So there is a huge to-do going on as of last night in the derby world. Three big name derby skaters have announced that they are transferring to the Oly Rollers just before the deadline for regionals. I first learned from this snarky “product” from Hellarad but it was quickly followed by a lot of different links. Derby News Network shared a partial interview with Joy Collision on the move, and Atomatrix posted to the Atom Wheels FB page (Atom is, obviously, run by Atomatrix). Banked Track News weighed in as well. Hockey Honey, AFAIK, has not made a statement since the backlash hit. Most people seem to think that this is fucked up. I know that some vocal derby types think that the idea of derby as DIY or of the league as a family is something that should be relegated to the past, and that we should treat derby more like a professional sport, where skaters are traded and free agents choose to make deals and skate with whoever, as well. I think that until derby becomes professional, we probably can’t expect that, and that while the bulk of derby skaters treat it as a DIY/family thing, it’s going to be a DIY/family thing. I don’t know the reasons behind Joy Collision and Hockey Honey’s decision to skate with Oly. Nor do I know any of these three skaters at all (though I’ve seen Joy Collision skate several times with Charm City, who she transferred from earlier this season.) And it is perfectly legal for these skaters to be added to the roster for Oly. I sympathize with Atomatrix’s position as she puts it. But if she wanted to end her career with Oly, she had that opportunity when she learned that she needed to move. It would suck to retire mid-season, without any tournaments to cap it off, but sometimes that’s the way it has to be. She could have also remained a satellite skater with Oly, not transferring to Arizona at all.
I think tha this isn’t just against the spirit of roller derby, I think it’s pretty unsportsmanlike of the skaters and Oly to do a last minute transfer. I don’t think that Arizona will be crippled by this, nor do I think, ultimately, that Oly will be so significantly better with these additions that they will absolutely win regionals or nationals. But being such skilled players, they are definitely hurting Arizona (both by leaving them in the lurch, and by having kept skaters who could have been working with the team this whole time from doing so) and helping Oly. It’s legal, but it feels like cheating.
One solution for this sort of issue would be to have WFTDA split flat track derby into divisions (like major and minor league baseball or hockey) so the best leagues skate against each other and the less skilled leagues skate against one another. (This is just me spitballing, I haven’t thought all the issues out yet.) Each city that can support it can have two leagues; a major and a minor one. The just-starting-up leagues would begin as minors, and leagues that don’t have the skill or the numbers to have two leagues would be in the minors, as well. Another solution is to disallow satellite players (skaters who do not live in the region of a team and thus do not practice with them, but compete with them). One more solution is to change transfer deadlines to earlier in the season, or only approve transfers that happen due to need (like a work transfer-impelled move.) I’m not really sure what the best solution is, but derby is still in a place where we work to find solutions to issues as the crop up.
Note: probably no post tomorrow, The Boy and Puppy are graduating from a work program and I am missing work all morning to attend the ceremony and reception. If something big comes up, I’ll post, but don’t expect one!