derby would exist with or without fans, because when people want to play roller derby, they make it happen regardless of how many people are watching. Skaters pay for the privilege of skating, and a great deal of that money goes to pay for practice space. They are the ones who put in the blood, sweat, and tears to run this sport. So really, their wishes and choice of direction for the sport are paramount. (I say this as "just a fan" myself.)

Plenty of referees are openly involved with skaters. Most of them ref the games their partners play; sometimes it even happens on the tournament level. Few skaters seem to have a problem with that, and there are probably even fewer instances where their issues are justified. The overwhelming majority of referees respect the sport and its skaters enough to leave their relationships at the venue door. At the tournament level, ALL of the referees are people who have proven they are capable of doing so. They are people who have reffed all over the place, almost always on their own dime, and earned the respect of the skaters they serve. Any bad calls they make are simply mistakes, not proof of some conspiracy on their part or WFTDA's. If skaters can accept that, then perhaps you should get over it and find something new to be outraged about.

There is a difference

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

"Oh, well, crap. I have no right to tell the cable company that there is something wrong because I don't work there."

Same illogical argument. Fans are customers. They pay for tickets, merchandise, and contribute to DNN. If all fans became refs, there'd be no money for roller derby to exist. Fans have just as valid a reason to point out a problem as anyone else.

And, really, how is becoming a ref at my local league going to somehow change a WFTDA problem?

(Sorry to take it out on you but I see this argument all the time, including other times in this thread, and it really bothers me)

You actually have the ability to change it if you really want to in this case. You obviously have some time on your hands. Maybe you should become a part of WFTDA and make the changes you would like to see. Not only with tournament refs but with stats and the tournament layout too. I believe you had some complaints on those things as well. ;-)

I'm a man

I don't see a single penis in power in the WFTDA.

Actually, I think commenting on DNN probably has more power than being a random NSO in a random WFTDA league and trying to privately get the attention of the already overloaded ladies in charge.

Solved!

Apron wrote:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-finally-put-in-charge-of-struggling-feminist-m,2338/

Bwahahahahahah x 1,000,000!

You are missing the point, Chuck.

You need to get out there and show them where you pee from. That won't land you in prison for too long. Hee hee. Justice, embarassed to have me on your team yet? This is what I do when I'm not celebrating before I'm 20 feet ahead of the pack - trying to win your love and affection through my "little songs".

"commenting on DNN probably

"commenting on DNN probably has more power":
False. But it's very easy to do, and it does make you feel better about yourself.

apples/oranges

Cable guy gets paid.

Skaters and refs do this for free whether there are fans or not. And I don't mean to marginalize fans, but when you have an all volunteer organization perspective needs to be kept. It's not perfect and never will be. Hell the NFL has ref controversies too and they have money hanging out of their ass.

I think the "don't like it then volunteer" argument stems from the frustration of putting in a shit-ton of time and effort only to hear outrage and complaints from someone who hasn't. And when people call out the WFTDA, refs or anyone else it begs the question: Who do you think the WFTDA is? It's not some shadowy organization, it's the leagues you and I cheer for. And if they have a problem with the way things are they will vote to change it.

While I do agree that a ref from a league shouldn't be reffing them at the tournament level there is absolutely no realistic way to avoid relations between predominantly male refs and female players and whatever potential bias comes with that. We as fans will just have to trust the ref crews will do their job fairly and to the best of their abilities.
I, for one do.

Kittens!!! I mean Kittens!!!!

Jesus Christ people!!!!

Justice posted kittens!!!!!

Let's all just look at them & feel warm & fuzzy all over.

Derby Love,
Rev Al Mighty

INORITE?!

I saw that photo and AWWW'ed, then fussed over my own kitties. Now, what were we talking about again?!

ref calls

Show me a bout where not one player commits a penalty and I will show you a bout where 7 referees call a perfect game.

No really, if you ever see a penalty free derby bout let me know

;)

Perception of possible Bias vs Bias

I think I'm going to work on a longer 'letter' style article about this subject but for now, we don't know that a relationship was or was NOT disclosed to WFTDA either before/at Regionals or at Championships. In courts potential jurors are often asked if they know any of the information or participants and if they answer to the affirmative would they still be able to remain unbiased and uphold the laws of the land. For all we know or don't know, the Ref could have told WFTDA "hey I'm dating a skater from RMRG.." WFTDA could have asked "Is that going to affect your performance?"
If the answer was "No" I could see WFTDA saying "Good. then lets have a great tournament."

People are now questioning a highly respected WFTDA Tournament Referee's integrity because of a relationship, regardless of his performance or any proof of bias. Clearly these people have never been referees. Do bad ref's exist in derby land? Yes. I've seen plenty of them who either were suspect in their calls, or outright made bad calls. These have all been Non-WFTDA NON-WFTDA Tournament Referees. I have also seen a HR expel a skater from his league on a Gross Misconduct for excessively flipping off the visiting team bench/skaters/coaches.

He told me later the skater he expelled was his wife.
I'm a 3yr veteran Ref of a B Team in Florida, My wife is a 3yr Veteran skater.. She doesn't disclose we're married unless she's arguing rules with someone (You know who my husband is right??) I freely disclose it because I trust my integrity and performance on the track will show it doesn't matter WHO I am involved with, the moment the stripes are on, I'm "Madness Tolls, Referee for Team Zebra."

Generally speaking

Generally speaking I find that those people that blindly point out bias or possibility of bias are not the kind of people that could ever do the job of refereeing, especially in the case of where they know someone involved on one side. These people can't even fathom how a person involved with a player could be an unbiased ref. It's like a democrat trying to convert a republican, you can point out opinions all day long to one another but in the end their just not going to see eye to eye. What I feel is really the important thing here is we ask ourselves do we structure the referees and how they get selected for games based on the refs that have proven through their track record that they can be unbiased and fair or do we structure the reffing around those that show they could never (and probably will never) be an unbias official.

I lean towards organizing it around those who have proven themselves and not the random sceptics.

All WFTDA Referees shall

All WFTDA Referees shall:
Recognize that any action which may lead to a conflict of interest, either real or APPARENT, must be avoided. Special treatment or privileges for any skater in the league, which can compromise the PERCEIVED impartiality of officiating, must be avoided.

Chuck you've bolded the wrong

Chuck you've bolded the wrong part.
All WFTDA Referees shall:
Recognize that any ACTION which may lead to a conflict of interest, either real or , must be avoided. SPECIAL TREATMENT or PRIVELEGES for any skater in the league, which can compromise the perceived impartiality of officiating, must be avoided.

AFAIK there weren't any actions that were special treatment of any player?

Do you have proof of any actions or special treatment that could be percieved as compromised impartiality?

Do you have any proof that WFTDA Games/Tournament Committee/Head Ref wasn't already previously aware of the status of the relationship?

I feel like this is getting

I feel like this is getting too personal because I don't want to make this about this specific ref in this specific situation. I'm just trying to get this fixed for the future which I obviously have to keep banging the drum for because everyone on here seems to be completely delusional. If this ref we're talking about is reading this thread, I don't want him to take it personal. Everything I'm saying is directed at the WFTDA as a whole.

The action that was committed that might lead to a perceived conflict of interest was when he agreed to ref a game that featured his girlfriend. This is PROVEN to be perceived as a conflict of interest in this thread with multiple people saying that they believed it to be a conflict of interest.

Special treatment doesn't have to be in the game, does it? I'm pretty sure that paying for dinners, buying gifts, and the other things boyfriends do for and to their girlfriends counts as special treatment. Unless you're claiming that he does all of those things for all WFTDA skaters. Again "PERCEIVED" impartiality is proven in this thread by just the very act of multiple people questioning his impartiality.

I do not have any proof that the WFTDA knew about it, of course, but the WFTDA knew that he is a ref for Rocky Mountain. That, in and of itself, is a conflict of interest, in my opinion. Which team do you think he wanted to win the game? The team with his girlfriend and probably a bunch of other friends? Or the team that he has no connection to? That's the definition of a conflict of interest.

From the very beginning of this thread, I've said that I didn't think there was any bias shown in this game and I do think refs can be 100% unbiased but THAT DOESN'T MATTER. There was a clear perceived conflict of interest and a clear question of impartiality. That cannot be denied.

Usually, when sports leagues have ref scandals or gambling scandals or any kind of scandal, they do something to prevent it from happening in the future. If roller derby had a wider following and/or media, this would be a scandal. If this was one of the major sports in the US, there might be a senate hearing. Instead of rationalizing it, how about we just make sure it doesn't happen again? There's absolutely no reason to let it happen again. Don't and move on.

No Pay..No Provided Insurance..No Bonus..

Here's an excerpt from http://www.job-employment-guide.com/nfl-referee-salary.html

"The NFL referee salary (National Football League) ranges from USD 25,000 to USD 70,000 per season i.e. a season with 16 games with one-week intervals. The NFL official’s average annual income of USD 27, 000 is lowest when compared to the NBA officials earn about USD 128,000 per annum, the NHL officials earn USD139, 000 per annum and the major-league baseball officials earn about USD 141, 000 per annum. On the other hand, NFL officials are not full-time employees and work lesser as against the other sports. "

If I got paid between $1,562.00 per week of work or as a 'Division1 College Ref' $580-$980 PER GAME, plus expenses, and travel stipend..
Well then sure I'd say "Sorry can't referee this next bout in a 3 day multi-bout tournament because I'm involved with a skater"

Except WFTDA Refs aren't paid $580-$980 per game, plus travel.
Derby Referees are volunteers, many of us pay for our own travel to bouts, pay for our own skates, pads, clothes, whistles, printed copies of rules, stop watches, insurance, etc.

In essence what 'bonus' is there for a WFTDA Tournament Referee, who is surrounded by a few thousand people in the stands, his peers, Skaters, Online Fans, Announcers, not to mention the 6 other referee's making calls during the bout, to try and cheat?

There isn't any.

This makes no sense

If you were getting paid per game, then you would have a financial motivation to stay in the game. You wouldn't get paid if you took yourself out of it.

(Again, I'm not saying this happened or will happen) The clear motivation to try and cheat is to have his girlfriend and friends be the champions of the WFTDA.

I really don't get your post at all. Like, I literally cannot figure out how you came to the conclusions that you did.

The better question would be, what motivation does he have NOT to cheat? The worst that would happen is that he's banned from reffing games in the future. He wouldn't get fined. He wouldn't lose his job. Apparently, he wouldn't even be scorned by the community since no one seems to have a problem with it. (Again, I feel obligated to say that I don't think anyone cheated, just so everyone is perfectly clear. I'm not accusing anyone of anything.)

That is probably the crux of

That is probably the crux of the disagreement, you don't get what others are meaning. Which isn't an attack, though I know it sounds that way, just as I know you aren't accusing the ref in question of cheating you are specifically talking about the implication of a perceived bias not necessarily that there IS one. Which is a hard cross roads, we could discuss back and forth and perhaps never come to an agreement.

My point about being a paid referee, is that as a Derby Referee, I am not paid. There is no cash or monetary incentive to sway the game for Rocky Mountain. I don't receive a bonus for a win, I don't receive sponsorship from Atom Wheels/Riedell Skates/Team Vanilla etc., What do would "I" (If I were in that position) recieve from Rocky Mountain winning? Laid? Oh wait.. that's happening already. So uhm... nothing..

Ok.. So his girlfriends team won a championship that was viewed by some seveal thousand people world wide. They didn't win the Olympics.. The World Cup, The Stanley Cup.. Hopefully, SOMEDAY, Derby will be relegated to the same pedestal as those sports, but it isn't yet. At that point, certainly, there will be paid referee's who spend 6months + out of the year making their annual salary on skates reffing derby bouts. Right now WFTDA takes the best of the best, through a rigorous application process, peer reviews, experience and availability, and chooses the refs for tournaments. Out of that, I'm guessing here, they created 2-3 "Crews" who were pre-set and intermixed containing members from all over WFTDA. If I remember correctly from a Regional Tournament broadcast, it was either Western or South Central Regionals who's tournament Official was from Eastern.

At Western Regionals Major Wood, a Certified Ref from Nashville, was present. I believe he was also present working at Easterns as well as Nationals. Why WFTDA used him in at LEAST 3 of the tournaments, I can only speculate is because they wanted consistency amongst the referee crews thereby finding crews that could work and proved themselves during WFTDA Sanctioned Bouts and Tournaments before being selected for the "Big Show."

Could WFTDA have 'changed' the crew for the Championship bout? Possibly. But then again, I'm not on the WFTDA BOD, nor am I actually a member of a WFTDA league so I don't know how they operate. Do we know if Oly had a referee on the championship Ref crew?

If the worse thing you can think of is that he'd not be allowed to referee games in the future you aren't thinking deeply enough. He would lose ALL credibility, ALL respect, and be admonished by derby players and officials world round. He WOULD in fact be scorned by the community because HE CHEATED, people are at odds over 'perception' of possible bias vs. Actual Bias. If there were actual Bias, I think its safe to say everyone, including Rocky Mountain, would have problems with it.

I get what other people are saying

Darkjester wrote:

people are at odds over 'perception' of possible bias vs. Actual Bias. If there were actual Bias, I think its safe to say everyone, including Rocky Mountain, would have problems with it.

So, you do agree that there's a perception of bias? Thank you. You just proved exactly what I've been saying all along.

1. A perception of bias breaks the referee code of conduct. This cannot be argued.

2. A perception of bias is damaging for the sport of roller derby. I don't understand why refs would want to continue to damage the reputation of roller derby and create questions of the legitimacy of championships. That seems like the opposite of what a ref should want to do.

Problems with Relevance

I don't think anyone would argue that you, as a fan, feel that having a ref in a relationship with a skater who's reffing that skater's game is a perceived conflict of interest. In fact there might a few other fans who would agree with you, if any would feel compelled to care enough about it.

But the disconnect at hand is, bluntly, that fans aren't consulted to determine if a ref's actions are perceived to be in conflict. That's the role of the ref crew, the skaters on the track, and the relevant portions of the WFTDA. If any of those folks felt that a ref's actions could be perceived as a conflict of interest, they will take care of the problem internally.

My guess is that none of the people with a relevant stake in a perception of bias felt that this ref's actions were perceived to be a conflict of interest. Therefore the ref took the field, no actual biased calls surfaced, and you had a well reffed game.

So, sure, keep raging about this and how this great injustice will destroy roller derby. Just don't kid yourself into thinking it's going to lead to change.

Fans are all that matter

Fans are all that matter in the case of perception. Why would perception matter internally? The whole point of having a code of conduct that people sign that references not tarnishing the perception of the WFTDA is all about making sure to not hurt the reputation of WFTDA in the public's eyes. The public = fans/media. So, actually, fans/media opinions are the only things that actually matter in this discussion.

Now that it has happened and it is clear that this situation created a perceived conflict of interest, then there is no excuse not to change.

Again, I am BEGGING PLEADING with you to make JUST ONE logical argument as to why this would be a good thing to continue to do in the future. I'm fine with everyone rationalizing how it happened the first time but don't try to pretend like it was a good thing that should keep happening.

Quote:

So, sure, keep raging about this and how this great injustice will destroy roller derby. Just don't kid yourself into thinking it's going to lead to change.

Yeah! We know what we're doing! We've only been a competitive sport for 6 years and never once opened a history book or listened to anyone's advice. What's the point of learning from others? We're f'n edgy, man. (Oh, by the way, why doesn't anyone take us seriously? We should be in the Olympics by now. I don't get it.)

Fans

One logical argument:

The WFTDA has proven that they trust their refs. Until a ref shows that he or she is willing to break that trust by bending and/or breaking the rules for a significant other, there's no reasonable doubt.

There is not a single example in this thread of where the ref in question did anything unscrupulous while reffing the game. It's all just conjecture and "omg, what if."

Right

But, what is the advantage of using him instead of another just as qualified ref that has no connection to the teams in the game? That's what I'm asking for. Yes, it's logical to think that he can call a perfectly unbiased game. It's not logical to think that it would be better or just as good for the legitimacy of the sport to put him in that position.

Again, actual cheating DOES NOT MATTER. If fans think the game is rigged then that is just as damaging as if the game is actually rigged. That's awesome that the WFTDA trusts their refs but the fans have no reason to.

Any time something like this comes up, someone needs to ask: Would this fly in any other sport in the world above the level of recreational beer softball league? If the answer is no then it's probably a good idea not to do it anymore.

(Spoiler alert: The answer is no.)

Advantage

It's not a question of advantage.

Have you taken into consideration the amount of work that goes in to setting up the ref crews? How much work it is to schedule each crew so that they get enough rest between bouts? (Spoiler Alert: Reffing is tiring too.)

Have you considered that each ref crew works with the same group of people all weekend long, creating a rapport and a trust within that crew? Yanking someone out in the last game of the tournament could be detrimental.

In the long run, you keep bringing up the fans... The percentage of fans that were at that bout that are here reading and participating in this conversation is tiny. We're the superfans. We're the P1's. The majority of fans don't know who that ref is. They just see stripes and a number. They don't know about a relationship, and more importantly, they don't care.

They saw good derby.

So, the WFTDA should tarnish

So, the WFTDA should tarnish the reputation of the sport because it's hard? Here's an idea: Set up crews by region or set up crews with refs from leagues that won't possibly meet. Or, how about just removing the one ref from the one bout with the conflict of interest. They played 2 games on sunday. If he switched with someone in the first bout, there'd be no issues with getting enough rest.

What you're implying is actually worse than what I'm saying. You're basically saying that refs can't call a good game unless they've been working together for a whole weekend. I have a higher opinion of them than that.

The fans in the arena would have cared if they would have known. Just because people don't know about something, that doesn't make it right. I'll be interested to hear what Matt thinks if you guys talk about this since he's the resident sports fan, I can pretty much guarantee which side of the issue he falls on.

Matt from Derby Deeds

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

I'll be interested to hear what Matt thinks if you guys talk about this since he's the resident sports fan, I can pretty much guarantee which side of the issue he falls on.

Agreed.

It'll be on the show, for sure.

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

The fans in the arena would have cared if they would have known. Just because people don't know about something, that doesn't make it right. I'll be interested to hear what Matt thinks if you guys talk about this since he's the resident sports fan, I can pretty much guarantee which side of the issue he falls on.

We're going to bring this topic up tonight & make sure we give it full attention! =D

<3 Derby Deeds

First, I love the Derby Deeds podcast so much! And thank you for discussing this issue on the podcast this week.

I want to chime in on a couple of aspects that were brought up in the podcast, which you happened to mention in this comment as well.

First, I disagree with your characterization that there are only 6 people talking about it. I know myself and others, while we haven't spoken up, have discussed in person what people have been saying. I suspect most of us just don't want to get in the middle of the mud-flinging. If this were a similar issue in a professional sport the mainstream media would be covering it, but derby is not there at this point. At the very least I'd bet the number of people who have read some of this discussion is very high.

As for the actual issue, I definitely respect the desire to have full on ref teams and how we don't want to break those up. It seems to me like this is an opportunity to take a look at that model. How difficult would it be to expand the ref crews to include a couple of alternates? Professional sports do this all the time, at least for the big playoff tournaments. This would allow for issues such as the one at hand, or any other issue such as a mid-tournament injury or illness.

I recognize that it sounds like finger pointing to call out a ref in this way, but I don't believe that's what it is. As mentioned in the podcast, I could just as easily imagine a ref that refs harder on his/her SO as one that refs easier. And has also been mentioned it may or may not be intentional or even fully conscious. It seems to me that having alternates provides the opportunity to prevent this issue from coming up ever again. In fact, even if it isn't applied to relationships, it would be a good idea in case of injury or illness.

I would have commented but

I was bribed with enough Four Loko, tots & katsu sauce to say out of it.

Rage Against the Unseen

Apron wrote:

I don't think anyone would argue that you, as a fan, feel that having a ref in a relationship with a skater who's reffing that skater's game is a perceived conflict of interest. In fact there might a few other fans who would agree with you, if any would feel compelled to care enough about it.

But the disconnect at hand is, bluntly, that fans aren't consulted to determine if a ref's actions are perceived to be in conflict. (SNIP)
So, sure, keep raging about this and how this great injustice will destroy roller derby. Just don't kid yourself into thinking it's going to lead to change.

Right, because to paraphrase what a great man once joked to me, the real motto of modern roller derby should be "By the skaters, for the skaters and forget everyone else"

Perhaps the folks who don't see the problem can explain why every other sport in the universe, from junior varsity to high school to collegiate all the way up to professional disallow people with relationships with players from officiating over same. Is derby smarter than every other sport? Are its players and refs more evolved? Are all those other sports too uptight, man?

The only reason this hasn't blown up in derby's face yet is because it is not widely known by the public. Again, I invite the folks poo-pooing the "outrage" to make it known and see how that goes. If it's not an issue, if you are so sure it doesn't hurt derby's chances at being seen as a legitimate sport, then go ahead and announce it on websites, put it in programs, broadcast it at bouts, disclose it to national and local sponsors, describe it to interviewers, include it in the hundreds of derby documentaries being made every day. I bet my knees things will get hairy.

And for the record, since it seems to matter in this conversation, I have been playing flat track roller derby for just over 4 years. I co-founded and continue to help run a small market derby club and I had a part in the founding of the Men's Derby Coalition. I have a whole dump truck full of vested interest in the health and well being of modern roller derby and I believe strongly that the practice under discussion is bad for the sport.

I am also a medium strength baseball fan, occasional hockey enjoyer and hardcore kitten appreciater.

Thank you,

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

no oly did not have a ref at

no oly did not have a ref at any of the tournements

Sir Osis

Sir Osis was at both West Region Playoffs AND Championships.

I believe that good gentleman has moved on to Rat,

has he not?

(I know mere fans aren't supposed to post in this thread, so I apologize for posting).

Ah yes

You are correct!

So Sir Osis moved to Rat but

So Sir Osis moved to Rat but WAS with Oly at some point?

Where does that fall on the Chuckster's "bias" meter?

FWIW Sir Osis was ALSO a ref for the championship game. We don't know of any current or past relationship status between him and any skaters, and as long as the reffing is unbiased, there isn't any great need too!

Rumors and attacks like this start due to sour grapes and sore losers (not necessarily Oly, but fans or other teams)

The team loses a bout and all of a sudden its "Because XXX is dating YYY"

Really? Its not because Rocky outskated Oly? Because Oly gave up too many CTT Majors and spent too much time in the penalty box?

In a perfect world, or perhaps a Professional one(Where WFTDA could afford to pay referees similar to what they would be paid in the NFL, travel, health insurance..), yes, none of the Referees involved in a bout would have ANY relationship with ANY of the skaters.

We don't live there at the moment.

If you are serious about Sir Osis

and "relationships status between him and any skaters" you could ask him or his wife, who skates for Tacoma's Dockyard Derby Dames. He stopped being an Oly ref two years ago. Your attempt at equivalency is false.

And really, Rocky "outskated" Oly? Oly spent too much time in the box? I seem to remember two key Rocky players fouling out. A one point game indicates two teams equal in ability, not mastery of one over the other.

Sarcasm is lost.

Aitchbee wrote:

and "relationships status between him and any skaters" you could ask him or his wife, who skates for Tacoma's Dockyard Derby Dames. He stopped being an Oly ref two years ago. Your attempt at equivalency is false.

And really, Rocky "outskated" Oly? Oly spent too much time in the box? I seem to remember two key Rocky players fouling out. A one point game indicates two teams equal in ability, not mastery of one over the other.

Not 100% sure but I read a bit of sarcasm into DJ's post...

He's stating that there could be some bias with Sir Osis based on his past experiences with Oly. He probably has a relationship (after all friendship is a relationship of sorts) with several on the Oly's team there by creating a bias.

It's all a matter of how far you want to take it.

Sarcasm indeed

Sorry, I was being sarcastic. I actually picked Oly to win the bout, it was a VERY close bout, VERY exciting, and from where I sat (at work watching on DNN) It was a very well officiated bout.

Sorry if any other inference was taken.

Why they pick whom they pick.

Darkjester wrote:

At Western Regionals Major Wood, a Certified Ref from Nashville, was present. I believe he was also present working at Easterns as well as Nationals. Why WFTDA used him in at LEAST 3 of the tournaments, I can only speculate is because they wanted consistency amongst the referee crews thereby finding crews that could work and proved themselves during WFTDA Sanctioned Bouts and Tournaments before being selected for the "Big Show."

I'm not with RefComm, nor do I have visibility to their message boards. I'm not even a referee! I have been involved with helping staff stats for a major tournament this year and ran the stats crew there. I have also worked closely with the ref crews from two different leagues I've been with and deal with refs from other leagues fairly often.

Major Wood is a level 5 referee. That's the highest cert level available. Just speculation, but if there's 40 refs who'd like to ref the tournament and a level 5 referee is among those who want to do it, THAT REF is almost certain to get the nod for any tournament he'd like to ref. That's a referee I would pick to have on a ref crew. And we know he's not sleeping with any skaters, because he skates on inlines. These women have standards, you know?

Darkjester wrote:

Could WFTDA have 'changed' the crew for the Championship bout? Possibly. But then again, I'm not on the WFTDA BOD, nor am I actually a member of a WFTDA league so I don't know how they operate. Do we know if Oly had a referee on the championship Ref crew?

Do Oly Rollers have any WFTDA-certified referees? Did they have any WFTDA-certified referees who were available to be there that weekend? WAYYYY before anyone would consider looking at where someone's from, they look at how good they are. What level of certification they have. Tootie is a well-known ref, and I've never heard any reasoned complaints about his officiating abilities.

I don't really know much about Oly's ref crew to have an opinion on their suitability for reffing a tournament. And nobody should take what I'm saying here to imply they wouldn't' be suitable. Key thing to know: The focus is never on "Let's get one ref from everywhere to make things fair." It's about getting the best referees who are available to be there.

Being "available" means "can take Friday off from their real job, and maybe even Thursday and Monday for travel." If you asked to ref at South Central Region Playoffs and said "I can't be there until 8PM on Friday," someone else would get the spot. Even if you were the best ref in the world. And given that you're smart enough to be my pal from SLF, you quite probably ARE the best ref in the world. Or damned near close to it.

Whenever there's a thread or video stream chat involving Oly Rollers fans, I groan preemptively. I guess it's a matter of "Olympia, it's in the water."

But seriously, I think a big part of the problem their fanbase has is that their league didn't spend a year or two fighting their way out of the WFTDA basement. They didn't move up the rankings slowly while taking their lumps here and there. They joined WFTDA with some "ringers" from Rat City, USARS speed and rink hockey and zoomed right to the top. To a fan that's never seen a loss before, it's probably a little harder to accept and work it out unemotionally like most of the rest of us are able to.

Darkjester wrote:

If the worse thing you can think of is that he'd not be allowed to referee games in the future you aren't thinking deeply enough. He would lose ALL credibility, ALL respect, and be admonished by derby players and officials world round. He WOULD in fact be scorned by the community because HE CHEATED, people are at odds over 'perception' of possible bias vs. Actual Bias. If there were actual Bias, I think its safe to say everyone, including Rocky Mountain, would have problems with it.

You're damned straight. I know referees who ref their wives, in-laws, sisters, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends (imagine that one!), and one who even calls penalties on his own daughter. If anything, referees who have a relationship with a skater tend to err on the side of calling things too severely on "their girl."

Ooh Poohbear, some history

The funny thing is Oly started as a varsity program since that's all they knew, an it has worked very well for them. But they did start their bumpy road losing at rust riot to the Rose City B TEAM, who went on to play the RAT B TEAM.

1st RAT Rain of Terror
2nd Rose Axles of Annihilation
3rd Oly Rollers (Cosa Nostras)

Funny story: This is where the Oly Oly Oly Oi Oi Oi chant started during a pre game warm up, and some hungry buns....

They also lost to a home team from RAT, Derby Liberation Front in their home rink. Their was also a game against another RAT home team, Grave Danger which was just as exciting, but close. Yes they pick up 3 notable sisters, but one was out on a 9 month injury. ; / But a local speed skater did add the final piece to a pretty solid puzzle. With a lot of focus on fundamentals and speed, they pulled off something amazing.

Now this same amazing can be done in your league too, take RMRG, who added a couple pieces to an amazing puzzle add some hard work and upset teams one year and take it all the next. So back to someones early post, a team like Oly can come from anywhere. But it does take something special.... heart. And the fans will be there to support their teams to no end, because they (I) know what they are putting in to this game we all love.

That's why we all sound crazy....sometimes, lol.

Revision to G. No History

Oly's loss at Rust Riot was to the Rat B team, see Blood and Thunder's issue #8 cover photo. I'm still thankful to Rat City for putting on that whole tournament for my birthday, best present I ever got. It was the first time I ever saw Oly skate and after 5 mintutes it was obvious that they were like no other team out there.

Hey Poobah, just curious, why is it that when Oly has former speed skaters you and so many others call them "ringers" and when so many other teams use speed skaters you don't?

Ringer dinger.

Aitchbee wrote:

Hey Poobah, just curious, why is it that when Oly has former speed skaters you and so many others call them "ringers" and when so many other teams use speed skaters you don't?

I don't really mean it the way you're probably thinking. I have tended to refer to Oly as a "team of ringers." If you were hiring people to make an unbeatable team, that's the people you'd hire. Experienced derby skaters, check. Speed skaters who've competed on national and international levels, check. High level rink hockey skaters, check. Honestly, I tend to say the same about RMRG. It's not intended as a slight.

A glimpse at one possibility

Oly gives us an idea of what roller derby looks like when you have a team made up of lifelong roller athletes, conditioned to a traditional sports model of training. They're a "team of ringers" only because this situation is unusual in derby.

A lot of other leagues have members who are also lifelong athletes. Some from track and field, marathoners, basketball players, etc. Any kind of long term athletic training helps in a high endurance sport like derby.

In not too many years, you will probably see a significant population of some teams coming up from junior derby, and you'll see the first generation of lifelong athletes entering the fold from a strictly roller derby athletic background. What will this sport look like when you have 20 year olds, with their natural endurance and recovery speed at that age, entering the semi-pro (or maybe "pro" by that point) realm of derby with 5-13 years of derby experience under their helmets?

How big a pipeline?

It's probably a question mark at this juncture as far as whether junior derby will or will not become a significant pipeline to adult roller derby-I believe we'll have a good idea 10 years from now. A person can go through significant changes between the ages of 11 and 20 and I'm sure many of us can look back 30 to 100 years ago:) and see what different people we were between those ages in terms of our values, interests and outlook. I can envision more people who start derby closer to adulthood when they have a better sense of what they're about and what they're into sticking with derby into their twenties and maybe their thirties, while I can see more of the ones who start derby say between the ages of 11 and 13 liking derby for a little while before changing/evolving into interests and activities that are different, whether they be other sports or non sport activities.

Hopefully, the WFTDA and or the adult derby leagues that work closely with the junior derby leagues will track the number of junior derby kids that evolve into adult derby skaters and the age range starting point from which there is the largest entry into adult derby from the juniors. If junior derby 10, 15 years down the line becomes a significant pipeline to adult derby, maybe extra resources in preparation and training can be directed to the starting age point from which there is significant entry into adult derby.

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously.

Junior derby...

CynicalGuy wrote:

It's probably a question mark at this juncture as far as whether junior derby will or will not become a significant pipeline to adult roller derby-I believe we'll have a good idea 10 years from now.

So far there have been two that I've heard of, both graduating from Tucson Derby Brats to Tucson Roller Derby. The first one was Luce Bandit. Made the travel team on her first try. Possibly inspired TXRG to lower their minimum age to 18? Damned good skater, from what I've seen and heard. The second graduate has just joined TRD. I've heard good things, wait and see I guess?

I would be interested to hear how the leagues in the PNW are doing with THEIR junior leagues. How many skaters have joined their league from their league or a neighboring one? Eighteen is also the age a kid usually starts attending college, so sometimes the beneficiaries of the gifts junior derby gives the adult version of the sports aren't the exact adult league that maybe invested coaching time into that skater. Which happens fairly often with adult skaters as well.

Do I think all junior derby skaters will be the next Luce Bandits? Almost certainly not. Do we need to lose those potentially great skaters to soccer, softball and whatever my oldest niece is doing at college when she COULD be skating derby?

CynicalGuy wrote:

A person can go through significant changes between the ages of 11 and 20 and I'm sure many of us can look back 30 to 100 years ago:) and see what different people we were between those ages in terms of our values, interests and outlook.

As horrific as it is to think about, New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys are touring together.

CynicalGuy wrote:

I can envision more people who start derby closer to adulthood when they have a better sense of what they're about and what they're into sticking with derby into their twenties and maybe their thirties, while I can see more of the ones who start derby say between the ages of 11 and 13 liking derby for a little while before changing/evolving into interests and activities that are different, whether they be other sports or non sport activities.

Some of them probably will, yes. But where would baseball, hockey or football be today if the average player didn't start as a child? Would those sports have the followings they have today if there weren't all those out-of-shape middle-aged guys watching TV with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other, screaming about how others play the sport they had to give up at 15 or 16? Some of that is living vicariously through others, some of it is living out their own failed dreams through others (instead of being that dad who berates the coach). This kind of stuff goes back to the Roman gladiators.

CynicalGuy wrote:

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously.

Wouldn't be the first time someone did that on this message board.

How about Jr Roller Hockey

Not sure about Jr Derby, but Betty Ford Galaxy- Rat City has one of age and another soon to be. Maybe they will be at Jet City due to age requirements? Rat I think is 21. But I heard the Jr Derby are getting some cross training on the new bank track. (fk'n sweeet!)

But there are a few girls from the Roller Hockey teams that are 18-21 now so you will see some new faces.

Like this just turn 19 yr old that has been skating for the Cosas all year.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/type2b/5180750191/in/set-72157625398694638/

Rocky Mountain Rollerpunks

We're hopeful.

RMRG started its junior program this year and I am the head coach of a team of about five regular RMRG skaters who train them. Our juniors are one season deep and shockingly strong. I have about 45 kids who I expect to carry over into next season and a line out the door of people waiting to join during our next registration. The kids are divided into two "littles" teams and one teen team all named after our adult teams. (The teens are the 5280 Might Club.) They all bouted this year and they were *amazing!*

Our league has kiddos ages 6 to 17 and my first junior should be switching into the adult league 'round about March. I have four or five I expect will transfer in with little fuss. Do I think any will walk right onto Fight Club? Well, no, but have you met Fight Club? I do, however, believe we have a contender or two for Contenders, RMRG's B-squad. Also have a tiny who gives me insight into a baby DeRanged ... and it is terrifying in that good way that we all appreciate so much.

There is tremendous passion in my kids. They chomp at the bit to practice and play and I believe many are developing a lifelong addiction. They wouldn't let us take a holiday break and set forth on a campaign of harassment until the coaches caved. Their growth is exponential and I am desperately jealous of the opportunity they have (particularly because I was post 30 when I put on skates for the first time.) Plus, I love teaching teenage girls that a little bulk in the legs from skating is a good thing.

We are awfully proud of them. I look forward to seeing Might Club step up as leaders as we take on new skaters in the Spring. As they turn 18, I am going to have to watch them go away to college or lose them to the adult league. Luckily, Colorado has tons of good schools locally. ;)

Brats

Poobah wrote:

So far there have been two that I've heard of, both graduating from Tucson Derby Brats to Tucson Roller Derby... The second graduate has just joined TRD. I've heard good things, wait and see I guess?

Lindsey LoBlow. She tested into the Tucson travel team at the number 5 spot on her first try. It doesn't just come natural to her, though. She WANTS to be good. She went to every Brats practice and every mens practice for the last year. Basically, she walks onto TRD with as much skate skill and FAR more strategy knowledge than anybody on TRD. Yeah, she put in the work, but it totally paid off.

The lesson here is, get involved in your Brats program.

She is awesome...

Lindsey is awesome...I am really excited for her...

Pitchit wrote:
Poobah wrote:

So far there have been two that I've heard of, both graduating from Tucson Derby Brats to Tucson Roller Derby... The second graduate has just joined TRD. I've heard good things, wait and see I guess?

Lindsey LoBlow. She tested into the Tucson travel team at the number 5 spot on her first try. It doesn't just come natural to her, though. She WANTS to be good. She went to every Brats practice and every mens practice for the last year. Basically, she walks onto TRD with as much skate skill and FAR more strategy knowledge than anybody on TRD. Yeah, she put in the work, but it totally paid off.

The lesson here is, get involved in your Brats program.

Major Wood is Level 3

The list of WFTDA Certified Officials can be found here:
http://wftda.com/officiating/certified-referees

wood

wood wasn't at westerns. that was skates o. phrenia. also from nashville, but not on blades. equally as sexy as wood. skates went to westerns, easterns, south centrals, and championships this year. we are proud of our officials.

Bias is as Bias Does

Poobah wrote:

I know referees who ref their wives, in-laws, sisters, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends (imagine that one!), and one who even calls penalties on his own daughter. If anything, referees who have a relationship with a skater tend to err on the side of calling things too severely on "their girl."

Why is this so often used as a trump card for the argument in favor of ref-skater relationships being alright?

Does it not occur to folks making that particular counter-argument that that is the very definition of bias? If the example ref calls the example player DIFFERENTLY than he or she would any other player, that is bias. That is a different set of parameters applied to a certain player because of an off-the-track relationship. How is that OK?

Thank you,

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA.
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

Nobody is saying that it is

Nobody is saying that it is "Ok", however, considering the majority of accusations of bias involve favoring a player/league due to affiliation or relationship, it makes it less an argument than being OVERLY aggressive on certain skaters either due to subconsciously avoided bias accusations, or due to familiarity knowing what to expect/look for out of certain skaters.

From a Referee point of view, we generally tell people "NOT" to tell us what to expect, or to look for in a skater. The less information we have, the easier it is to be unbiased when actions occur.

Derby Deeds Podcast had spoke at great length about the issue and with some great wisdom behind it. Relationships, in one manner or another have been a part of Derby since its inception, even in the non-scripted Derby. Professionalism however, is what occurs when a relationship exists and a referee knows that the moment the stripes go on, league affiliation, love life(or just booty calls) cease to be part of the equation, we're here for Derby.

Well said.

Darkjester wrote:

Professionalism however, is what occurs when a relationship exists and a referee knows that the moment the stripes go on, league affiliation, love life(or just booty calls) cease to be part of the equation, we're here for Derby.

Thanks for that. Nice summary. All due respect (because you know I love you, Bazooka Joe!) what works for one small league does not work for an international organization made up of thousands of people, spread out geographically. Furthermore, if we had to police refs per every possible hookup or family relationship they had - puh. leeze.

Majority Rules

Darkjester wrote:

Nobody is saying that it is "Ok", however, considering the majority of accusations of bias involve favoring a player/league due to affiliation or relationship, it makes it less an argument than being OVERLY aggressive on certain skaters either due to subconsciously avoided bias accusations, or due to familiarity knowing what to expect/look for out of certain skaters.

The "majority" of accusations?

This thread has tried hard to make it seem like NO accusations of bias have ever been recorded, recognized, or even heard about - that no player, ref, volunteer or fan has ever felt anything was off about refs being involved with players.

Now there is a "majority" of these non-existent accusations that DO center around player-ref relationships? If nobody (or perhaps more accurately, nobody who matters) has a problem, then how can there be a "majority" of the complaints?

The point here is that we have it within our power to easily eliminate a source of potential conflict, but we don't. Either because it's too inconvenient or too ingrained.
(which, like other ingrained traits of modern derby is absurd given that the culture is only 9 or 10 years old)

Darkjester wrote:

Derby Deeds Podcast had spoke at great length about the issue and with some great wisdom behind it.

Pardon me if this comes off harsher than I would like it to, but call me when ESPN does a piece OKing the situation.

Mercy Less wrote:

All due respect (because you know I love you, Bazooka Joe!) what works for one small league does not work for an international organization made up of thousands of people, spread out geographically.

All due respect and civility right back at you and everyone else on this site.

But all those other sports that operate on national/international levels do ban these relationships. Professional, olympic, collegiate, high school, etc. Are they not "international organization(s) made up of thousands of people, spread out geographically"? Again, I ask the question, why is derby immune/resistant to the concerns and lessons learned by every other sport in the universe?

Thank you,

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

i don't think anyone is on the side of bias, perceived or actual

oohhh quotes. i'm too lazy for them right now. you stated -

"The point here is that we have it within our power to easily eliminate a source of potential conflict, but we don't. Either because it's too inconvenient or too ingrained."

first off I'm just a beginner skater so I definitely can't speak as any authority on the matter, but I believe that what it boils down to is two different views on if we really do have enough great referees to avoid even the perception of bias.

I believe that everyone agrees that in the long term it would be in the best interest of the sport to remove even the perception of bias but, just like in the Olympics argument, Roller Derby hasn't been around long enough to have unaffiliated referees.

Right now I think the choice is between the perception of bias vs someone who is known to be great at their job. As a skater I will choose a experienced referee.

I think that everyone agrees that WHEN POSSIBLE it's best to avoid even the possibility of bias and as the sport grows that's going to be happen more and more often.

Point of order

Bazooka Joe wrote:

But all those other sports that operate on national/international levels do ban these relationships. Professional, olympic, collegiate, high school, etc.

I'm not really trying to enter this conversation too much, but I noticed your list of sports types was noticeably lacking the word "recreational", which is exactly the type of sport roller derby is. Just curious if your line of reasoning applies to that kind of sport as well.

Yes and No

PaRappa wrote:

I'm not really trying to enter this conversation too much, but I noticed your list of sports types was noticeably lacking the word "recreational", which is exactly the type of sport roller derby is. Just curious if your line of reasoning applies to that kind of sport as well.

Well, I hear what you are saying, but I don't really think it's accurate to call what modern derby has grown into 'recreational' any more. At least not at the level of ranked WFTDA teams and the sanctioned bouts and playoffs they participate in. When teams are selling thousands of tickets to games, when tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars are changing hands, when a national organizing body has paid positions, when video games are made and sold and when players travel thousands of miles to play, I think it's a bit beyond recreational. (and yes, I'll grant you that not everyone doing it is involved to that level)

I am literally losing sleep over this thread, so I am going to say a couple more things and then bow out. By way of explanation, my posts come from a love of derby, not a love of OUTRAGE or internet debate. Anything I have written is meant to be a discussion (or a plea), not an attack. If any of it was taken that way, I am sorry.

Thinking a lot about the topic in general and some of the latest posts, what I see happening is a possibly a difference in priority, possibly a difference in interpretation.

It seems like when I write:
"Player/ref relationships should not be allowed"
What folks read is:
"I accuse refs of being bad at their jobs"

When I say:
"The sports world will not tolerate this"
People hear:
"I don't think our refs are acting professionally"

When I suggest:
"Allowing player/ref relationships will hurt roller derby"
The concern is:
"Disallowing said will hurt people's feelings"

I do not say these things to impugn the refs or imply that they don't work their asses off to contribute to this movement. None of what I've written is an a reactive indictment, but rather a proactive attempt to stave off a potential source of hard feelings.

I don't know how else to explain my position, but again, I am concerned less about a ref making a questionable call on his or her relation (though that is ultimately something to worry about) and more about the negative impact on players, other refs, fans, media and on and on that perception of bias will unquestionably have.

I have heard players say "it's easy to win when you're f***ing the refs". I have seen the OUTRAGE that has permeated even here on this sheltered microcosm. It's not imaginary. It will get worse as roller derby grows and further penetrates the sports world.

I love derby, but derby is isolated, insulated, indoctrinated and inbred. Derby is the most self-absorbed sport around. (and I say that as a Red Sox fan)

Non-derby sports fans, sports media and national sponsors (not to mention IOC if you're into that) will not be impressed with arguments that boyfriend refs were convenient when we started or the assertions that 'everyone's cool'.

As usual, I've run off at the fingers, so I'll leave with a suggestion. Since someone said that there was no hard data to back up the idea that player/ref relationships were detrimental, perhaps a survey would be in order. I know it won't happen, but imagine if the thousands of potential uninitiated audience members at the upcoming Minnesota Lacrosse double header were polled. That would be a perfect demographic.

"Modern Roller Derby is an amateur athletic discipline that grew to international levels in a short time through grassroots efforts. As such is still somewhat common for working referees to have familial or romantic relationships with players they officiate. Please rate the effect, if any, you believe this has on the game."

Something like that, with your standard range of available replies. If 9,000 sports peeps say "no, everyone's cool" I'll gracefully concede the point forever.

Thank you,

Bazooka Joe
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
Northampton, MA
www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com

I totally respect your position, BUT

where is the real world solution? as discussed on Derby Deeds, the culture of our sport has made it so that refs, even ones not related to or dating/having relations with a skater have been socializing and partying with skaters and their leagues for years now. We are all friends, and some would even say, family. I defend this point myself because I consider Tootie (and many other officials) part of *my* family.

Do you suggest, since all refs are friends with their home leagues and other skaters from around the country, that we hire some outside source of totally fresh refs with no derby affiliation whatsoever? Who will train them - the experienced refs who may be tainted by the public's perception of bias? Who will run the WFTDA committee that deals with this when all the current refs are removed? Who in WFTDA will judge which refs could stay and head up new efforts, if any?

In fact, the WFTDA itself, which is made up of skaters who compete in all these tournaments, could also have "perceived bias" in the eyes of media, new fans, and corporate sponsors. Who says they are unbiased enough to even come up with a plan to regulate or change reffing?

What I am getting at is that we don't, and won't conform to the standards of other sports. We will most likely continue doing what we have done all along, which is do things on OUR terms, in the way that we can manage to do them. The mission of WFTDA has never been to conform to the standards of mainstream sports and to gain mainstream sports fans as a fanbase. The mission of WFTDA has also never been to gain large corporate sponsors on whatever terms corporate sponsors find palatable. Same goes for media deals.

I don't think WFTDA wants or likes to lose any newer fans, but I think newer fans might need to understand the sport, and it's infancy and scrappiness before ascribing a bunch of goals that were never part of this sport to begin with to its participants. Bazooka Joe had a point in his "By the skaters, for the skaters and forget everyone else" statement, that is well taken, and should be considered. That said, WFTDA has a lot of hard work ahead of it in fan relations to bridge this gap in understanding.

WFTDA Mission:
"Founded in 2004, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) promotes and fosters the sport of women's flat track roller derby by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportswomanship, and goodwill among member leagues.

The governing philosophy of the WFTDA is “by the skaters, for the skaters.” Female skaters are primary owners, managers, and/or operators of each member league and of the association. Operational tasks include setting standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determining guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues.

All WFTDA member leagues have a voice in the decision-making process, and agree to comply with the governing body's policies."

We're talking about tournaments

Nobody is saying that any changes need to be made for home games or regular season WFTDA games. Pretty sure everyone realizes that would be nearly impossible right now (but it should be looked at for the long term). The entire issue is based around the tournaments. There are more than enough refs at each tournament to successfully cover each game without any conflicts of interest. Use those refs. There's your real world solution.

By the way

*edited to add that none of this reply probably makes sense now that Chuckbowski's reply was edited to delete the 4 paragraphs worth of aggressively insulting me and WFTDA. But maybe my reply bears mentioning. *

I am not affiliated with WFTDA, nor do I speak for WFTDA. I am a former skater, and a former WFTDA BoD member. You and several other fans assume too much when you project that we (current and former leadership of WFTDA) are not fans of other sports, have no sports background, or haven't done research about how other sports handle things. You couldn't be more wrong.

Ten Days Later - This is a great sign!!

This is an incredible thread... ten days and still going strong. I also think it's a great sign that fans (and hopefully skaters and refs (WFTDA)) have a problem with this type of situation!! That means that the fan-base is expanding to new people that expect this to be a "real" sport, especially at the Championship Tournament. You can't eliminate bias, but you can take reasonable measures to minimize the opportunities for prejudice as well as the perception!

Of all the comments I've read through Tina Flay's (17NOV) definitely makes the most sense. The sport of roller derby has been growing at an incredible speed over the past few years. WFTDA has been helping to guide the growth by establishing new rules and training refs during that time.

I am a huge fan of roller derby (you ladies kick ass (and so do all the volunteers!)) and many other sports. I understand how difficult the refs' jobs are and that they aren't going to make the right calls all of the time. That doesn't stop me from yelling at the refs when (I feel) they make a bad call, but I do understand and appreciate their dedication to the sport!

This situation is not the first time that there has been a "perceived conflict of interest" in a WFTDA tournament, and unfortunately I don't think it will be the last time. Many of the skaters have grown with the sport and they have seen derby husbands and friends reffing the majority of their bouts. The fan-base that is coming into the sport expects the reffing to following some basic rules... one of those rules which is clearly established by WFTDA (and has been referenced throughout this thread) is that refs need to avoid perceived conflicts of interest. There simply needs to be enforcement of the rule... it may take a while to be enforced properly, but it doesn't seem like an unattainable goal. Start by enforcing that no ref from a specific team can ref that team's bout at a tournament... Wow, that was even easier than I thought.

Next step... if relationships exist, then the refs should be willing to disclose those before reffing a bout in order to avoid the negative perception that it obviously creates.

You can't eliminate bias, but you can take reasonable measures to minimize the opportunities for prejudice as well as the perception!

THE END

Now approaching three weeks....

...Cool.

With no end in sight.

WFTDA Referees

Hello, derby world,

We at WFTDA have received some messages on this issue, and are aware of lively discussion occurring both here and internally. Thanks for participating in discussion!

WFTDA does not currently have a non-fraternization policy for officials and skaters. I think everyone here understands the many levels of relationships that currently occur within our communities. As we grow, certainly, reviewing those policies and their relevance to our current conditions is appropriate and timely.

WFTDA invests in the training and development of our certified officials, and we are fully confident that WFTDA officials are capable of managing bias and conflicts of interest. We are assured that our officials, if faced with an unmitigable conflict, would remove themselves from an officiating position to protect the game integrity. We believe that officials can and do officiate skaters they know personally with equity, integrity, and according to the rules.

Most importantly, Congrats to Rocky Mountain Rollergirls! And to all the participating teams.
Women's Flat Track Derby Association

I can't believe there's even a debate about this.

I am shocked and stunned that ANYBODY, much less apparently a sizeable number of people, can entertain for even a moment the idea that a skater's boyfriend reffing a championship game in which she's skating in is anything other than a mortifying embarrassment for the sport of roller derby. In fact, just having a ref from one of the participating leagues involved in the championship game is a mortifying embarrassment---the personal relationship with the skater is just insult on top of injury. How can anyone not see this?!?!?

I'm aware of the whole "But we/the tourney officiating crew/the WFTDA trust him to be objective" argument. Besides the public perception arguments that thebigchuckbowski has identified, here's another reason I don't buy that:

How many decisions must a ref make in the course of a bout? Hundreds, easily. From the first whistle to the last, a ref is constantly evaluating where various actions and situations fall---was something incidental, or intentional? Insignificant, or meriting a penalty? Major penalty, or minor penalty? A number of those determinations are going to be borderline situations, and must be decided quickly. With the best will in the world, I don't see how any human being could not, subconsciously at least, give some benefit of the doubt in a borderline situation to someone he knows and respects (much less loves, if it comes to that). And, how many things must a ref keep track of during a jam? More than anybody really can. When deciding who and what to watch (again, possibly subconsciously), it's only to be expected that somebody would focus more on the people out there they don't know and trust.

I know that most refs are aware of this to a certain extent and most probably make a point of trying not to let it influence them. And in general, it probably doesn't, but here's the thing: the championship game was decided by one point. That means one player in the box instead of on the track for a ghost point when a jammer comes around for a scoring pass. Since that could have been due to four minors, that makes just about every one of the decisions I was taking about earlier pivotal in the outcome of that game. (Who knows what would have happened, but, it would not have ended when and how it did.) And notwithstanding the best intentions in the world, I find it tough to believe that over the course of a long, hard-fought battle like that championship bout, there was never, ever, not once, a situation where some subconscious benefit-of-the-doubt didn't come into play. That does not constitute cheating, and does not mean that the ref involved is a bad guy---it just means that he's a human being.

Obviously, it's impossible to have refs exist completely in a vacuum and people can be biased for all kinds of reasons, and people who are biased may or may not act on it. But anybody who has any respect for the integrity of the sport should see that it's vital to preclude these kind of obvious potential conflicts of interest.

Thank you

Bazooka Joe and Lemmy Hearya for stating it better than my poor writing skills would ever allow.

Here's my attempt...all you can do is try! (re:kittehs)

Balancing the psychological and financial realities

It's fun watching this comment thread blow up to many times the length of the actual article. Here's my 2 cents, take it for what it is worth.

I refereed for 2.5 years, including one season as the head ref of a WFTDA league. I made a point of bringing in guest referees to be the jammer refs despite having very knowledgeable and competent referees in my crew and in visiting crews. The reason is that while I trusted all of them in their conscious decisions to be impartial, I know that no one is in control of how their emotions and feelings subconsciously affect their interpretations. Jammer refs have the biggest immediate impact on a game so I made sure that job was done by someone with no emotional ties to the game and then put it on faith that any minor influences at the other ref positions (including mine) would be balanced out over the course of the game. If humans COULD turn off that subconscious influence, every pro team would have a referee or umpire crew that lived in their city and only worked all their home games because that would be hella cheaper than flying them in from all around the country like pro leagues do now. Crews made of referees who have interactive relationships with the skaters are a necessity of modern roller derby because of the limited-resource financial realities of the business and for the most part it works out reasonably well because people who care about the sport do their best to call it as they see it. But at tournament time, the stakes are bigger and the consequences of of the subconscious unintentionally affecting peoples interpretations can have far greater and more visible impact.

In a nutshell, I recommend that the WFTDA continue to allow referees on crews for their home league's sanctioned individual games but not on crews for their home league's games at regional and national tournaments. Discuss.

Perceived bias? I'm not seeing it

DerbyHelper wrote:

In a nutshell, I recommend that the WFTDA continue to allow referees on crews for their home league's sanctioned individual games but not on crews for their home league's games at regional and national tournaments. Discuss.

I think actual bias is far more of an important issue than perceived bias.

And conveniently, actual bias can be far more easier to analyze, investigate and prove. Just by going over the statistics that are collected.

I think perceived bias is a far sexier topic of discussion. But ultimately ends up going in circles. (And I also think that no actual bias occurred in this tournament).

Agreed, with a minor reservation.

WheelSmith wrote:

I think actual bias is far more of an important issue than perceived bias.

And conveniently, actual bias can be far more easier to analyze, investigate and prove. Just by going over the statistics that are collected.

I think perceived bias is a far sexier topic of discussion. But ultimately ends up going in circles. (And I also think that no actual bias occurred in this tournament).

For the most part I agree with you. Except in the part where you say you could analyze and prove actual bias through statistics. Did Rocky Mountain suffer more penalty troubles than Oly because of bias against them or did they simply commit more penalties? Additionally, while today's penalty tracker sheets do now track the jams penalties happen in, they don't track which referee called each penalty.

Video only helps up to a point. Unless there's a really wide-angle lens covering EVERYTHING it's simply too hard to pick out all or even many of the referee's hand signals. That's the main reason why you can't effectively train NSOs with video footage that's not been created especially for that purpose.

This is how I feel about it......

dear lord

this is all too much. so many FEELINGS!
the real problem is everyone is too adorable and you cannot expect adorable people to keep it in their pants all the time. its like holding in farts. sexy farts.

I have a totally sexy fart

for Scarlene for putting that so beautifully.

xoxo

hey chuckbowski, man...

...you're being very un-dude.

calmer than you are,
-moxxxie

oh no you didn't!

dumptruck, you totally did not just put an intervention clip on here! hahahah. i just watched that on thanksgiving and i have not been able to stop laughin' about that dude cryin' like that! hahahahah.

It was time for an intervention...

Scarlene, you hit it on the head Madame! And for those of you who don't agree with the "cuddly factor" that is a part of modern roller derby then, you're probably wearing "fruit bootz". A sure sign that you don't get it in the first place.

Workin' it out!,

Dumpy

Yeah ok, I'm biased...