The 5 stages of watching Derby bouts: A practical guide to survival
They skate on quad skates, not roller blades? They hit each other? There are almost more refs than there are skaters? They all have weird names that you suspect have great stories behind them?? These are all some of the initial thoughts that may run through your mind. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Settle back and enjoy the spectacle. Stare wide-eyed. Take it in. I suggest bringing a snack to boost your blood sugars. You need to keep your energy up for the greatness that will follow in the next couple of hours. Maybe a cheese string or a piece of jerky will do the trick.
The first time you watch derby, you will have no idea what’s going on. That is nearly guaranteed. Even if you’ve watched “Whip It”, you’ll soon realize that we play on a flat floor and that movie is highly inaccurate. You will feel woefully unprepared. Some people describe derby as “speed chess on skates”. I think it often looks more like american football….without a ball…or recognizable markers on the floor…and less padding on the players…but definitely just as many butt slaps.
Good news! Fans of derby are some of the most welcoming, helpful, friendly folk you will ever meet. Often you can find a league member wandering around to answer questions. But if you can’t, ask the person beside, behind or in front of you. They are likely an avid fan or a family member and can explain the basics. Plus if you aren’t sure when to cheer, jeer or heckle, you can just copy them! Bonus.
Ok, you’ve sorta figured this game out. The one with the “star” on their helmet hurtles their body into a bunch of others multiple times. Cool. And now you are angry….red head temper tantrum angry! That hit wasn’t legal! That ref made a weird call! Your favourite booty-short clad skater got a penalty!
This is a good time to visit the food truck. Or the bake sale. Or both. In fact get me something while you’re at it.
Maybe this game is more complicated that you thought…maybe the refs and coaches and skaters know what they’re doing more than you do. You’re feeling a bit sheepish for how rowdy you got a bit ago. No worries. We forgive you. At this point, we suggest lots of clapping, positive cheering and hey, dole out some high fives while you’re at it will ya?
The bout is ending and you are at a loss. Surely life will never be the same. How can you possibly go on without another scheduled bout? Here’s the best news yet: you can skate too!! We teach people to skate from the ground up. Ask us about our fresh meat program. Also there is more derby greatness to be had! August 11-13 the Men’s Roller Derby Association is having playoffs at the Richmond Oval and it’s going to be freakin fantastic. Come on out and experience the 5 stages all over again. But maybe less anger, that was a bit much on your part.