Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Blogness & Tripping

I miss myspace. I used to blog almost everyday. Well since my work doesn't block this site (yet) I can try again to have a blog outlet.

I've been watching programs about sports on tv when I get a chance lately. I was never into watching sports before derby, but now want to know how other athletes do it. I saw a great special on the Detroit Shocks (www.wnba.com/shock/) the women's basketball team. The 2003 & 2006 WNBA champs.

The special was focused on the coaching team and their method of training. The coach is really aggressive and a bit of a bully. He used to play in the NBA, and was known as a bad boy... lots of fouls. He has taught the Shocks how to play rough, and now they all are a team of bad girls, who get lots of penalties.

This got me thinking about derby, and how close we are to heading down the pathway of everyone playing with disregard to the rules and penalties. Right now on our league there are only a couple of skaters who we think like to trip, or fall in front of jammers, on purpose. I'm not talking about an occasional throwing a penalty in the heat of the moment. Skaters that continue to fall, slide, trip and otherwise not play according to the rules or the way that every skater on the league has agreed to play, even after they have been approached and asked to stop.

So what now? What do we do? Should someone approach each girl individually? Should we as a league discuss this? What if she denies it, or doesn't think there is anything wrong with it, or even worse, thinks that as long as she isn't caught by the refs then it's okay. Then should we all change the way we skate to include tripping, pushing, sliding, and forget about clean blocks and legal hits?

Should I even be discussing this in a public setting? Sure... I want to know what the fans think too. Especially those who watch mainstream sports... how is this type of stuff handled in other sports?

I won't call out anyone in particular, or let someone else call out anyone in a comment. No calling out any one skater or team. That's the only censorship here.


Anonymous said...

This should be brought forward to the refs. The refs should call people who habitually trip for diving or tripping everytime it happens, or even if they accidentally falls. Kinda like they do in soccer or hockey. Once it starts hurting her team and they loose games because of it they will police her behavior.

pbj said...

The struggle here is determining an accidental fall vs. an intentional fall. I personally have never fallen on purpose (I hate falling) but I'm sure a couple of my balance blunders may have looked like they were intentional. *shrug* It's a gray area for all involved which is subject to interpretation, and it's always going to come down to the ref's discretion and best judgement... as a result this issue is always going to leave them open to criticism. (God love 'em... Reffing is a tough and under-appreciated job!)

Off the subject a bit, but still a reffing concern, one thing that really irks me is calling a blocking penalty simply because it was a really hard hit. Just because a block knocks a gal three people deep into the crowd doesn't automatically make it illegal! Yet I see skaters getting called out for perfectly legal hits way too often simply because it was considered "too hard"... grrr.

Anonymous said...

I think long term this will just take diligence on the part of the skaters, refs, announcers, and fans. The mood or tone of this sport will rely on all four groups.

Short term… If someone does something often enough for it to be a signature move that the announcers joke about – and a good chunk of the audience gets the joke – then you may want to at least take the person aside and point it out.

If the announcers where giving the girl props or a joking shake of the index finger it’d be one thing, but when they basically mock a tactic (and by extension the person using it) it maybe time to take more proactive steps.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of announcers - What's with them calling out perceived penalties before a ref does... or even worse, PROMPTING a ref to make a call they may have not made on their own!?! I think the announcers should be instructed to not do this... especially on a league with new refs who are still learning their jobs and may be easily influenced by what they say.

Oh, and telling the blockers the position of a jammer on the floor? GRRR... this has got to stop! Nothing can spoil a team's strategy (one of which can be stealth) like hearing over the loudspeaker: "HERE COMES THE ~insert team name here~ JAMMER UP TO THE BACK OF THE PACK...!!!" Don't get me wrong... I ADORE the HRD announcers antics and play-by-play and think they do a fantastic job, but not when it interferes with game play.

Phil Arnold said...

Considering the level of pay for skaters, nada, and the cost of insurance (amzing deductable), intentional tripping is dangerous and play that is disrespectful of your sister skaters on the track.

One way of showing that falling is accidental is to go into a small package, a not particularly effective way to trip people. And it is also the safest way to fall with people coming up from behind you.

Bill Laimbeer teaching hiw NWBA team to cheat is unfortunate, but that is the way he played. If he would have played in the modern NBA he would have been suspended enough for him to change his cheating ways. The fact is there is probably more contact in roller derby than in basketball, and this comes from a former basketball player, coach and ref.

My understanding of roller derby is for a player that habitually cheats or skates dangerously it is best first to talk to her team captain so that she can pass the message on to clean up the skaters act. Then if that doesn't work probably go up the chain and talk to the trainers concerning the issue, and if that doesn't work if you and your team feel it is dangerous to be out on the track with a skater to go through whatever grievence committee you might have in your local league.

But as a male who is not part of a DIY league other than as a fan and a friend to that league, this is only what I have heard from a team captain on how to handle a situation like this.

Phl Arnold,
Austin, Texas

Catazon said...

What? Are the announcers really saying things like that? How can any skater hear that? I guess if the Brawlers started listening to the announcers then we would be doing a much better job of stopping the opposing jammer. Thanks for the tip!

Duck said...

I have always said this, use the camera system. Not all penalty's are going to be caught or seen. But the bouts now have 4 camera's recordings recording at all times. Granted 3 of those are from the same angle. However if you see the major being done I think they should be punished regardless of when it is caught.

This of course is easier said than done. You would have to create some kind of judgement panel and allows skaters to appeal a discision. Place rules on punishment for example how many times caught and so fourth. This will surely make players and teams more accountable for there action.

Main downfall would be Bouts that include teams from other city's. Some of those teams will probably play dirty. It has its pro's and cons, most importantly though, it protects the skaters from getting hurt which to me has a high priority.

Crispix396 said...

You know my stance on this one. If someone is honestly falling without being hit, they shouldn't be allowed to skate in a competitive situation. THis way when someone says "oh i just fell and i cant help it that it happened to take out the jammer" it's not an excuse. If you keep falling large, or with a leg extended, or in the air kicking at someone, then you have failed one of the simple skill sets allowing you to skate. "Heat of the moment" skating would be over looked if it happened once. Four and five times a game is good enough reason to ban a person from playing the next game wether or not the refs caught it when it happened.

As far as my opinion of excessively hard hits, its a slippery slope leading straight to the crowd. I would like to say that any hit that is legal, should be allowed. THen you would put some restrictions on it, as far as not letting the same girl slam the weaker girl repettively just because she can and it makes her look good. If you make a super hard hit, for no reason other than showing off, then you have to think 1: I could really hurt someone, and 2: Sending a girl 3 rows back could potentially REALLY hurt a fan. You kinda know what your getting into when your a player, but taking the chance of breaking a fans arm just because you look good when your pummeling someone should not be allowed.

My final comments are about the refs and announcers. The announcer is supposed to be able to speak like a more experienced fan. It helps the audience understand what is going on. Yelling to the crowd "shes coming up the back" builds fan excitement because right at that moment every one is focused on that one thing. The problem is that you dont make a million dollars a game to be able to afford putting the announcer speakers further out than the track. If that happened the players would not be able to hear the speakers. Your going to have to deal with it, and as long as it happens to both sides at least its fair. If it happens unfairly, the league would find a new announcer.

Now the refs. Reffing is one of the most thankless jobs out there, No matter what you do, half the fans and half the players will hate you. They already have a hard enough job, The y have to call what they see and also bear the burden of trying to catch EVERYTHING and call it all fairly. A ref is not a trainer. If you know a girl is tripping it is not a refs job to talk to her about it. You watch the same tape of the game that everyone else watches. If you care about it, maybe write down the parts where you see shady things happening and bring them up to your team captain. Then its the team captains responsibility to take that to training and their responsibility to either tell the skater or the skaters team captain to get that person under control. And I do agree that if someone is visibly throwing elbows, tripping or doing any dangerous foul on a consistent basis, and its evident in the tapes, then that person should be banned from playing the game. No one will admit it, but watching the tapes you see too many girls know that if you elbow or push on the outside, the refs cant see you. And the skaters that do these things should be ashamed of themselves.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

A hard hit is not an illegal hit in and of itself. An illegal hit is illegal regardless of the force landed on the opponent. A legal hit is legal regardless of the force landed on the opponent.
WFTDA rules indicate this clearly.
The argument that a hard hit is being landed against an opponent "...just because she can and it makes her look good..." is difficult for me to swallow. More to the point, isn't hitting hard enough to remove your opponent from the jam exactly THE point? Further the statement "...If you make a super hard hit, for no reason other than showing off..." confuses me. While there are a lot of very talented players in Houston, I have yet to see someone make a purposely, outrageously hard hit just to "show off". I have however, witnessed jammers on more than one team "show off" when they have made a particularly successful pass through the pack - even to the extent of exagerated hand and facial and body gestures. To date, this is the only kind of "showing off" I have seen or heard being discussed.

Knockahoe said...

This is great Elle!
I think the announcers calling out where the jammers are is a moot point. I don't think most players hear or have much time to react to what the announcers say. I can hardly get the pack (Brawlers and Opponents)to hear me when I SCREAM here she comes, shes on the outside, ****expletives****, HERE SHE COMES!!!!! Audience members have told me THEY heard me and were shocked no one else did. More power to a skater that gets any useful info from the announcers, between the music, fan cheers, and the centrifugal force.
Mr. Knockahoe told me he thought he saw me receive an intentional tripping/convenient fall. To his pleasure, I fell on the possible tripper/convenient faller with my track rocking, hoe-self. I have had no problems since. I am not condoning vigilantism that might hurt a league mate but sometimes we unknowingly solve problems. ;)
About hitting hard.....I also don't believe anyone is hitting hard to show off. It is hard to knock down most skaters. We train hard to be solid skaters. When you catch someone off guard a hit is more powerful than if the skater is braced for impact. It can be the difference between an opponent flying 3 feet into the crowd or turning around and saying "nice try". A legal hit should be a legal hit no matter how hard.

Cap'n Jack Sorrow said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Crispix396 said...

I guess since I know most of the skaters on the league, i get a little defensive when I see a bigger skater nail the hell out of a smaller skater just for "the hell of it". And when I say that, I mean both jammers are on the other side of the track, the packs are loose, and even if you knock a person down they would have time to get back up before the jammer got back. In these situations I dont see the NEED to hit that hard besides just hitting for the hell of it. While I agree that the girls should be constantly engaging eachother, if you are big, and you see a tiny skater not looking at you as you go around a corner, and you nail them hard enough to send them into the crowd, i feel that the only reason to do that is for "showing off" reasons. If you nail someone "for the hell of it" so hard that they go into the crowd and it risks injuring the player or a fan, then i'm saying that should be something talked about.

On the opposite side, watching a player who is not paying attention get railed is fun for the crowd. So is watching car wrecks on tv, and i still feel sorry for the drivers or the people they could hurt.

Phil Arnold said...

If a hard hit is legal, and strategic, I don't see anything wrong with it. I do think if somebody is sadistic enough to try to hurt somebody, well that's wrong. But generally those people don't pull back when knocking somebody out of bounds and not releasing at the boundary (violation), or cracking somebody from behind (violation). They are usually in danger of being caught for a rules violation.

But one game this year I saw was the league MVP for 2006 in another league get knocked down three times by the likely runner up for that award in one jam. Because this skater also had to jam she couldn't go after the MVP the whole game. But it would have been an effective strategy because you could tell the MVP was getting tired of having to get up and catch up after being knocked down by this almost MVP of her league.


ElleMcfierce said...

SCOTT... I didn't realize your original post was making a reference to a skater. I have edited your comment, removing the reference. Please try not to do that again.

Great post Elle! Someone I was explaining the rules to recently asked about tripping. It's been happening for decades in soccer but has really become more prevalent in the last 10-20 years. Some individual players are renowned for it and almost universally despised as a result! There is no easy answer, because it is almost always subjective. Videos and replays make for lots of dead time while whoever adjudicates reviews the footage. That really limits their use. One thing I discussed with another of the volunteers was the possibility of having a non skating ref in the stands or on the second level. Every time I've watched from there, I'm impressed with how much 'off the ball' action you see. I'm not sure where the very best vantage point would be for a non skating ref, but somewhere in an elevated position would add another perspective and might allow that ref to see things others couldn't. This could then be broadcast to the other refs, even if it was just with the message to keep an eye on such and such a skater.

I think it should be the responsibility of the team captains to make sure this doesn't creep into their team's tactics.

Scott said...

I wasn't aware I referenced anyone!!!!

Scott said...

Just announced today!!


Not sure we'll see it anytime soon in derby though!

ElleMcfierce said...

Great link! I agree with this statement:
"If players did not seek to indulge in cheating, the problem would not exist"