This is a tough blog for me to write. I knew someday I would have to. ...Because it is the most dramatic thing that has every happened to me in my skating “career”. It was bound to surface eventually. It is pertinent now, because of a little rumble that occurred earlier this month, on October 9th, at a Port City game. In my opinion, everyone I know has grossly overreacted. But perhaps that is just because my experience has been vastly, outrageously different. The Port City fight, and the reaction to it, spurred me to finally write about my own “incident”. I thought I had something written about this already, but when I turned on my old computer I just had several documents filled with angry, lengthy rants about management. I will use some excerpts from those, but unfortunately I will have to fill in the gaps.
You can’t really see what happens after the initial impact. The girls are pretty much engulfed instantaneously by fellow skaters and long constant whistles can be heard from the refs. Within seconds the fighting skaters are pulled apart and the announcer reassures the audience everything is okay. That’s it. Done. Over with. Big whoop. Rumor has it, the Undead Bettys who were scheduled to bout Port City later this season, cancelled the game upon hearing the news of this fight.
A line needs to be drawn here to differentiate this incident from what can be misconstrued as a dirty team. It is possible that some teams are accustomed to playing unfair and purposefully implement dirty tactics on the track. They, together as a team, make an effort to sabotage legitimate game play. And then there are fluke accidents where a couple girls’ egos and tempers get the best of them and shit breaks loose. And when that happens, you just need to regroup as a league, put a lid on the bullshit, and enforce the proper consequences to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
You see, I started skating with a league where fighting was encouraged and bad feelings and resentment amongst skaters was nurtured. Fights occurred midgame on a regular basis as announcers cheered and rallied the crowd. Particular skaters were known for starting scuffles on the track, and were never reprimanded for it. While no one was ever told outright to stage a fight or throw a punch on the track, the behavior was never discussed or dealt with once the skater served their time in the penalty box. I’m sorry but if an individual can be depended on to throw a punch at least once a bout that person needs to be dealt with off track, bar none. But it was overlooked because the audience liked it and it pumped up the crowd. So with that league, fighting was not just individualized isolated incidents, it actually was, the way the team was. It was veiled as just a bunch of moody women who were prone to bicker and fight, but the underlying truth was a rogue management exploiting the skaters and playing them off each other for the benefit of the rink owner’s pocket book.
[This type of behavior was never called!]
Now, that’s not how it went down at the Port City fight earlier this month. They put an end to it. No one can be heard over the loudspeaker inciting the crowd or encouraging the skaters. Everyone was mortified, even the audience. I’m coming to the defense of both Port City and Undead. For one, everyone is overreacting, this stuff happens, and they are dealing with the skaters in question in an appropriate manner. And second, fighting IS absolutely unacceptable, and skaters’ safety should without question always be put first. It is crucial to set an example of good ethics and create and air of camaraderie. If a team feels their safety is at risk they SHOULD pull the plug on a game. It’s unfortunate, and it’s not the end of the world for Port City, but perhaps it is acts like Undead’s cancellation that will help display an attitude of no-tolerance for this sort of behavior in our sport. I commend Undead for their decision, but I also have empathy for Port City because I understand these things happen and it’s no one’s fault. It doesn’t necessarily mean an entire team is prone to playing dirty; this was a fluke accident. But each team has to look out for their best interests and protect their players, and I understand that too.
It would help to have some background on my own experience and on the incident that ultimately led to me leaving the NorCal RollerGirls. Months after it happened, (years ago now) my dad wrote a play by play of the incident, to help with our legal documents actually. (Yes, we were considering pursuing legal action regarding this). The NorCal RollerGirls were in the habit of video taping EVERY SINGLE GAME, and they had video of this entire incident and were withholding it from us, (for fear of us taking legal action maybe?) We really just wanted to see exactly how much time elapsed between when I hit the ground and when my dad intervened on the track. Anyhow, we didn’t end up pressing charges, but the document still serves well for my records and is pretty helpful in describing what went down in a detailed and colorful manner. Honestly, I have no reason not to use the actual names of the people in question, so I’m going to.