While some of us out here in derbylandia may or may not be deliberating, arguing and even losing sleep about the idea of a potential no-minors ruleset, HELLARAD’s resident zebra makes no bones about his opinion on the subject. We present to you…
Miles Prower’s Guide to Bitching about Minors
Well, I already lost one friend over an article with a similar title, so I figured, “Why not see if I can flush my entire derby career by pontificating on something I have no right to change?” And pontificate I shall! Because I feel like it’s high time the ‘Rad talked about something we all know: Minor penalties are annoying as shit.
Now, I’m all for keeping some annoyance in your life. As smarter people than me have pointed out, annoyance is like alcohol, you need to build up a tolerance to it or you will suffer serious brain death if you get too much. But derby already has enough annoying shit going on in it’s culture: Referee divas, announcers who yell too much, people who don’t read this zine. We don’t need it in our game. Here’s why:
People already don’t understand this sport.
Roller derby is a confusing game. If you’re like me, you’ve had many conversations go in the “Yeah, I went to a game one time, I didn’t get it. I don’t think I’m going back.” direction. I’ve gotten pretty good at giving a brief description of the game to people who don’t know how it’s played. Odds are, however, that you don’t have my positronic brain, so you’ve just gotten confused looks, extra questions, or a cooter punch when you attempt to explain further. AND THAT’S JUST THE BASICS!
We have the only sport in the world [that people like] where an infraction does not result in an immediate advantage for the opponent. In the blessed name of all that is micro-brewed, why? I can’t be the only person out there that thinks there’s a better way to do this, and I know I’m not the least-liked person pulling for a No Minors rules set.
Minor penalties add extra layers of frustration for the new derby enthusiast. When you first experienced derby you didn’t think to yourself, “Man, this penalty structure is so accessible! I totally understand why that person with the star hat just left the track!” No, you thought, “Fuck yeah, hit that bitch again!” or, “Damn, that jump was dope!” or,“What’s with charging $10 for a tall boy?” And when that fourth minor penalty was called, or a skater lined up to poodle, you thought “Wait, what the fuck is happening?”
News flash: This isn’t Lost. We don’t watch sports to be confused and eventually disappointed by the ending. Nobody wants to pay $15+ for a ticket to have WTF moments, especially when…
We can’t see anything from the sidelines anyway.
Down low, drunk, and as close to the track as possible is, arguably, the most fun place to watch the game from. Recently, however, I’ve taken to watching derby, sober, from the nose-bleeds. Why? Simple. I make bad decisions around alcohol and there are too many people on the infield. I don’t want 4 refs, 5 NSOs, and a white board between me and the awesome.
It’s not like I hate NSOs or anything. I like Miss Nomer’s mustachioed butt as much as any other red-blooded cyborg, but there’s a reason they call it a back door and not a back window.
I want to see what’s happening AND worry about catching a skate to the teeth if I’m yelling swearwords. Once the No Minors beta testers figured that a lone penalty tracker and a jam timer were all that we needed on the infield, the extra lines of sight and skating room were more glorious than my own bed after a weekend of derby travel. And speaking of snores…
There isn’t enough contact in this contact sport.
I know that everybody is totes stoked to go watch jammer line starts and pack destruction games. But maybe we could take a minute away from that pulse-pounding action to watch people fucking hit each other again.
Some people like the screening and massive body checks of hockey. Some people like the precision skate work and agility of figure skating. We like roller derby. We like both.
Minor penalties, at best, only reward about half of that. At worst, they punish most of it. Does taking away minors make the game more dangerous? No. It makes you, the blocker, harder to get around. It makes you, the jammer, a little more squirrely. It makes you, the player, have to be tougher or more agile. It gives you, the fan, a more exciting game to watch. It gives me, Miles, a half-stack just thinking about it. And speaking of dicks…
The refs are easier to hate on.
Here’s where the beer meets the lips for you folk. You think the refs are easy to hate on now? Hoo-boy, it’ll be so much easier without those pesky minors. Now, granted, you might not get as many opportunities to hate, but this is about quality hating. You’re a Hellarad reader, you pull for Team Heckle. Step up the game.
Photo stolen from DNN
Think of how justified you will be when you know that a penalty wasn’t called because you didn’t hear a whistle. (Right now you could just be too busy taking a pull off that flask to catch the minor hand signal.) Imagine the difference in outrage that you will feel when the skater didn’t go to the goddamn box off of that forearm. (Right now all you have is a steady buzz and some slight indigence over her not racking up her I’ll-deal-with-it-later tally.) Revel in the thought of the entire fucking crowd booing along with you because Miles Prower, that asshole, assessed major impact instead of no impact. (Right now that half-stack of mine is going away.)
Death to false penalties!
My aforementioned friend used to talk to me, on cold derby days, about a beautiful rules set that lived in the hearts and minds of people who wanted our game to make sense. We would sing songs about it as we sat around the campfire, burning league grievances. I would raise a water bottle to it during official reviews. That rules set could come to life, comrades! But first, we must raise our whiny, petulant voices in unity!
Or, you know, you could just be a dick about it.
(Editor’s note: Don’t get yer panties in a wad! Put a beer on it! And while you’re beering, you may as well keep that shit cool with a HELLARAD summer coozie, available only at our online store. )