Having a chat about my new found interest in sport, I’ve been asked a specifically roller derby related “but why” question.
If roller derby had a ‘Muggle’ word for those mere mortals who do not understand I would use it to describe my verbal sparring partner. For a little bit of background this is someone that I tolerate, someone who has questionable views and someone who thinks nothing of employing stereotypes as ‘fact’. As you can probably gather from my venom we have butted heads on more than one occasion.
I won’t post our full conversation because 1: I can’t remember it all, 2: lots of swears and 3: it just plain riles me!
I managed to remain rather calm for the first five minutes but the conversation turned when I was informed that all derby girls are (or in the very least look/act like – can someone tell me what this means please???) lesbians. I tried not to get offended though because this goes for other sports too such as football, rugby and ice hockey. But not netball or field hockey, they are very feminine apparently, but have questionable sexual morals. I also learned that I was about to become more angry and impulsive, but worst of all I was about to become a more violent person in my every day life and “start using [my] fists instead of [my] words”.
At this point let me confess that this post has taken me well over a week to write every time I remember the conversation I start ranting in my head and there have been a number of post edits. I am one of those people who thinks of the perfect retort after the fact.
My intention is not to turn this into a negative post I want to take this opportunity to highlight the real reasons I love derby and the people who play it. Getting angry only serves to feed the dumb folk new material.
To get to the point of this blog post I better answer the “but why roller derby?” question. It’s really simple. The sport is fun, the people are lovely, and it’s taught me more than just skating skills.
I want to share with you a few links that made me feel proud to be a part of this sport, posts that I have found inspiring and that remind me just how amazing this sport, and the people who play it is. These links articulate exactly what I wish I’d said.
This video is a personal favourite of mine, it’s an independently organised TED talk by Erica Packington of the Sheffield Steel RollerGirls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bys_Bmt7gto the stories she recounts, the things that she says, I can relate. Roller Derby might not have saved my soul, but it did stop me from wallowing in my own self pity and maybe that’s the same thing.
Then there is this post http://callthejam.com/2013/07/practice/ added to the Hulls Angels Roller Dames facebook group by Julia (Rae-Zor Lite) last night. If you’ve read my previous blog posts you’ll understand why it made me more than a little emotional.
Finally, I have to relate this back to my conversation with the [insert appropriate expletive]. I’ll tell you the same thing I told them; derby players will surprise you. On track they are focused and dedicated athletes. Off track they are wives, husbands (yes boys play!), girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, fathers, police officers, teachers, professionals, home owners, business owners, creative people, confident people, shy people, people with body art, people without body art, people with dyed hair, people without dyed hair. I find it impossible to pigeon hole them, the only common denominator is that they are all awesome and they all play/want to play roller derby.
I’ll admit that there are some people out there who join roller derby for the look – but, in my experience, they don’t last when they realise that it IS still sport and it DOES still require work and dedication. So whilst I can’t deny that these stereotypes exist and are in some way true for the minority I can deny that these ridiculous stereotypes apply to all roller derby players.
I’m going to end this post on the response that my reply received, because we all need a reminder sometimes that we’re never going to get through to some people. I think it says a lot about those with preconceived ideas of roller derby players, or in the very least the person I had the misfortune to converse with:
“Oh. Police officers eh. Well they don’t allow gay people in the police force so I guess I’m partly wrong”