In case you all missed it, we’ve been living through a global pandemic for a while now – this pandemic saw many things come to a standstill, one of those things was my ex-sport, Roller Derby. Which was a bit of a pain because as we went into lockdown we had basically hit our peak as a league and had great aspirations for our competitive season, but you know, who plans for things like ‘Rona’?
Anyway, at a good year and a bit down the line the sport was allowed to return – I however did not, and I’m finally ready to admit why.
I’m a selfish twat. Roller Derby right now needs growth, it needs those folks who want to join a new sport to be given time, resource and support to develop as skaters. It needs those selfless coaches who are willing to give up their time, pass on their skills and knowledge. It needs those folks who want to bring back the referees, train up new NSO’s and bring on officiating crews, because without them there really is no return to the flat track – game play and the sport itself is doomed without them.
So why am I too selfish, well I spent 6 years growing and supporting the league I loved, and I wasn’t ready to start again – which is essentially where many leagues are. A lot of officials left the sport after realising they actually could have lives outside of travelling hundreds of miles up and down the country to be shouted at by skaters for doing their jobs and making the calls. Skaters left as, much like me, they realised they weren’t ready to rebuild again. So the guys that did return are returning to a sport that isn’t ready to be a sport yet, and I don’t think will be a sport for a while.
Right now leagues don’t need rebrands, uniforms or merchandise, they need the committed coaching teams willing to give up their time to develop the next generation. They need the next generation who want to be a part of the new era, (we all know intakes have a less than 25% retention rate). They need the people who are willing to train to be referees so that at least when they do have enough members they can actually begin to scrim again. The people who sacrifice their weekend mornings to train new people how to knee tap, and plow stop, who aren’t focused on their own selfish needs as skaters but are about the greater good.
I miss my league, I do, but Roller Derby, I’m sorry, I’m not that person. I loved you for a long time, I let it take over my life – but I’m not ready to give up the hours of my life again in the hope you can return. If you do, I’ll be in the crowd cheering – but I am too selfish to give up my life to help you grow back to the titan you once were.
And to all of you selfless humans who are giving up hours and hours to regrow your leagues, support and coach your newbies, develop your skills and create your officials crews – you are the ones the sport needs, for the time when it becomes a sport again because you are what Roller Derby needs.
I’ve moved on, my relationship with Roller Derby is over, because ‘we were on a break‘….