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Championships Final: 1E Gotham Controls 1W Oly to Win 2011 WFTDA Championship, 140-97

BROOMFIELD, CO -- East Region queens Gotham became the WFTDA queens for the second time by defeating Oly in the final bout of the 2011 WFTDA Championships, 140-97. The win capped Gotham's second undefeated season and ended Oly's season one game short of a perfect run.

Penalties were an enormous problem for Oly in this one, as they ended up spending 48 minutes in the box (against 37 for Gotham) and saw key players Tannibal Lector and Sassy both foul out.

The lead changed three times in the first four jams as they went 2-0 Gotham, 3-0 Oly, 2-0 Gotham and 5-0 Oly to make it 8-4 Oly about five minutes into the game. Oly got the first powerjam opportunity on jam 5, as Wild Cherri ended jam 4 in the box; Atomatrix went out unopposed and ran up 10-0 in time to freeze Wild Cherri in the box. Stella Italiana picked up 4 on the end of the three-jam power play to leave Oly up early, 22-4.

However, that was the end of Oly scoring for almost ten minutes as Gotham took lead jammer status for 10 jams in a row. Jam 7 saw a lengthy, crowd-displeasing stall as the jammers weren't released for almost 50 seconds; Bonnie Thunders blasted into lead jammer status and a 8-0 for Gotham. Next, Wild Cherri had a major power jam opportunity as Oly overfilled their penalty box. Gotham slowed to a near stop and Oly's lone blocker couldn't catch Cherri, leading to a huge 24-0 jam. Gotham was suddenly in a 36-22 lead with 18:31 left.

There was a bit of a confusion in the penalty box next as the officials had to sort out how to handle Oly's complicated penalty situation; they'd be stuck with two blockers in the box for the next two jams, and Gotham capitalized with 3-0 and 4-0 to extend their lead to 43-22 with 16 minutes in the half. Oly's penalty problems continued to pile up in the half; at the break, they were looking at 23 minutes in the box against 15 for Gotham.

Gotham was up 52-22 with just under 10 minutes to play in the half when Oly finally broke their long lead-jammer drought with the help of a back-block major to Suzy Hotrod; however, Atomatrix oddly called it at 0-0 with Suzy still boxed. Stella Italiana finally got points for Oly on the other side of the power jam, but it was only a 4-0. With 7 minutes left in the half, Gotham was still solidly up 52-26.

That sequence changed Oly's fortunes in terms of lead jammer status, as they managed to take lead on 6 of the half's last 8 jams. Still, though,scoring was fairly low for the rest of the half, partially due to another couple of lengthy stall starts that got some more catcalls from the crowd. At the break, Oly was slightly narrowing the gap, getting it down to 59-38.

The second half opened on a very light 2-2 pack, but Fisti Cuffs and Sexy Slaydie managed to wall up and deny lead jammer Atomatrix any points before calling it at 0-0. Things stayed tight for three more jams until Gotham's Sexy Slaydie had an particularly strong turn in the pack to hold up Atomatrix long enough for Bonnie Thunders to lap twice for a 13-0 that gave Gotham their largest lead at 76-41.

With the score 79-44 and about 21 minutes left, Oly got a powerjam opportunity for Tannibal Lector; Tannibal got 10-0 and froze Cherri in the box to give Atomatrix part of the power jam. Atom took 5 and made the score 79-59 with 18 to play.

The next three jams saw an avalanche of jammer penalties - Oly lost Stella Italiana three times in two jams. One of her minutes was canceled out as Suzy Hotrod was boxed at almost the same second, but it was still a bad sequence for Oly as Gotham won it with 7-0, 10-9 and 3-0 frames to go up 99-68. As if that wasn't enough trouble for Oly, Tannibal Lector fouled out of the game during that sequence, leaving her team down one of its standouts with 14 minutes still left to play.

With about ten minutes on the clock, Fisti Cuffs, Sweet Sherry Pie, Kandy Kakes and OMG WTF hammered Atomatrix long enough for Suzy Hotrod to grab a key 14-0. That put Gotham up by 41 points at 113-72, and Gotham got a break on the next jam when jammer-on-jammer contact away from the pack between Bonnie Thunders and Stella Italiana got sent to the box yet again on a trip. The power jam went 17-0 to Bonnie and Gotham was solidly in control at 130-72 with only six minutes to play.

Oly's last best chance came with about 4 minutes left, when Oly had a power jam opportunity at a score of 140-72, but Hockey Honey was boxed during her run. While she did manage to get 9-0 out of it, Oly needed much more to make a dent in that Gotham lead -- and Sassy joined Tannibal Lector in the locker room on a foulout there, removing another of Oly's best players.

While Oly finished the game strong with that 9-0, a 12-0 to Atomatrix and 4-0 to Stella Italiana, it was too little too late and Gotham finished with a 140-97 victory.

Gotham ends their season with a 13-0 record in WFTDA sanctioned bouts; Oly finishes 13-1.

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An alternative headline....

"Gotham stays in control of a penalty-heavy Oly team to win their second WFTDA title, 140-97"

How about... "Gotham wins their second WFTDA title, 140-97"

I think it conveys the same exact point, while being a bit more objective. Or do you really want to point out how penalty-prone Oly/DMDD is???

Numbers are pretty objective.

According to the Rinxter stats, Oly had 48 penalty minutes in that game, which was the second-highest number for any team in any game during this tournament. Plus two of their best players fouled out. I don't see how acknowledging those facts is somehow problematic. Rose City had 50 in their game vs Kansas City. The median for penalty minutes was around 35.

headline

its just the headline. The headline for a story should be basic. By including penalty trouble from one team, you diminish the other teams effort. In the headline. Headline.
just my opinion. and edit, why couldnt it be, "gotham takes advantage of Oly penalty trouble"?

Confused

Are you seeing something I'm not? I just see 'controls', no 'penalty-heavy'. You can control the cleanest-playing skater in the world, so I don't see what supports an inference that the headline necessarily refers to penalty trouble. I see the penalty reference at the top of the second paragraph, which seems an appropriate position given what a substantial factor it was in the game.

To my mind, a headline should convey the key points of a story succinctly - for people to decide whether they want to read more or know enough (the latter part is as important as the former). Making it 'controls' actually makes the story a lot clearer and, to my mind, suggests the skill of both teams. A headline as vague as your proposed one could as easily be read to suggest that Gotham came out on top through sheer luck, whereas I think 'controls' suggests sustained fight on both sides (but more successful on one). Headlines should be clear, yes, and short, but that doesn't mean 'basic' - nuanced and information-rich are as important as skimmable and succinct.

(Sometimes my inner publishing-nerd gets out of its box.)

Front page headline.

Rinkworm is talking about the caption for the front-page photo. To be super pedantic about it, it's actually the rider. The headline is "Gotham Retakes the Hydra" which is about as basic as it gets.

As for the rest of your comment, thank you for saying exactly what I was going to say :) ... I am now going to enjoy an afterparty instead of arguing on the Internet about best journalism practices.

Ah

See, that is an argument for nuanced use of words! That thing's (closest to) a caption.

yeah! abolish riders! (well,

yeah! abolish riders! (well, just for this post, since i didnt get past my first journalism class)

I was confused too, but it

I was confused too, but it turns out the 'controls a penalty heavy' headline is on the photograph on the main page, not in the right-hand side latest news box.

Im sorry

Im sorry. Just give a team that worked their ass off (Gotham) against another team (Oly) that worked their ass off credit for winning a freaking national championship.
A simple "Gotham wins" would have been fine- instead they vaguely "stay in control" of a "penalty-heavy" team.
Im sorry I even mentioned it. Goodnite!

WHAT??? IT'S AN OUTRAGE I

WHAT??? IT'S AN OUTRAGE I TELL YOU!!!

Outraged, but not as outraged

I'm OUTRAGED at some of Gotham's non-derby tactics. I know it's in the rules, and I'm not as angry about it as I would normally be because Gotham would have won that game with or without all those power jam points where they just stood at the back of the pack and did nothing (ARRRRRRRGH). But they're totally deserving of the Hydra, even after I account for some of the slow derby tactics that I do not personally approve of. (And I totally called it on my blog, booya!)

I think I'm more angry because of how Oly had to "adjust" in the second half of the final, by needing to do the same thing Gotham was doing, for the most part: Not skate forward while having lead jammer or (especially) while on the power jam. Gotham was racking up points during power jams by having their blockers ignoring Oly's blockers to keep the pack at a standstill, whereas Oly was burning time off the clock by trying to skate forward to engage Gotham's blockers to where their jammer couldn't catch up. I know that's not what you want to do in the current rules to help yourself win, but ARRRRRRGH!

I admit I'm beating a dead horse here, but dammit, I'm going to beat this horse until it becomes glue so this will stick: A team should be punished when not doing anything or ignoring the other team. Penalties won't be enough, because if blocker penalties were really that useful, derby teams wouldn't allow the other team's blocker penalties to waste away during extended jam starts. If a team can't be allowed to skate away and take the initiative (or some other, yet-to-be-discovered solution) I can't see much changing even if some kind of start "shot clock" is implemented.

Counter-counter strategies

There are a few things you can do to counter the stalling tactics. Oly just didn't do them.

I think Gotham played that game really cleverly - it might not have all been skating forwards, but damn it was clever. That's one of the things I really love about roller derby, a clever play can beat an athletic play. Skating forwards isn't always the smartest thing to do.

Funny, because that's exactly

Funny, because that's exactly what I don't like about the evolution of this sport. Don't get me wrong - I love strategic play as much as the next person but in the end this is a SPORT. While my brain should certainly have to work, it shouldn't be working harder than my body. Otherwise we should all just stick to playing chess.

Big congratulations to Gotham on their win! Yes, they're clever but that doesn't trump the fact that they're also incredible athletes. Gotham is both the honor student AND the kid that can kick the honor student's ass.

Jasmine Facun
Dominion Derby Girls

That's why derby is The Best Sport

It really hit me between the eyes in this last year that Derby is a very fluid and complex sport - to my mind a lot more complex than the traditional American sports. You are simultaneously on offense and defense, and the situation changes in the blink of an eye. That's one of the reasons why it's The Best Sport.

While it's great that there's a place for ladies that just want to skate fast and knock people over, I think that place is somewhere other than the #1 spot.

So it makes me happy and proud to be a small part of this sport when a team like Gotham wins, because, as you said:

"Big congratulations to Gotham on their win! Yes, they're clever but that doesn't trump the fact that they're also incredible athletes. Gotham is both the honor student AND the kid that can kick the honor student's ass."

If you can do both better than than the other team, you win. Gotham figured out how to overcome the natural (and considerable) talents of Rocky Mountain and Oly, and win. But that's this year. Who knows what Rocky and Oly will do. If they love derby, they'll put their thinking caps on figure out the next clever way to advance the sport, and maybe reclaim the trophy themselves.

Anyway - much respect to all involved. I just love the brains and discipline as much as the fast bang boom part of it.

word

totoro75 wrote:

Anyway - much respect to all involved. I just love the brains and discipline as much as the fast bang boom part of it.

THIS.

Sport doesn't have to be EITHER athletic OR clever, and I love that Derby inhabits a beautiful space in the middle where it's both.

Either or Both

May B. Twisted wrote:

Sport doesn't have to be EITHER athletic OR clever

This is true. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

Like you said, it has to be BOTH. Sport is both athletic AND clever at the same time. Anytime someone makes a "smart" play in sports, they're doing something athletic and/or making a quick decision to make it happen.

This happens in derby when both teams are playing offense (and defense) at the same time. But it doesn't happen during jam starts or during power jams, it's too easy for one team to be just "clever" without being athletic. This is why my brain wants to explode when I see certain derby tactics.

I just want to see what WFTDA is planning to do about this for next year's rules. I'm excited about it, honestly.

Fair enough.

I remember the whole "Jammerless Jams" situation a while back where they started the jam over with the pivot as the jammer....or something like that. I'm glad they changed the rules to avoid that, because it was a bit silly.

If I have a disagreement with anything said or implied, it's the notion that Gotham or any other team is doing something wrong by exploiting the rules. Thems the rules. When WFTDA (by and for the skaters) gets fed up, they'll change them...and some teams will adapt to the new situation and some won't.

Anyway - I'm not trolling - I completely understand and sympathise with your point.

Nonsense

How is one team's jammer beating the entire opposing pack *by herself* not athletic?

How is a slow close start that requires really controlled aggression and strength not athletic? I admit it doesn't require speed, but it's still athleticism -- if you can drive the opposition pack forward with your strength in that situation, you're going to win. If your pack is good enough to control the opposition when you're both static to stop them moving in the way they want, that's athleticism.

Athelticism vs. TeamWORK

Lex Talionis wrote:

How is one team's jammer beating the entire opposing pack *by herself* not athletic?

It's not, assuming that the jammer actually needs to "beat" the entire opposing pack. If a jammer is forced to weave and dodge around and through four blockers by herself (or even with the full assistance of her blockers) then yeah, that's amazing.

But it rarely comes down to that, because all a jammer needs to do is push four blockers ten feet ahead of her teammates, and then POOF, they all disappear at the no-pack call, at which point the jammer doesn't need to do anything to beat them with athleticism. I really, really hate that.

Besides that, I hear people in the derby world say that derby requires "teamwork" and that derby doesn't rely on "superstars" doing all the work, like the "selfish" players in basketball who want to do all the offense by themselves. But...

Lex Talionis wrote:

How is a slow close start that requires really controlled aggression and strength not athletic? I admit it doesn't require speed, but it's still athleticism -- if you can drive the opposition pack forward with your strength in that situation, you're going to win.

Rugby derby pack starts exist--and I hope to soon to say "existed"--because one or both teams want to start the jam with all four of their blockers blocking the one opposing jammer. This often leads to dual 4-walls, where neither team's blockers are interested in giving their jammer assistance. There was a jam in the Oly/Gotham game, I think it was, where it was just slow-moving double-4-wall for an entire lap.

To me, this is blockers of both teams saying: "We're going to rely on our jammer to play offense all by herself because we don't want to do the work necessary to help her." Because if one of the blockers at the rear wall went forward to help their jammer, that would redefine the pack at the front, making it easier for the team at the front speed up...and harder for team at the back to get their jammer through.

Oly was trying to skate forward to help their jammer through, but didn't get any points due to the fast packs. Gotham was NOT skating forward and NOT helping their jammer, but was getting a crapload of points through dead-stopped packs. So effectively, Gotham was relying on their jammer to do all the work by herself, which helped them win; Oly was trying to play a team game, which contributed to them losing. This isn't right, people!

Besides, "driving" an opposing pack forward is not difficult. For one, everyone is on skates. If football players wore roller skates, they'd have a harder time holding their ground. But besides that, it's illegal for a blocker to bring a jammer to a dead stop on the track (direction of play penalties). So of course they're going to go forward, because the rules mandate that they do when engaging someone.

Lex Talionis wrote:

If your pack is good enough to control the opposition when you're both static to stop them moving in the way they want, that's athleticism.

But as NYSE and Gotham demonstrated during their runs at their respective Championships, a team doesn't need to use athleticism at all to get what they want when the situation allows for it.

During power jams (or any time, really), all a team wanting to slow the pack down needs to do is gang up on a single opponent, 4-on-1, slow her down, ignore her if she's a blocker, and then not skate forward. That takes coordination, but can you honestly say it's athletic to effectively block ¼ of an opponent and then inch forward, effectively waiting for the opposing pack to disappear at the no-pack call that is--by rule--an inevitability?

Penalty heavy?

Penalty heavy? I have never seen Oly get so many penalties ever.
Oly and RMRG were hit hard. Gotham seemed to be immune.
Gotham has some great athletes, but could the have beat RMRG or Oly without the one sided decisions?
We will never know.

The Gotham bouts reminded me

The Gotham bouts reminded me of the 2002 playoffs between LA Lakers and Sacramento Kings. Where a ref eventually came out of the closet and admitted that the NBA officials would guide how and what kind of calls they should focus on in order to favor the LA Lakers winning because it is better for marketing. I don't think WFTDA is that cleaver, but the reffing in the Rocky and Oly bouts did seem heavily biased against them.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3436401

ugh.

The Cheet wrote:

The Gotham bouts reminded me of the 2002 playoffs between LA Lakers and Sacramento Kings. Where a ref eventually came out of the closet and admitted that the NBA officials would guide how and what kind of calls they should focus on in order to favor the LA Lakers winning because it is better for marketing. I don't think WFTDA is that cleaver, but the reffing in the Rocky and Oly bouts did seem heavily biased against them.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3436401

i have no recollection of this scandal but this story just gave me the sickest feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Good/Bad calls happen to BOTH teams in a game

I usually stay out of this, but seriously, last I checked we all played by the same rules. In case you weren't paying attention, there were a lot of penalties on BOTH teams. Staying in my seat more than I'd like because someone is in the box is something I remember very clearly.

Giving credit where it's due, we practice A LOT by the written rules thanks to our wonderful ref and support staff. And playing by the rules that applies to everyone is part of the game.

Hard work, teamwork, doing a lot of homework and practice earned us this championship. Period.

This is just a fan's

This is just a fan's perspective. I don't have any allegiance with either of the teams. But, as a fan trying to watch two great teams play to their maximum potential. It was disappointing to see the star players from Rocky and Oly get expelled from the games so early on. Not to mention, how it seemed like Oly was at least 2-3 skaters down in every jam. I don't think either Rocky or Oly would have made it so far along in the playoffs if they were seriously that penalty heavy of a team. If I was gotham skater, the wins would feel a little empty to me knowing that the best skaters from the opposing team were not on the track for very long, and when they were on the track they had to skate on egg shells for fear of random penalty call.

It seemed like skaters were being sent to the penalty box for no apparent reason most of the time. On the other hand Gotham does have a much deeper bench so the number of penalties probably distributed across a broader number of skaters so that no one skater racked up enough majors to be expelled. I have to admit that I don't understand most of the rules. The game requires a PHD in reading wftda rules in order for a team to be successful. This last championship was extremely boring to watch. It seemed like Gotham was only winning because they had a better understanding of how the refs will interpret the rules, rather than having more skill than their opposing team.

BTW: How do you know there were a lot of penalties from both teams? I don't see the stats posted anywhere. What I do remember was that Tannable was expelled at the start of the second, Sassy was sitting at 6 majors for most of the game to be expelled mid second, Hockey Honey I believe was also expelled, Heffer was at 6 penalties most the time, who else was at 6 penalties? I can't remember everyone. Who from Gotham was expelled? No one. Gotham won against Oly's B team. There I said it.

Penalties and the slow game

You can get game stats (for games they track) through Rinxter's site: http://www.rinxter.net

The Cheet wrote:

I don't think either Rocky or Oly would have made it so far along in the playoffs if they were seriously that penalty heavy of a team. ... It seemed like skaters were being sent to the penalty box for no apparent reason most of the time.

Cheet, you're right about both of those things.

The games where Oly and Rocky got an extraordinary amount of penalties just happened to be the games where the team they were facing the extreme slow strategy: Rat/Rocky, Rocky/Gotham, and Oly/Gotham. This is not a coincidence, people.

I remember one jam where Gotham started drifting their blockers to the rear of the pack. One of Oly's blockers, not wanting to be caught between a rock (the Gotham rear wall) and a hard place (the 10-foot pack definition boundary), skated backwards along the inside of the turn in an attempt to get behind the Gotham wall and be the first to engage the incoming Gotham jammer. But as she was doing this, one of the Gotham blockers made a bee-line from the outside of the turn her from five feet away and made contact. The Oly blocker was sent off for a direction of play (clockwise blocking) major, even though she wasn't intending to do any clockwise blocking at all.

By the letter of the law, the Oly skater was correctly penalized. But what did she do that was wrong?

The Cheet wrote:

I don't think WFTDA is that clever, but the reffing in the Rocky and Oly bouts did seem heavily biased against them.

Cheet, your reference to the (alleged) NBA officiating scandals bring up an important point.

NBA rules are, as far as I know, fair for both teams at all times. That fairness is made unfair when referees decide to influence the outcome of the game by not calling the game by the rules.

However, one must assume that WFTDA referees are calling the game fairly and enforcing the rules correctly. There's no money involved here, and refs would have zero reason to favor one team over the other if they're not from one of the skating leagues.

But still, you're saying that it appears that Oly or Rocky had a lot of "biased" calls go against them. If the refs are calling the game fairly by the rules, but one team seems to be getting penalized more heavily than the other despite that...

...what does that tell you about the fairness of the rules themselves?

Logic breakdown

WindyMan wrote:

If the refs are calling the game fairly by the rules, but one team seems to be getting penalized more heavily than the other despite that...

...what does that tell you about the fairness of the rules themselves?

Surely it is up to the teams to play to the rules rather than the rules to adjust their intrinsic 'fairness' to suit a team's style of play...?

Illogical

Duncan Disorderly wrote:

Surely it is up to the teams to play to the rules rather than the rules to adjust their intrinsic 'fairness' to suit a team's style of play...?

That is correct. But my point is that if the rules remain as they are now, a team playing to Gotham's style means neither team would ever start a jam because they want to start at the back of the pack, no one would skate during a power jam because they want to keep the pack stopped for easy points, and there would be a lot of penalties called due to teams wanting/needing to move backwards within the pack in order to have a decent chance to stop the other team's jammer, even though they can only legally block in the forward direction.

Is that the kind of roller derby that will grow the game in a positive way?

Oly's B Team

Wow. I hope Oly is offended by that, it's no way to talk about a team of hard working skaters of Oly or RMRG. If three skaters are a crutch for your team, perhaps that's something to look at, but I really don't think that's the case for either league. At your request, since you are unable to find stats.... Educate yourself a little first.

Oly vs GGRD
GGRD Penalties
Minors: 106 Majors: 17 Box Trips: 37
Oly Penalties
Minors: 80 Majors: 33 Box Trips: 49
GGRD vs Texas
GGRD Penalties
Minors: 88 Majors: 25 Box Trips: 40
Texas Penalties
Minors: 77 Majors: 21 Box Trips: 37
GGRD vs RMRG
GGRD Penalties
Minors: 60 Majors: 24 Box Trips: 35
Rocky Mountain Penalties
Minors: 70 Majors: 31 Box Trips: 45

There appears to be a

There appears to be a disproportional amount of illegal procedures called against Oly (not to mention all the of the fore arms and back blocking). Did they suddenly forget how to play in the finals?

Thank you...

I'm glad someone mentioned this. People that are blaming the refs forget they are volunteers. They are doing a great disservice to the rest of Oly, who wouldn't have made it to the final without the complete team. You can't compare NBA refs, who are paid, to WFTDA refs. Why would they have a bias against one team? What purpose would that serve? The refs took a lot of unnecessary abuse this weekend. But they knew they would, that's why I respect the hell out of them. This argument "they called more penalties on Rocky & Oly on purpose" is ridiculous. Every ref is going to blow a call, they are not perfect. Because they are human.

As a neutral fan, (T2K3!!, in case you're wondering), the better team won. Period. End of story.

The refs themselves probably

The refs themselves probably don't have a bias. But, it does beg the same question that the NBA ran into with LA vs Sacramento scandal. The the NBA officials primed the refs by telling them to focus on calls that favor one team's style of play over another's. It was done for NBA marketing. LA simply sells more t-shirts and other swag around the world than Sacramento, and they will sell even more if LA wins, which NBA takes a cut of for profits. I doubt wftda has the same relationship with leagues around the world, but when you see Oly with 6 illegal procedure minors and 4 illegal procedure majors, and Gotham with only 2 illegal procedure minors. It does look suspicious. As if the two teams were playing under a different rule set all year. In the finals, the officials decided to use the rules that Gotham plays with. Sure, I'll agree that the team who knew the rules better won the 2011 Championships.

srsly? (again)

The Cheet wrote:

when you see Oly with 6 illegal procedure minors and 4 illegal procedure majors, and Gotham with only 2 illegal procedure minors. It does look suspicious. As if the two teams were playing under a different rule set all year. In the finals, the officials decided to use the rules that Gotham plays with. Sure, I'll agree that the team who knew the rules better won the 2011 Championships.

What kind of argument is this? Is this even an argument?

Would you argue that a guy who bowled a 300 game every time but foot-faulted on every one of his throws should have won the PBA title?

If my baseball team decided that three strikes was a walk and nine balls was a strikeout and we strolled down to first base after three-strikes-and-two-balls, are we somehow supposed to win the game?

I'm not a huge fan of the rules as they stand, but they are what they are, and the association's champions are, every year, the team who performed the best under that year's rule set. As it is in every single competitive sport in the history of ever.

Srsly!?

No really, seriously?!?

Gotham - congrats, because you fricken worked your asses off and you deserved it. I am sorry that you guys and all the other amazing teams in champs have to read BS like this.

But hey I guess I should realize that once the trolls are in full force we have arrived. But still sucks to read it. Plus is it just me or is it always a dude!?

It's always a paying customer

It's always a paying customer most likely.

paying customer

Oh you mean like, um, me?

News flash, you arent the only one who buys tickets to watch derby.

I have to agree.

I think HUGE congratulations are due to Gotham, Oly, Texas and KC right now. I am sad this isn't a looong thread about the amazing game changing plays we saw, or really talented skaters we admired, or training and strategy that got these teams to the top four. I feel ashamed that what they all get to read when popping onto the site today is a bunch of crabby speculation by supposed fans discrediting the top teams' hard work.

Though my comment is currently in the minority of recent complaints in this thread, I hope all the skaters from these teams feel supported by fans, excited about how their hard work has paid off, and as accomplished as they deserve to feel. You are amazing athletes, and earned your victories. Congratulations! THIS fan was blown away by you all this weekend!

Well played

I was very dissapointed to see so many critical and sometimes negative responses over the Championships.
Every team that came out last weekend played there asses off. As a player and a huge fan of the sport I was kept on edge most of the weekend.
What a great 3 days of play and mad kudos to the refs, NSO's and everyone that came out to help make this tournament happen.
Now regarding the Oly Vs. Gotham championship.
To me and maybe I am mistaken Gotham really did there homework on Oly. Knew that Atomatrix was going to be the go to jammer for Oly(I think everyone would know this) and set up very specific defenses to hold back the power house that is Atomatrix. Gotham played a very smart and skilled game.
Unfortuanely Oly did have penatly troubles but that doesn't take away from the fact that Oly is a hardworking team. I'm for PNW and I've seen these women in action during play and practice before. They give a 100% and I don't think Gotham or Oly appreciate the comments I've seen made against team character or work ethic.
Bottom line both these teams deservered to make this game and Gotham came out ahead. Does Oly maybe need to relook at team strategy for next season probably but thats not a call I'm going to make that is a call they will make as a team for next season.
So in a nutshell let's tone down the negativity and give credit were credit is due.
Maybe peoples intentions weren't to diminish either team by making the statments that have been posted but that is how it came across to me.

Stella Italiana lives where?

Two things: 1. Word is Stella Italiana lives in Iowa and Oly flies her in to just play bouts, is this true? If so I am speechless. Further if it is true they more than deserved to loose. She seemed fast but timed, would come about if she is a speed skater who has not been to many practices or games. 2. Oly continues to play a dirty game that lands them in the penalty box. Same as last year at Nationals. If they played cleaner their jammers and blockers would not all be hanging out together in the box while the other team rakes up points in Power Jam after Power Jam. Oly needs to play by the same rules as everyone else and stop thinking they are above the rest of the leagues. Maybe when (or should I say if) they are humbled they can win a championship and be respectable again.

On Stella

WFTDA did a piece with Stella. Check it out for more information.

Stella Italiana

Thanks for sharing that! It

Thanks for sharing that! It was the gossip all weekend. It really showed she did not skate with them on a regular basis. She was routinely walled up behind girls and had difficulty fighting her way past them. It seemed her only skill was speed and she needed to develop derby skills.

Everyone agreed, it may be within the rules but it seems dirty to fly in a speed skater from another city only to play games. (Although funny she thinks they are like family, she only sees them when it's fun and would obviously be spared the day to day league drama and promotional duties.)

With or without her Oly lost a championship again. Atom and the sisters continue to have issues with penalties, even penalizing out. It was sad, and somewhat pathetic, to see them in the box again this year. Clearly they did not learn from last years loss and are living in 09 championship when we were all stunned by Atom's speed. I humbly suggest they focus on playing clean derby with girls they skate with in their town rather than finding loop holes for speed skaters. That would get them the championship -- and respect.

"whatever"

First, let me say the fact that your user name is "whatever" and not something more identifying speaks volumes to me about your character. Either your too cowardly to let people know this is how you think and have to go under a this silly alias, or you have actually never spoken to an Oly roller and have no facts to back up your ludicrous opinions of us.

If you actually believe anything that you wrote about MY team, you verify that you know absolutely nothing about us. You would have no idea how much we deserve or don’t deserve, and weather or not we think were on some sort of pedestal higher above everyone else that plays derby. All speculation, and YOU are telling US that we need to be humbled? Get a life.

It’s weird to me that you seem to think that Oly plays by some rules unbeknownst to the rest of the derby world. If this were true, would we land ourselves in the championship bout three years in a row? Has any other league done this? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think not. Furthermore, I have no idea of our speed skater loophole that you speak of, but I assure you that I have yet to find a WFTDA rule banning speed skaters from the track. There is the loophole that I have witnessed on the track, the "non-skating while wearing roller skates" loophole which has allowed certain teams to win games against those teams that genuinely love rolling around the track. The only loophole (that I have witnessed) which makes fans “boo” at the skaters, what an advancement for this amazing sport.

You also mention how atom and the sisters continue to have issues and penalize out. Did this happen and I missed it? I believe we finished all of our games with the skaters you’re referring to, which shows even more ignorance on your part. Moving on to speak of a different skater, I can’t help but feel like Stella has offended you in some way. I swear to you she’s such a darling, and she would apologize to you if she has done something offensive. I can also confirm that she is positively part of our family, and not just someone we fly in and out of the state when it suits us.

Go ahead and actually talk to some of my girls, get an honest opinion with facts to back them up. You might actually stop going with the hype and see were not so bad, you might find that we are pretty cool chicks (not to mention amazing athletes). If you don’t want to, that’s fine. Continue to purchase tickets to bouts, knowing that were going to be in the game you’re most looking forward to watch.

Yeah: we wear brown, but I assure you each and every one of us wears it with pride.

Haha

Haha

Rinxter is amazing

All stats for all games can be found by going to www.Rinxter.net, clicking on the WFTDA logo then down clicking under tournaments and selecting Continental Divide and Conquer. It was so great to have stats immediately following all games. What a great tool for fans, announcers, and teams alike!

Indeed, Rinxter is a sweet,

Indeed, Rinxter is a sweet, sweet tool. It also can generate a bout report in PDF format for any bout that was tracked with the system. Here's the full report for the 2011 WFTDA Championship bout.

Defense

Defense wins championships.
If you can hold Oly to less than 100 points, you play good team defense.

What Gotham deserves credit for also, in Roller Derby, good defense forces the other team to commit penalties.

Other statistical facts provided by Rinxter:

Oly Jammer Box Trips: 6
Gotham Jammer Box Trips: 7

Oly Total Box Trips: 48
Gotham Total Box Trips: 37

Stats are good for fans too

Stats provided by Rinxter

GOTHAM - OLY
                                    1          2          F

GGRD                          59        81        140

Oly                              38        59        97
Leading GGRD Scorers:

 Bonnie Thunders 62 points (17 jams)

Wild Cherri 43 points (15 jams)

Suzy Hotrod 35 points (12 jams)
Leading Oly Scorers:

Atomatrix 37 points (18 jams)

Stella Italiana 36 points (19 jams)

Tannibal Lector 15 points (4 jams)
Leading GGRD Blockers:

 Fisti Cuffs 26 jams (0)
Sexy Slaydie 24 jams (+38)
Donna Matrix 23 jams (+1)
Leading Oly Blockers
:
Sassy 33 jams (-68)

 Hockey Honey 31 jams (-27)

Blonde an’ Bitchin 26 jams (-30)

D-Bomb 26 jams (-57)
GGRD Penalties

Minors: 106 Majors: 17 Box Trips: 37
Oly Penalties

Minors: 80 Majors: 33 Box Trips: 49

GOTHAM - TEXAS
                                    1          2          F

GGRD                          75        120      195

Texas                           48        65        113
Leading GGRD Scorers
:
Bonnie Thunders 98 points (22 jams)

Wild Cherri 67 points (11 jams)

Suzy Hotrod 25 points (13 jams)
Leading Texas Scorers:

Olivia Shootin’ John 66 points (17 jams)

Vicious van Go Go 36 points (15 jams)

Bloody Mary 11 points (13 jams)
Leading GGRD Blockers:

Fisti Cuffs 26 jams (+36)

Donna Matrix 23 jams (+82)

Sexy Slaydie 22 jams (+38)
OMG WTF 22 jams (+8)
Leading Texas Blockers
:
Luce Bandit 23 jams (-31)

Lucille Brawl 23 jams (-37)

Polly Gone 18 jams (-68)
GGRD Penalties

Minors: 88 Majors: 25 Box Trips: 40
Texas Penalties
Minors: 77 Majors: 21 Box Trips: 37

GOTHAM - ROCKY 
                                   1          2          F

GGRD                      75        112      187

Rocky Mountain         50        89        139
Leading GGRD Scorers:

Suzy Hotrod 88 points (12 jams)

Bonnie Thunders 76 points (15 jams)

Wild Cherri 19 points (10 jams)
Leading Rocky Mountain Scorers:

 DeRanged 64 points (15 jams)

Urrk’n Jerk’n 41 points (15 jams)

 Frida Beater 17 points (3 jams)

Triple Shot Misto 17 points (5 jams)
Leading GGRD Blockers:

Fisti Cuffs 30 jams (+8)

Donna Matrix 19 jams (-32)

Papierschnitt 18 jams (+14)

OMG WTF 18 jams (+5)
Leading Rocky Mountain Blockers:

Bob Loblaw 28 jams (-25)

Assaultin’ Pepa 27 jams (-13)

Psycho Babble 24 jams (-24)

Amanda Jamitinya 24 jams (-50)
GGRD Penalties

Minors: 60 Majors: 24 Box Trips: 35
Rocky Mountain Penalties

Minors: 70 Majors: 31 Box Trips: 45
Stats provided by Rinxter

Sorry to be so long-winded about it, but stats are amazing, and they not only help skaters improve their game, it helps fans understand what they watched.
The most common reason skaters commit penalties at this level of play is out of frustration when their team loses control of the game. Which is what happened here, Gotham controlled the game more than their opponents did.
One of the things I love most about roller derby is that it requires in so many different ways that a skater have as much control of her brain as she does her body. Women are better at this sort of multi-tasking than men. Men play their sports showing off brute strength and if that's what you like (and millions do), you have an array to choose from. (Except for basketball fans) I have never been bored or offended watching Gotham, or Rocky, or Rat, or any top level team skate slow in a bout, because the advantage they are seeking is usually clear enough for informed fans to see as well, and in fact, I rather like the novelty of seeing the action slow down for just a bit, so that I can almost watch the cogs turning in their amazing athlete brains. But I'm a woman, and I understand it might not be like that for all fans. If you have the sort of patience that women develop, it's not that long before the pack is racing again at top speed which is thrilling to watch, not only because it's fast, but also because it's amazing to see them execute brainy play at that speed too. I'm sure that WFTDA needs to do some ruleset changing, but I hope they don't gut the game of all the ways that these women exhibit their brainy strategy, and turn derby into another guy thing. I'm not against sports for guys, but don't you think there are enough of them for now?

also, Stella Italiana is amazing, I can't wait to see more of her. Oly's creative way of adding her to their team may raise a few eyebrows, but as far as I know there aren't any rules broken, so I'd never call it dirty.

Penalties

Back in 2006 when I was watching the Seattle Seahawks in their first and only Super Bowl, my friends and I were amazed at how lopsided everything seemed to be even before the game started. The stands were packed with Steeler fans, and they spent the pre-game show honoring a former Pittsburg Steeler. All the announcers could talk about was the fact that this was a chance for the Steelers to win their 5th Super Bowl. As the game started, we started to notice that the penalties seemed to be going against the Seahawks. When they scored a go ahead touchdown, the ref called a questionable offensive pass interference on the receiver, a rare call, and negated their score. Even John Madden, who was doing the color commentary, called it a "ticky tacky" call. But when Ben Rothlisburger or whatever his name is was tackled on the one yard line, and he shoved the ball over the goal after his knees and the ball had already hit the ground, and the ref called it a touchdown, one of my friends said, "THE FIX IS IN!"

WFTDA had to be excited to know that Suzy Hot Rod was featured in the ESPN magazine. Finally, roller derby was getting noticed by the mainstream media, and it was centered on Suzy Hotrod and Gotham. How magical it would be for Gotham to win the championship, after ESPN had played them up in several articles with virtually no mention of Oly or Rocky.

Now Rocky is known for being a team that gets a lot of penalties, but I've never seen them have two players ejected. I've been watching Oly for 3 years, and while I've seen Tannibal ejected maybe twice, I've never seen Sassy ejected ever, and yet, both her, Tannibal and Hockey Honey were ejected from the game. All season long, Oly has never had more penalties than their opposing team, yet their trips to the box far exceeded those by Gotham.

In front of where we were sitting were all the non-officiating NSO's for that game, and the majority of them were cheering for Gotham.

Hmmm?

Now all that being said to be pondered, I will say that Gotham played an amazing game, they out blocked Oly for the most part, and out jammed them as well. But the score might have been a little different if Oly wasn't always jamming with 1 or 2 and sometimes 3 blockers in the box.

Had the penalty count been even for both games, I can't say that Gotham still would not have won. Having read about the amount of preparation they put into this bout, they certainly deserved to win.

I was also completely frustrated by the fact that every time Oly got a power jam, they'd score 10 points and then call the jam instead of continuing to lap the track and try and go for 20 or 25. Also, when Oly had a power jam, Gotham would race the pack, and keep Oly from scoring. When Gotham had the power jams, the Oly blockers would just stand there and wait to be passed. WTF??

So yes, I think even without the lopsided penalties, it's quite likely Gotham would have won. They're an amazing team.

But I just find it odd that Oly was penalized so much heavier in this game than any other time I've seen them play, and I've seen just about every game they've played in the last 3 years.

Cheering for Gotham

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

In front of where we were sitting were all the non-officiating NSO's for that game, and the majority of them were cheering for Gotham.

Hmmm?

Can you tell me where you were sitting and where the NSOs were that you are talking about?

Non Officiating NSO?

And what exactly do you mean by "non-officiating NSO"? Were they working the bout or just hanging out watching?

I was working that bout so I want to know what it was you think you saw.

Glenn Beck the Derby Machine?

Oh, come on. "I'm not saying the fix was in, BUT ISN'T IT INTERESTING THAT..."

One of the complaints that some have against modern WFTDA rules, especially in tournament play, is that so many officials are used.

Just think about how many people would have to keep their mouth shut.

There were tons of the most knowledgeable derby folks in the world in that arena, and if there was the sort of conspiracy that you're implying, people would know. There was booing at various points as some calls (on both sides), but that's to be expected when there are fans of both teams in the crowd.

Damn, this comment just sickens me.

There was no "fix," geez

It's no secret that I'm probably one of the most critical, if not THE most critical, of derby rules and play of the game within those rules. If the refs weren't calling the rules correctly, I would have already written a 459,345 word novel about it on my blog. The refs were neutral and called the game as they were instructed to see it, and any mistakes they might have made were within the bounds of human error.

However! That doesn't automatically mean things were fair for Oly!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make some more glue...

Actually...

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

Now Rocky is known for being a team that gets a lot of penalties, but I've never seen them have two players ejected.

If you had been watching the 2010 Championship game, you would have seen PsychoBabble and Urrkn both foul out of that game on box trips as well. Two of the same players to foul out of the RMRG game vs Gotham. If I'm not mistaken, PsychoBabble also fouled out of one of the Western Regional games this year IN THE FIRST HALF. So it is not as uncommon as you are claiming for these skaters to accumulate so many penalties.

Also, maybe it isn't that they are accumulating so many penalties, but rather accumlating more majors than minors, and therefore, going to the box more. It's a possibility (I haven't gone over stats that closely, but it is a plausible explanation).

Hahaha

HAHAHAHA
Thank you. That was hiLARious!

so many things!

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

WFTDA had to be excited to know that Suzy Hot Rod was featured in the ESPN magazine. Finally, roller derby was getting noticed by the mainstream media, and it was centered on Suzy Hotrod and Gotham. How magical it would be for Gotham to win the championship, after ESPN had played them up in several articles with virtually no mention of Oly or Rocky.

This first.
If one of the writers at ESPN lived in Denver and loved derby, I'm sure it would've been about PsychoBabble. But from what I understand (from a public blog/article), a girl who writes there, lives in NY and skates for GGRD has been pushing to get derby some attention for a LONG time and finally had the opportunity, and what better body to display to do so? Every single league can and will use our personal contacts to garner attention for their local league in any media outlet possible, some just have bigger contacts than others and can get to ESPN and not just the Winchestertonfieldville Daily News Paper.

Also, why would ESPN bother to mention Oly or Rocky when doing an expose on Suzy Hotrod? That's like saying that they should have talked about Japan more in their piece on Hope Solo. The articles are about their BODIES.

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

Now Rocky is known for being a team that gets a lot of penalties, but I've never seen them have two players ejected. I've been watching Oly for 3 years, and while I've seen Tannibal ejected maybe twice, I've never seen Sassy ejected ever, and yet, both her, Tannibal and Hockey Honey were ejected from the game. All season long, Oly has never had more penalties than their opposing team, yet their trips to the box far exceeded those by Gotham.

Second.
O RLY? Rocky has an ejection or two in MANY games i've seen... banked AND flat. I'm a big fan of theirs and have seen any game they've played local to me in the past year, and watched any live feed i could get my paws on. It happens.

Also, I'm no expert on Oly games, but I do know that they get penalties like everyone else does- regardless of the caliber of athlete (and no one will contest that they are unbelievable).
Further, as YOU mentioned, they made some bad calls - i.e. calling off a powerjam rather than exploiting it to score more, not executing a powerjam kill with as much proficiency as Gotham, using timeouts at unwise times, etc.- which can affect a team and change the game no matter how great an athlete you are. Sure, you can have an amazing quarterback, but a bad play is still a bad play. It's a coach's job to teach players how to play the game intelligently, and it's the athlete's job to take that knowledge and apply their physical skills to it. A player that commits a penalty or executes a play with poor judgment is a liability no matter how good they are in ANY sport.

And to move away from these teams, I saw teams get in trouble that I DIDN'T expect...like Rose. And I saw teams that had penalty trouble at the final game of regionals clean their act up and come out strong at Champs...like Kansas City.

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

In front of where we were sitting were all the non-officiating NSO's for that game, and the majority of them were cheering for Gotham.

Third.
Non officiating NSO's? what does this even mean? Stop it.

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

But I just find it odd that Oly was penalized so much heavier in this game than any other time I've seen them play, and I've seen just about every game they've played in the last 3 years.

Fourth.
Penalties lost them the Champs last year too, by a controversial 1 point. The arguments weren't much different, but this time, since Rocky lost also, it's shifted against Gotham.

Bottom line: Great teams with great athletes blow it during the finals ALL THE TIME. That's why the finals are so riveting in sports. Saying that it was "fixed" or Gotham was "favored" is just silly.

Is Oly the best group of individual stand out athletes (with resumes to boot!) in the game of roller derby? Maybe. Actually... yeah, probably.

Is Oly the best team playing the game of roller derby?
Not this year. They were in 2009. in 2010, Rocky was the best team playing the game of roller derby, even if only by 1 point. in 2011, it's Gotham, by more than 1 point. I'm super excited to see who it will be next year!

Fifth and final.
Congratulations Gotham, Oly, and the other 10 teams who made it to Champs. I have an immense amount of respect for the ferocity you brought to the track this weekend, it was an incredible weekend of gameplay.

penalties don't come out of thin air

I find this whole thread utterly comical when it implies that a team couldn't control itself and committed a bunch of penalties and robbed itself of a victory. Or when it audaciously implies -- or outright states -- that the referees somehow changed the rules of the game to rob a team of victory.

The nature of the rules are such that you commit penalties when the other team forces you into a discomfort zone or confuses you.

Penalties don't happen in a vacuum.

If Rocky, Oly, or any other team that wound up with penalty trouble this weekend had skated against the Northern Fredonia Fresh Meat Whoop-De-Whoop Brigade, they would have committed 3 minors and zero majors in sixty minutes.

Penalties do come out of thin air

Who needs stats?

For those of you who've purchased the Championships High Quality feed...

~21 minutes in: Watch as D-Bomb goes to the box for a counter clockwise major for merely skating forwards, slowly, while the Gotham blocker skates into her back - nudging her forward. (No minors? http://wftda.com/rules/20100526/section/6.1)

~23:34: Cherri hits the pack, Gotham blockers intentionally skate to the outside/slowing; Hockey Honey bridges. Refs don't see it. So Sassy goes to the box for blocking while out of play.

~23:50: Hockey goes to the box for forearm, while she holds her arms into her torso and Gotham skaters initiate contact with her

~24:03: Gotham intentionally slows the pack while Hockey Honey exits to serve her penalty, using Hockey Honey as the goat to define a slower pack

~24:06: Rettig goes to the box for a... Low block... ??

~24:20: Gotham jammer high blocks D-Bomb (no penalty)

... and something about Sassy leaving the box early and needing to serve double time.

The Cheet is right. You do need a PhD in WFTDA rules to ref this game.

voted down but no replies?

The leaving the box thing came up at Westerns too. A skater who is told she can leave the box, does so, and is then penalized for leaving too early. Officials screw up, skater penalized, makes perfect sense.

I know people want to be good sports and rally behind the winner(s), but at what point is it important to point out poor officiating calls? Is there any accountability process? Do the refs review the footage to see what they did right and what they got wrong? I wonder if people would be more happy with a call by call analysis that highlights the good and bad penalty calls on both teams in a given bout. In any given bout both teams are going to get away with things that should have been penalized; both teams will receive penalties that have been incorrectly accessed; one hopes these even out over the course of the bout, but sometimes they may not. I know no one wants a sport to devolve into every bout being challenged due to reffing; but I hope everyone wants a sport where the reffing continues to improve, which may require some honest observation on how fairly and consistently rules are applied.

I distinctly remember a jam in the final

Stella Italiana and Bonnie Thunders away from the pack. They're coming through turn 3, which is directly in front of the textcasters and Sin City Skates along with a bunch of Denver skaters. We have a GREAT view of the play. Stella comes in to try and block Bonnie, Bonnie forearms back and pushes her down, Stella falls as a result of the forearm, Bonnie trips over her, Stella goes to the box on a major trip.

Our whole corner explodes in WTF REF ARE YOU BLIND THAT WAS THE WORST CALL EVER! We're still complaining about it 90 seconds later when Bonnie has just finished scoring 18 kajillion points in the jam.

So then, between jams, the slow motion instant replay goes up on the screen ... and it is TOTALLY different from what we thought we saw two minutes ago. No Bonnie forearm, just Stella overcommitting and wiping out in front of Bonnie, causing the trip, and the referee unquestionably, without a shadow of a doubt nailed the call and we're all like "Oh. Uh. I guess that was a pretty good call."

My point is: at this level of play, a call-by-call analysis pointing out the "good" and "bad" penalty calls is by no means going to be more accurate than the actual calls made and is likely to be less accurate.

As for your question about "is there any accountability process" -- again, at the tournament level of play, there are WFTDA operatives there whose only job is to sit in metaphorical sniper nests with the metaphorical crosshairs of their metaphorical high-powered rifles on the refs. And the refs definitely know it.

I've never worked penalty box

I've never worked penalty box in an actual bout, but my experience in scrimmages is that every time a skater left early it was the skater's fault. In fact, I can't think of a way a penalty box official would mess up in a way that would result in the skater's further penalization. How did it happen?

I am unaware of any official requirement for refs to watch their own footage, and I doubt there is one being how more bouts don't have video archives than do. I know there's at least one ref that watches footage and I suspect there are more. I definitely enjoyed reading that article, and I recommend others do as well.

Boo hoo

I can't believe after an absolutely amazing tournament of the highest calibre FLAT TRACK roller derby I've ever seen, that people still have to whine and complain that the game doesn't look like they want it to. You want a game were skaters skate forward and turn left? Watch banked track, or ever better short track speed skating.

Congratulations to Gotham for playing an amazing nuanced game of flat track roller derby, and to all of the women who played so extraordinarily this weekend and who are developing the game the best way they can.

This is their sport, people, not yours. If you don't want to go along for the ride, get off the bus.

I can believe it. This is

I can believe it. This is sports. This is what sports fans love to do. What's more fun than sitting around on Monday morning talking about blown calls, awesome moves, stupid rules, and how the game should be changed? I agree that it's a bit comical to read the conspiracy theories, but it's nothing new. The bigger derby gets, the more fans get in on the fun, the more water cooler talk and arm-chair reffing we're going to have. I try to absorb what good ideas come of it and shrug off the whackos as a sign that derby is attracting the masses. Yay for that.

And yay for a great tournament. I think there were more exciting games at this years Champs than ever before. Sweet.

Sports plus Passion times Popularity

(to the power of being the sport that grew up inside the internets)

equals the amount of Derby Bile that gets generated no matter what happens.

Which is a lot, apparently.

I agree, the wild conspiracy theories and ref-hating are troubling, but also a sign of sport normalcy.

Bias Against Oly

I started watching Roller Derby in 2009 in Seattle. I was a Rat City fan (still am) but Oly became my favorite team after I saw them play down in Olympia. Their speed and skill and they way they totally dominated their opponents was very impressive. But I started to notice that there was a lot of negative talk about Oly. At the Western Regionals that year in Denver, I put on a Rat City shirt during one of their bouts, then I put on an Oly shirt over the Rat shirt for the Oly game. At the end of the day, I walked onto the shuttle bus which was filled with skaters from the many west coast teams to go back to the hotel, still wearing my Oly shirt. As soon as I faced all the skaters, I heard boos, and one skater said loudly, "You don't want to get on THIS bus wearing THAT shirt!" Not wanting to be hated by everyone, I took off the Oly shirt to reveal the Rat City shirt underneath, which got the response from another skater, "That's much better!" This was coming from skaters, not fans.

The following year, when Rocky came to play Oly in Olympia, a few if the Rat City girls came down to cheer for Rocky. Even one of Rat City's cheerleaders put on Rocky colors and led the cheers for Rocky against Oly. Rat City has the huge Key Arena to skate in, they've set attendance records several times, but still they resent their superior sisters just a few miles to the south.

Clearly, Gotham Roller Derby are the Chosen Ones, and Oly is the team everyone loves to hate. So is the officiating biased? I don't know. Awful lot of penalties against Oly at this years championship bout.

Atomatrix gets knocked to the floor by a Kansas City blocker, another Kansas City skater conveniently trips over her through no fault of Atomatrix, and Atomatrix gets sent to the box. If that's a legal call, then what a great strategy, knock a jammer down and have another of your blockers in place to purposely trip over her and then the jammer goes to the box.

When Roller Derby was a sport that about skating faster and more agile than your opponents, nobody could touch Oly. Now, Roller Derby has become a shoving match, who can push their way through a wall of bodies.

Fans don't want to see a shoving match at the start of every game. Which leads me to...................

Resentment

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

The following year, when Rocky came to play Oly in Olympia, a few if the Rat City girls came down to cheer for Rocky. Even one of Rat City's cheerleaders put on Rocky colors and led the cheers for Rocky against Oly. Rat City has the huge Key Arena to skate in, they've set attendance records several times, but still they resent their superior sisters just a few miles to the south.

That cheerleading, justified or unjustified, probably has its basis in a bunch of Rat City skaters moving on to skate for Oly rather than or more so than resentment of Oly's excellence.

Cheerleading

Yep, I wore red & black, and led cheers for RMRG, because I'm a fan of RMRG.

It's not because I resent Oly, or resent the fact that Rat City skaters moved to skate for Oly. [laugh] Far from it! I just love watching the ladies from Rocky Mountain skate.

I've also cheerleaded for Emerald City, Jet City, Bay Area...

Don't insert so much ill will behind cheerleading. It's just fun. ;)

Clarification of cheering

I should have clarified it to a bunch of Rat City people cheering for Rocky as opposed to cheerleading (a cheerleader) for Rocky--didn't mean to cover you with a broad brush.

RE: Cheerleading

I like RMRG too. In fact, they're the team I root for unless they're playing OLY. I noticed that many of the OLY and RMRG skaters are very friendly to each other. During the warm ups before their bouts, they are always talking and laughing together as they skate around the track. On the other hand, I paid attention to the warm up for the Oly/Gotham match and I didn't see one skater from either team say a word to the other.

Interesting Dynamics

Watching the bout from a distance, I also got the sense of cooler relations between Oly/Gotham prior to and after the bout from pictures and video. I guess that can happen with people and teams who don't know each other that well nor have bouted all that much. Plus, I believe Oly was more comfortable skating a more uptempo meat and potatoes style derby team like Rocky that just skates hard and does a lot of hard hitting one and two blocks. With Gotham, they probably anticipated all sorts of alternative blocking looks that would throw them off their uptempo game, and by golly Gotham did.

This is because

some of the Oly skaters and some of the Rocky skaters have been skating together and against each other in speed skating competitions since they were little girls. There is more than one interview out there in the world where Atomatrix or DeRanged talk about how excited they were to be able to compete against each other in roller derby. They are old friends and rivals, since before modern roller derby existed. There's no other big story behind this friendliness, or a "coolness" to Gotham.

Shirts

There are shirts on sale here in Minnesota that say "My favorite teams are the Vikings and whoever plays the Packers". There are teams that other teams' fans love to hate in every sport, and frankly, hatred of a particular team lends legitimacy of the sport to neofans' eyes. It makes it seem like every other sport.

It's normal for professional

It's normal for professional sports to review reffing after controversial bouts. To sit around with a delusional sense that nothing went wrong is just bull. It's bad for the sport as long the rules remain as they are, and on center stage during championships to see such an abuse of the rule set is disgusting. It probably did more damage to the sport than any thing else, especially since the world is watching now. I mean really, how many "boring", "occupy pivot line" signs are needed? It's the skaters who are complaining. How would you like it if your team worked their asses off to make finals only to get robbed by interesting rules interpretation at the end? If you don't care about winning and just want to skate and party, then play rec league.

Getting Rid of the Rugby Starts

I agree that it can't be very good for the sport of Roller Derby when the new style of play elicits boos from the crowd. Roller Derby was set up to have blockers start at the pivot line, and the jammers start at the jam line. This way of playing benefits teams like Oly who are fast and agile. So the inferior teams started exploiting loopholes in the rules to turn what should be a measure of the skill, speed and agility of the skaters into a shoving match. Now it's about who can push their way through a wall of bodies. Gee, that takes a lot of skill.

When someone goes to their first derby game, they get a program, and usually they'll be a page for newbies that explains how Roller Derby is played. It says that the pack lines up at the pivot line, and start to SKATE when the first whistle blows, then the jammers go on the second whistle, after the pack passes the pivot line.

It does NOT say: the pack lines up directly in front of the jammers, and when the whistle blows, they push and shove each other until one of them somehow manages to break through.

It does NOT say: the first whistle blows and the skaters just stand there doing nothing, while the crowd gets irritated and starts booing and yelling "BORING!"

In football, there is such a thing as legal and illegal formations. If a team doesn't line up properly, they get a penalty. In college volleyball, there are illegal formations. If a player doesn't line up properly, they lose the point.

Why not in the new rules have a specific legal formation that the skaters have to get in, such as all skaters except the jammers have to line up within 8 or 10 feet of the pivot line, and have 10 seconds to pass the pivot line, or the skater will be boxed. No one can block another skater until they pass the pivot line and are "in play." This will eliminate the stupid shoving matches at the jam line that everyone, fans, refs and most players hate. Let's make derby a fast paced sport again revolving around skillful skating and not who can shove the hardest or who can piss off the crowd the most by standing around like a boxer who continues to sit on the stool after the bell sounds.

Banked track derby

Banked track derby incorporates another line behind the pivot line, creating a sort of box. All players must line up inside of this "box."

I would love to see flat track follow suit... something like this might alleviate the problem.

Ask And Ye May Receive

The rumor I heard at Champs was that USARS is incorporating that three line set up into their draft Derby ruleset. After the first whistle (the rumor continues) the blockers and pivot have 5 seconds to cross the pivot line, when the second whistle sounds releasing the jammers. Any blockers still in the box get majors. The movement of the pack out of the box establishes a minimum pack speed for that jam.

I'd love to see this ruleset be beta tested. Obviously, it would prevent Rugby starts and hanging out behind the pivot line to burn penalty time. It would make knee starts and spliting the pack to release jammers unneccesary. The minimum pack speed might well bring an end to stopped walls, slowing the pack or knocking the jammer out and skating backwards depending on how it was structured and enforced. It brings up a laundry list of questions, but like the no minors tests this year, it could help speed up the game and reduce the "Let's skate forward" chants.

Of course, all this is rumor and USARS is not WFTDA, but such a ruleset would move flat track Derby closer to its roots, with more emphasis on the "Roller".

Pack Speed Line

Really? That's interesting. I had thought something up like that after reading RDIT's article on One Whistle to Rule Them All.

http://www.rollerderbyinsidetrack.com/features/2011/one-whistle-to-rule-...

It'd be great to see how all that plays out!

~rzr

Starting formation

Classic derby rules required teams to start in a designated formation: Pivots at the front, blockers in the middle, jammers at the back, alternating team players in (mostly) a line from front to back. Failing to do so in a reasonable amount of time (think the 30-second lineup clock between jams now) resulted in a penalty.

Roller derby needs this, because otherwise, skaters would lineup wherever they hell they want...which is exactly what's happening. (Can you imagine what football would be like without pre-snap formation rules for the offense?) It's the only way to make a jam start fair for both teams, because it would eliminate any advantage to either team if their bench just happened to be closer to the jammer line or pivot line.

For the type of people who like the pre-jam "strategy," you can make it so only two or three blockers from each team are required to line up in a rigid formation before the jam starts, if only to guarantee the pack is defined BEFORE the jam start, with the pivots on the pivot line, a good distance away from the jammers.

It used to be that way

Under the WFTDA 3.1 rules, the pack lined up under the classic formation:

4.2 PRE-JAM FORMATION
4.2.1 Prior to the start of a jam, all skaters must be in formation with the Blockers in front of the Jammers. The Pivot line is a straight line across the track at the head of the straightaway. The Jammer line is exactly 30 feet behind the Pivot line. The Pivots line up behind the Pivot line with the Blockers behind them.
4.2.2 Pivot Starting Position: Pivots line up in the front of the pack.
4.2.3 Blocker Starting Positions: Blockers line up behind the Pivots in two rows.
(there's a diagram on page 8: http://wftda.com/rules/archive/wftda-rules-3.1.pdf)

The following 4.0 revision eliminated the requirement:

4.2.1 Prior to the start of a jam, all skaters must be in position with the Blockers in front of the Jammers. The Pivot line is a straight line across the track at the head of the straightaway. The Jammer line is exactly 30 feet behind the Pivot line.
4.2.2 Pivot Starting Position: Pivots generally line up in the front of the pack. Only the Pivots may line up on the Pivot line.
4.2.3 Non-Pivot Blocker Starting Positions: Blockers line up behind the Pivots as demarked by the hips. If a Pivot is not on the Pivot line, Non-Pivot Blockers are not required to line up behind her.
(Page 11, no pack start diagram: http://wftda.com/rules/archive/wftda-rules-4.0.pdf)

USARS rules

No need to speculate on the USARS rules.

http://usarollersports.org/news/2011/09/23/usars-roller-derby-rule-set-e...

You can read them online.

You're behind.

GeneGenetheDerbyMachine wrote:

I agree that it can't be very good for the sport of Roller Derby when the new style of play elicits boos from the crowd.

That's not the "new style", that's last year. That's why there were maybe two or three that I saw over the course of the weekend. Most of the starts were the next evolution, the rugby scrum, which is very exciting.

Rugby starts as a sign of inferiority and lack of skill? Really?

We must not have watched the same tournament, because I never heard anyone booing the rugby starts, or whatever they're called. They definitely booed the starts in which no one moved, or in which crossing the pivot line was egregiously, deliberately delayed, but that really didn't happen much. The rugby starts, in contrast, seemed relatively well received.

Sure, it was sort of a shoving match, but to pull it off without the jammer back-blocking or the blockers holding hands/locking arms can't be easy. And these starts were surprisingly effective at building anticipation and tension. In that way, they were much more like older forms of derby than you give them credit for. You simply didn't know which jammer was going to explode through those walls until it happened, and every time, it was like "Holy crap, how did she do that? Yeah! Go go go!"

"Gee, that takes a lot of skill," you say with sarcasm. Well, yes. Yes it does. For a while I just watched Bonnie Thunders's feet whenever she encountered blockers, whether at the start or in the middle of a jam. It was astonishing...I mean, like, flipping between toe-stops and rolling with agility on a level I hadn't seen before. Plus she had such instantaneous power, she could force her way through an opening where there seemed to be none before. I don't see how you can watch something like that and see that as a sign of inferiority!

Rugby starts DO take skill and athleticism

mb5311 wrote:

Sure, it was sort of a shoving match, but to pull it off without the jammer back-blocking or the blockers holding hands/locking arms can't be easy. And these starts were surprisingly effective at building anticipation and tension. In that way, they were much more like older forms of derby than you give them credit for. You simply didn't know which jammer was going to explode through those walls until it happened, and every time, it was like "Holy crap, how did she do that? Yeah! Go go go!"

I swear I held my breath each time! The anticipation is exciting. Just when you thought one jammer had it, suddenly the other one would pop out. The scrum is not the problem. The not skating is the problem. And you bet it takes skill to pull it off, and it takes skill to get through and it takes athleticism too. There is a lot going on in there. Shoving and pushing forward and trying to control the push. As a jammer you need explosive energy to pop out that opening that might appear for a millisecond.

And if anyone watched the Rocky/Gotham banked track game last night will have noticed that even in the bank track rules a scrum was pulled off.

Tournament MVPs

While they were quickly mentioned after the last game, I've not been able to find a list of the tournament team MVPs anywhere.
Can you help me out here Justice? Just working on my scrapbook for the 2011 season.

MVP's

Minnesota-Medusa
Naptown- Amooze Booche
Charm- Joy Collision
Rocky-Bob Loblaw
Nashville-Rambo Sambo
Kansas City-Eclipse
Rose City-Scald Eagle
Philly-Shenita Stretcher
Texas-Olivia Shootin John
Gotham-Wild Cherri
Windy-Varla Vendetta
Oly-Hockey Honey
Tourney MVP-Kelley Young KCRW
At least this is what I wrote in my program.

Final 4 Refs

There were refs involved in the outcome of the final 4. 3 of the top 4 teams have experienced refs as coaches or managers.

just congratulations

Congrats to Gotham and all the teams who played in the championship - everyone deserves a lot of credit for the hard work that got them there!

Oly was beat by the stronger more physical team

There is nothing inferior about a team being able to control and dominate another team.

Here is how I explain it. Teams like Oly rely on the long game, the revolution game of going in circles as fast as you can. This is great against teams that do not present a unified front because it is easy for a jammer to beat a blocker one-one-one.

Think of a footbal field and the players that play within. Oly plays as if they wish to field a team of wide-receivers or cornerbacks, the most athletic, talented people on the field. That type of game calls for finesse.

It is a periphery type of game that requires a different skillset to the players that play between the tackles.

Because so much of derby has been centered around the ooh's and the aah's those type of electric players are often valued, and they often shine when playing weaker teams.

However, in my opinion derby should be looked at as more akin to the type of game that happens between the tackles, in the trenches near the line of scrimmage in football.

The width of the track is only 13-15 feet wide.

Gotham played the width as a pack, while Oly played the length as pairs.

In my opinion the team that prepares to play the width is the superior team. It takes a different skillset, different training, different conditioning.

Did anybody notice how Oly's jammers wore down quickly later in the game while Gotham's were still going strong?

It is because it is a whole different experience to push through a pack than going really fast in circles juking people. The former requires a much tougher athlete.

If four blockers, cannot keep a jammer from pushing forward they should learn how to block better as a pack. They should learn to apply physical and psychological pressure on the jammer to keep her from wanting to come forward.

Pressure creates fatigue and frustration which leads to mistakes, like that major back block by an Oly jammer late in the game that was obviously born out of frustration.

Eventually the teams that learn to field strong, physically dominating blockers that can hold the point and impose themselves on opposing teams coupled with hard-nosed aggressive jammers that always push the other pack forward will dominate the sexy athletic team that is loaded with superior individual athletic talent.

Remember the playing field is only 13-15 feet wide.

Jodee (Fidela's husband)

Let's Call it SHOVING DERBY from now on

I was attracted to Roller Derby because I enjoyed seeing skillful and fast skating. Shoving is not skating. It's shoving. If that's what Derby is going to be now, shoving matches at the jam line instead of what it's supposed to be, then let's not call it Roller Derby anymore. Let's call it Shoving Derby. Whoever can shove the most, whoever can push the most, wins. Yes, Gotham is the new National Shoving Derby Champions. Congratulations.

No, they're the WFTDA Champions.

That is the team that won withing the current ruleset. Oly could have played the same game as Gotham, but they played the same game they've been playing their whole existence.

Perhaps you don't really like roller derby, you like your own idealized version of roller derby -- the version that only exists in your own head.

Actually

You could look at it that they aren't playing within the ruleset.

4.4 STARTS
4.4.1 The pack begins rolling on a single whistle blast from the Official.
4.4.2 Once the rearmost pack skater has crossed the Pivot line, the referee whistles the
Jammers to begin their sprint through the pack with two short whistle blasts. Jammers
may not be accelerating at the Jammer starting whistle. They are, however, permitted to
be moving, coasting or braking.

That's the entire section on starts. I'm not sure if either of those things occurred the entire weekend. So, technically they're NOT playing by the rules. The problem is that there's no penalties enforcing the rules in this case which means teams aren't forced to play by the rules.

but there is no pack

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

You could look at it that they aren't playing within the ruleset.

4.4 STARTS
4.4.1 The pack begins rolling on a single whistle blast from the Official.
4.4.2 Once the rearmost pack skater has crossed the Pivot line, the referee whistles the
Jammers to begin their sprint through the pack with two short whistle blasts. Jammers
may not be accelerating at the Jammer starting whistle. They are, however, permitted to
be moving, coasting or braking.

That's the entire section on starts. I'm not sure if either of those things occurred the entire weekend. So, technically they're NOT playing by the rules. The problem is that there's no penalties enforcing the rules in this case which means teams aren't forced to play by the rules.

they start on their knees, thus there is NO pack. If they all started upright then the second whistle doesn't blow until 4.4.2 happens or the pack is split creating a no pack situation.

That's exactly the point

The way that section is written is what the writers always intended starts to look like. Otherwise, starting on the knee and the jammer whistle when no pack is called would be a part of this section. The jammers are SUPPOSED to start with every blocker at least 30 feet in front of them. Instead, we have this cluster that we have now because there is no penalty for any blocker that doesn't do what they're SUPPOSED to do based on the way the rules are written.

Think of it like this. The rules could say that there should be "no blocking to the back" but if the rules never explicitly lay out the penalties for blocking to the back in 6.1, then you could freely back block all you wanted because the refs would have no way of enforcing "no blocking to the back."

Actually

Oly did start playing the same game and got booed. Oly doesn't mind if you boo them for who they are or uniforms(its there brand), but boo them for the game they are playing is hurtful and they feel bad that they had to compromise to play the game. Hopefully Oly will find a way to not have to compromise in 2012 and continue to win on athleticism, speed and footwork.

"Hurtful"?

I like Oly. I would have been happy no matter who came out on top at Championships. But it's "hurtful" to be booed? I'm sorry, but this is a sport. They choose how they play, and people choose how to react to them.

Nobody boos Oly for their uniforms. They make fun of the blue and brown, but more often than not, the blue and brown comes out on top.

I <3 the National Shoving Derby Champions!!!!!!!!!!!!

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH MY TEAM LOST BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH IM BUTT HURT BECAUSE MY TEAM IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS YOU CAN ONLY WIN USING "RULES" BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE I HAVE NO OTHER LIFE BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH HOW DARE YOU BEAT MY TEAM YOUR SUPPOSED TO BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO US BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH SOMEONE PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO ME BECAUSE MY MOMMY DIDN'T LOVE ME BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH I'M A BROKEN RECORD BLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH BLAH I CAN GO ON ALL DAY ABOUT MY TEAM BEING BETTER THAN YOURS, WE DIDN'T LOSE YOU JUST USED THE RULES AGAINST US BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAHLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAHLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAHLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAH THEY ARE NOT BETTER THAN US AND I'M GONNA KEEP BITCHIN' ABOUT IT BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAH I JUST CAN'T GET OVER MYSELF BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHBLAH.........

ROLLER DERBY IS A CONTACT SPORT!!!!!!!!!!

TEAM HECKLE RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU WANT TO WATCH FOLKS JUST GOING FAST AND TURNING LEFT THEN HANG OUT AT YOUR LOCAL RACE TRACK WITH THE NASCAR FANS, IT'S GREAT FUN.

OR IF YOU JUST WANT TO WATCH GIRLS IN SKATES GOING FAST AND TURNING LEFT THEN GO HANG OUT AT SPEED PRACTICE.

CONGRATS TO ALL THE SKATERS THAT MADE IT TO CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!!!! WE ALL KNOW IT'S GOD DAMNED HARD WORK AND Y'ALL ALL KICKED ASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MAD LOVE TO EVERY SKATER THAT BROUGHT IT AND HIT HARD!!!!! MNRG FANS Y'ALL ARE AWESOME AND YOUR SKATERS HIT HARD!!!!!! GOTHAM YOU EARNED IT!!!!! COME ON DOWN AND LET'S PUT ON A SHOW FOR OUR FANS DOWN HERE IN TEXAS SOMETIME!!!

WARRIORS COME OUT TO PLLLLLAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!! <3 Y'ALL AND SEE YOU AGAIN SOON!!!!!! SNOT ROCKET RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DERBY BROTHERS RULE!!!!!!! THANKS FOR KEEPING THE TAILGATE HOOKED UP ALL WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TEXAS TEXAS KILL KILL KILL POR VIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHO DO YOU DRINK FOR???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ATLANTA WILL BE OFF THE HOOK NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!! DIRTY SOUTH Y'ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOUTH CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!!!!!!! ;^)

<3 Big - I got those lonesome roller derby off season blues -Tom

Extra Credit
#1
How many Texas Rollergirls Fans does it take to change a light bulb.......................
A. 1
B. 12
C. 1500
D. F*ck you we'll drink in the dark.

Answer
D

(Mad love to Megatron for starting that line of jokes. I give credit where credit is do!)

Never in a million years did I think I'd say it...

Thank you, Big Tom, for putting this all in perspective. What a despicable thread. Shame on us.

Hate you on the track, love you at the afterparty.

Let's not forget the Love, people. Congrats to all. Exhale, rest up, enjoy the Holidays, and let's have a great 2012.

Sexy Slaydie Rules.

And don't forget to call your Mom.

xoxo,

Dad

I can check out now.

Because Big Tom has had the last word.

WOW!

By the way, there's a little button on your keyboard all the way to the left that locks and unlocks the caps. All you have to do turn off the caps and your post might be readable, though not sure if that would be a good thing. :-)

I still have fond memories of how Oly crushed Texas in the 2009 champs.

He gets a pass

Normally I'd be the first to mock right with you, but Big Tom's all caps have basically been grandfathered in over the years. After a while it becomes almost charming.

love, exciting and new

Can DNN put together a "donate" button to finance a romantic dinner between BIG TOM and @ROLLERGIRLHULK? ??

Post of the year.

Calvin Ball wrote:

Can DNN put together a "donate" button to finance a romantic dinner between BIG TOM and @ROLLERGIRLHULK? ??

This.

I've fallen out of love with roller derby

I can pinpoint my falling in love with roller derby to the 2008 Nationals, that was so much fun. Upon reflection I just can't see myself having the same reaction if my first tournament experience was the 2011 Championships. I don't want to start another argument over rules and reffing though like everyone else I have my opinions. But beyond that I am just finding derby to be a lot more tedious and a lot less fun to watch. I could have had a viewing party at my place this year since I bought the high quality stream but I couldn't think of anyone that would actually enjoy watching, including people who are sports fans and have been to multiple derby bouts. The bouts quickly devolve into questions about why such and such is happening, and sometimes I can explain, sometimes not, but even with an explanation the inevitable follow-up is "why is that allowed?" Ultimately though I feel the sport is for the players not potential spectators and fans. I hope that the skaters continue to create the game they want to play. No matter what direction things go there are sure to be people who like the direction and those who do not. I still want to show my support to the skaters I consider friends but I think roller derby bouts have left my menu of "fun thing to do this weekend." Roller Derby, it was nice to be in love you with you and now I hope we can still be friends.

I agree with derbynerd about

I agree with derbynerd about the burnout. There were a lot of great matches during tournament season. Rocky and Oly put on clinic on how to play Derby in the Besterns final. I have confidence that the skaters will create the game they want to play, but at the moment it can be an extremely grueling experience to watch at times. I don't know if I can wait another year for updated rule set. It seems like the current rules are a significant contribution to early Derby burnout by skaters.

The more important factor is the lack on honorable play. Why are teams focusing on finding loop holes to exploit rather than just playing the damn game? If anything, the refs need more power to enforce the rules how they see the game should be played. When a captain or coach walks up to the ref and asks why was that not a foul? According to rule xyz, that should have been an illegal procedure blah blah blah, whine complain, im so cleaver, worship me... The ref should say, well because butt wiggling at occupy jammer line is totally stupid so shut the hell up and get back to skating or I will eject you for insubordination.

Loopholes and winning

The Cheet wrote:

The more important factor is the lack on honorable play. Why are teams focusing on finding loop holes to exploit rather than just playing the damn game?

"Honor" doesn't really anything to do with it. When it comes down to it, a team that wants to win will try to take the path of least resistance. They'll do whatever they're legally allowed to do because that's just the ingrained competitive nature of sports. It would only be "dishonorable" if someone cheated to win, but outside of taking intentional penalties that's not at all happening in modern derby.

The Cheet wrote:

If anything, the refs need more power to enforce the rules how they see the game should be played.

That's the thing. Lately, no one can agree how roller derby "should" be played. Some people like slow derby strategy and rugby starts. Some people want to see faster play and true skating skills put back into derby. (Guess which camp I'm in.) I'm not sure it's possible to have it both ways, honestly.

In any event, I know when the WFTDA drew up the rules and the skaters voted them in, no one expected the type of play that we saw over the last few months. But everyone had no choice but to engage in it, because it has been what top teams needed to do to win games. It looks as if the skaters are being forced to play in a type of game they didn't actually agree to play in the first place, which I would gather is the impetus for all the negative feedback that's been put out there from players and fans alike.

It's critically important for a sanctioning body to get the rules (and the wording of the rules) right, because any loopholes contained within them change the game from what it "should" be, to something else. Enforcing the rules by the letter of the law is no good to anyone if the spirit of the game gets lost in translation.

testing to destruction

The Cheet wrote:

Why are teams focusing on finding loop holes to exploit rather than just playing the damn game?

If you are a computer programmer testing out a new programme you will deliberately try to break it. This is a great way to find the flaws and thus fix them. Testing to destruction makes a better product.

It's no different with roller derby. There have been loads of loopholes closed in the past when teams found ways to deliberately fiddle with them, so that the wording has had to be made more specific, or rules have had to be changed to close those loopholes, which ultimately make it a better game.

If the loophole hadn't been found this year, it would have been eventually, someone would have done it. And the teams that find them are "playing the damn game" just as you say - they are playing within the rules.

Derby nerds (not The Derby Nerd)

On top of that, roller derby is really the nerdiest sport in the world. One of our home teams was filled with the girls who would otherwise be playing D&D, and with every new iteration of the rules, they would pour over it and do exactly what was legal, figuring out the quirks and loopholes with each ruleset. That home team has won the championship four of the first seven years of our league, and they're certainly in the running this year.

This can be a very cerebral game, and I find that exciting. I'm saddened by the people who just want it to be about who skates forward and turns left the fastest. There's NASCAR for that.

Speed and strategy

John_Maddening wrote:

This can be a very cerebral game, and I find that exciting. I'm saddened by the people who just want it to be about who skates forward and turns left the fastest. There's NASCAR for that.

I really, really hate this argument.

There is a crap-load of strategy in auto racing. This year's NASCAR champion won it all in the final laps of the final race of the season, partly because he passed over 100 cars through the course of the race with his speed, but mostly because of a gutsy strategy call by his crew chief to make a pit stop earlier than everyone else toward the end of the race. This strategy required the driver to drive a bit more slowly than he normally would (if you can call 175mph "slow") to save fuel, which allowed him to make it to the end of the race without another pit stop. This put him at the front of the field when everyone else pitted, enabling him to win the race and the championship.

The racing world is calling it the best championship-clinching drive in the history of NASCAR, admiring the team's strategy just as much as the driver's speed.

In derby, the speed of the pack should be just as important to strategy as positioning or penalty management. Teams have strategical reasons to want to slow down the pack, but that's way too easy to do. Teams should also have a reason to want to speed the pack up for strategical purposes, but that's impossible to do under current rules, and something I'm hopeful will be addressed in the 2012 rulebook.

You can have both speed and strategy in a sport. They are not mutually exclusive, but are in fact one in the same.

I hate that

Dammit, I hate that slow NASCAR thing. Why can't they just play the damn game and use true driving skills.

click click click

John_Maddening wrote:

I'm saddened by the people who just want it to be about who skates forward and turns left the fastest. There's NASCAR for that.

Damn... I can't upvote this any more!

I'm pretty sure Nascar is NOT what those people are looking for!

I suppose it's the nature of the internet, but it seems so silly to me how black and white both sides of the issue are being in this thread. Listen, I HATE the scrum starts. I personally find them to be boring to watch because it seems that it's less about skill to get through and more about luck. I also strongly feel after having played them so much this season that they are more dangerous to the skaters. Plus, it seems horribly unfair to me that one team has to all go down on a knee and risk not popping back up in time to be in a good position just to get the game going.
But unfortunately, that's just how the rules are right now. I can't wait to see what the next set of rules look like to hopefully help get our game going again. I love Gotham just as much as the next person (Really I do! They've always been one of my favorite teams since the very beginning) but I hated seeing them win the way they had to. The teamwork was very impressive and so was the fancy footwork. But the way the rules are written makes non-skating tactics work and I just hate that. It sucks all of the fun out of the sport for me.
So yeah, I guess I just wanted to say congrats to Gotham for taking it all this year. And that just because there are those of us who want to see the game get going faster again doesn't mean it's because we're the type of people who should just stick to watching Nascar. There are some of us who like the way that it evolved to be a contest of wills for how fast the pack would be going. I really feel that the way the rules are written gives all of the power to the pack who doesn't want to skate. If we could make it a little more even again I think the game would be greatly improved.

Testing before product release (a new concept)

In the old days, you find flaws and fix them BEFORE releasing to market. What do paying customers do when the buy a product that has bugs? Normally, they bitch and complain for hours on end until they get a patch release, a fixed product, or a refund. If neither happens, they walk away, never do business with that company again, and report them to consumer affairs. If a WFTDA team does find loopholes or flaws in the rules that they can exploit, it should be their WFTDA responsibility to expose these flaws immediately to the customers before they have to deal with the flaw in a sanctioned match. In this case the customers are the skaters from other teams. That would be the fair and honorable thing to do. WFTDA should then issue a temporary work around if possible, and fix the flaw for the next release.

Obviously, Gotham found a loophole in the rules where they can occupy jammer line to gain rear pack advantage, but if Oly tried to occupy jammer line, they were nailed with penalties because the jammer line was already occupied. All of this is counter productive to the occupy movement. The occupiers should have formed a committee before hand so they can work out their differences before the match and divide the jammer line evenly so players can skate without being penalized for illegal occupation. I realize squatters have rights too, but if you squat and touch someone, technically that is a low block, so skate or get off the track. Now if you squat and provide butt massage, then you are providing a service and are free to occupy the jammer line.

It's not like Gotham figured this out and that's why they won.

Other teams (specifically Naptown and Nashville) have been playing like this for quite a while. It's moved through the derby world this year. Most games at Championships were played like that. Gotham just did it (and everything else) best.

Two points... oh, actually three.

The Cheet wrote:

In the old days, you find flaws and fix them BEFORE releasing to market. What do paying customers do when the buy a product that has bugs? Normally, they bitch and complain for hours on end until they get a patch release, a fixed product, or a refund. If neither happens, they walk away, never do business with that company again, and report them to consumer affairs.

Did you not see the no-minors beta test bouts? I fail to see what that is if it's not pre-release testing to iron out issues and present a better product.

The Cheet wrote:

Obviously, Gotham found a loophole in the rules where they can occupy jammer line to gain rear pack advantage, but if Oly tried to occupy jammer line, they were nailed with penalties because the jammer line was already occupied.

The same thing started to happen in the Philly v London game at regionals -- right up until London decided they wanted to get to the jam line first. When they did, it stopped happening--this is why London got annihalated in the first half, but effectively tied the second. Jammers would take up space in front of the jam line during the line-up periods to hold space for their blockers, blockers would work harder to make sure they got their shit together first. There is no loophole here -- Gotham weren't allowed on the track first, and nor was there a rule saying Oly had to line up after them. They were just better and taking the positional advantage when it was open to them. They just didn't adopt and effective counter-strategy to Gotham's defensive play.

The Cheet wrote:

I realize squatters have rights too, but if you squat and touch someone, technically that is a low block

Not necessarily. It might be blocking a downed skater, mind...

bench position

Lex Talionis wrote:

The same thing started to happen in the Philly v London game at regionals -- right up until London decided they wanted to get to the jam line first. When they did, it stopped happening--this is why London got annihalated in the first half, but effectively tied the second. Jammers would take up space in front of the jam line during the line-up periods to hold space for their blockers, blockers would work harder to make sure they got their shit together first. There is no loophole here -- Gotham weren't allowed on the track first, and nor was there a rule saying Oly had to line up after them. They were just better and taking the positional advantage when it was open to them. They just didn't adopt and effective counter-strategy to Gotham's defensive play.

So, isn't having your bench closest to the jammer line a huge advantage then? Isn't it a lot easier to "take positional advantage" when you have half the distance to travel? Isn't that stupid and a giant loophole?

Not really.

Not if you swap benches at halftime.

3 things

1. There usually isn't the same number of jams each half.
2. The more critical jams happen in the second half.
3. Do you really want anything in a game decided by the location of the team benches?

well...

I don't think there's anything in the rules that says the blockers from one jam can't stay on the track after the forth whistle and hold a spot for their teammates who are skating in the next jam.

That assumes

that the skaters on the track are closer to the jammer line than the skaters on the bench which is true less than half the time.

I can only pray we see

I can only pray we see no-minors rule set in 2012 become official.

More specific

Do you want the version they tested, or do you want adjustments/changes or an entirely different one?

The couple bouts I saw had a

The couple bouts I saw had a nice flow to them. It seemed easier on the refs because they didn't have to worry about issuing ticky tac minor calls. They would instead focus on watching for player safety and genuine attempts at cheating (hooking with elbows for example). I'm not saying refs don't do that now, but it does seem easier to focus on majors only especially when action is happening in two or three different locations. Plus, it was easier to watch as a spectator since you knew why people were being sent off on penalties and can understand the call.

Illegal procedure at the start needs clarification as well. In hockey if you do something illegal on the faceoff, you are kicked out of the faceoff, not penalized. An alternative could be if you commit an illegal procedure at the start, you have to hold up and let the opposing team's jammer pass you rather than go to the box. A jammer who false starts does this anyways, the rule could apply to blockers as well.

I wonder how many of the "blocking out of play" calls Rocky had vs. Gotham, were changed to "illegal procedure" calls by the time Oly played Gotham. It seems like both of those calls could be interchanged. It's like oops, you got booty blocked and sent behind the jammer line at the start or out of bounds, then you touched someone trying to get back in play. Is that a "blocking out of play" or "illegal procedure" minor? If it's no-minors, then that call is ignored all together unless of course they slam their way back into play while out of play, which would be a major.

In Hockey

They change sides between periods. The second, middle period has both teams farther away from their own benches. The "long change" can have game-altering consequences, and everyone just deals with it.

That said, the disadvantage is simultaneous and mutual.

Ice Hockey also has a long and glorious history of rule tweaking (and overcorrection). The stuff that works has taken decades to iron out. If derby tries to fix everything at once it will only lead to more unforseen loopholes for clever players to discover.

I trust the players (who are all fans too) to chart a course where they will find a game they like to play and watch.

It's not about fixing anything

It's already in the rulebook. Penalties just need to be added to actually enforce what's in the rulebook.

Which rule

Which rule are you referring to in this case?

4.4 STARTS 4.4.1 The pack

4.4 STARTS
4.4.1 The pack begins rolling on a single whistle blast from the Official.
4.4.2 Once the rearmost pack skater has crossed the Pivot line, the referee whistles the
Jammers to begin their sprint through the pack with two short whistle blasts. Jammers
may not be accelerating at the Jammer starting whistle. They are, however, permitted to
be moving, coasting or braking.

Rules governing pack starts

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

4.4 STARTS
4.4.1 The pack begins rolling on a single whistle blast from the Official.
4.4.2 Once the rearmost pack skater has crossed the Pivot line, the referee whistles the
Jammers to begin their sprint through the pack with two short whistle blasts. Jammers
may not be accelerating at the Jammer starting whistle. They are, however, permitted to
be moving, coasting or braking.

I take it you are focusing on the "pack begins rolling" phrase here. Keep in mind 6.10.2.1.1 and 6.10.2.1.2. There is no legal requirement for there to be a pack at jam start and there is no established pack pace at jam start (ie: there's no requirement for blockers to move forward on the track). 4.4.1 is more a description of what roller derby looks like (or in this case what it used to look like) instead of an enforceable rule. It's kind of an artifact of the evolution of the WFTDA rule-set.

That's exactly the problem

I'm more focusing on the rearmost skater crossing the pivot line.

"4.4.1 (and I'll add 4.4.2 to this) is more a description of what roller derby looks like (or in this case what it used to look like) instead of an enforceable rule."

Why shouldn't it be an enforceable rule? It's in the rulebook, isn't it? That's my point. This is what roller derby is supposed to look like. Instead of enforcing what roller derby is supposed to look like, the WFTDA moved further and further away from it by making the jammers start when the pack is destroyed and by allowing teams to start on a knee. Instead of doing that, what they should have done is to assess penalties to blockers who did not cross the pivot line in a specified amount of time. Because, allowing legal destruction of packs has created the situation we're in now. Whereas, rugby starts and no-jam jams would be impossible if 4.4 was enforced instead of being treated like it's on a dusty bookshelf even though IT'S IN THE FREAKING RULEBOOK.

Beyond that, set aside how you feel about the rules and how the game should be played. Can we just talk about how stupid it is that the jammers start when there's no pack? It's really really dumb. The whole point of the game when you get down to the meat of it is that the jammers try to get through the pack to become lead jammer and score points. When there's no pack, the game isn't being played. Why would you want to start the jam in that situation? It makes no sense. It's sort of like the snap in football. In my imaginary universe where I'm changing the rules to look more like roller derby, the play either starts when the ball is snapped or *when the defense jumps offside*. The defense can start the play by doing something illegal (oh, and they don't get a penalty for it). The defense (or team that wants to play with a back four-wall or has a power jam) has a huge advantage by being able to start the play (jam) by doing something that's illegal but not penalized. It really makes no sense whatsoever. The play in football is *supposed* to start with both teams on opposite sides of the ball just like the jam in roller derby is *supposed* to start with both sets of blockers crossing the pivot line. Anything that disrupts that should be penalized instead of being given a loophole that's actually in the rules. The no pack start is a legal loophole.

Loop the loophole

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

The play in football is *supposed* to start with both teams on opposite sides of the ball just like the jam in roller derby is *supposed* to start with both sets of blockers crossing the pivot line. Anything that disrupts that should be penalized instead of being given a loophole that's actually in the rules. The no pack start is a legal loophole.

The rulebook is littered with loopholes and contradictions that make it, in my opinion, ridiculously complex. That only one team in the entire WFTDA (Gotham) was completely able to solve the rules after almost two years of having them available is all I need to see to confirm that.

I agree that the no-pack start is a legal loophole. Everyone is focusing on the "rolling pack" clause, but there's something else that I think is the cause of this mess:

2.4.4.2 - Pivots and Blockers are considered in position and ready if they are in bounds when the first whistle of the jam blows (this is the whistle to start the pack rolling).

The assumption behind this rule is that everyone would be standing at the beginning of the jam, obviously. But no one in their right mind could have predicted that a team would want to start a jam on their knees. Or on their backs with their arms and legs sticking into the air, for that matter.

But because the current rules didn't account for that, the WFTDA had to work with what they had and come up with the "solution" to this problem, allowing the no-pack knee-start. It's the only way you can start a jam with a team that is in-bounds AND out of play at the same time, that fits within the same rule set. That's rule 6.10.2.1.2, specifically, but even that rule is written to assume skaters would want to skate forward. It's just that it had to pull surprise double-duty for when the no-pack situation occurs immediately.

Because if the rule in question looked like this instead...

2.4.4.2 - Pivots and Blockers are considered in position and ready if they are in play when the first whistle of the jam blows (this is the whistle to start the pack rolling).

...then being on a knee and being out of bounds would be considered one in the same. That would make knee-starts impossible, since being out of play (out of bounds) when the jam start disqualifies you from participating in it. Besides, I never understood why creating a no-pack situation is illegal after the start whistle blows, but is legal before the start whistle blows. That's a contradiction (among many others) that doesn't make any sense, in my opinion.

In any event, we should actually thank our lucky stars that the knee start was put into the game. Without it, I fear there would have been a lot more non-derby starts and non-jams than there were. Because there would be no other way for a jam to start if both teams wanted to start at the back of the pack.

Isn't it funny how one little word in the rules can completely alter the game?

Time for a rewrite?

With each revision the WFTDA rulebook gets longer and more complex. Each revision tries to patch previously exploited loopholes with new language and penalties laid over the previous version. Is it time for WFTDA to decide what they want the game to look like and write a new ruleset from scratch? (Not entirely from scratch or course, as it would be based on previous versions).

It seems to me that a lot could be gained by simply stating what should happen when the whistle sounds (i.e.: Skaters should skate forward and engage each other) rather than a ever growing list of what shouldn't happen (adding more penalties). The question I'm asking is should play be based on "What should we do" rather than "What can we do that isn't specifically forbidden?"

The nature of rules

Aitchbee wrote:

It seems to me that a lot could be gained by simply stating what should happen when the whistle sounds (i.e.: Skaters should skate forward and engage each other) rather than a ever growing list of what shouldn't happen (adding more penalties). The question I'm asking is should play be based on "What should we do" rather than "What can we do that isn't specifically forbidden?"

And if a skater doesn't do what they should do? It seems like the rules do in fact say what the skaters are to do, and then there are penalties for what happens when they do something different. Perhaps there could be more in the front end, but without the back end then you're not actually writing rules but suggesting.

Legal vs. Not Illegal

N8 wrote:

And if a skater doesn't do what they should do? It seems like the rules do in fact say what the skaters are to do, and then there are penalties for what happens when they do something different.

The problem with your logic is that there are situations where there is no rule covering a specific action.

For example, there is no rule specifically stating that a knee start is a legal and valid way to begin a jam. It's not illegal (as opposed to "is legal") because there are pieces of two or three different rules in completely different sections of the rule book that technically make it okay, even though there's nothing black and white in the rules saying it is. You can't penalize something that is, in a fragmented and round-about-way, not illegal. That's the very definition of a loophole.

Besides, the only thing a player or team "should" be doing is any action they feel is in their best interest to help their team win. Well-written rules make it so the only possible way a player can do that is to beat the players on the other team, fair and square.

Uh, what? I was merely

Uh, what? I was merely talking about Aitchbee's point of trying to write a rulebook that says more "dos" and fewer "don'ts".

Ah, my bad

I think the flat-top and the beehive are long overdue to make comebacks, myself.

Re: pack start rules

By the rule you quote and the phrase you're focusing on I don't think there is a contradiction with how the game is currently played. 4.4.2 doesn't specify that the blockers must cross the pivot line. It merely states that when they do the jammers are released; whether that happens in this jam or 5 jams from now the rules don't mandate it. It's the legal basis for the sequence of releasing the jammers that most people are used to. This is why we've had various rule additions, Q&A's, and Rules Publications to cover jam start scenarios that are not mentioned (or prohibited) in section 4 of the rules.

It's not a matter of enforcing the rules as written. To see the game played the way you (and in my experience, most people) want it played the rules need several additions and subtractions. We'll just have to wait and see what the skaters choose to do about it with the new rules revision.

Personally, as a referee I choose not to form many opinions on what the rules should be or whether the way we do things is stupid. I enforce the rules as they are written in the rule book and clarified at WFTDA rules central online. My only real qualms about rules come into play when I spot rules that are potentially unfair to skaters on the track (which is rare since WFTDA has opened up their rule clarification process). So my perspective is probably much different from that of most fans and skaters.

You're right. The way it's

You're right. The way it's written does not contradict itself and I'm not arguing that. The way 4.4 is written, I feel, is under the assumption that this was the way that starts would always look and the writers never imagined that starts would look like they do now. That's why it is written with such open language (I'm sure there are other interpretations).

Once loopholes were found, WFTDA had two options that I can see. 1. Close the loopholes with penalties. 2. Keep the loopholes open by writing new rules that make them legal. They chose option 2 and we have what we have now. What I'm arguing is to erase that mistake by deleting the rules that came from option 2 and write new rules for option 1.

When there were starts that blockers actually crossed the pivot line is when 99.9% of us fell in love with derby. I'm not saying that people can't fall in love with the current form but I'd have a hard time believing anyone could. It just isn't fun to watch and I'm sure it's even less fun to play. Just look at the scores from championships, they were almost all close, and yet I haven't heard anyone talk like it was one of the best tournaments ever. It should've been with those close results. But it wasn't. It's not how the game was ever supposed to look and there's a reason for that.

The Opposite

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

[the scores] were almost all close, and yet I haven't heard anyone talk like it was one of the best tournaments ever.

Wow. I've heard lots of talk saying exactly that. 2 SC teams in the Final Four? Only 1 West team in the Final Four? Teams nearly beating Oly that the consensus predicted would not challenge them that much? All the exciting games that lived up to exciting games, and all the exciting games that surprised us? The first repeat champions?

What tournament(s) do you think was(were) better?

Actually, the stats say...

N8 wrote:

What tournament(s) do you think was(were) better?

2009 and 2010 were much better than 2011. If we're talking about a matter of quality, then 2011 actually had the worst roller derby in the recorded statistical history of the sport. There were almost two times the number of penalties (box trips) called on skaters during this year's Big 5 than were in years' past. (See my blog for more info on that.)

I just want to know why people honestly believe derby has never been better when skaters are getting called off the track for penalties at a rate never before known to the sport. After all, if skaters or teams were really improving, they'd be going to the penalty box less often. But they ain't.

I also have stats!

WindyMan wrote:

2009 and 2010 were much better than 2011.

Really? Half the games (six of them) in 2010 were 99-point blowouts or higher. Even in the ones that were closer, the winning team was leading for most or all of the bout.

In 2011, there were only two 100+ point blowouts, and 7 of the games had multiple lead changes.

Granted, 2010 did have a EFFING INCREDIBLE finale, but the majority of those games were not very competitive matchups.

YMMV, but I think a tournament is "good" when most of the games are not foregone conclusions by halftime (or even earlier).

Blowouts vs Penalties

I don't think the two are unrelated. If you have close, competitive games between top-level teams with skaters skating at the edge of their ability, you're going to see more penalties (generally) than you will in blowouts.

It's not a matter of skaters improving or not -- it's as much a matter of how hard you're being pushed. I love derby (when watching as a fan) the most when strategies, individual skill and circumstances are pushing everyone on the track out of their comfort zone and making them work. Sometimes this will lead to skaters pulling off incredible moves that even they didn't think possible simply because they had do try--and sometimes it'll lead to them picking up silly penalties because they tried something that didn't quite work.

While it would be lovely for it to be five-on five all the time, to suggest more penalties is equivalent to less interesting derby is an absurd oversimplification.

Let's go for both, not one or the other

There has been way too much focus on the results of games lately, instead of the happenings of the games themselves. Personally, I see a "good" game as one that is competitive the whole way through AND has relatively few penalties. If a 60 minute game has 70~80 skater-minutes of penalties in it, that's not good no matter what sport it is.

That's why the Philly upset of Gotham in 2009 is (to this point) my all-time favorite game of roller derby: Back and forth the whole way through, a heart-stopping last jam, an amazing one-point win...and very few penalties--nearly half as many that were committed at games during 2011 championships. In fact, neither team had a skater sent to the box for the first ten minutes of the game.

We should be striving to get a point where a game is both competitive AND clean. To think it's fine to sacrifice clean skating for more competitiveness is not something I can agree with, and is not something I understand why the derby community is okay with.

Really?

I'm sorry but anyone saying that was one of the best tournaments of all time is off their rocker.

What you describe is exactly my point. When you step back and just look at the scores and some of the storylines, it sounds like the greatest tournament of all time. However, if you actually sit there and watch the games, it really wasn't. The games just weren't exciting. The score is only a fraction of what makes a game exciting. Sunday was a snoozefest. When I think of an exciting game, it has big plays, big hits, displays of insane athleticism, passion, fun, a raucous crowd, and the score was close. The close score was the only thing that was a part of any of those games because none of the rest is possible when jammers push their way through a scrum for 30 seconds. Well, sometimes the crowd got raucous but for the wrong reasons.

What tournament do I think was better? Every regional this year was better. Westerns last year was 20x better than this tournament. It was better than last year's championship, I'll give you that.

It's not something that can be described with stats. I guess it's sort of how I look at baseball. I know that hitting a curve ball is one of the hardest things someone can do and I know that there are some pretty amazing athletes in the sport but it's just boring as hell. Same thing, I know it takes a lot of skill for a jammer to navigate a rugby scrum pack and I know that these are some amazing athletes but it's just boring as hell. I'm sure there are many that love that just like there's many that love baseball. However, that's what baseball is supposed to look like. This is not what roller derby is supposed to look like.

The rugby scrum starts are the antithesis of roller derby. Back blocks are illegal. Multi-player blocks are illegal. Forearm blocks are illegal. Just because they're no impact/no penalty doesn't make them legal. I understand that those things happen on a regular basis throughout the game. That's fine. However, when an entire tournament is played with pretty much every single team playing a strategy that is entirely based on not getting penalties for their illegal actions, there's something wrong. Jammers can't get through a scrum without a few back blocks. A scrum couldn't even exist without multi-player blocks and forearm blocks (and pack destruction). It just isn't roller derby.

The REAL Problem: Back-Wall Advantage

The real problem with the current ruleset, and the one that Gotham and other teams have learned to exploit, is that a team at the back of the pack can legally force a no-pack situation by gradually slowing down. This gives the back wall a huge advantage over a front wall, and as a result, you have both teams fighting to gain the back-wall advantage.

Here are two clear illustrations of this back-wall advantage, using F and B to indicate the teams at the front and back of the pack, respectively. When team B has a powerjam, they don't even need to trap a goat, they just have to gradually slow down until team F is more than 10 feet away, at which point no-pack is called and team F has to let B's jammer through.

Even when both walls are blocking the other team's jammer, the back wall has a severe advantage by slowing down. When no-pack is called, team F has to stop blocking and slow down to reform the pack, but team B can immediately speed up and resume blocking as soon as they reform the pack.

This back-wall advantage is the reason behind all the jammer-line starts, rugby starts, and non-starts. Forcing starts at the pivot line will not solve the problem, nor will releasing the jammers after a certain time. I imagine that most people will have one of three responses:

1. No such back-wall advantage exists.
2. A back-wall advantage exists, but it's not causing any problems worth fixing.
3. A back-wall advantage exists, and it should be eliminated.

If you disagree that a back-wall advantage exists, or you think there are comparable advantages for a front wall, I'd like to hear your argument. If you agree that the back-wall advantage exists but enjoy watching teams exploit it by skating slower and slower, you're entitled that opinion but I won't bother arguing with you, since it's a matter of personal preference.

If you agree with me that the back-wall advantage exists and should be eliminated, I'd like to hear suggestions how to do that. The advantage occurs by creating a no-pack situation, so that seems like a logical place to start. WindyMan has suggested changing the pack definition rules to eliminate no-pack situations. Another radical idea is to eliminate the pack entirely, and let blockers engage anywhere on the track.

Under the current rules, it seems ridiculous to me that two fiercely competitive teams are expected to cooperate in forming a pack. The no-pack situation has been exploited for years, and the slow back-wall strategy is just the latest evolution.

Back wall/no pack advantage

Maybe this has already been mentioned but it seems to me that in a no pack situation both jammers should be released.

As it stands now the back wall can keep an opposing jammer behind them as they re-form the pack but the front wall has to let the jammer go.This creates a situation where holding the back and destroying the pack gets your jammer through the easy way. It's lazy derby and it's really the only stategy you need to master to win a game these days.

Releasing both jammers would still give a 20 foot head start to the jammer in front which would create an advantage in gaining lead jammer, so that would have to be figured out but the main advantage to holding the back and destroying the pack would be eliminated.

Frustration

My biggest frustration comes in seeing no penalties assessed to the rear wall when there is a "No-Pack" call.

Agree

Refs still don't call positional blocking the way that I read it to be from the rules, and from some of the things I've heard from some of the refs, that isn't (usually) due to them missing it, but to a difference of interpretation.

I don't know if it's being called the way the skaters want it to be called or not.

No-Pack Penalties

Even if penalties were consistently assessed to the rear wall during or after a no-pack call, I'll argue that taking an intentional penalty (either for destruction of pack or blocking out of play) is well worth the huge advantage of making the other team's front wall effectively disappear and letting your jammer through.

The problem is that a no-pack call is like a videogame "smart bomb" that instantly destroys all your enemies. It's much too powerful a weapon, and way too easy to deploy. To argue that it takes skill to deploy this weapon -- by knowing when to slow to a stop -- is ridiculous.

get rid of packs

getting rid of packs, while most people I talk with about it do not seem keen on it, it is the perfect way to deal with the slow pack issue, and stalling in the back. Seeing skaters having to let a jammer go right on by because there is "no pack" aggravates me. Having no packs would make the game fast and fun to play and watch. Skaters are saying ( and I imagine have said for awhile) that derby is not fun like it once was. And I can assire you that watching slow derby from a spectators POV is beyond boring. Get rid of packs and minor penalties and the sport will move forward in a great way.

No packs is an interesting

No packs is an interesting idea. I've thought about this before, but figured that the pack rule was invented for some reason. But, I can't figure out what reason that could be other than people want to play american football on skates. The future of derby is massive line-women/men and a couple running backs. The guys could literally fill up the entire line with a couple sumo wrestlers, and no one would ever get through.

The story I heard was that

The story I heard was that the pack came about when the Pivot position came about to define a pack. This was done when derby needed to be broadcast on tv and a packless game didn't work on cameras.

Although, I wasn't there, and I know some people on these boards were, so if they can help with this that would be better.

No pack = No derby

Derby must have a pack at all times. The pack is the glue that helps make roller derby stay together. It would be chaos without one.

If there were skaters all over the track, how would refs know when a jammer has cleared them all to award lead jammer status? If seven blockers stay in the pack and one blocker sprints forward, you can't award lead jammer or start a scoring pass until all blockers have been passed. For that matter, how will we know when the "end" of a scoring pass would be in the first place, if blockers are all over the place?

Having everyone in play would complicate things to the extreme. (Another: How are you going to track all the players without more referees?) The only true way to fix this—without putting in forced gimmicks like required forward motion or lap clocks—is to make the team (or group) at the front of the pack, the pack.

I know a lot of people disagree with this idea, but this is the only way roller derby can be fair to everyone.
Besides, if it were really that bad of an idea, the WFTDA would not want to consider it for the 2012 rules. But I know for a fact that they are, so make of that as you will.

Snark

WindyMan wrote:

Besides, if it were really that bad of an idea, the WFTDA would not want to consider it for the 2012 rules.

Insert snarky comment about "WFTDA doesn't consider bad ideas in their rules?"

its not that hard

If for some reason a ref can not see when a jammer has passed each player, which I cant see how this would be difficult without a pack. But lets say it is hard to do, then the jammers have to make one complete lap back to the starting line, and then they can score points. A jammer receives one point when they pass a blocker. Derby must be allowed to evolve, for it to grow. Just because there is no pack required does not mean teams wont have 2 or 3 players together at a time, but it keeps blockers from having to just let a jammer go by because they are out of play. I dont believe that no pack= no derby. But I do believe that slow derby= no fun for the fans, and a lot of skaters.

If a jammer's passes/laps

If a jammer's passes/laps were predicated upon fixed track location rather than the relative position of the pack, then it would surely immediately mean that blockers would all seek to deny jammers their points by positioning themselves strategically upon the track (eg stopping en masse just before the line that the jammer starts scoring at, then sprinting after the jammer to extend the length of time it would take before the jammer started scoring)? Would that sort of shenanigans be preferable to the existing situation?

A skater must be moving forward at all times

Someone can not setup shop anywhere if they have to keep moving forward.

I'm not sure that your

I'm not sure that your proposals would actually make much difference to the game as it stands. Even without the requirement to form a pack, the most effective way of blocking opposing jammers is as a team by using walls, and the most effective way of breaking apart opposition walls is by using your own blockers en masse, so hey presto, you have a pack again. And a requirement to keep moving forward will not necessarily eliminate slow derby or rugby derby or any of the other points of contention.

Removing the pack law would

Removing the pack law would allow blockers to form walls and packs or whatever they want. It would also allow them to chase a jammer if they so chose to. It would also remove the slow pack/no pack exploits that currently exist.

Just because a pack is a great strategy 99% of the time, doesn't mean it has to be explicitly arranged as the ONLY strategy.

I'm not suggesting that there be NO rules regarding this; I'm a fan of moderation. But I'm not a fan of boring/exploit derby.

What you are describing is a

What you are describing is a whole different game, which would be completely unrelated to the current game.

For those of us who were around for the evolution of the rules, there's a reason the pack definition is what it is, and why it was also adopted on banked track the same way. A tighter pack encourages contact, an ephemeral "consensus" pack definition discourages it. That is how it works in real life, not in people's imaginations.

I'll say it again: back blocking rules are the main reason stopped and extremely slow packs are possible and practical. Make the booty block a legal target zone, separate from a shoulders to waist "back" contact area as the defined "back", and pack speeds will naturally increase as the booty block no longer has a legal force field that makes contact illegal.

Booty blocks are now the game's most successful strong blocking technique, and don't need the additional subsidy of being included in the "back" contact zone.

If jammers can plow into a stopped booty block wall legally, stopped booty block walls will disappear as a viable tactic, and skaters will opt for maneuverability with speed over vulnerability with reduced maneuvering options. And blockers will no longer be able to draw a major from a jammer by jumping in front of a speeding jammer and flopping when they're hit.

You can still have your forcefield if you skate almost completely upright, but that means that any move you want to make, you'll have to telegraph when you go into the bent knee position and the jammer will see it from a mile away. It would also have to be written so skaters can't draw a back penalty by straightening their back after contact has been made and leaning back.

This has been my argument from day one

Busta Armov wrote:

A tighter pack encourages contact, an ephemeral "consensus" pack definition discourages it. That is how it works in real life, not in people's imaginations.

But isn't that exactly what the current pack definition rules are? A consensus? In both flat and banked rules, both teams effectively need to "agree" to keep the pack together, because the rules require both teams to maintain pack integrity.

That's asking for both teams to cooperate with each other in a competitive game. I find that absolutely ridiculous. Legitimate sports don't work like that in real life—nor do reality TV game shows or communism. You can require a team to cooperate with the rules, but you can't force a team to cooperate with their opponents and then go ask the world for sports legitimacy.

I believe that if you force a team to cooperate with their opponents through the rules, then the game loses its competitive edge by forcing an artificial rule down the throat of good teams, so that things can be kept "fair" for the "bad" teams. But in reality, that makes it unfair for the good team.

The only way to make derby it fair across the board is to give pack control—be that pack speed, pack positioning, or both—to the better team as established by who within the pack is better at blocking opposing blockers, evading opposing blockers, or having better skating endurance.

Not the one who is better at reading between the lines in the rule book.

If you can't read, you shouldn't be playing derby anyway

WindyMan wrote:

Not the one who is better at reading between the lines in the rule book.

The thing about the rules is that the "reading better" scenario works for a finite amount of time: once. As soon as one team does it in a public setting, it no longer becomes a secret strategy. At best there's a finite amount of time where it still helps the team that is more practiced with it, but evidence shows that doesn't last very long.

In fact, this isn't just true for loopholes, but for ANY strategy. This is exactly what we saw when the stopped/clockwise strategies began in 2009. Teams either adopted or they fell off the top. It's also what we saw this year with the rugby scrum. I'm sure someone who is FAR more familiar with various strategies can add other instances as well to this list.

Nobody won any games at champs because they were the only ones that knew some certain rule.

I know this argument has been made before, but the "reading better" straw man keeps coming back up, so it apparently still needs to be knocked back down again.

Your argument is invalid

WindyMan wrote:

That's asking for both teams to cooperate with each other in a competitive game. I find that absolutely ridiculous. Legitimate sports don't work like that in real life—nor do reality TV game shows or communism.

Suggesting teams have to co-operate is a fallacy. Think of it like the offside rule in football--whether you are in play or not depends on the positioning of the opposition, but you aren't 'co-operating' with them to keep yourself in play. You're bearing their positions in mind to keep yourself in play, just as you are when you're trying to maintain pack speed or keep the jammer trapped at the front for long enough to get either support or a good hit in.

WindyMan wrote:

The only way to make derby it fair across the board is to give pack control—be that pack speed, pack positioning, or both—to the better team as established by who within the pack is better at blocking opposing blockers, evading opposing blockers, or having better skating endurance.

This is *precisely* what happens in the current rule-set. If you can trap another skater through your skill, you instantly have full control over pack speed and positioning. If you can through your skill and awareness slow the pack down when it's in your interest for the pack to be slow, that is the 'better' team controlling the pack speed.

WindyMan wrote:

Not the one who is better at reading between the lines in the rule book.

I defer to the ever-reliable N8 on this point.

And this is precisely my point

Lex Talionis wrote:

This is *precisely* what happens in the current rule-set. If you can trap another skater through your skill, you instantly have full control over pack speed and positioning. If you can through your skill and awareness slow the pack down when it's in your interest for the pack to be slow, that is the 'better' team controlling the pack speed.

But this my argument exactly. I don't have a problem with the pack slowing down through a trap play or good team blocking. I never have had a problem with that.

I'm saying that this is a one-way deal. You can slow down the pack via skill, but you can never move it forward again on your own via skill. If a trapped skater can evade another stopped pack's blocks through their skill, they should be able to retake full control over pack speed and positioning. But that's impossible, because all the team in the back needs to do to keep control of the situation is not skate forward (which takes zero skill) to cancel out the effort put in by the evading skaters.

The extreme tactic of a stopped pack should be able to be countered without needing the permission of the team holding the rear of the pack. Because if they don't want to skate forward, the pack will never move forward no matter how much skill the other team has.

Runaway Pussy

It would also allow for the resurrection of Runaway Pussy.

Assuming you weren't around in 2006-ish, let me explain.

Whether it was because of ill-defined pack rules, inexperienced referees, unsophisticated pack gameplay, or (insert thing I'm forgetting/haven't thought of), the pack in 2006 tended to be defined as the frontmost group of blockers.

Runaway Pussy meant that Team B's blockers would simply start skating as fast as possible shortly after Team A's jammer broke out of the pack. All they had to do was go fast and keep running away and they never even had to touch the jammer to keep her from scoring on them. Even if Team A's jammer was lightning fast, she wasn't going to score much under those circumstances. On the plus side (for her), she wasn't getting hit much, either.

Remove the requirement of a pack altogether and you've got Super Runaway Pussy.

Anyway, if you're historically inclined, you could probably search the roller_girls Yahoo group for "runaway pussy" and get a lot of results. It was a hot topic at the time.

Re: Runaway Pussy

As I see it, the fundamental problem is that a team can create a no-pack situation at will, which effectively causes the other team's blockers to disappear until the pack is reformed. I can think of three ways to address that problem:

1. Eliminate the no-pack situation by guaranteeing that a pack always exists.
2. Eliminate the no-pack situation by removing the requirement for a pack to exist.
3. Reduce the impact of a no-pack situation by allowing blockers to keep blocking.

Removing the requirement for a pack is only one option, and you might be right that the effect would be worse than the problem it's trying to solve. But if I had to choose between watching "runaway pussy" and watching "backaway pussy" (as WindyMan calls it), I'll take runaway pussy. At least in the case of runaway pussy, it requires some measure of skill for a team to evade all of the other team's blockers.

The bigger question is, how can we define the pack in such a way that cooperation between the teams is not required, but that still gives the jammers a chance to score points?

Have you watched any bouts of

Have you watched any bouts of racing the pack? They are far more boring than delayed starts, because except for a couple of cases, the rest of the delayed starts involved contact. Contact equals interactions. Racing the pack is speed skating, without the good parts of speed skating. It's been tried before and it failed. Now, we need to find a different potential solution.

And by "we need to find" I mean "we need to wait to see WFTDA's next attempt at".

Potential Solutions

I'm all for finding (or waiting for) potential solutions, provided that we can agree on the nature of the real problem. When I hear people focus on delayed starts, for instance, it makes me think that they're focusing too much on the symptoms, and not on the underlying cause of the problem.

And there's certainly value in discussing potential solutions in a forum like this. Even if you and I can't directly affect WFTDA's decisions, there are other people here who can.

What about making it so the

What about making it so the jammer can't score points or obtain lead in a no pack situation?

No pack = no positional advancement

I don't think your exact idea would work for a couple reasons but it led me to another idea.

What if skaters couldn't advance position in a no pack situation (like when they go out of bounds, they can't cut track)? Basically, when no pack is called, jammers wouldn't be able to pass any blockers until the pack is reformed.

My first thought was that it would bail out the front wall for not paying attention to where they are on the track. However, the back wall is already bailed out in a no pack situation so why not just make it fair for the front AND the back? Plus, most of the time that blockers get pulled out of play at the front, they're just 20 feet out of play, so this rule wouldn't apply because there'd still be a pack and the jammer could pass the blocker.

I think this could work. If the back wall has no reason to slow the pack down because a split back doesn't benefit them, then they won't. We'd see tighter packs instantly. So, really the only time there'd be no pack situations is when teams are focused on jammer blocking and just float apart (which is fine, because if that happens, no one benefits or is hurt, the pack just reforms and the jam continues). The only other situation is if the pack is intentionally destroyed.

There would have to be an additional rule that if the pack is intentionally destroyed, that team sacrifices their position. I thought of a couple reasons why this would be needed. For example, a jammer is coming up on the pack super fast, the blocking team all take a knee and the jammer goes flying by. A blocker from that team would pick up a major but the opposing jammer would also pick up a major. Trading a blocker major for a jammer major is always worth it. The other situation is at the front of the pack, the jammer is about to break so the blockers race forward to destroy the pack which would stop the jammer from passing them (I'm not sure that would be worth a blocker major in most situations but probably in key jams). Either way, if the team who destroys the pack sacrifices position, then the jammers could skate by unpenalized.

Runaway pussy, or Blocking FAIL?

N8 wrote:

Racing the pack is speed skating, without the good parts of speed skating. It's been tried before and it failed.

This is true. But has anyone bothered to figure out why it really failed? (By the way N8, you may want to read this comment on my blog for why the "speedskater" argument is a weak argument, in my opinion.)

Ana Bollocks wrote:

Whether it was because of ill-defined pack rules, inexperienced referees, unsophisticated pack gameplay, or (insert thing I'm forgetting/haven't thought of), the pack in 2006 tended to be defined as the frontmost group of blockers.

Based on what I've seen about "runaway pussy" and using my sports sense, I figure there were two reasons.

One was unsophisticated pack strategy, like Ana mentioned. If teams knew that "runaway pussy" was a possiblity, why didn't they have better pack positioning throughout the jam to prevent it at all costs? If teams were allowing pullaways (to use the correct derby term) to happen over and over again, then whatever they were doing in the pack wasn't working. Instead of bothering to devise better pack strategies to stop it, they just changed the rules. Lazy!

Two, perhaps the players of that era were just not all that good at blocking on an individual or team level. To prevent a pullaway, a team of three or four blockers just needed to keep one opposing blocker behind them—the goating strategy—making them the majority and always the defined pack, no matter where they were on the track. That they couldn't even do that is what caused roller derby to be boring. The resulting effect of fast packs were only boring because they happened all the time, which meant that blocking was terrible all the time.

Ana, this is why your description of runaway pussy was missing a key step:

Quote:

Runaway Pussy meant that if Team A's blockers sucked and couldn't hold back and slow down anyone from Team B, Team B's blockers would simply start skating as fast as possible shortly after Team A's jammer broke out of the pack.

Nowadays, team blockers are much better. They can goat someone and halt the pack lickety-split if the situation deems advantageous to do so. Goating already re-defines the pack as the goatwall and the trapped goat, as it would under my pack definition proposal. The only thing that would change is that should the goat wall fail and the goat makes her escape, the pack can move forward again. At what speed it moves forward depends on how good the goating team's pack positioning and team blocking strategy is, which goes back to the first reason why runaway pussy happened all the time.

For derby rules to be completely fair to both teams, the pullaway must be the counter to goating, and goating must be the counter to the pullaway. If extreme goating (4-wall on one blocker) were to fail, it would be punished with an extreme pullaway (speedskating race). Since that would be really bad for a team (and for derby, I guess), better pack strategies need to be developed.

Such as, give your best blocker on the team the pivot stripe and make sure they start at and stay at the front of the pack at all times? They line up on the pivot line and are called the "last line of defense" for a reason, you know.

Goating and No-Pack Situations

I agree that trapping a goat is a good countermeasure to prevent a pullaway, but unfortunately the goat can create a no-pack situation by "accidentally" falling down and taking herself out of play. Again, the no-pack situation is too easy to create, and the advantage gained by creating it is huge.

Theory vs Experiment

Yes, I had read that before, but your theory doesn't actually reflect the evidence that we've all seen. You're always going on about how you know so much about sports, but you really seem to be missing the simple basics on this one. Blocking is hard. This is good, because if it weren't hard then jammers would never score. Even when the best blockers in the game are attempting, as a pack, to stop a single jammer we see that skater get through to score points. Now you think that when they're trying to block four blockers they're going to do better?

It just doesn't work. Derby doesn't work the way you think it does (or maybe want it to work?). If blockers want to get through a pack, they will.

Also, your comments (in your link) about how speed skaters probably are bad blockers is the opposite of what we see in derby. The speed skaters in derby are among the best blockers out there.

p.s. Sorry if this post sounds bitchy... I haven't had coffee yet and can't make it sound more intelligent right now.

Sports are hard

N8 wrote:

Even when the best blockers in the game are attempting, as a pack, to stop a single jammer we see that skater get through to score points.

Yes, because once a no-pack is called, it is illegal for those blockers to touch the jammer, and she can skate right on by. So of course the blockers can't always stop the jammer. The rules can make it illegal for teams that want to try to move the pack forward to do so.

Besides, do you honestly think a jammer is going to ever going to get around a front 4-wall if that 4-wall was allowed to skate forward at whatever speed necessary to keep her behind it? Yeah, that would make for some fast packs, but if the team in the back were to actually try to help their jammer through at the front before things sped up, instead of loitering in the back, that wouldn't be a problem now would it?

N8 wrote:

Now you think that when they're trying to block four blockers they're going to do better?

It's the same for both teams, so I don't think a blocker will have a hard time finding their opposite number when the objective is the same for both teams.

N8 wrote:

Also, your comments (in your link) about how speed skaters probably are bad blockers is the opposite of what we see in derby. The speed skaters in derby are among the best blockers out there.

Please explain to me, then, why we need to punish good blocking, fast skating teams like Rocky Mountain or Oly, with rules that reward teams that skate slow and ignore opposing blockers by coasting around or scrumming around at the back of the pack.

Because it seems every time Rocky and Oly play each other, we see good blocking, fast skating, and fewer penalties committed than in other games played against other teams. Or maybe it's just me who thinks that way.

You know the rest of us know sports too, right?

WindyMan wrote:
N8 wrote:

Even when the best blockers in the game are attempting, as a pack, to stop a single jammer we see that skater get through to score points.

Yes, because once a no-pack is called, it is illegal for those blockers to touch the jammer, and she can skate right on by. So of course the blockers can't always stop the jammer. The rules can make it illegal for teams that want to try to move the pack forward to do so.

That's the only time jammers get through packs? You must not have watched any bouts from this post-season then. I saw and see it happen all the time just through skating and a vigilant jammer eventually catching an opening.

WindyMan wrote:

Besides, do you honestly think a jammer is going to ever going to get around a front 4-wall if that 4-wall was allowed to skate forward at whatever speed necessary to keep her behind it? Yeah, that would make for some fast packs, but if the team in the back were to actually try to help their jammer through at the front before things sped up, instead of loitering in the back, that wouldn't be a problem now would it?

That's our point. It was a problem and it still will be a problem. It's inevitable that one team will get all four in the front, no matter how much the other team is trying to stop them (oh, and trying to stay upright and in bounds and trying to help their jammer and trying to stop the other jammer). You can pretty much guarantee it will happen in most of the jams, and probably close to all of them if they last long enough. And when that happens, exactly what you described is what is so much worse to watch than any of the current problems. 5 people skating fast and nobody even positionally blocking, let alone physically blocking.

WindyMan wrote:
N8 wrote:

Now you think that when they're trying to block four blockers they're going to do better?

It's the same for both teams, so I don't think a blocker will have a hard time finding their opposite number when the objective is the same for both teams.

It's rarely the same for both teams. Most of the game, one team is down a blocker, or two blockers, or a jammer, or has a big lead, or doesn't have lead jammer status, or has skaters on 3 minors, or has bigger players, or faster players. These differences all dictate how each team wants to play. Those different game plans will mean that, at any given time (and if we use a set of rules that encourage speed skating derby), one team is going to be trying to get the front of the pack more than the other team is trying to stop them. And we will have boring derby.

WindyMan wrote:
N8 wrote:

Also, your comments (in your link) about how speed skaters probably are bad blockers is the opposite of what we see in derby. The speed skaters in derby are among the best blockers out there.

Please explain to me, then, why we need to punish good blocking, fast skating teams like Rocky Mountain or Oly, with rules that reward teams that skate slow and ignore opposing blockers by coasting around or scrumming around at the back of the pack.

Because it seems every time Rocky and Oly play each other, we see good blocking, fast skating, and fewer penalties committed than in other games played against other teams. Or maybe it's just me who thinks that way.

I didn't realize Oly and Rocky had all the speed skaters in derby. Here I was under the impression there were more speed skaters in derby that [i]weren't[/i] on Oly or Rocky than were.

Let's just agree to disagree. Except...

In light of the upcoming world cup, I think it'd be wise for me to shut up now. (Probably a post or two too late. My bad.) No point in further arguing about this anyhow, since the rules are going to change for next year no matter what I or any of us here think. But then we'll be having an entirely different argument.

Let me just get one last thing off my chest.

I'm basing my idea on what derby will look like in the future, when everyone and their mother is an amazing skater. Those who disagree with me are basing their arguments on observations made when everyone still wasn't really sure what they were doing, and were—to be frank—bad skaters.

The skaters of today have improved immensely since five years ago, and will continue to improve as the years go on. I hear it all the time, "such and such team has amazing skaters!" That's great! If everyone thinks everyone is an amazing skater, then let's give them a fair set of rules that promotes individual skating skills, not rugby or football skills. Let's give them a team game that really requires the whole team to work their asses off to maybe score one or two points on a jam, not a game to see which team can force the other team to commit as many penalties as possible and then stand back to easily rack up the points on the ensuing power jam.

Because I believe there are plenty of amazing skaters and amazing teams that would make the "front of the pack is the pack" game work, and work well. To say that they can't, is to say that they're not good enough.

The skaters will decide if they're good enough. They're the ones that know best, after all.

Groovy

WindyMan wrote:

(Probably a post or two too late. My bad.)

You and me both.

World Cup time!

Amen!

WindyMan wrote:

The skaters will decide if they're good enough. They're the ones that know best, after all.

Amen!

Fighting on skates & clockwise blocks

The full contact aspect is why I joined derby, I definitely get the most thrill out of fighting my way out or fighting someone off on the track. Legally of course. I definitely do not want to lose this part of derby and just make it a purely racing game for everyone involved (jammers are always racing of course). I thought we wore quads for more stability so it's easier to hit people laterally/in any direction, instead of blades for speed. Derby is the only contact sport where you get to spar on day one :)

Also, didn't we outlaw the 'runaway pussy' from a few years before because it got silly as well. If your jammer is stuck just run ahead and create that no pack. It caused the addition of the no-pack major I believe. The slower game forces you to have to fight your way out. The fast game, well if you don't require a pack to reform, or the pack is always at the top, we will be lapping the jammers soon enough, and then what? Do we get to eat the baby and hold the jammers the entire 2 mins (do I get some points back if I hold her for multiple laps)? If you don't have to stop engaging, we can go all day (I mean it's only 2 min jams). Once you have your whole pack in the front and know what to do, it's pretty hard to slow that group down, doesn't matter how good of a skater you are. And every team I've seen plays both running away at the top and slowing down in the back with a person maintaining a pack, whichever gives them the advantage during that jam. Flat or banked track. It's not just one type of game/strategy being played.

A pack is always required and while it seems strange that we have to cooperate to re-create the pack, opposing teams are doing so. It sucks but no one wants to go to the box (right?). Maybe this is inevitable because we have both offense and defense going on at the same time? I do think that the out of the play in the back is called less than out of play in the front, but I'm no ref. Now I'm for both slow and fast (and everything in between) derby. Unlike football, there are 2 teams trying to score, no fixed pre-game track positioning is ever going to be fair. Just go out there and grab what you can, what you think is best. Note: I happen to like football, and usually describe derby to new folks as rugby without the ball on skates with pads.

Since all sorts of ideas are being brought forth, how about allowing clockwise blocks? This would make breaking a back wall a lot easier. Is it more dangerous for the skater? Yes probably but it makes it more 'fair' wherever you are on the track no? It's probably less dangerous on flat than banked to fall backwards. Of course this probably gives the advantage to the top wall and we'll continue this discussion again. Either way I don't think the scrum walls are going to go away completely. Maybe at the start if majority deems it unfavorable to skaters/fans, but you can make a tight wall anywhere on the track (assuming you have enough blockers) and force that jammer to fight her way through.

I don't think hitting the jammer and flopping is going away even if the butt is a legal blocking zone.

Size in derby, well, when hasn't that been an advantage in derby? The best players need to be able to give and take hits, while skating/jumping around for 2 mins.

I presume you wouldn't want a

I presume you wouldn't want a shoulder-charge clockwise can-opener from a run-up into a skater travelling counter-clockwise at full speed to be legal...? A jammer's life expectancy shouldn't be measured in seconds, surely. ;)

If it was legal, I'd be on the lookout ;)

And assuming we still have a pack, she can't engage 20ft away from the pack, you should be out of play pretty quickly running forwards/back. Also I'll be hoping my blockers are not in the box and can help me out >:D Speed and control go hand in hand, and forearms thankfully can be used to shield against blocks (but G-d forbid I swing my arms afterwards to continue skating, else into the box I go :P).

I don't think it's that stupid

And it can be less dangerous if you're only allowed to block clockwise when you're skating backwards. Still in line with the overall direction of the game.

Huh?

"The story I heard was that the pack came about when the Pivot position came about to define a pack. This was done when derby needed to be broadcast on tv and a packless game didn't work on cameras."

And having no pack at all will fix the woes of the arm chair pivots?

I am confused.

Releasing all skaters at once is an interesting idea...
But no pack at all is what? It's not roller derby.

And this!

"WFTDA had to be excited to know that Suzy Hot Rod was featured in the ESPN magazine. Finally, roller derby was getting noticed by the mainstream media, and it was centered on Suzy Hotrod and Gotham. How magical it would be for Gotham to win the championship, after ESPN had played them up in several articles with virtually no mention of Oly or Rocky."

I do not approve of what you imply here, my friend. About the integrity of WFTDA OR GGRD! Gotham gets national attention for obvious reasons:
1) They are smarter than you.
2) They live in a major media hub and therefore are accessible
3) They are awesome, smart, and athletic.
4) They've worked HARD from day one and have the respect of their peers.
5) AND They are still smarter than you.

They have impeccable team work, like many of these teams. They have managed to keep themselves together, keep their eyes on the prize, and have retained a solid body of core skaters that have not undergone tremendous change over time. Kudos to them! Rocky and Oly bare this similarity- except that part of the core of Oly played for years together as Rat City.

You know so little of the entities of which you speak that it is stunning to watch you all be so opinionated.

I appreciate fans of derby, but- and with all due respect- some of you are out of line!!

Transplants make for Hardcore Derby

marqueedesquad wrote:

I do not approve of what you imply here, my friend. About the integrity of WFTDA OR GGRD! Gotham gets national attention for obvious reasons:
1) They are smarter than you.
2) They live in a major media hub and therefore are accessible
3) They are awesome, smart, and athletic.
4) They've worked HARD from day one and have the respect of their peers.
5) AND They are still smarter than you.

They have impeccable team work, like many of these teams. They have managed to keep themselves together, keep their eyes on the prize, and have retained a solid body of core skaters that have not undergone tremendous change over time. Kudos to them! Rocky and Oly bare this similarity- except that part of the core of Oly played for years together as Rat City.

Part of Rocky's core played with Pikes Peak Derby and Fort Collins. Gotham did get some serious help this year from transplants from Tampa (Cherri) and Nashville (Slaydie). Whatever gets you to the Hydra, it's alright.

A modest proposal

Here's an idea that I don't think I've seen proposed:

It seems to me that a lot of the problems people have with current play could be greatly reduced by a rule that at the start of a jam, no pack skater can block a jammer behind the pivot line.

As has been discussed at great length, the idea is that at the first whistle, the blockers start moving forward and that at some point relatively soon they will all pass the pivot line, at which point the jammers start, giving them the distance between the lines to get up to speed and take aim for their initial pass. Most of the complaints people seem to have about non-starts and scrums are because there's no down side to NOT doing that. Prohibiting blocking behind the pivot line would give teams a major incentive to move forward at the start of the jam, and completely eliminate jam line scrums.

Big Loophole

I don't think your idea may work as well as you might think. One loophole that comes to mind off the top is jams that start with a power jam. How's a team without a jammer going to block if the team with a jammer that decides not to cross the pivot line?

If the team with the jammer

If the team with the jammer doesn't cross the pivot line, then the jammer will not be released. If they take a knee or something, she would be released but the other team would only have to step over the line before she gets there to be able to block her.

oh jeeze

Can we get a new controvery? I am so BORED of this thread.

sure.

any minute now!

thank god

Ill go post some outrage over there.