Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Is everyone done bouting for the holiday season? Good. Stop thinking about how to help your team win next season. Stop that right now. Now is the time to think about how you can help the sport overall next season.
Maybe you can get some people into skating, NSOing, or even just being fans. Maybe you can mentor a beginning skater or league. Or maybe you're quite advanced, and can help an intermediate league get over that hump.
What if they come back and beat you next year? Well, that means there's now one more team playing at your level! That means there's one more team giving you a challenge! That means that the overall quality of the game has improved!
Remember, skaters are only your competition for 60 minutes at a time. The entire rest of the time, they're your compatriots. They're the ones working with you for better recognition from the public, better venues and practice space, more research into high-quality equipment, and higher quality bout production.
In the long run, they're on your side. It's not you versus them, it's you and them versus all the obstacles derby faces.
Every team that plays with sportsmanship, with respect to officials and fellow skaters, with a bit of flare and panache, with excitement and drama, and with a smile on their faces helps to improve the game.
Every team that plays only to win, that games the system rather than plays the game, that undercuts referees and fellow skaters, that sees the skaters in the other team only as opponents instead of also as fellow skaters works to set the game back.
Honestly, I tell you that if the game wins, we all win. If the game grows, we all grow. If the game improves, we all improve.
If you lose a bout, but the game wins, then we all win. Including you.
If you win a bout, but the game loses, then we all lose. Including you.
I have seen jammers who were a little banged up but off the track crawl onto it to force the jam to be called off. I have seen jammers call out "NO PACK" as they approached, causing them to not be touched as they scored their points. I have seen blockers aim a shoulder at the other jammer's face intentionally.
They all may think that they gained an advantage, and for a moment they did. For 1 or 2 seconds and 3 or 4 points they gained an advantage. And they hurt all of us in the process.
Every one of those actions makes the game less legitimate, less sporting, less enjoyable. Every one of those actions is a show of contempt for fellow skaters, officials, fans, and the game itself.
However, I have seen teams hold boot camps, and invite local 'rivals' to train with them. I have seen teams skate a bout Saturday, then run practice together on Sunday. I have seen ad-hoc teams created by their opponents, just so those leagues that only have 2 skaters past min skills can have somebody with bouting experience.
I have seen leagues produce training videos, showing their tactics and skills to the world.
Every one of these actions helps the game itself grow.
Now is the season to put aside your own growth and think about the growth of the game. Derby 1st, everybody. Let's put derby 1st.
If you'd like, think of it as a holiday gift to derby. "This Christmas, I will give derby my time, helping new skaters get through min skills." "This Hanukkah, I will give derby my know-how, bench-coaching a team that only has 13 members in their first few bouts." "This Mayan long-count new year, I will give derby my support, going to every game I can and cheering loudly for every skater."
I'm willing to help any team, near or far, with numerical analysis of their skaters, bouts, etc., and I will hold no secrets. I will publish my algorithms as open source, so that those with better ideas can improve upon them and make them their own.
What will you do to put derby 1st?