It’s been a while since I made a blog post. I’m writing this one in reaction to a conversation I’ve just had. Roller derby is starting to gain a wider audience in England. For as long as I’ve been involved, leagues have been asking about how to get people involved. Now things seem to be changing. Roller derby is featured in the current This Girl Can campaign, so more people are seeing it, more organisations want to know about it and more people are curious about what we’re up to. Our recent home game had more people attending than I’ve ever seen before and our new intake last Sunday was huge. Almost intimidating!
When people first find roller derby, they tend to get really caught up in it. It’s a new exciting thing that you love and you can’t get enough of and you want to read everything about. And you’ll see things like this.
(This is from an Etsy page which, unfortunately, sold it a long time ago!)
This is a really empowering statement when you start this sport. In England, we apologise for everything. I’ve been known to apologise to sections of walls when I’ve hit them with a bag. As a sport dominated by women, a lot of individuals struggle when they start roller derby with the contact side of things. Traditionally and stereotypically, women aren’t meant to be physical or aggressive, they aren’t supposed to barge into other people and take up space or play physical, contact sports. They aren’t supposed to be particularly competitive. In some representations, they aren’t even supposed to truly get along with other women. This is a lot to overcome! A lot of people start this sport and apologise to everyone they bump in to, accidentally or on purpose. They hold themselves back in fear of hurting other people or themselves. As a sport, we need to actively discourage this – it would be exhausting to apologise to everyone you made contact with and it’s unnecessary. We come to training on purpose as rational adults to take part in a contact sport. We literally signed up for this, no one needs to apologise for doing what we expect them to do. It’s hard to communicate all that, but it’s easy to say there’s no sorry in roller derby.
I don’t like this statement.
I’ve just apologised in advance to my league for myself today, simply so that I don’t have to do it for myself when I’m there. I’m ill. Only with a cold, but when combined with asthma colds make me very weak and very useless. This is exactly what I said and my lovely beautiful wonderful supportive team mates said it’s fine, I don’t need to apologise. But I do. We’re a team and I cannot do my best for my team today. That’s fine, I’ll still do as good as I can, but I might have to sit out of drills or drop out half way through so I cannot be what my team needs me to be today. I know not everyone will share that idea, I wouldn’t expect everyone to, but it’s important to me that I apologise.
I think there’s sorry in roller derby when you aren’t the best you can be for your team.
In our team, rule number 1 is DBAD – Don’t be a d***. I think there’s sorry in roller derby when you are a d*** (because we all are sometimes!)
There’s sorry in roller derby when you do something dangerous, accidentally or on purpose.
There’s sorry in roller derby when you hurt your teammates, even if it is a great, perfectly legal hit. (I’ve known people to break bones from great hits and they’re generally happy to celebrate that fact later, but apologies are always appropriate first.)
I’m a firm believer that there is indeed some sorry in roller derby and I think that needs to be stated as much as we encourage skaters not to apologise for playing the game. We are a team and we are there to support each other, part of that is recognising when we’ve done wrong and need to make amends.
#DBAD is a phrase everyone can live by, however!