I had quite a few documents back logged in my This is How I Roll file before East Bay Roller Derby officially got off the ground. When I go back to reading those blogs now that I have semi-established the league, they come off kind of harsh. I still feel the same way I did then, it’s just that now that I myself am trying to run a league I have more empathy for my fellow league presidents. Plus, I have to network and make connections and whatever. I don’t want to offend anyone. But I have to stay true to myself and my dream. After all, it is what has gotten me this far. So that said, this is one of those blogs. Just to be really clear, it is not about any particular league, but a collection of my experiences, and always- just my opinion.
I see room for growth in every aspect of Roller Derby, especially marketing and promotions. It is crucial to focus on revenue and innovative, lucrative fundraising tactics, in order to support the skaters that risk their safety to provide this awesome sport. One way, is to make even half time entertaining. Half time should not be an afterthought. There should be dress rehearsals and attention given to detail. One reason why it often is an afterthought is because skaters are having to do all the management off the track as well as the talent on the track. Of course marketing and promotions will be lacking if those responsible for it are spending all their time refining their skating skills. I recognize that. But I’m always dreaming big! In order for these dreams to come to fruition, it would require a league with an incredible off track support staff. So bearing that in mind, here are some brainstorms about half time shows.
[A little background:] I think I have special experience in fundraising for 3 good reasons. Both my parents are public school teachers who have always enjoyed planning extended school trips to Tahoe and Washington D.C.. They were constantly coming up with new fundraising ideas to help students finance the trips, and come hell or high water, would find a way for ANY student to afford going. So, I learned from my parents first. My second experience with fundraising would be as a student trying to finance trips myself. I was a part of a very competitive High School marching band that had ridiculous travel expenses. The band boosters were INCREDIBLE about fundraising. Each student had their own fundraising account, and the boosters were constantly coming up with new and different ways for students to volunteer and fundraise for themselves. If you had enough money to afford band excursions, you did not have to fundraise, but enough opportunities were provided BY THE ORGANIZATION, as not to exclude any potential talent because of financial strain. My third experience has been as a campaign worker, coordinator and then manager. As a part of a political campaign, you are constantly looking for ways to pinch pennies and come up with funds. I have a very strong sense of justice and a firm belief that lack of money should not keep anyone back. My dream derby would provide enough fundraising opportunities (or generate enough revenue) that everyone could skate worry free.
Some advice my mom has given me about fundraising is often times people fail to just simply ASK. Ask for help, ask for sponsors, ask for money. Couldn’t hurt, right? She sends a letter to local businesses and academic interests to get donations for her competition civics team every year and is always unbelievably successful. One way to get local businesses to donate is frequently not in cash, but goods. Raffles are not a bad idea. You just have to have an incentive to buy a ticket other than feeling sorry for the broke ass league you’re trying to support. -Like GOOD PRIZES. You’d be surprised how many free, (and desirable) raffle prizes you could get, just by professionally approaching local vendors in a way that shows them the benefits in it for THEM. (Contributing to the community, free advertising, tax write-offs, whatever it takes!) Nagging your fans for money isn’t fun for anyone. You want your fans to feel good about spending money at your games, or at the very least, like they are getting something in return. People want to come to a sporting event, not a charity event. So, yes to raffles and sponsors, no to nagging and crappy prizes. You get what you give. That’s all I’m sayin’.
[A little musician’s humor for you…]
No but seriously, halftime. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess a good start is to say that I’ve yet to attend a roller derby game where halftime wasn’t at best; long lame and boring, and at worse; a frenzied mess of unorganized elementary school field day games mixed with crappy raffle prizes no one wants. I don’t magically have the formula for roller derby success. It comes from looking at what exists and trying to improve upon it. To me, it’s pretty easy to evaluate what is unsuccessful and then try to change that. I do not understand why league after league continues to replicate the same lousy blue print for mediocrity. I mean, I actually had someone admit to me once that their league spaghetti feed fundraiser breaks even, -is a wash- but is worth the “publicity”. Is no one evaluating whether or not what they are doing is successful and trying to improve upon it? I think the answer is, no one sees anything wrong with the current blueprint.
Time is Money
First, just straight up: 30 minutes is WAY too damn long of a halftime for an amateur roller derby game. As a skater, sometimes I don’t even want to go back to the game MYSELF after 30 minutes! I’m ready to take my skates off and go to the after party. God knows what a 30 minute halftime feels like to spectators. This isn’t a professional sporting event, you can only expect so much from your patrons. Bottom line: halftime should not exceed 15 minutes!
The Super Bowl can sell halftime ad space, why not roller derby? If your halftime MUST be 30 minutes long, instead of having some garage band deafen and bore your audience, (which is still a better alternative to elementary school field day games- if you ask me) why not sell time slots to local businesses? Roller girls can collaborate with the business to create a funny or clever choreographed skit, either to music or whatever fits the business person’s fancy. (Must be tasteful of course! What did you have in mind?) It would be far more captivating to the audience, and exceedingly more effective than a plain banner on the ring-side or ad in the program for the invested business. Instead of selling ad space for the entire season at a time, the league would be selling it for each individual bout, thus upping the league’s earning power exponentially. Skaters who would not be competing for that night would have a way to participate and use their creative talents by performing in the skit and businesses would feel far better about their investment with the league because they would be getting much more out of it in return. The idea is better for business investors, the audience and the skaters.
Perhaps a Xanadu tribute
…Or maybe our water boys could be sponsored by the local Culligan Man.
...Just some ideas to think about.