Published on August 20th, 2014 | by Andy Frye1
Photographer: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, used under a Creative Commons
Names Get Weird if Derby Goes Pro
By Andy Frye aka LeBron Shames, Chicago Bruise Brothers
Last fall, I wrote a snarky piece called “How to Make Derby a Real Sport”. In the post, I joked about the ways in which roller derby, one of the greatest sports in the world, could be more like the “big four” sports, and thus legitimate in the eyes of any dismissive Joe Sixpack.
Shortly afterward I got in a discussion with a woman newly crazy about derby, a fan who seemed overly excited about our prospects of going pro. We pinged back and forth about what is remarkable about derby. Its action. Its status as a grass roots phenomenon. And, that WFTDA derby is one of few examples in history in which women’s team sports was successful and sustainable without corporate cash.
Still, she pushed the issue talking about the way sports brands like Nike could get in the game to push things further. Maybe someday we might even kick the football out of Monday Night Football.
One thing that is true is that outside branding and sponsorship in sports isn’t new. Two of the top Mexican soccer clubs, Cruz Azul and Chivas are named for the brands that bought their name. In the Philippines, the San Miguel Beermen, –named after the country’s largest food and beverage corporation– are one of the PBA’s top hoops teams, and so regardless of the fact that you never would have guessed that the Philippines had basketball in the first place. Likewise, RedBull has sponsored extreme sports teams across the board, including auto racing, where the idea is commonplace.
It’s only in America that professional sports leagues put their foot down. A decade ago the NBA, professional basketball’s authority, told FedEx “package refused” on the global courier’s idea to sponsor and rebrand a relocating team, the Vancouver Grizzlies, as the Memphis Express.
Honestly the last thing I want to see is any sport unnecessarily going this route simply to boost promotion. I can’t fathom a bout announced by Brian Dennehy and Sally Kellerman, between the Best Buy™ Betties and the Keebler™ Elfettes. Or a barely-dressed team sponsored by Naked™ juices sparring a brown-clad group of skaters sponsored by UPS™.
Imagine how corporate sponsorship might change some of the names we already know:
- Old El Paso™ Roller Derby
- The St. Louis Vuitton™ GateKeepers
- Oly aka The ALDI™ Rollers
- eBay™ A.rea D.erby
- Mad Rolo™ Dolls Roller Derby
- The International Paper™ Valley Roller Girls
- The Rose Citi™ Rollers
- Black & Decker™ and Bluegrass
- The Masonite™ Dixon Roller Vixens
- Jet-Dry™ City Rollergirls.
Please. No… But maybe I’m just being old-fashioned. Perhaps there’s a way this could work.
Come to think of it, I have heard my own derby friends complain about derby’s costs, especially travel. Some have opted out for travel team tryouts because they know they can’t afford the airfare. Corporate sponsorship to the rescue!(?)
There’s probably even more opportunity for would-be corporate sponsors to co-opt roller derby’s rising popularity by sponsoring individual players. By both capitalizing on a player’s reputation and visibility, while optioning their derby naming rights, clever brand managers could really boost a brand while throwing skaters a few bucks along the way.
So don’t be surprised if you also hear some of these new derby names announced at your local bout.
- OMG KFC™
- Honda™ Sligh
- VISA™ -Diva
- Frida EggBeaters™
- BMO™ Vengeance
- Racer Mc JP Morgan Chase™Her
- Polly Goo Gone™
- WWE Raw™ Heidi
- Sweet’N Low™ Hurt
- Ninjago™ Please
- Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia™ PIMP
- Hermione Grainger™ (division of W.W. Grainger)
- Davey H&R Block™-it
- Julie Samuel Adams™
- Yuengling™ O’Fire
- Ommegang™ WTF
- Kraft™ Smac N Cheese
- Spam™-da Phage
- CarMax™ Getsome
(and one for our lovely editor)
- H&M™ Dash