Friday, May 31, 2013

The Upset, Part III: Min-V

A league's B-team higher than A-team?  What're (insert team here) doing so far down/up?  That ranking makes no sense!

What the heck is that Min-V ranking doing?

Well, like both ranking written about last week, European Roller Derby Rankings and Derby Chart, the Min-V system doesn't consider A and B teams as related.  One's ranking doesn't affect the other.

As well, the Min-V doesn't consider scores.  It only considers who won and lost.

The system works like this:

If the Qarth Rollers defeat the Vaes Dothrak Rolling Horde, then QR should be ranked above VDRH in all future rankings.  That is, QR should have more ranking points than VDRH.  If that's not the case, the bout is a violation.

The computer takes a table of all the bouts and results, as well as a list of all teams, and uses an efficient trial-and-error method to compute the minimum number of violations possible, hence Min-V.

[Details and theoretical basis thanks to Dr. Coleman can be found in this pdf file.]

The computer then outputs a table with each team and its ranking points.  This is only one possible solution; there are an infinite set of ranking point tables which produce the same number of violations.  As well, there are several orderings of teams which will not change that number.

Due to this, the ranking can be optimized.  Optimization is the process of adjusting the ranking points values for each team to more closely match what other ranking systems produce.  For example, it doesn't matter mathematically if LRG[A] or Gent[B] are ranked #1.  Since neither played the other, changing that order will not cause a violation.

LRG[A] will be optimized to #1, and Gent[B] lower in the table.  However, Gent[B] cannot be moved below Paris without causing a violation.  They, in turn, cannot go below Bear City, etc.  The knock-on effects in a Min-V system can be massive, so optimization must be done carefully.

In this case, optimization was done attempting to match the Derby Chart ranking.  It could be done to approach any ranking scheme using the same Min-V basis.

Min-V has been used effectively in the US College Football system for years, with great predictive and retrodictive results.  As was shown last week, retrodictivity in other derby rankings is spotty at best.  ERDR rankings say that 1 in 5 bouts were upsets, Derby Chart's say 1 in 4.  The Min-V ranking table, as odd as it looks, only has 1 in 30 bouts as upsets.

It's the most retrodictively correct ranking by more than a factor of 6.

But is it the best ranking?

The answer to that question is a question itself: "How is best measured?"

And to set those two questions into perspective, consider this one: "Why care about rankings?"

As there's no trophy awarded on rankings, and no Champions League in European derby (yet???), the choice is yours.  Min-V is presented here to show just how impossible it is to conclusively put all European leagues in a ranked order.

If they're properly used, rankings can be a helpful source of information.  ERDR has an archive of past rankings, and Derby Chart has bout records for each team.  But don't become too dependent on them.  Even the most theoretically precise system is wrong 1 out of 30 times, and the most trusted are 1 in 4 or 1 in 5.

Keep rankings in perspective.  They're to inform and educate, not to dictate.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Upset, Part II: All over the place

After discussing why we rank, it's time to say just how good each scheme is.  For the purposes of this study, I've looked at the rankings as of 1 Jan 2013.

or, how often did the team that won end up ranked lower?

This is the bit that causes the most confusion.  "But we beat them, why aren't we higher?"  Well, ranking algorithms generally aren't actually written to minimize this.  They're written to be more concerned about other things, and hope this comes along for the ride.  A scheme has been written, called Min-V, which is primarily concerned about minimizing retrodiction error.  More on its algorithm later.

How do Derby Chart, the European Roller Derby Rankings, and Min-V stack up in this category, as well as predictive ability?

Past upsets70559272
Past upset % 25.7% 20.2% 3.3% 272
Predict upsets1615 1745
Predict upset % 35.6% 33.3% 37.8% 45

Turns out, both rankings do a poor job of retrodicting bouts.  Only the Min-V system, with the sole purpose of minimizing retrodiction errors, has a low upset percentage.  For prediction, all three give at best a 2-in-3 chance of being correct.


Don't trust the rankings too much, unless they're Min-V.  And Min-V looks like this:

1London Rollergirls20.911
2Gent GO-GO Roller Girls [B]20.713
3London Rollergirls [B]20.711
4Paris Roller Girls20.703
5Bear City Roller Derby20.697
6Rainy City Roller Girls20.672
7Stockholm Roller Derby20.668
8Hellfire Harlots20.612
9Middlesbrough Milk Rollers20.602
10Glasgow Roller Derby [B]20.6
11Brighton Rockers20.592
12Glasgow Roller Derby20.587
13London Rollergirls [C]20.58
14Helsinki Roller Derby20.572
15Gent GO-GO Roller Girls20.568
16Leeds Roller Dolls20.558
16Tiger Bay Brawlers20.558
18Auld Reekie Roller Girls20.548
18Crime City Rollers20.548
20Central City Rollergirls20.537
21Dublin Roller Girls20.502
21Hot Wheel Roller Derby20.502
23Newcastle Roller Girls [B]20.5
23Leeds Roller Dolls [B]20.5
23Manchester Roller Derby20.5
26Bear City Roller Derby [B]20.498
27Copenhagen Roller Derby20.432
28Kallio Rolling Rainbow20.427
29Sheffield Steel Roller Girls [B]20.4
30Royal Windsor Rollergirls20.232
31Southern Discomfort20.2
32Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder20.1
32Quad Guards20.1
32Ruhrpott Roller Girls20.1
35Tyne & Fear20
37Roller Derby Bordeaux Club10.6
38Roller Girls of the Apocalypse10.5
38Herault Derby Girlz10.5
40Cork City Firebirds10.488
41Bristol Roller Derby10.442
42Birmingham Blitz Dames10.437
43London Rockin Rollers [B]10.421
44Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz [B]10.402
45Paris Roller Girls [B]10.4
45Roller Derby Rennes10.4
47One Love Roller Dolls10.398
48Lutèce Destroyeuses - Paris10.3
49Brussels Derby Pixies10.2
49Roller Derby Metz Club10.2
51MRD: New Wheeled Order10.1
52Newcastle Roller Girls1
53Crime City Rollers [B]0.988
54Liverpool Roller Birds0.9
54Seaside Sirens Roller Girls0.9
56Sheffield Steel Roller Girls0.888
56London Rockin Rollers0.888
56Dolly Rockit Rollers0.888
59Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz0.878
59Romsey Town Rollerbillies0.878
61Croydon Roller Derby0.8
61Rainy City Roller Girls [B]0.8
63Big Bucks High Rollers0.798
64Lincolnshire Bombers0.788
65Tiger Bay Brawlers [B]0.7
66Vienna Roller Girls0.6
67Rockcity Rollers0.5
67Milton Keynes Concrete Cows0.5
67Barockcity Rollerderby0.5
67Amsterdam Derby Dames0.5
71Bristol Roller Derby [B]0.4
71Rebellion Roller Derby0.4
71Dublin Roller Girls [B]0.4
71Harbor Girls0.4
71Portsmouth Roller Wenches0.4
71Liverpool Roller Birds [B]0.4
71Rotterdam Death Row Honeys0.4
78Munich Rolling Rebels0.3
78Blackland Rockin'K-Rollers0.3
78Bembel Town Roller Girls0.3
78Oxford Roller Derby0.3
78Royal Windsor Rollergirls [B]0.3
78Birmingham Blitz Dames [B]0.3
78Bad Bunny Rollers0.3
85Inhuman League0.2
85South West Angels of Terror0.2
85Manchester Roller Derby [B]0.2
85Bedfordshire Roller Girls0.2
85Mean Valley Roller Girls0.2
85Copenhagen Roller Derby [B]0.2
85Belfast Roller Derby0.2
85Hereford Roller Girls0.2
85Roller Derby Karlsruhe0.2
85Roller Derby Lyon0.2
85Dirty River Roller Grrrls0.2
85One Love Roller Dolls [B]0.2
85Gothenburg Roller Derby0.2
85Namur Roller Girls0.2
99Swansea City Roller Derby0.1
99Roller Derby Belfort0.1
99Crash Test Brummies0.1
99Evolution Rollergirls0.1
99Kent Roller Girls0.1
99Frankfurt Roller Derby0.1
99Dundee Roller Girls0.1
99Plymouth City Roller Girls0.1
99Dorset Roller Girls0.1
99Roller Derby Toulouse [B]0.1
99Norfolk Brawds0.1
99Helsinki Roller Derby [B]0.1
99Bruising Banditas0.1
99Kallio Rolling Rainbow [B]0.1
99Nantes Derby Girls0.1
99Roller Derby Metz Club [B]0.1
99Lincolnshire Bombers [B]0.1
99Dom City Dolls0.1
99Fierce Valley Roller Girls0.1
99Tampere Roller Derby0.1
99Central City Rollergirls [C]0.1
99Roller Derby Calaisis0.1
99Furness Firecrackers0.1
99Roller Derby Grenoble0.1
99Hell's Belles0.1
99Nidaros Roller Derby0.1
99Porto Roller Derby0.1
126Seaside Sirens Roller Girls [B]0
126Severn Roller Torrent0
126Shoetown Slayers0
126Barcelona Roller Derby0
126Les Quads de Paris0
126Imposters Roller Girls0
126Roller Derby Arras0
126Hell's Ass Derbygirls0
126Fair City Rollers0
126Brighton Rockers [B]0
126Velvet Sluts0
126Wolverhampton Honour Rollers0
126Nottingham Roller Girls0
126Kernow Rollers0
126Wirral Whipiteres0
126Wakey Wheeled Cats0
126Wiltshire Roller Derby0
126Vendetta Vixens0
126Roller Derby Angoulême0
126Eastside RocknRollers0
126Tenerife Roller Derby0
126Aarhus Derby Dames0
126Dolly Rockit Rollers [B]0
126Cardiff Roller Collective0
126Cornwall Roller Derby0
126Cherry Blood0
126Marseille Roller Derby Club0
126Spiders Black Widows0
126Oslo Roller Derby0
126Central City Rollergirls [B]0
126Roller Girls of the Apocalypse [B]0
126Amsterdam Derby Dames [B]0
126Auld Reekie Roller Girls [B]0
126Jakey Bites0
126Lahti Roller Derby0
126Royal Swedish Roller Derby0
126Luleå Roller Derby0
126Preston Roller Girls0
126Graveyard Queens Cologne0
126Lahti Roller Derby [B]0
126Roller Derby Lorient0
126Roller Derby Lille0
126Dresden Pioneers0
126Bairn City Rollers0
126Voodoo Vixens Besançon0
126Prague City Roller Derby0
126Plymouth City Roller Girls [B]0
126Grin n Barum0
126Kouvola Rock n Rollers0
126Southern Discomfort [B]0
126The Switchblade RollerGrrrls0
126Stockholm Roller Derby [B]0
126Dock City Rollers0
126Nantes Derby Girls [B]0
126Valencia Roller Derby0
126South Wales Silures0
126Panam Squad0
126Red Lion Roller Derby0
126Zurich City Rollergirls0
126Montpellier Derby Club0
126Limerick Roller Derby0
126Hulls Angels Roller Dames0
126Middlesbrough Milk Rollers [B]0
126B.M.O Roller Derby Girls0
126Roller Derby Toulouse0
126Big Bucks High Rollers [B]0
126Tyne & Fear [B]0
126Surrey Roller Girls0
126Milton Keynes Quads of War0
126Roller Derby Avingon0
126Bourne Bombshells0
126Kent Roller Girls [B]0
126Granite City Roller Girls0

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Upset, Part I: Why do we Rank?

In derby, as in most other sports, there are multiple ranking schemes.  US College Football, or NCAA Football as it's commonly known, has 3 official rankings and nearly 150 unofficial ones.  European derby, with its 4, is tame by comparison.

Why so many?  One word: upsets.

Upsets, in the American usage, are games in which the expected winner loses to the expected loser.  They're games where the "underdog" wins, and to many sports fans one of the joys of watching sports.

We would expect Arsenal to win, but every so often Bradford City walk away with the victory.  It's a major source of excitement in any sport!

But what does that have to do with rankings?  Well, they mean that any ranking system cannot be perfect.  There will always be upsets, thus there will always be errors in the ranking.  Thus, ranking schemes need to be designed with priorities in mind.  

That is, a ranking scheme needs a purpose, a question to answer.  There are three such questions:
  1. Who did the best?  Who deserves the crown for best performance over the previous x time?
  2. Who will do the best?  Who will be expected to win in the coming games?
  3. Who is good competition?  Who will most likely give an exciting bout to a given team with minimal risk of a blow-out?
These must be different questions only because of upsets.  Each has different ways of dealing with that problem, because each has different rules defining how rankings may or may not be calculated.

1. A ranking for the purpose of awarding a crown has some of the more rigid rules.  If the crown is for best performance in a premier league season, for example, that ranking can only consider that season.  All teams start the season on 0 points, and the ranking shifts from there.

A good ranking for this purpose is highly retrodictive.  A retrodictive ranking is one that, over the course of the past period, has a minimum number of upsets.

In the European rankings, DerbyChart is entirely retrodictive with a limit of 12 months.  EuroDerby is entirely retrodictive within its divisions for a 12 month limit, with divisional placement based on the previous year's retrodictive ranking.  Thus, both seem designed to produce "the best performance for derby year xxxx."

2. A ranking for the purpose of prediction is much more free in its structure.  As the goal is only to forecast the future, rather than award for a given period, a predictive ranking can use scores from any previous period.  

In fact, a predictive ranking can use any factor, as long as the predictions do well.  Some baseball predictive rankings take transfers, market size, stadium size, team value, and all number of things into account.  If a scheme's predictions do well, then it's a good ranking.  Simple enough.

In the European rankings, the European Roller Derby Rankings and Flat Track Stats are predictive in nature.  Both consider all bouts since a team's debut, and the latter is explicitly designed with an algorithm based on prediction.

3. A ranking for the purpose of finding similarly-competitive teams is as free a structure as a predictive ranking, and often uses similar math.

In fact, the only difference between 2 and 3 is how the teams reading the rankings use them.  As an impartial observer reading algorithms, it is often to determine whether a ranking is designed for predictivity or competitivity. 

In the European rankings, the European Roller Derby Rankings' stated purpose is to allow teams to find opponents of similar skill.  EuroDerby can be easily used for this purpose as well, with it's divisional system.

Back to upsets.  Were it not for upsets, the three rankings would be identical.  If there were no improvement, all expectations of victory or defeat would be met.  This would be boring.

Instead, rankings have to deal with upsets.  An upset for a retrodictive ranking system is not always a problem; however, a retrodictive system should seek to minimize past upsets.  For a competitiveness ranking, it may not be a problem as well; if the ranking predicted a close bout and it was, the ranking has done its job even if the winner was not correct.  

A predictive system has the biggest problem with upsets, as they indicate that the original ranking was wrong.  Thus, a predictive system must react to upsets with some sort of correction to the ordering of teams.

So, how good are the various systems at being predictive and retrodictive?  How accurate are they?  Stay tuned for a detailed analysis of their performance, followed by a possible way of minimizing the number of upsets and maximizing the "correctness" of the ranking scheme.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Another political theory post! 

Honestly, I'm groaning to myself.

Anyhow, the BRSF have apparently disappeared.  Attempts to call them are re-directed, and their online presence is less than that of Alta-Vista.  What does this mean for UKRDA?

Well, BRSF recognised UKRDA on behalf of those they represent, just as UKRDA recognise leagues on behalf of BRSF.  If the chain is followed, it leads to the British Olympic Ass'n and UK Sport, Sport England, and Sport Scotland.  (If I recall correctly, UKRDA are not yet recognised by Sport Wales)

Thus, UKRDA are recognised by the rest of the chain, as well.  It's not unreasonable to presume that they've cultivated a relationship with Sport England, and that relationship ought to continue.

As well, UK Sport will ensure that there is a roller sports governing body, as I'm sure they don't want to be left out.  It wouldn't hurt for UKRDA to approach UK Sport directly, and cut out the middleman at this point.  There's no reason that derby has to come under the general roller sports umbrella.

Besides recognition, for what it's worth, no other benefit of UKRDA membership ought to be affected.  After all, the UKRDA seem to be well funded from membership dues and not requiring of outside funding.

Speaking of the UKRDA in general, an important moment was reached last week.  To paraphrase, the UKRDA said that they could not form the best possible Team England (etc.) from within member leagues alone, and thus are willing to assist as impartial assistants with the formation process.  However, such a team would not be UKRDA-sancioned officially.

This is an important step in the internal politics of international roller derby.  This, in simpler terms, is the statement "just skate, we'll help you hash out the details when you need them."

This is a national association doing what, in my opinion, it ought to do--support first--and the UKRDA deserve to be commended for their action.

That said, I hope in the future that the UKRDA are able to fully implement a national team programme.  Of course, due to my own personal beliefs, I think this should be on the basis of England, Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland, only joining forces when specific events require Britain's Derby Megazord.

In order to do so they need a mandate from the eligible skaters, and their recent post reflects an understanding of this point.  A full mandate, though, requires lowering the barriers to entry.

Right now, the barriers to entry are a bit high.  Some leagues will struggle to raise the £100.  For other leagues, the issue will be the two recommendations, which sometimes fall victim to petty derby drama between leagues.  These barriers seem to me like the rules may have been set before their purpose was fully decided, rather than the other way around.

I would like to call on the UKRDA to first investigate their mission.  If, indeed, it is to represent British Derby to the government and the world, then the barriers should be low enough that all active leagues can easily join.

  • Sliding-scale entry fee?  Leagues that bout pay more than leagues just starting, perhaps.

  • Vetos rather than recommendations?  Leagues wishing to enter may do so unless a certain number of member leagues deny said membership.  Leagues using their veto must present a valid reason why to the membership board, who can override the veto in case of mis-use.

  • Small membership fee combined with a fee per sanctioned bout?  This raises funds very quickly, and is much more easily affordable to newer leagues.

The UKRDA are currently caught in a spot of turmoil, but this is actually an opportunity.  It's an opportunity for them to represent themselves to the entire UK sporting community as the spokes-organisation for and supporter of all of UK roller derby, a position they have already adopted with regard to the men's national teams.

I fervently believe that this is the chance the UKRDA have been waiting for, the chance to step up and make derby better, easier, and more inclusive for the whole of the UK. 

Their press release stated that their support of independent team development was the most fair option for the upcoming Men's World Cup.  I trust by the time the next international tournament of any kind rolls around, their system will be the most fair and most competitive for all eligible skaters.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Derby Census UK 2013 results!

Ladies and gentlemen, time to announce the results of the 2013 roller derby census!
Data numbers will be indicated by italics, but will be put into complete sentences for clarity.


Overall, there are 90 leagues in the UK.  By region within England, there are 18 in the south, 5 in the east, 16 in the midlands, 18 in the north.  Wales has 11, Scotland 21, and Northern Ireland 1.

Of these leagues, 40 have yet to contest a bout.  20 are just starting, 20 with a few through min skills/some mixed scrimmage experience.


Fully 50 leagues have bouted at least once in the last 12 months, and 26 contested more than 5.  The average bouting league contested 6.85 bouts in 2012.

A total of 322 team-bouts were contested, meaning if both teams in a bout were in the UK, that bout is counted as 2.  A total of 128 bouts and tournaments were hosted in 2012.

The average audience size was 217, with the highest attendance estimated at 1000 for a single bout!!


There are 1920 skaters through min skills, and 1557 fresh meat!  That means that the UK is almost 45% fresh meat.

The average league, thus, has just under 22 skaters through min skills, and just over 17 on their way.


Women's A-teams are a part of 64 leagues, B-teams 23, and C-teams 3.  Men's A-teams are part of 14 and B-teams part of 1 in 2012.  Co-ed teams are a part of 4 leagues.


There are 313 referees and 534 NSOs and non-skating team staffs.

Growth over time

Exponential growth, to me!  Well done getting the word out!


Non-mathematically, UK derby is blowin' up!  Over 3,000 skaters, nearly 100 leagues, well done you all!  Be proud of yourselves!

Roll Britannia!

The Fine Print

This data was collected by Stat Man with the kind assistance of Izzy Dauntless for the use of everybody.  Please feel free to use this information to help with venue negotiations, league advertising, etc.  If quoting numbers, we ask for an "According to the 2013 Derby Census" acknowledgement at least; if you would like to include names, we would be chuffed!  We hope this information helps the growth of your league or organisation specifically, and derby in general.  If you have any suggestions for next year's census, please post in the comments section!

Monday, February 25, 2013

For those who have yet to make the move

The whole derby chart can now be found at on a regular computer, or from a mobile browser.

Check it out sometime, it'll give team details, break down why a ranking is the way it is, and give you scores from past bouts and predictions for upcoming ones.

Well, this week it happened.  Tiger Bay overcame 2-1 odds against to beat LRG[B] in Cardiff, and move into the #8 spot.  In Roll'd Firm action, Auld Reekie beat Glasgow, which put them back in the top 10.

Here is the table for all of Europe!

TeamWinsLossesRank Pts
1London Rollergirls 50272.5
2Stockholm Roller Derby 73145.7
+23Central City Rollergirls 33130.7
4Bear City Roller Derby 53121.0
-25London Rollergirls [B] 61113.8
6Glasgow Roller Derby 105104.0
7Rainy City Roller Girls 6194.4
+28Tiger Bay Brawlers 7385.4
+69Auld Reekie Roller Girls 6780.6
-210Crime City Rollers 3879.7
+111Leeds Roller Dolls 6676.8
-312Gent GO-GO Roller Girls 6474.9
-213London Rockin Rollers 4372.1
-114Brighton Rockers 5166.5
-115Paris Roller Girls 3562.2
16Gent GO-GO Roller Girls [B] 2055.9
+117Helsinki Roller Derby 11547.5
-118Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz 0547.3
+419Copenhagen Roller Derby 3339.5
20Royal Windsor Rollergirls 6138.8
-221Hellfire Harlots 5337.3
-122Bear City Roller Derby [B] 0333.6
-123Kallio Rolling Rainbow 3233.0
24Lincolnshire Bombers 3628.3
+325Sheffield Steel Roller Girls 3427.7
-126Hot Wheel Roller Derby 8424.3
27Middlesbrough Milk Rollers 6224.1
-228Big Bucks High Rollers 3522.8
+129One Love Roller Dolls 7520.6
-130Birmingham Blitz Dames 4420.4
31Romsey Town Rollerbillies 4720.2
+232Dolly Rockit Rollers 2820.0
+933London Rockin Rollers [B] 0218.8
+234Crime City Rollers [B] 7318.3
35Cork City Firebirds 2317.6
-336Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz [B] 3116.8
-537Ruhrpott Roller Girls 4216.6
-138Dublin Roller Girls 6316.6
-139Bristol Roller Derby 8314.8
-140Dirty River Roller Grrrls 2114.7
-141Roller Girls of the Apocalypse 5212.7
+342Leeds Roller Dolls [B] 2411.8
+143Newcastle Roller Girls 4411.7
-344Kent Rollergirls 3211.4
+245Rockcity Rollers 1210.5
+646Barcelona Roller Derby 039.8
+147Croydon Roller Derby 449.5
+248Glasgow Roller Derby [B] 629.1
-649Southern Discomfort 908.6
+350Manchester Roller Derby 738.4
+351Plymouth City Roller Girls 438.3
-652Quad Guards 827.8
-253Graveyard Queens Cologne 217.3
+154Roller Derby Metz Club 457.2
-655Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder 317.0
+456Central City Rollergirls [B] 246.8
+157Auld Reekie Roller Girls [B] 226.6
-258Paris Roller Girls [B] 436.5
-259Amsterdam Derby Dames 456.2
+160Brussels Derby Pixies 225.9
+961Liverpool Roller Birds 175.9
+162Seaside Sirens Roller Girls 435.8
+463Granite City Roller Girls 145.7
+564Rainy City Roller Girls [B] 435.6
+665Dundee Roller Girls 425.5
-166Imposters Roller Girls 235.4
-867Tyne & Fear 545.3
68Namur Roller Girls 135.2
-369Inhuman League 694.6
-870MRD: New Wheeled Order 574.5
+371Lincolnshire Bombers [B] 144.5
-872Expendables 444.4
-173Harbor Girls 344.3
+374Lahti Roller Derby 044.1
75Gothenburg Roller Derby 254.0
-376Vienna Roller Girls 413.9
+577Helsinki Roller Derby [B] 513.9
-278Eastside RocknRollers 113.8
+179Luleå Roller Derby 113.7
-280South West Angels of Terror 503.7
+281Blackland Rockin'K-Rollers 233.2
-182Severn Roller Torrent 163.0
-483Barockcity Rollerderby 323.0
+184Lutèce Destroyeuses - Paris 232.7
+285Sheffield Steel Roller Girls [B] 442.6
+486Cardiff Roller Collective 502.6
+187Milton Keynes Concrete Cows 422.5
+388Oslo Roller Derby 042.4
-589Crash Test Brummies 182.3
-190Newcastle Roller Girls [B] 912.2
-591Roller Derby Rennes 112.1
92Portsmouth Roller Wenches 312.1
93Dolly Rockit Rollers [B] 322.0
+194Belfast Roller Derby 332.0
+995Tenerife Roller Derby 202.0
+196Dorset Roller Girls 221.9
-397Munich Rolling Rebels 131.8
+1798B.M.O Roller Derby Girls 241.8
+199Stockholm Roller Derby [B] 141.8
-2100Aarhus Derby Dames 121.7
-5101Rotterdam Death Row Honeys 131.7
+6102Tiger Bay Brawlers [B] 311.6
-4103Nantes Derby Girls 451.6
-2104Nidaros Roller Derby 411.5
+1105Norfolk Brawds 321.4
-1106Roller Derby Bordeaux Club 411.4
-4107Herault Derby Girlz 511.3
+2108Central City Rollergirls [C] 301.3
-8109Zurich City Rollergirls 021.3
+1110Kallio Rolling Rainbow [B] 211.3
+6111Swansea City Roller Derby 351.1
+4112Wiltshire Roller Derby 151.1
+5113Bristol Roller Derby [B] 301.1
-5114Copenhagen Roller Derby [B] 231.1
-1115Liverpool Roller Birds [B] 221.0
-4116Hulls Angels Roller Dames 061.0
-10117Jakey Bites 051.0
-5118Hell's Ass Derbygirls 241.0
+5119Furness Firecrackers 140.9
+2120Rebellion Roller Derby 340.9
+2121Wolverhampton Honour Rollers 120.8
+3122Tampere Roller Derby 120.8
-2123Kernow Rollers 130.8
-5124Middlesbrough Milk Rollers [B] 020.8
+1125Dublin Roller Girls [B] 320.7
+3126Dom City Dolls 120.7
+1127Oxford Roller Derby 450.6
-8128Nottingham Roller Girls 120.6
-2129Bruising Banditas 220.6
130Hell's Belles 150.5
+1131Mean Valley Roller Girls 420.5
-1132Fair City Rollers 040.5
133Wakey Wheeled Cats 120.5
134Montpellier Derby Club 230.5
135Bedfordshire Roller Girls 240.4
+1136Vendetta Vixens 050.3
+3137Shoetown Slayers 030.3
138Limerick Roller Derby 120.3
+2139Birmingham Blitz Dames [B] 120.3
-1140Red Lion Roller Derby 020.3
+1141Manchester Roller Derby [B] 230.2
+1142Preston Roller Girls 120.2
-7143Fierce Valley Roller Girls 210.2
144Roller Derby Karlsruhe 120.2
145Voodoo Vixens Besançon 020.2
+1146One Love Roller Dolls [B] 110.2
-1147Velvet Sluts 140.1
-->148Hereford Roller Girls 110.1
149Evolution Rollergirls 130.1
-2150Porto Roller Derby 110.1
151Roller Girls of the Apocalypse [B] 020.1
-2152Frankfurt Roller Derby 120.1
-1153Roller Derby Toulouse [B] 210.1
-1154Wirral Whipiteres 030.0
-1155Roller Derby Lyon 500.0
-1156Roller Derby Metz Club [B] 200.0
-1157Marseille Roller Derby Club 030.0
-1158Roller Derby Grenoble 220.0
-1159Les Quads de Paris 110.0
-1160Cherry Blood 020.0

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This weekend (23/24 Feb)

This weekend in derby:

Two bouts in Denmark

#18 Helsinki vs #23 Copenhagen.  Both teams have been improving as of late, with Helsinki's stellar performance in Track Queens.  This is a chance for the Danes to link themselves to such a rising star and perhaps climb out of the 20s into the teens.

#102 Nidaros vs #109 Copenhagen [B].  I don't know much about these two, except that it will help connect Scandinavian derby.  The only one that's missing at this double header are the Swedes.  Did their invitation get lost in the mail?

Two bouts in Scotland

#69 Rainy City [B] vs #71 Dundee.  Dundee had been climbing the rankings before teams from the continent were included.  Now, they look to go up to 6-1 with a win over the 3-3 Rainy City B squad.

#15 Auld Reekie vs #6 Glasgow.  One of the bouts I've always wanted to see, this is the second meeting of the Roll'd Firm.  These two have exchanged the top spot in Scotland 4 times in the last year, and Glasgow hold the series lead 1-0.  Can Auld Reekie even the score, and climb back up the chart?  Or will Glasgow solidify their position as the dominant Scottish team?

Two bouts in Wales

#81 Severn vs #117 Swansea.  The Slayers open their 2013 campaign with a hard-but-winnable bout at home.  This win would set them even at 4-4, wheras SRT are looking to get their first win of the last 12 months, having lost the last 6.

#3 LRG [B] vs #10 Tiger Bay.  Is it wrong to call this the main event?  If I still lived in Wales, I would be glad to have the opportunity to see Swansea early, then pop over to Cardiff for their toughest bout yet.  The Brawlers are 6-3 in the last 12 months, losing to Glasgow most recently by only 6 points, and have recently climbed from UK's top ten into all Europe's top 10.  London Rollergirls [B] are the unquestioned #3 in Europe, with a 6-0 record.  Can Tiger Bay record a historic upset, and deal LRG[B] their first ever loss?  According to the computer, it's a 33% chance.  I can't wait to see the outcome of this one!

Great weekend for roller derby all over Europe.  Good luck everyone, and stay tuned for scores as they post and new rankings on Monday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fairness and rankings

In a sport where there's a great deal of upheaval, it is unreasonable to have any sort of official ranking last more than one 'season'. Skaters come and go quickly, and some teams rise very, very quickly. Thus, if a ranking scheme is to pass the basic test of fairness, it must only take into account recent score, and not the scores of skaters who are no longer skating with their teams.

A scheme in which bouts never expire is unfair to the skaters. If a skater commits a mistake, costing that skater's team the win, that loss will be forever be represented in their ranking. In such a scheme, there is no redemption.

A skater can put in hard work for an entire season, and have a great effect on her team's ranking if, and only if, that team has a very short bouting record. If the team has been playing for 3 or more years, that skater cannot have a major effect on her team's ranking for years.

A scheme in which bouts never expire is unfair to the teams. New teams can quickly climb the rankings, or can stay near the bottom of the table, but their position will stagnate. The longer a team has been in existence, the more momentum its ranking has. Thus, a team who did well early in its career need not defend that title strenuously, but can count on the weight of the early bouts.

Such a ranking scheme is entirely unhelpful.  It shows leagues that have had generally good careers but recent poor performance as good, whereas teams with years near the bottom but several wins in a row as poor teams.  When choosing opponents, leagues cannot rely on such a ranking. No one plays their opponent's all-time team, they play their opponent's current team. Thus, such a ranking is at best an interesting intellectual exercise.

Roller derby is a sport that prides itself on fairness. This drives the notion that referees cannot offer assistance, only penalties, and the notion that a strong team shouldn't go easy on a weak team. Fairness is at the heart of the game. Why then use a system which is so patently unfair to those it claims to serve?

The WFTDA have done away with rankings that run the risk of "since the invention of derby..."  As have the MRDA. While all-time rankings have a place, it is in newspapers as pundits debate the results of hypothetical bouts between the 2008 London Brawling and the 2013 Stockholm.  However, they at best allow for an unfair estimation of the current performance of skaters and leagues, and run the risk of misleading other skaters and derby fans.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Support your not-so-local derby!

 I know we were all excited to hear that LRG are going to be covered in a television documentary. It means that the sport we know and love is closer to the big time!

But why? Why are they filming practices, bouts, etc. and editing it into a documentary that I have no doubt will show the sport as difficult, dynamic, and absolutely loved by its participants? Because the TV producers have noted the growth of the game.

TV producers follow the money. If you'll forgive the Americanism, they follow the buck. Wherever the buck stops, they film. A few more independant producers work on behalf of causes, but most mainstream groups work for the benefit of their bank accounts.

Thus, TV sees money in derby.  This is great! It means we, as a sport, are one step closer to being covered as a sport. One step closer to our scores showing up next to the Open Championship on the specialty page of the sports section. One step closer to a "bout of the week" on ESPN or Sky.

Imagine what that would do for recruitment!

Thing is, how do we best show the TV people that there's money in derby? They're not as concerned about the skaters, they're concerned about the fans. The money in sports coverage comes from advertising, and that ad money is linked to the number of fans watching the event.

Want more derby in the news, in papers, and on TV? Increase the fan base. Show that there's potential cash money being unrealised by not covering the best game on 8 wheels.

Thus, your job is twofold.

#1, go to every bout you can.  Live in South Wales? See everything TBB, SCS, and Bristol do.  Live in Manchester? You lucky skunk, you've got two leagues in Mancs, plus Liverpool and Wirral nearby. London? Besides LRG, LRR, and CRD, you should go as far as RWRG and BBHR whenever you can!

#2, advertise. Not just for your own league, but for all other leagues (who're nearby, and whose bouts don't conflict with your favourite league's). Talk up derby to your mates, to your mates' mates, and to the person you're sat next to at Starbucks. When you get that derby conversation comes around, know where and when the nearest upcoming bout is. If you can get one new fan, you've helped the game.

As well, we need a census. We need to know just how many skaters and leagues there are, but we also need to know how many people came to watch derby in the last year. Thus, when TV comes knocking, we can show them just how amazingly large and supportive our fan base is.

This Weekend (16-17 Feb)

This weekend in European derby:

Scandanavia has a packed schedule!  Luleå take on Gothenburg, looking for the league's first win.  Crime City play host to Finland's Dirty River, fresh off their Suomi Cup schedule, and the dominant Stockholm.  Crime City's A-team have climbed from #11 to #8, and even a well-fought loss against Europe's #2 would improve that position.

A little action on the south side of the channel.  Nantes and Metz play an A&B double header, and Rockcity take on One Love.  Both of these have a wide gap between the teams, so there is certainly a potential for a continental shake-up!  [UPDATE] I missed the Royal Windsor Roller Girls travelling down to Paris to face a tough test of their ability.  If there was one bout I could go to this weekend...

SW:UK carries on.  SWAT-Kernow looks a bit one-sided, although SWAT have been slipping down the table lately.  Dorset take on Wilts, fresh off a very helpful defeat by Plymouth.  Never have Dorset looked better!

North of the border, Fierce Valley face up against Preston.  Both teams evenly ranked, both looking for their 2nd win in the last 12 months.

Oxford take on Leeds-B, in what looks like a major challenge for the southern side.  A good result, even a good losing one, would certainly help them look like a rising regional power, as well as buoy up the rest of the Heartlands competitors.

Good luck to everyone bouting this weekend!  If you're not bouting, try to make it over to your nearest bout.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Rise of the Regional Tournament

That sounds silly, given as the WFTDA just did away with the "regionals."  I'm not sure what they're calling the first round of the big 5, but this post does not refer to them.  No, it refers to the locally run tournaments, representing parts of Europe (and the US, too).

The first time I heard about this sort of tournament was in South Carolina.  At the time, there were 5 leagues in the Palmetto State, and they were of similar bouting ability.  Thus, one of the leagues in the capital city of Columbia started a tournament to act as the "state championship."

These bouts were amazing!  All the skaters, refs, NSOs, even the fans knew each other; the atmosphere was indescribable.  I haven't been to one in years, and I hope they're still going.

I know the same thing happens in Texas, with the Governor's Cup.

Now, the Finns are in on the action.  The Suomi Cup, featuring teams from across the Nordic country, has already had its first round of play.  According to Sari Vahtera, this was the product of Team Finland.

After bringing together skaters from both major leagues, and a few of the minor leagues, they decided that they needed to keep skating together.

One of the major concerns is that of Helsinki, the frequent standard bearers for Finnish roller derby, and their European competitive season.  According to Sari, "The timetable is made so that biggest leagues f.ex. Helsinki ... have their time to play WFTDA [sanctioned] bouts also."  Thus, these leagues have the option to continue building their regional and global reputation, as well as competing for a national cup.

The South-Westerners are in on the game, too.  SW:UK said that "over the last 12 months leading up to the season more teams have sprung up in the region, plus existing teams have got to the point where they are ready to actively bout on a regular basis."

Although there are no major WFTDA teams in this tournament, the level of excitement has been good at the bouts.  As well, the double headers ensure that newer leagues don't struggle to fill ref and NSO positions, and can quickly improve their game.

Last year, the End of the World Series featured a number of teams from across England, and this year it grew into the Heartlands.  This could be best called a super-league, as the word league is taken in the derby lexicon.  Teams play all other teams in their conference, and then there is a playoff structure in place.

The almost-meteoric growth of Heartlands, combined with the other tournaments springing up, show the massive demand.  Large leagues often play continent-scale schedules, bouting whomever they both fancy and can book.  Strangely, these leagues often announce bouts only one at a time.

However, these tournaments ensure a steady supply of bouts for their members, and an open fixtures/results list to make it easier for fans to follow.  I know when I try to preach derby to someone I meet, they invariably ask "how's the local team doing?"  With a team in Heartlands, SW:UK, or Suomi Cup, the answer is easy.

The growth clearly indicates that these tournaments will play a major role in shaping the future of derby.  I think they're a grand idea--skaters deciding that a form of regularity of schedule would be mutually beneficial, then making that happen.  I can't wait to see more national cups spring up, and more regional ones in larger nations.  Good luck to everyone in one, and everyone trying to set one up. Roll on!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Cambrian Question, or why can't the Welsh manage the Welsh?

With the growth of International (nation-vs-nation) Roller Derby, the issue of forming national teams is raised.  For most, the organisation exists already.  Finland, Sweden, and Canada, for example, already have national associations.

However, Scotland, Wales, and England do not.  What they have instead is the UKRDA, which has declared coverage over the entire UK.

The difficulty comes in forming teams England, Scotland, and Wales.  (The Irish question will be left for a future article.)

UKRDA have recently issued a press release explaining their procedures for forming UKRDA-endorsed men's and women's national teams.  Here is where the inherent difficulty makes itself known.

On their website, UKRDA list 28 member leagues.  Of these, 23 are in England, 3 in Scotland, 1 in Northern Ireland, and 1 in Wales.  Thus, the rules listed above are voted on by a majority English electorate.

The rules for UK-based skaters call for only skaters and coaches who are members of UKRDA affiliated leagues. Let us consider only the case of UK-based skaters.

Team England has 23 leagues in its own border from which to choose skaters, plus English skaters from Wales, Scotland, and N. Ireland.  No where is there a set definitition of Englishness for the purpose of selection, but let us assume there is one that the UKRDA has yet to release publicly.

Team Wales, on the other hand, has only 1 league's worth of eligible skaters, plus ex-pats.  Already, this puts them at a massive disadvantage.  There is one more full bouting league in the country, plus a number of other leagues not yet at bouting strength.

As well, it's a massive disenfranchisement of those skaters.  Less than 50% of the skaters in Wales are eligible to represent their nation.  Less than 50% of active coaches are eligible to coach their nation.

This is the difficulty in having a multi-national organisation setting the rules for national team selection.  The goals and priorities of the multi-national organisation may be different to those of the nation they claim to have set a team up for.

A majority English electorate have told the Welsh how they must assemble their team.  This will not be a Team Wales, under these rules it will be Team UKRDA-in-Wales.

Note, too, that the same ratio occurs in Scotland.  More than half of Scottish skaters will not be eligible for UKRDA's Team Scotland.

These facts strongly suggest that, while UKRDA may be a useful organisation for inter-league play, they are not optimal for national teams.  Team England's rules are for the English alone, Team Scotland's for the Scots, and Team Wales for the Welsh.

Until a majority of the Welsh skaters have the opportunity to even ratify the rules of formation for a team competing in their name, no team can rightfully call itself Team Wales.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An exciting time for derby

What an exciting time.  The sport is growing by leaps and bounds, we all knew that.  But they just announced a Men's international tournament--nation against nation.  How cool is that??

Let's cast our minds back to the derby world cup.  Who hosted it?  One league in Toronto.  Who organised and sanctioned it?  A magazine.

This is the beauty of derby--it's all self-run.  The reason the world cup was official is because the skaters considered it official.  That's all.

Same goes for each of the national teams.  Why are they official?  Because their skaters agree that they are represented by the team.

So, who's planning this Men's Cup of Nations (my suggestion, not the official name)?  Well, the people who brought you MERDC.  Their credentials?  They've run a tournament before, and it was brilliant.

This is derby, folks.  The most self-made sport in the world.  It's a sport run by the faithful for the faithful, not run by top-down organisations for the benefit of their bottom lines.

What makes this tournament official is that we, the derby faithful, consider it official.  Same for the teams.

This, too, is the beauty of derby.  We're still laying the groundwork!  The game is young, the international game even more so.  This our chance to make an indelible mark for future derby.

To those forming the teams, put Derby 1st.  Put all the skaters of your nation 2nd, and relegate petty politics to the last thing you consider.

This is your time.  The time to shape the derby of your nation.  You, who have been charged by a group of skaters with determining the future of England, Scotland, Wales, France, and others, this is a first.  Like so many things in derby right now, it's a first.

So read what others have done, and ask for advice.  But always remember that your first duty is to the game and your nation.  Always do what will honour that duty above all else.

Good luck and Godspeed.  I'm already booking my ticket to the tournament.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The curious case of co-ed derby

Most roller derby skaters in the world today are female.  In the UK, for example, there are 97 bouting travel teams, of which 8 are men's teams.  Thus, the men's game is often just a side note to the larger scale of the women's game, especially in the common "look what women are doing to keep fit and empower themselves" story often found in mainstream media.

Often, men's teams are founded as a sort of "brother" team to established women's leagues, comprising the referees, coaches, NSOs, and fans who would have joined had it not been for a pesky Y-chromosome.  However, there are a few cases where the relationship is a bit closer than just "brother-sister."  How, then, does co-ed derby get on?

Firstly, it's important to define a co-ed league.  There are a few points of possible integration:
  1. Beginners'/Fresh Meat training
  2. Advanced/Travel Team training
  3. League Management/Board of Directors
  4. Resources/Venues/Human Resources
  5. Bout Scheduling
Not all leagues considering themselves co-ed will meet all criteria, and some leagues which do not consider themselves co-ed may actually meet several. The late Cardiff Roller Collective, for example, met #2, #4, and #5 to various degrees in concert with the South Wales Silures.

Manchester Roller Derby do consider themselves a co-ed league.  President Tori Bee states "It's a huge part of MRDs identity. We have always been coed, as part of our inclusive ethos. From the beginning MRD wanted to give men the opportunity to play roller derby."

She goes on to mention the difficulty of co-ed training, but emphasizes that the mix of styles that comes when male and female skaters work together.  "The boys bring the aggression n the girls bring the brain  
We also find the big size differential in training useful for practicing legal hits on low skaters, or how to use others' weight/ height against them for example."

To be fair, MRD meet #1, #3, #4, and #5.  Their travel teams no longer train together.  "Each team has one dedicated two hour session per week that's for the team only and we've non-team sessions that are always co-ed," says Gaz Jones, one of the more outspoken members of the men's team.  

Newcastle Roller Girls are, almost by definition, not co-ed.  After all, their name implies sex segregation.  However, NRG vice-skipper Gin & Sonic refers to their relationship with Tyne 'n' Fear as a brother-sister one with the following caveat: "Currently we’re ran as one league but the boys are  looking at becoming financially separate this year but we’ll still help each other out, scrimmage  and share officials/practice space/bouts/bench managers etc."

Thus, despite the nominal implications, the NRG/TnF machine actually meets #3, #4, and #5.  Thus, although NRG are a women's league, their affiliation is very, very close.

Close enough, in fact, to deny WFTDA affiliation to the Tyneside ladies.  "Currently we’re working on becoming financially separate from each other so NRG can apply for WFTDA apprenticeship which will hopefully happen midyear. NRG want to strive to be the most competitive team we can be and TnF have been really supportive in this. It is a shame we can’t apply before  but those are the rules ;). I Believe TnF do want to become MRDA affiliated in the future but they aren’t moving towards that yet."

Juliana Gonzales, press officer for the WFTDA, confirm's Gin & Sonic's understanding.  "WFTDA membership requires that your league be dedicated to women's flat track roller derby only, so all competitors in WFTDA leagues are women."  

As the requirements refer to competitors, MRD are eliminated from WFTDA eligibility on the basis of their ethos.  However, NRG have that option still available to them.  Ms. Gonzales goes on to state that "the membership requirements typically have to do with business structure and league governance."  Thus, a league must only fail to meet #3 above to be WFTDA-eligible.

Interestingly, the MRDA has no issue with membership for co-ed leagues.  After all, MRD hold MRDA affiliation.  The UKRDA, as well, seems to have no issue with co-ed leagues, as NRG are members.

The only issue is the big W, and if that affiliation is worth breaking up the official single-league setup.  "We've mused about being separate only on paper, but for me that just doesn't sit right for us." comments Ms. Bee.

Ms. Gonzales states "We definitely intend to continue working closely with MRDA to grow in a cooperative and parallel way.  I don't forsee us merging membership structures anytime soon, but never say never."

As teams and leagues improve, affiliation status becomes more important. As well, the growth of the men's game means that more and more leagues will be meeting at least a few of the five points, either on their own or in concert with an opposite-sex league across town. Thus, co-ed derby needs to find a place in officially-recognised derby.

Sure, compromises will have to be made in order for co-ed structures to enjoy official recognition. Shouldn't those compromises be made in the direction of allowing roller derby for more, rather than roller derby for fewer?

Friday, January 4, 2013

WFTDA Playoffs

Damn, WFTDA done done it!!!

The new system is beautiful, elegant, and hopefully functional.

1st: ranking scheme

Wow, it looks like the best of the rugby rankings, the cricket rankings, even mine all rolled up into one. Basically, each team takes points from a bout based on percent of the score, the opponent's rank, and the importance of the bout.  The first two sound like mine, don't they?

The third sounds like a great idea, if you want a system that rewards playing well in a tournament.  Friendly bouts are worth less than tournament bouts, of which the championship bout is worth the most of all.  Unfortunately, they don't go into detail of if just Big 5 tournaments count extra, or if something like Track Queens would come with more value as well.  I do hope it does.

Also, this means that ONLY SANCTIONED BOUTS COUNT!  A scheme based on democracy is really nice on paper, but it suffers from the "unrung" problem--once the scores from a closed bout leak, the voters can never be properly trusted not to take them into account.  Using only sanctioned bouts mean that the WFTDA rankings calculators can "show their work" of why teams are ranked where they are.

Problem: the system for inaccuracy requires 51% of teams to vote that the ranking is inaccurate.  Thus, if a bout is mis-recorded, a team must campaign for the bout to be voted inaccurate.  I really, really dislike the idea of turning facts of history (the score) over to a democratic process.  It's either accurate, or it's not.  That shouldn't require a vote.

2nd: divisional structure

Looks like WFTDA learned from the best of the Football League, but with a massive, massive advance: unlimited promotion.

The top 40 teams as of 12 November are in D-I.  However many former D-II teams make that cut, that many are promoted.  However many former D-I teams find themselves ranked below #40, that many are relegated.  Simple as, and way more fair than the Football League system.

ALSO, D-I teams are required to play D-II or D-III teams, with similar requirements on the other divisions as well.  This means that a worthy D-III team (Helsinki, anyone?) will have the opportunity of picking up the points for facing a D-I opponent.  Unlike the Rugby Premiership, D-I cannot be walled off from the rest of derby.

Is it perfect?  Well, what would perfect even look like?

It's fair, and it says that team rankings aren't based on opinions and preferences.  They're based on facts, and points, and more facts.  Of course it's subject to review, everything is.

I think the WFTDA have made a great move forward for the world of their affiliates.  Well done!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Rules

Alright, so the rule change is official!  Well, unless you're in the SW:UK tournament.  As it started with the old rules, it'll finish with 'em.  Makes sense to me.

So, what can you be doing to make the transition work better?

#1, actually read the rules.  I know an awfully large number of people who read that list of rule changes and think that they're ready.  I know a few more who read reactions to the new rules, like mine, and are happy now.  This is the quickest way to find your spot on the team turned over to a new skater who took the time to read the rules.  Read 'em, know 'em, love 'em!

#2, stop looking for loopholes.  Seriously, some people are out there not thinking about how to be better skaters, but how to 'game the system' so that they can win.  At the most basic level, if you focus on 'gaming the system' you're not focussing on skating better.  If you win due to gamesmanship, you're not winning on the merit of your skating.  Derby is a skating sport; any victory won due to a clever loophole is a hollow victory indeed.  Focus on skating better this new year, and win the physical and mental game as an athlete, not a lawyer.

#3, be clever.  "But wait, didn't you just say skate better, stop thinking?"  Well, I didn't say stop thinking, just stop gaming the system.  Never stop thinking.  So the play says 'form wall here,' but you see a star pass behind you and the pivot is struggling to put the panty on.  What do you do?  Well, if I were you, I'd hit her whilst she's defenceless and distracted.  Now, you've delayed the whole think 6-10 seconds, for her to get up, pick up the panty off the floor, etc.

---I'm going to say this once right here: there is no perfect play in derby.  There is no secret recipe that always gets you 4 points, and them 0.  If you have an idea, try it.  If it works, keep on.  If it doesn't, don't do it again.  Simples!

#4, this is an opportunity.  Many of the tactics used by teams ranked 5-10 places above yours will no longer be as effective.  Honestly, some teams are ranked due to skill, others due to teamwork and tactics.  Now is the time to leapfrog 'em by being better prepared for the new rules than anyone else.  Get refs to practice, work hard, scrimmage, scrimmage, scrimmage.

#5, enjoy!  I think the new rules streamline the game greatly.  I have a feeling it'll function way, way better.  Enjoy it!  Never forget, the reason you do derby is because you love derby.