Apr 302011
 

This is not going to be a happyhappyjoyjoy post. It’s not going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the wonderous sport we all know and love and it’s not going to lead you to some revelation about yourself or derby.

This is a look at how I was (and probably still am) a total n00b.

For those of you who are slightly to moderately internet-dyslexic, according to “Lord Emperor” of urbandictionary.com, a n00b is “A[sic] inexperienced and/or ignorant or unskilled person.”

Ok, so anyone entering into derby would be considered a n00b, in a way. I remember when I first heard of derby I thought it was for badasses. And I don’t mean like, sassy women who “tell it like it is” or something, but women who were so amazingly confident in themselves that they didn’t HAVE to tell anyone how it was because it didn’t change the TRUTH of it all. “It,” as it was, existed with or without the telling of it. Women so amazingly confident in themselves and the other women they surrounded themselves with that they all got along amazingly because of this unspoken truth.

Right, so you see how I was n00bish, huh? Yeah.

So right off the bat, I saw how wrong I was. The women I skate with are amazing, make no mistake about that, but I made the mistake of buying into this mythical derby ideal that doesn’t fucking exist. Granted, my derby family is different than all of my “normal” friends and family and that’s why I love them. They love me because I’m not “normal” either. How can normal exist in derby anyway? It takes a special kind of girl to wake up in the morning and say, “Today’s a good day to get my ass handed to me in the rink.” And you always love your teammates for putting you there and making you stronger for it.

But we’ve already covered this, haven’t we? trACDC did a rock-solid job on the taboo involved in your derby family. But what about other teams? What about other leagues?

So you see, I learned early-on that I had a misguided idea of what a derby girl is, but I still assumed that other teams filled with similar-minded women could still uphold that sense of comaraderie I’d always heard about. If you’ve skated in even a single bout, you know exactly what I’m talking about: both teams skate their asses off, knock each other into next week, then party together like they’re long lost sorority sisters or something. I assumed every bout was like this since derby has always seemed like a left-of-center sorority to me. Fucked up chicks who are sisters because we’ve all taken the same beatings, bruises, broken bones, and rink rash. It connects us in a way that is unbreakable, right?

Until you meet the one team that doesn’t operate that way. A team that doesn’t adhere to this supposed code and plays, well, however the hell they want. And that’s ok. It’s the real world and we’re all big girls, so we can pull our glitter-panties up and be big girls about it. It doesn’t take away from the fact that unsportswomanlike conduct still pisses you off.  

See to me, that sense of interleague comaraderie is an important part of what derby is. And yeah, maybe that’s why I’m still a n00b, but if that’s the case, then I’m ok with that. I want to be friends with the other team (after the bout, of course). I want to be able to go up to the tiny girl who somehow managed to put me on my ass and say, “DAMN. That was awesome,” and I want her to be able to do the same thing. What I don’t want is to wonder if I’m going to have to defend myself from a fight-happy derby girl at the afterparty. I don’t want to wonder if one of their fans are going to jump me when I leave the bout. That’s not what derby is about.

I don’t know, I think my biggest rant here is that once you’re a “derby girl,” you sort of start assuming a lot of things about a lot of people. You assume that someone else who has earned the same title respects the sport as much as you do. You assume that she has also worked her ass off like you did and that she wants to play as fair as she can – like you do. We assume the best in all of these women because we want them to assume the same is true about us. The thing is – assumptions are for assholes because you can’t assume anything about anyone because we are not all cut from the same cloth, ya dig?

So yeah, I’m still learning. I’m still discovering the idiosyncracies of the women on my own team while also trying to figure out how to navigate the testy waters of other teams. I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve learned/bruised/broken in derby because, like every other experience in my life, it’s shaping who I’m becoming…. and I kinda’like that girl.

Share

  7 Responses to “The Unspoken Truth About Interleague Relations”

  1. Love!

  2. I think you’re right in this – in the same way that for anyone to assume that any sport doesn’t have it’s assholes is. Each person’s experience of Derby is very different and while some do see the strong, almost mythical women you stated above (I am lucky in that my team has these women) you will also get overly competitive ones who are to a fault; in a word, cheats. So long as that’s not your team then you’re in the right place.

  3. “I want to be able to go up to the tiny girl who somehow managed to put me on my ass and say, “DAMN. That was awesome,” and I want her to be able to do the same thing”

    I can’t agree more!!!! I like actually becoming friends with people on our teams but then still being able to kick each others ass on the rink. I hate nothing more than teams that play dirty. You can win with having skill, you don’t have to take cheap shots in order to do it. Also, teams that run up the score board just because they can bother me…when your a 7 yr strong team playing a 2nd year bouting team of course your probably going to win…but really is there a point at striving to make sure score as high as possible so it ends up being something like 224-20?? all that does is completely kill the new team
    i dont know, im not saying everyone should be super fake nice to each other or great teams should completely dumb there score to make new teams feel like they actually had a chance but its kinda like the mercy rule in football, ocne your 150+ points up on the other team and theres 15 minutes left cant you just have fun instead of running the score?

  4. i meant to put *other teams not our teams

  5. Coma, you wrote this at a time when I REALLY needed to read it. Our team had just come back from a long weekend out of town at a bout that just didn’t FEEL right, somehow. And you said some things I needed to hear, for sure. But especially this:

    ” You assume that someone else who has earned the same title respects the sport as much as you do. You assume that she has also worked her ass off like you did and that she wants to play as fair as she can – like you do. We assume the best in all of these women because we want them to assume the same is true about us. The thing is – assumptions are for assholes because you can’t assume anything about anyone because we are not all cut from the same cloth, ya dig?”

    I had so much trouble understanding why I was frustrated, and you summed it up perfectly… and reminded me how I can deal with it. Thanks!

  6. Villainelle – I still struggle with the frustration and, honestly, anger I feel about the particular situation I was thinking of when I wrote this entry. It’s especially hard when there’s really nothing you can do about teams like that. All I can say is just be the better sport and know that MOST teams out there aren’t assholes. ;]

  7. In response to some of the comments, I’ve noticed at times that out-of-town games can be a very different animal than the teams you’ve come to expect certain things from in your neighboring cities. There can be a strange, new kind of lioness territorialism that comes with being so far from your turf. It’s weird…I think when a team comes from a distance, you have to try harder to make them feel welcome and appreciated for making the trip. Have a potluck at someones house the night before. Have your skaters make custom trinkets with the team members names…or a simple sign in their locker room signed by your team that says ‘THIS TEAM welcomes THAT TEAM’. It helps to pave the way for that experience we desire. Of course, there are teams that have a hard edge no matter what. We often know far less about that distant team, which creates a mutual doubt, fear- not knowing quite where you stand. Smile at them on the pivot line and insist on never letting them make you be less than hospitable. Unless, of course…..hahah you’re so right about this Coma. Great article.

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Before you post, please prove you are sentient.

What color is a typical spring leaf?