Monday, July 5, 2010
You know what's sexy? Talented Athletes.
The largest problem holding roller derby back from big time success is also one of its best and most fun qualities: Sex Appeal.
The ultimate goal of a successful, professional league of today, would be to straddle a fine line of preserving this aspect, and capitalizing on it, while still being taken seriously.
The way to do this is to focus first and primarily on skating ability and recruiting good athletic talent. Where athletic talent does not exist but the drive to skate does, skating skills ought to be developed first, and nurturing the woman within second. Let me explain:
One of the best things about this sport is its ability to empower women. Women who never felt comfortable being "sexy" or flaunting their womanhood come out of their shells in this sport. Lasting friendships are created as women realize they have finally found an athletic outlet with people they love. In addition to the feisty women roller derby attracts, it also attracts lots of eager fans hungry for strap busting, skirt flipping action!
The problem is, too many leagues are focused only on this aspect. It's kind of funny, because you would think the sex appeal of bad ass women would be enough to get ticket paying butts in the seats, but something is lacking. LEGITIMATE ATHLETIC TALENT. Sure the women of roller derby's heyday got a lot of attention for being tough little fireballs who had amazing knacks for pumping up a crowd, but they were recruited for their skating ability FIRST. It was their SKATING ABILITY that carried them, and made them stars. Not their awesome fashion sense or clever names.
What seems so blaringly obvious to me, but seems to escape everyone running a league today, is: GOOD SKATING IS SEXY. If leagues spent nearly as much time trying to become better skaters or working on showmanship skills to entertain the audience, as they did configuring their "boutfits" for games, maybe present day roller derby would see fans outside their inner circles buying tickets. Right now, the sport exists on immediate family members, friends and co-workers. All the skaters are in their own worlds. They feel empowered and sexy and love what they are doing. They don't CARE that they aren't making money doing it, and they don't care that it exists entirely on the backs and paychecks of the skaters, and they don't CARE that there is no fan base for it outside of people who actually know a roller girl. -Because they're having their rebirth or whatever. Those women don't love roller derby, they love how roller derby makes them feel. If they loved ROLLER DERBY, they would have a greater stake in it's success as a legitimate sport.
But I care about roller derby so much I can see the bigger picture. I don't want to just skate for myself, and wear cute outfits and do ME. I want to give roller derby as a gift to those besides my friends and family, and I want to develop the talent that will gain those fans' interest. Because I have faith roller derby is that cool. Currently, it's just not being done right.
Some people may have considered that of course roller derby of the past was more athletically focused. Those skaters were paid to skate, it was their job! Skaters use this as an argument against my dreams all the time. "What do you expect? We all have jobs, this is a part time hobby for us!" But isn't the popularity of roller derby of the past just an argument FOR my dreams? Isn't it just proof that it CAN be done?
Maybe they are all just fearful that if roller derby did evolve back into a sport that required its skaters to be real competitive athletes, they would not be able to do it anymore. I guess I can understand that, but I'm not that selfish. If it takes me 15 years to get my dream to come true and I'm too old or physically unable to skate, but at least I can give what I think is a GOOD sport over to a new generation, I will be truly happy.