Editorials Em Dash by Hale Yeah

Published on August 1st, 2011 | by Em Dash

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Em Dash by Hale Yeah

8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Play Roller Derby

#8: You are too busy. Like, really too busy. Like, you have six kids and two full-time jobs and you live an hour away from the nearest league and your mom is sick and you are also passionately committed to your garden, and you just can’t make it to 2 or 3 practices a week. Roller derby is incredibly time consuming, and on top of practice, you’ll have league committee work and bout production and promotion to do. Even if that doesn’t sound like a lot, it is. Roller derby will completely take over your life, and what’s more, you’ll let it. It’s that awesome. But if you don’t have the time to commit, then you’ll be letting down your teammates and leaguemates who depend on you to be at practice and help your league run.

#7: You can’t take a hit. No, really. If you can’t take being hit, sometimes illegally, this is not the sport for you.

#6: You just want to wear fishnets and glitter. Roller derby is a real sport and we train hard. If you’re not interested in being an athlete, you should find a different hobby. That said, if you want to train hard AND wear fishnets and glitter, then this definitely IS the sport for you.

#5: You can’t afford to. You don’t have to be rich to play derby by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s an incredibly expensive hobby, and there are some things you will just have to pay for. Dues, for example. They tend to range from $25-50 per month, depending on your league. Skates and safety equipment can get expensive very fast, and when your pads wear out, they need to be replaced. If you’re on a traveling team, expenses can really soar. Before you commit to joining a league, ask a current skater to tell you what her yearly derby expenditure is, and then make sure that’s within your budget.

#4: You aren’t a team player. Roller derby is incredibly co-operative, and a team of moderately good players who are totally in sync and work together well will usually beat a team of awesome skaters who are lone wolves. You can be a star in derby, but usually, it’s your teammates who help you shine.

#3: You have a bad attitude. This is part of the whole “be a team player” section, but nothing brings a team down faster than one skater muttering on the bench, cursing at the refs, or just generally skating around with a storm cloud over her head. This is not to say that you can’t have a bad day or get frustrated–we’ve all been there. But if you can’t shake it off and approach the sport with a positive attitude, you’ll hurt your team’s morale. Your teammates are trying hard to learn and play the sport–don’t distract them with your negativity.

#2: You can’t take criticism. If you’re coming to derby for the first time, there is a LOT you won’t know. It’s not a sport any of us grew up with, so even if you have a skating background or a team-sports background, there will still be a lot about rules and technique that you’ll have to learn. And that’s OK! It’s one of the things I like most about the sport–constantly feeling like I’m learning and growing. But part of the learning process is knowing how to accept feedback, even critical feedback, with grace, and how to take that feedback and use it to get better. Sometimes you’ll get bad advice, and that’s OK, too. Everyone is still learning how to play the sport, and different people have different styles. Something that works for you might not work for someone else. Just keep an open mind, try everything once, and always remember to say thank you when someone gives you advice.

#1: You can’t afford to get injured. Unfortunately, injuries do happen, and when they do, they can be very expensive. If you have a physical job (construction worker, dog walker, babysitter, massage therapist), an injury can make work impossible for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. And even if you have good insurance, a lot of stuff isn’t covered–co-pays, bandages, crutches, physical therapy, acupuncture, etc. If you don’t have insurance, you can end up owing thousands of dollars even for a relatively minor injury. It breaks my heart to include this one, but it’s true. If you can’t afford to get injured, you shouldn’t play derby.

But if these things aren’t true, then you definitely SHOULD play roller derby. It’s hard, and it’s time-consuming, and you will sometimes cry with frustration, but you’ll get to spend your time doing something really fun and rewarding with an incredible group of people. After four years of playing, I can’t imagine my life without roller derby.

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Em Dash is a skater with Gotham Girls Roller Derby, which she joined in 2008 after a brief stint with Suburbia Roller Derby. She is also a founding member and Editor-in-Chief of Derbylife.com. For more of her writing, check out her new book, Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom from the Roller Derby World, live on Kickstarter now. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/margot/derby-life-stories-advice-and-wisdom-about-roller/

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About the Author

Em Dash is a skater with Gotham Girls Roller Derby, which she joined in 2008 after a brief stint with Suburbia Roller Derby. She is also a founding member and Editor-in-Chief of Derbylife.com. For more of her writing, check out her new book, Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom from the Roller Derby World, live on Kickstarter now. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/margot/derby-life-stories-advice-and-wisdom-about-roller/



  • Andy Frye

    99 problems and 8 reasons ain’t one.

  • Tim Wilson

    Mt friend needed some computer stuff done. So I said when you get done with Derby hit me up and I will walk her through it. She said 10:30 and I said no. Let’s be real here. Derby is no more technical or physical than any other sport. Football requires more physical strength and knowledge than Derby needs, yet when I played Football I was home way before 10. This is why Derby will always have “spurts” of growth and nothing else. I really respect the sport, but not the hours. EVERY other sport for adults takes this into consideration but why someone needs 3 hours are practice is stupid. You don’t. Derby doesn’t have enough plays to warrant that time frame, and this is why Derby will always lose to Soccer, Softball, Basketball, Tennis and Volleyball. All of which I don’t have a return home time of 1030. Give me a break. I love how when I attend derby games they always talk about legitimizing the sport, making it mainstream and taking it to the Olympics. Well you reason why you shouldn’t just goes to show why it won’t ever happen. You need about 30 minutes of exercise and 30 minutes to go over plays and strategy. But what you get is a hen house full of talking and bullshit.

    I hate watching derby practice because it boils my blood how much time is wasted, and yes I have watched some of the best teams in America practice and it’s no different than some shit hole league in the boonies, a bunch of girls wasting time.

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  • natty

    Having six kids, and running two businesses sadly means I havent been for 4 months :(
    Makes me sad in my heart, I miss my skates x

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