Comments » 141

lhardie writes:

I think I'm most disappointed because this article left me feeling that derby hasn't been approached with the same amount of respect that a full contact male sport like football would have been.

If you were to read up on the history of derby, you would see that it has a rather colorful and entertaining past. While derby has hung onto some of the colorful components, such as wild player names and fancy feminine outfits, the game has certainly turned into what could be called a serious sport.

As many people have pointed out, derby has rules against violence and you will find that it has much less "violence" than one would expect to find at a hockey game. I think it is much more appropriate to simply recognize that it is a full contact sport with all the risks that come with it.

I think it's ignorant to observe the outfits and assume there is nothing more to derby than a bunch of feminist bruisers running around trying to start fisticuffs with one another.

I for one am not a feminist, nor am I violent. I am THRILLED TO BITS to find a sport that I admire as a woman and actually want to play. When I was young, none of the traditional sports appealed to me as all of them seemed like they belonged in the male realm. In derby, I can look like a woman AND I can play hard, all while having a lot of fun. THIS is what I would have liked to read about in your article.

miss.murder.13#205742 writes:

These names are more about intimidation than violence. Roller Derby absolutely is not the only sport whose players have intimidating nicknames. Actually, my derby name is taken from a song by the band AFI. It was chosen by my 2 children. If you find, football, hockey, soccer, or any other full contact sports violent, than I suppose you might consider us violent as well.

lindsaybeeson writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

annawrecksya writes:

There are common themes throughout derby names: sexy, funny, intimidating, parodies, and some skaters just use their government names. Overall the names are just for fun, and for some, to help keep their derby and professional lives separate. Due to derby being so misunderstood, it can (and has) cause problems in people's personal lives.

ps, say Anna Wrecksya out loud.

Donstoppable writes:

If it's not about violence, why the war paint?

The war paint is actually quite rare I’ve only seen it used by a very small number of skaters. But, one reason I’ve heard given by a skater is that derby is so misunderstood that she fears that if her true identity were widely known it could jeopardize her job. The point that many are trying to make is that the sport is not about violence for violence sake as Mr. Maldonado suggests.

If it's not using sex, why the panty/fishnet ensembles?

It is using sex. But not in the same way that cheerleaders use sex in football. In patriarchal societies, female bodies are acted upon, they are not normally the initiators of action. And when they are the initiators of action they are labeled negatively. It’s fine to be a tomboy for a time, but once a women is over the age of 13 or so she’s expected to leave that identity behind and ‘blossom’ into a young woman. An assertive male employer is “demanding,” an assertive female employer is “pushy.” In patriarchal societies assertive women are threatening to the status quo. Using fishnets and such is a way for women to say, “yes I’m powerful, I can hit people, but I’m also beautiful.” Being powerful and assertive is not mutually exclusive from being sexy.

If it's *nothing* to do with feminism, where are there men on the rink?

It certainly does have something to do with feminism, as a feminist I see gender playing a role in almost everything in our society. There is male roller derby but it’s tiny compared to what the women have done. Men do have roles to play in women’s roller derby, we’re referees, coaches, volunteers, spouses and on and on… But the sport was not created by feminist leaders as some kind of answer to male dominated sports. Empowerment is just another benefit to those involved.

Hope this helps.

Best,
Don Mynatt.

shawn writes:

Lindsay , sorry if it sounds like I am a little heated or harsh with this post but I am a little upset with this article! And I am just a reader with knowledge of the sport so direct any responses to my post directly to me.
War paint as you so call it:
The girls of the sport try to individualize themselves from other teammate's Jamie Skull for instances paints her face like a skull to represent herself and her Derby name.
Goblyn - paints her face like a goblin that is who she is.
It is nothing about war, like Native Americans did before battle 200 years ago. Let’s not look at other sports; Gosh forbid we did that! When is the last time you watched a football game or been to one? Or, even a Basketball game? The fans that paint their entire body for their team, wear their favorite player’s jersey, and flail the team towel at the game. In return the athletes do the same for their fans. Have you never seen this in a sport before? How about Rugby when players paint themselves before a game to represent themselves and their team? Does everyone forget that part of sports is also the recognition you get from the fans and the feeling of accomplishment when you score a touchdown, a home run, or a point when passing an opposing player in derby? Or, even when the crowd chants your name. O wait or did we forget about Pro Basketball players like Dennis Rodman who always did something crazy (IE Dyed hair, finger nail polish, wigs, etc etc). In case you did here is a link for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-LHUy...
I was a starting running back , tail back, slot back in football, played wing in basketball, volleyball, track (even anchor in the 3200), softball in my older days and I can tell you derby girls put more time, effort, passion, and energy into their sport then I could have ever imagined putting into one of mine; or even have imagined was possible at times.

shawn writes:

Fish stockings with team colors under them, knee high socks, matching jerseys, bloomers with writing on them , ummmmm , not sure how this makes me think of sex and I am a guy! We can find many ways to do that without fish stockings and these other articles of clothing! I think personally a women in a business suit, with a pushup bra under a silky blouse, and high heels makes me think of sex more than a girl sweating and stinking of pads (you know what I mean…musty smelling pads after practice). I don’t see women coming out showing any part of their body at a bout. Or, soliciting for sex like in a cheap spam pop-up on Charles Maldonado web search of roller derby; I do not know or can I suggest that is what he was thinking of or writing about when he slandered the Hard Knox Roller Girls derby team and all of the roller girls across the world. And, yes I say world because the sport is not just in the United States but across the globe: German leagues, English Leagues, Australia Leagues don’t believe me look them up for yourself. http://rollbritannia.com/index.php this might help to start with.
Where are the men in this sport? Not to be rude when I say this but “this is WFTDA Women Flat Track Derby Association”. This is not a men’s League but there is plenty in the middle as certified league referees. And to frankly honest with you I don’t there is to many men that could put the energy and passion into a sport like a roller girl.
I hope this answers any questions about outfits and WAR paint and solicitation of sex or lack of.

shawn writes:

Personally, If I was the Hard Knox Roller Girls I would slap a law suit on the Metro pulse for this article and the damages it has and will cause for the league, the sport, the fans and future fans of the sport. Maybe then people and magazines like this will understand that this is a serious sport and this is slander of a sport, legitimate league, and skater owned business . I would love to see this article on a Pro League Team and see how fast the corporate Lawyers would be issuing out summons for a court appearance for this blatant slander of their league. (the editor would come back from vacation before that would happen)
By the way here is my web search for the day. Thanks for teaching me this, sir! It is the only thing I learned from it.
“There are five conditions that must be met before a slander suit can hope to be successful.”
One condition is that a false and derogatory statement has been made to at least one person other than the one being defamed – well this one is easy said it to millions in an article
Identification is the second condition – he identified HKRG and all derby skaters
The defamation itself is the third condition - and the words spoken in a slander case must have led to a reputational loss of some sort.
The fourth condition is "fault" - and it must be proved that the defamatory falsehood was said without due care, or was said with negligence
The final condition that must be met is that there has been actual injury - demonstrate a monetary loss or an impairment of your reputation

ditavonsqueeze writes:

"I want to make a b***h cry tonight,"
and that b***h is Charles Maldonado if he ever finds himself alone in a room full of pissed off derby girls.

Enough said. You are obviously clueless and did very little "behind the scenes" investigating.
Seems like you may be a wee bit intimidated by strong females.

shorty writes:

"alt-weekly non-sports sports coverage, women’s roller derby

We say novelty sport,

two-plus years of waterskiing-squirrel caliber local news coverage.

Of course, it has to be that way or it doesn’t really work.

Roller derby players put on war paint and wax poetic about bloodying up the other women. Then they go out on the skating rink and do it.

Derby’s a combination of parody, athleticism, post-modernism, third-wave feminism, sex, violence, and a maybe put-on attitude

young women don their skates and (very little) padding and try to claw, push, and trip their way to the front of the ever-moving pack.

The Hard Knox derby girls, women, whatever-they-want-to-be calleds

four or five years after derby clubs began popping up in Southern California and the East Coast, signalling the renewal

Roller derby can be filled with vicious, sometimes brutal, violence. A derby bout is, in essence, about pushing people out of the way to make room for yourself and your teammates. This often leads to punching, kicking, tripping, and falling onto the hard floor of the rink. Protection is kneepads, elbow pads, and a helmet. That’s all."

end story-BEGIN COMMENT

These are all of the sections of this story that are either incorrect or offensive. And you are not paying attention to the fact that we are all upset at the libel, disrespect, and falsification of our sport; but instead are defending the words and even arguing the definition of violence to avoid the fact that this publication will be under serious heat for what it has done. Noone is falling for the "Oh these words look worse because they aren't formatted underneath pictures" stuff.

My job requires anonymity. I even considered wearing face paint so as not to reveal to the general public my identity. There are many people who wear many things in many different arenas for many different reasons. You should probably not harp too much on trying to fit the women of derby into a category of efiminate violence bc of face paint and fishnets. Or anyone else for that reason. At least not until you try to actually understand the sport or do some research first. Try a little compassion for what the true complaint against this publication really is.

WE ARE ATHLETES THAT DO NOT TRIP, KICK, HIT, CLAW, PUNCH ETC AS YOUR PUBLICATION HAS DESCRIBED US. THE HARD KNOX ROLLER GIRLS SHOULD NOT HAVE SUFFERED THIS LIBEL AND SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PAINTED IN THIS LIGHT.

ErikaW writes:

Bottom line: This article is horrible.

lindsaybeeson writes:

I'll retire from the conversation with these thoughts:

The roller derby comprises a diverse set of participants. I have truly appreciated hearing from those who chose to express themselves in an effort to broaden my understanding of the sport. Your sound comments have gone a great length to provide the very information that you felt was missing in our coverage of the derby.

And I grudgingly admit to a little heartache at feeling so misunderstood as a journalist by those who chose to simply degrade the work that I participate in every day without making any effort themselves to hear me when I tried to broaden their understanding of it.

Lindsay

shorty writes:

are you saying you are upset at us for defending our sport that you have misrepresented claiming that we read the words wrong?

if you feel that we misunderstood journalism because we know half of this story to be libel that simply isnt the case. i can also smell a martyr from a mile away. no one is misunderstanding the story. it is right there in english for us to read. it leaves little room for interpretation. we grudgingly admit that the words and phrases used to write about roller derby in this journalists perspective are not accurate. many of them are wrong, many of them are blatantly offensive.

all i can offer is that you check out memphisrollerderby.com where we have links to articles written by ESPN (Hardly waterskiing-squirrel caliber local news coverage) and various other papers and documentaries on MTV and Live From Memphis.com. There are also links to WFTDA.com and Derby NewsNetwork. There are many sources of information about this sport (which is harldy a parody or a sex act or a wrestling match, or a novelty sport, etc). I hope you can at least understand that the various names this journalist has called us as a sports organization are wrong and offensive. Perhaps he should try again and actually write a REAL STORY that accurately portrays the true athletes of The Hard Knox Roller Girls.

KittyT writes:

Ms. Beeson,

Would you kindly be able to provide a source/reference list for this article? I'm very interested to see which websites/books/articles/people Mr. Maldonado used as references for his article.

Thanks,
Kitty T.

BradExample writes:

Lindsay, you offered no "broadened understanding" of journalism; you tried to excuse the terrible article as having been written to go with photos.

If you are being "misunderstood as a journalist", when it's a journalist's role to make a topic understandable to the public... maybe the fault isn't ours?

We are not degrading the profession of journalism, we are degrading this specific rotten example of journalism.

miss.murder.13#205742 writes:

I am sorry that you feel we did not make an attempt to listen to you. I truly felt we tried to answer your questions. There is no candy coating the error of this article. I mentioned in my first post that I felt the article would have been great as a photo essay, as originally intended. I don't understand your need to defend Mr. Maldonado's poor journalism.Why does he not defend himself? We are not degrading your work. Unless of course, you helped write that particular article. I saw only Charles Maldonado's name for the credit.

Lulu_Garou writes:

I don't get this demand that derby (or any other of the many ways people express themselves) needs to be black and white. Lindsay and Charles (and your ilk), you are demanding false dichotomies. Sexy or feminist? Violent or constructive? Cartoonish or serious? Etc, etc, etc.

I am a feminist, of the post-modern, pro-sex type. I love derby because it is fun, fierce, fast, female-oriented but not anti-male, witty, and worldy. I have feminist friends, of the golden-era man-hating type, who think derby is fantastic for how it allows women to create a nearly female-only, pro-woman world. I have friends of the not-a-feminist feminist ilk (the ones who, born after 1980 or so, have never understood the need for feminism and who fail to grasp how feminist they really are) who love derby for the camaraderie and the fact that it gets them out of the house 4 or 5 days a week to do something physical and have a beer afterwards. I have friends who are male homosexuals, not at all interested in the legs in those fishnets, who never miss a game. I have friends who are lesbians who frankly drool on the hot women, and others who stratagize and discuss like the WNBA was reborn, this time with skates on. I have friends who, though married (or not) and happy in their busy lives, strap on skates and stripes and give hours of their time 2 or 3 nights a week and rougly 12-15 whole Saturdays a year to ref or volunteer for this sport, without pay or anything more than a terrorist fist bump for their efforts.

(I announce for my league in Salt Lake City, UT, and like the refs, I do it for the love of a sport that I can't even participate in. My boyfriend is my co-announcer, and we work our asses off for it, for the joy, the fun, the minimal "fame," the fact that we get the best seats in the house... )

You're asking, "why do some of these women wear make-up for games?" Uhm... for the same reasons some women wear makeup for the Olympic sports. For the same reason some of us wear it to work and others of us don't.

You're asking, "is it about sex?" What, in this history of selfish genes and a nearly universal desire to get it on, is NOT about sex? I imagine your newspaper has sexy ads in it, but you'd probably say the paper itself is not about sex.

Have a clue: derby girls (women, all, in all senses of that word but "derby women" just doesn't flow off the tongue so well) tend to be young and proud and strong and vibrant. YOU try to find a few scores of those types who do NOT also embody "sexy," I dare you. Can't be done; sorry. It's like taking a hospital to task for having sexy nurses; you get a bunch of women together and SOMEONE is going to find them hot. So yeah, they're sexy too. Amazingly, they can be sexy while being other things, too. Women: the original multi-taskers!

(Continued below...)

Lulu_Garou writes:

(continued)

Derby can occupy more than one checkbox on the form: yes, it's fun but serious too -- serious work, serious injuries. Yes, it's funny and yet, it has academic implications worth exploring. Yes, it's an hour of real grit and sporting play, plus hours and hours of fund-raising (carwashes without bikinis, sadly, don't bring in as much money as carwashes WITH bikinis... you don't have to have a degree in marketing to understand that rule) and after-parties and pool tournaments and "win a date with a derby girl" and other crowd-pleasing events because unlike other sports, this one has no Nike-level corporation footing the bills. Not do they even want that, because yes, it's underground and yet also legit -- the punk era where you have to choose one or the other is more or less over, and derby is going to keep one skate in each camp as long as it can.

Maybe derby is just too complicated to fit into a small box with pictures and a pithy headline: fun but a lot of work, dangerous but worth every bruise and late night, a hobby that takes over your life.

One thing I love about derby is that unlike almost any other sport I can think of, it has no specific demands for one type of athleticism. Women of every size, from tiny things that look 12 to big, brawny bruisers, come together to form a team that needs them all. I've watched large women amble out onto the rink and then turn on the speed, jamming like a rocket, their size belying their agility. I've see teeny girls lay out a woman twice her size with a well-placed (legal) block. And I love that derby girls are from all walks of life: housewives, doctors, lawyers, writers, college students, professionals, strppers, even an NPR reporter. You don't have to be any one thing for derby except able to skate. If that doesn't open the dialogue for a real post-modern female sport embodying every single thing we, as women, have worked for since we started rallying for suffrage, I don't what does.

So, keep trying to get it, but give yourself more space for more words and less assumptions, like a good journalist would.

dolly_rocket writes:

I'm just going to chime in here for a minute...

1. Who said our sport wasn't violent? Its the ONLY completely female focused full contact sport in existence. Sure, women play rugby, box, wrestle... but those are small fractions of MENS focused sports. Roller Derby is violent, just like football, hockey, boxing are violent sports. But that doesn't mean they are any less intellectual or strategic. I think the frustration here comes from a lack in understanding of the sport, and perhaps sports in general by the writer. Just because the hits are hard, doesn't mean there isn't a reason. You stated that this was a photo essay, and often roller derby articles are in the lifestyle section of newspapers, not the sports section. I'm not really sure why, because I think if men were playing it, it wouldn't be in the lifestyles section, but lets not even go there.

2. War paint, fishnets... Boy am I sick of hearing about ripped stockings in these articles. But roller derby isn't the only sport making a fashion statement. There is a multi-billion dollar market out there for sportswear, and every major athlete in the world is sponsored by clothing companies that promote some sort of lifestyle. Tennis, football, baseball, professional skateboarding, surfing, golf for chrissakes, you name it, someone is selling clothes out there for it. Same goes here, except we aren't making any money off of this stuff. Girls choose to brand themselves with their uniforms, just like any other athlete would. I think rollergirls get frustrated hearing about their outfits over and over again because no other athlete has 90% of their press filled with articles about their undergarments. But ultimately we wear this stuff because we can. It makes things more fun and interesting, and I think a lot of the girls feel a sense of ""'m a superhero!" when they take off the business suit and put on the spandex. you know, like a UNIFORM makes athletes feel. I don't know of any team or league that has ever required girls to wear stockings or fishnets, and personally, I don't think I've ever worn them to a game or a practice, but the girls that do wear them because they like them. Its just like Serena Williams wearing beads in her hair and wear tight spandex dresses, of Derek Jeter deciding he wants to have the tightest pants in baseball history, or Ray Lewis putting that ADORABLE little line on his face before every Ravens game. They and we do it because well, we can. As for the reason for it being fishnets, well the roller derby revival started in Austin, TX where there is a really big rockabilly culture, and I guess us rollergirls like the tradition. You know, just like any baseball player that opts to wear the high socks and short pants, or the tennis players that are still wearing tennis whites.

Dolly Rocket
Charm City Rollergirls - Baltimore

dolly_rocket writes:

AAANNDDD (it cut me off!)

3. Roller Derby started as a totally campy staged performance, and I think rollergirls everywhere need to accept that fact, and learn to love their roots. Yes, we have made leaps and bounds to legitimize our sport- we have annual tournaments, a solid rules set, on organization that provides services for us, etc. We also put in A LOT of work both as skaters and administrators to further our sport. It kind of sucks that almost 10 years later (which really isn't that long when you think about it), we are still having to read articles that talk about our outfits and brawls breaking out on the track. I think ultimately, we just want to be treated like any other athlete would be treated. But we do have to admit our sport is a little bit different than most- and not just for the reasons stated on the article (the outfits and the violence). It is a completely not for profit democracy, where every girl in the country (that is a member of a wftda league) gets a vote in the future of her sport. And we all do it for free. And we all know each other and are friends. Where was that in the article? Thats what makes it special.

KillerLite writes:

Permit me to jump in as someone who has worked within the journalism field
before AND someone who is actively involved in roller derby. While I
understand that the article was "never meant to have this emphasis" as it was
only meant to accompany a photo journal, the fact remains that any journalist
worth his salary would strive to write something that could stand alone,
despite whether it was accompanied by photos or not.

I am trying to refrain from saying what has already been stated here, but if I
should sound at all redundant, you will have to excuse me. I have been
skating for the last year with the league in Little Rock, and have met some of
the most amazing women there. If one were to only speak with a "typical"
derby skater (if there is such a thing), you would see the mental and physical
presence that each one brings to every practice, every meeting, every
recruitment event, every bout. Yes, we add a bit of "flash" to the game
through elaborate makeup, crazy socks, and fun nicknames to call each other
on the track, because we are trying to make our presence known in the
sports world, since the general public sees "women's sports" and immediately
thinks "novelty" (ever take a look at the struggle the WNBA has to get
respect?). The fact is, however, that we consider ourselves athletes first and
foremost. If I have to change my name and wear "warpaint" to get people to
come see my athletic ability, please pass the fishnets and glitter.

All we are asking for here is that Mr. Maldonado take the time to dig beneath
the superficial layer of the sport and report on the athleticism of derby. I
know that deadlines come quickly and that time is a rarity for a journalist, but
Mr. Maldonado should recognize the disservice that he has done towards our
sport and make some effort to rectify it. Any gesture would be appreciated at
this point. Hard Knox are an amazing group of women and deserve the
utmost respect for all the hard work they put into keeping derby real and
athletic.

Killer Lite
Central Arkansas Roller Derby

SlapYou87 writes:

Gameplay: Each roller derby bout is made up of three 20-minute periods. Each period can consist of many “jams.” Jams can end when a jammer makes it all the way through the pack to the front. She can call it off, signalling the beginning of the next jam. Once a jam is called, players have 20 seconds to return to line up. If a player is missing, the team must compete in the next jam without her.

This part of the article is not correct at all. I strongly suggest that Mr. Maldonado go to www.wftda.com and read the rules. Version 4.0 section 2.3 clearly says that a bout is composed of 60 minutes of play divided into two 30 minute periods. There are not three 20 minute periods. Section 2.4 there are 30 seconds between each jam not 20. Also only the LEAD jammer can call off a jam. Just because a jammer makes it though the pack first does not mean she is eligible to be lead jammer. You have to make it through the pack legally.

J_B_Otch writes:

Yes...I AM focusing on the words. The WORDS are what appear on my screen.

The WORDS used were demeaning, degrading and belittling to ALL participants of Roller Derby.

Yes, I AM very upset with Mr. Maldonado.

As a person who makes his living using WORDS, I believe that he has an obligation to research his subjects before applying WORDS to them.

If he had attended a practice, charity function or even just a social gathering of the HKRG's....

If he had spent some time talking to them about their sport, their jobs, their children, their families.....

Well....THAT would have been a "Behind the Scenes and On the Track with the Hard Knox Roller Girls" article.

The Hard Knox Roller Girls DESERVE a THOROUGHLY RESEARCHED follow-up report and an APOLOGY for the demeaning descriptions of them and their sport.

J.B.Otch
LCRG
Johnson City, TN

Dick_Pounder writes:

Lindsay

Hitting is a big part of roller derby so why not have a highlight package of some of the best hits. Similar to the following

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps0gqS...

or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze8S-U...

If you have ever been in the locker room before a footbal game you would have heard a lot worse than what was heard before a bout. This is how players get themselves pumped up for a full contact sport. Of course skaters don't rub in the big hits they dish out unlike in football.

Warpaint-all part of the uniform or "costume" and not really any different than the "costumes" in any other sport. It can also be used for intimidation and flair. Here is a look at what some NHL goalies to for the same reason.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mult...

So why is it not looked down upon in these sports? Is it because these are men's sports? This brings us to the point of feminism.

It may have some to do with feminism but not necessarily in the traditional sense. It is women who have revitalized this sport and have built and run leagues across the globe(USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Australie etc)Men do have their own leagues but we also play critical suport roles. These roles are also shared by women.Coaches, referees, announcers, stats etc.

The fact that the skaters wear fishnets etc just means they can look beautiful while enjoyng a hard edged sport. Not necessarily about sex but showing that beuty and strength can coexist in one entity.

I do truly hope that you take the opportunity to see this growing sport and tlk to some of the women involved. It is fast paced, exciting, hard hitting and the women involved are some of the most interesting and inteligent people you could ever want to meet.

BigDaddyVoodoo writes:

I'm afraid that even considering a photo essay poorly formatted to fit into an existing article template is STILL a photo essay in any format that chooses to be flippant and rude at the EXPENSE of it's subjects.

The opening sentences alone formatted perfectly in any other article would still represent a lazy, myopic insult to the HKRG and all derby leagues that support them (including Little City in Johnson City, TN who provided one of the players on your front page graphic!)

Shannon Brown
Announcer- Little City Rollergirls

sauvignon writes:

You know what I think is the worst thing about this situation?
How about the fact that we pay over $700 a bout to run ads in this paper & have done so for 4 seasons now. Not to mention, we give their readers a $2 discount off admission at the door for brining in a copy. Thank you for returning the appreciation. Also a big thanks for not actually coming to the bout before writing the article, 1 person showed up & was only there to take pictures.

miss.murder.13#205742 writes:

I am simply blown away by the amount of support from Derby leagues across the nation. This is proof of the passion and respect that we have for our sport and each other. Hard Knox sincerely appreciates all of you taking the time to try and clarify this wonderful sport that just seems so difficult for some to grasp. Many thanks, Coach Murder

Donstoppable writes:

Lindsay,

I'm sorry you thought some of our comments were harsh. Maybe they were but for an online forum such as this, where only an email account is needed to register, the comments were PG-rated at worst. Look at comments on YouTube videos if you want to see some really harsh comments. Most of the responses here were thoughtful (if a bit aggravated).

Nevertheless, all these responses demonstrate how much passion there is in derby. These folks, myself included, put a tremendous amount of time into this thing called derby. This is why so many people are offended by this piece. Women are tired of being marginalized and trivialized, at least the women of roller derby are. So when someone trivializes the thing we put so much work into, well... you’ve seen the results…

Best,
Don Mynatt.

MizzCommunication writes:

Hi Lindsay,

You say feminism has naught to do with roller derby? I disagree. Women's Roller Derby allows women to be sexy without being called a ho, and assertive without being called a b*tch. As an announcer, I hand out a survey with interesting information to share with the crowd about our skaters. One of the questions is, "How has roller derby changed your life?"

The regular answers I get? I'm in shape, and women's (please note these are women, not girls who are 12 years old or younger) roller derby has given our skaters more confidence in other areas of their lives. Whether it's the relentless patience they parent with, or going out and getting that better job they deserve, most of my skaters would tell you it's not about painting their faces and wearing fishnets. (But that part's fun, isn't it?)

As to "journalistic integrity" on Mr. Maldonado's part, you have seen the articles from other large, well known, and well respected newspapers. I submit to you this article written by the independent newspaper at the University of Northern Colorado here in Greeley, Colorado:

http://media.www.uncmirror.com/media/...

Please note: Anne, the author of the article, gets direct quotes from the team that she is covering. Not "overheard" ones like Mr. Maldonado. Secondly, I feel she does an amazing job not only of covering our women's sport, but also doing background research for a bit of information on Roller Derby as a sport, and also it appears that she checked out the (then) updated national rankings at http://www.wftda.com

As a student at that university years ago, we used to make fun of the newspaper as being "all fluff," or "factually inaccurate." After seeing Mr Maldonado's work, I'm thinking that this small, student-run newspaper should be the source I turn to. Atleast they actually interview people.

Though I don't know anyone directly involved with the Knoxville team, I do know the feeling of disappointment when you work really hard at something and when you finally get your chance to shine, the light is dim. Ever know that feeling Lindsay? Mr. Maldonado certainly must apologize. His article is inflammatory, factually errant, and most certainly worse press for this local, community involved team that is working hard to better their lives, and their community's lives, one pair of fishnet stockings at a time.

Besides, fishnets don't get as many runners as regular pantyhose, am I right ladies?

~Mizz Communication

Dick_Pounder writes:

I would like to defend the position that my name denotes violence.

I am an announcer for the league in Calgary, Alberta and my name is simply a play on another person who is quit involved in sports.

Di*k Pound

here is what wikipedia has on him

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Pound

I have also discovered that there are several peope whose name is actually Richard Pounder and use the shortened Di*k. And apparently you can't use that name on this blog.

redlovesdaryl writes:

DERBY RULES!!!!

MAYBE YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT BEFORE WRITING AN ARTICLE ON A SUBJECT YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT.

DERBY WOMEN ARE AMAZING! NOT ONLY ARE THEY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE, THEY ARE ALSO ACTIVE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES,
SUPPORTING MANY CHARITIES AND CAUSES. NOT TO MENTION THIS GUY'S OWN PUBLICATION.

THESE WOMEN WORK HARD TO CHANGE THE TAINTED IMAGE DERBY
HAS CARRIED FROM THE PAST. AND COMMENTS LIKE MR. MALDANADO MADE IN HIS ARTICLE WILL ONLY DOUBLE OUR EFFORTS. SO THANK YOU SIR. YOUR IGNORANCE WILL ONLY SERVE TO FUEL THE DERBY FIRE SPREADING ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

GO HOMEWRECKERS!
DOCKYARD DERBYDAMES

~STREEPERELLA'S DIE HARD FAN FROM WORK!

JeLLyPiG writes:

When I got this link about this "horribly written,
uninformed derby article", I laughed. Having seen major
publications mangle the facts about the sport before I
thought how bad can it be. WoW! This might actually qualify
as the worst, even less informed that the local TV media's representation. I found myself so offended I signed up to
comment and I'm from Portland Or. Yikes, this writer really
phoned this dribble in.

Sign up for those Pink Martini ticket (Banner ad
below)...they are awesome, from Portland and practice their
craft...unlike the writer of this article.

thurstongore writes:

Wow. As a sports editor for four years and journalist for 12, I'm blushing for you guys because this is one of the most embarrassing inflammatory pieces of "reporting" I've ever read. As a fan of alt-weeklies like The Stranger here in Seattle and the Village Voice and Portland Mercury more nationally, they too, I think, would be embarrassed should this tripe appear in their papers. What the hell is the point of this? just to rile everyone up for web hits? Charles Maldonado - Just one question...what exactly was your motivation for this piece? Did a derby girl dump you before you wrote this or something? Why the hate? Because it's either that or you're a lazy moron. 5 minutes of internet searching could have disproved every allegation you make. What a joke! Don't ever leave this job Charles - I'm not so sure you'll be able to find another "reporting" job anywhere else if this is what your clips book consists of!
Roller derby is legit. That is all.

thurstongore writes:

Lindseybeeson: "I'm glad you guys are helping broaden our understanding of where you're coming from; I wish you could do so without completely denigrating my co-worker, but that's the topic of another conversation, the focus of which would be how journalists are mischaracterized, underestimated and stereotyped based on what often seems to be a narrow understanding of what it means to work in media."
I'm sorry, but as a journalist, the only misrepresentation here is no about one of your coworkers. It's about THOUSANDS of hard-working athletes around the country. That's right..>THOUSANDS! Plenty of journalists have done a great job covering this sport. You too would know that Lindsey if any of you had bothered to uphold the merits of journalistic integrity. This is shock "yellow" journalism at the very, very best. I won't say what I think it is at it's very worst.

casper writes:

16317 is the number of roller girls on the roster with a huge amount waiting to have their names confirmed. Not a great group to offend. This is a fast growing group of strong hard working women from all over the world I think it's time to apologize.

betty_bonecrusher writes:

I just happen to be one of those that wear "war paint" why?
because I find it funny and it is apparently intimidating,
if I was told I couldn't any more I would be just as happy
to skate without. As for the fishnets, well you try to skid
across concrete or sport court(a type of flooring used to
play) with bare legs and tell me how fun that is.

I think the reason I am so upset with the article is that
derby has been marginalized. As cheesy as it sounds, when I
started derby 3 years ago I was not the strong, assertive,
confident woman I am today. I have made friends that I am
certain I will have for the rest of my life and I wouldn't
change it for anything.

I think one of the reasons there have been such "knee jerk
defensive" reactions is because derby is more of a huge
family that just happens to revolve around an amazing
sport(that takes skill, strategy, athletic ability, and most
of all DEDICATION). Naturally like any close knit family,
if you attack one of us(even if the original information
wasn't meant to be as inflammatory as it came off) you will
get the backlash from ALL of us.

I think every other derby girl can back me up on the fact
that those girls that join the sport just to wear fishnets
and a ton of makeup and look cute/sexy rarely last(there are
of course exceptions to the rule).

Betty Bonecrusher
Steel City Derby Demons

Bianca_Bullet_of_the_Southern_Misfits writes:

Just to let you know, I am with a Mississippi team and when I found out about this article, I absolutely had to make an account on this site just to give my opinion.

Have you ever been to a Roller Derby bout..or hell, even a practice? Because if you had you would see that roller girls put more time, money and heart into this sport than any other sport Ive seen. Not only do we not get paid for what we do, but any money that is made at bouts goes directly back into the sport. Our sport does not discriminate against any girl. We take in girls of all shapes, sizes, races, occupations etc.

We also do charity work for things like womens abuse shelters, habitat for humanity, the humane society etc. but obviously that wouldnt make for a good story like this "expose" into the real side of Roller Derby...notice the sarcasm

Yes our sport is physical but much less physical than sports like hockey, football, rugby etc. We have very specific rules we have to follow and "punching, kicking, tripping" is absolutely not allowed just like any other sport.

I have so much more I would like to say but so many other people have done that for me. This isnt even my team but I am truly offended at the story that you presented on this hardworking derby team. You obviously had nothing better to do. But I guarantee you wont be moving up on this paper anytime soon if you keep writing false articles with no research whatsoever

faeriegyrl7 writes:

I just picked up the print copy on Lindsay's advice, because this was a photo essay. The print version is worse in my opinion. The first mention, in the Table of Contents, states, "Here comes the clothesline... and here comes the medic, Roller Derby is back..." "teams of female gladiators performing for bloodthirsty crowds? Something to which we won't subject roosters or pit bulls, but sanction fully for future PTA presidents?"

"Roller Skates + Violence + women falling down, The formula for a successful novelty sport. More visually interesting than skeeball, less repulsive than competitive eating."

Gee whiz guys.................give me a break.

delindsey writes:

That stuff is really in the print version? Really? I'm not sure if this is the kind of magazine that is distributed free of charge or not, but if I walked into a restaurant or a grocery store and saw a stack of these near the front door I might feel the need to...do something with them.

Michi_chan writes:

As a fellow journalist who covers solely flat track roller derby in Arizona, I am very disgusted by this overall article and the damage it can do to the roller derby community in Knoxville and around the world.

As many have mentioned here, today's roller derby is a legitimate sport with substantial structure at the local league level as well as the national level. Hundreds of leagues exist in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and in various European countries. One league is even beginning to form in the United Arab Emerates. I "non-sport" "novelty" sport would not have this kind of following world wide.

On the national level, roller derby is represented by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. WFTDA has over 70 full-member leagues that engage in both "home team" and in "interleague" play. Teams are ranked regionally and there are national tournaments to determine an overall national winner. The rules of the game that are maintained by WFTDA is a significant document that is updated frequently through the votes of their member leagues. It does not tolerate fighting, kicking, biting or many of the things that are described in this article. A few leagues also skate under the rules of the Old School Derby Association. OSDA rules are similar to WFTDA in the way that fighting and other misconduct is not tolerated. Here in Arizona, we have a league that plays with "no penalties". Even in that league, there is a level of trust between the skaters and the skaters would not engage in moves that would injure their leaguemates. In all fairness, this type of "no penalty" roller derby is in the significant minority nationwide. A majority of the leagues play rules based directly or indirectly on the WFTDA ruleset I mentioned.

It's very sad that such an article that had very little research (derby "clubs" came from Southern California...) could reach a publication of wide circulation.

To the chief editor of this publication, these hard working women who sacrifice their time, money and effort to put together this league deserve a retraction and an article in an upcoming episode that describes the facts of the game that they play. I am sure that every single member of the Hard Knox Rollergirls would be available for consultation. In addition, I am available for consultation for the sport in general as well as potentially PR contacts at WFTDA.

The job of a publication is to express the facts. If for some reason, the content does not turn out to be factual, then a retraction and clarification is in order.

with derby love..
Michelle A. Eyre
"Michi-chan"
Michi-chan Rollersports Productions
Advisory Board Member, Old School Derby Association

Anita_Patron writes:

Mr. Charles Maldonado, your co-worker has tried to come to your defense to no avail. Now that you have pissed on the women of the hard working Hard Knox Roller Girls, you have just pissed off all 16317 of us AND the thousands of other skaters on the wait list AND the thousands of family members who love and support them AND the sponsors who donate money to the leagues AND the production crews who bust their butt to put on the show just for the love of it AND all the volunteers who take tickets, set up the track, sell merchandise, & photograph the action AND the fans who think this IS the coolest thing they have ever seen ever! So how many thousands of people do you think that makes?

I don't skate to the point of nausea every week in practice to get better at tripping, clawing, kicking, and punching. I didn't spend hours studying the rules so I could pass a test to skate in a bout just so I could go out and break them for the satisfaction of my violent tendencies and end up thrown out of the bout. I didn't dye my hair the color of my derby uniform because I am so psyched about some parody of a cyclical pseudo-sport that only works on the outre edge. I didn't spend all of my extra cash on a joke. I DO like to hit women very very hard and would be the first one to buy them a round at the after party. I DO like showing off my gorgeous body that stays in great shape because of roller derby. I DO insist on being called a woman but proudly answer to "hey, roller girl!".

So where are you, man? Surely you noticed there have been a few comments on your latest article here. Defend yourself or apologize, you smarmy coward. The next thing in print with your name on it needs to be a formal retraction and apology or I dare say this backlash will follow you around for a very long time.

Big love to you, Hard Knox from every member of the Little City Roller Girls. We are a stronger league because of you gals. You deserve so much better than this. What a let down.

Anita Patron
Little City Roller Girls
Johnson City TN

Sunny writes:

I am a woman. I am a mother of two girls. I have been to college and graduate
school. I am a professional. I earn a fairly sizable income. I am sexy. I am
tough. I am a member of the Memphis Roller Derby.

SphereThis writes:

This article is so unfortunate. I truly believe Sheena had the best of intentions with her photographs. What Metropulse failed to do was support Sheena with a competent journalist who was going to actually present facts.

Sauvignon is correct. For HKRG to support Metropulse's advertising budget for so many years, the least they could have done was support HKRG with a journalist who was capable of doing their job.

Journalism is defined as the direct presentation of facts or description of events. I won't repeat all of the false information the others have already highlighted. I will, however, re-emphasize that Mr. Maldonado was not present at the bout and therefore could not possibly describe the events accurately.

This is my plea to all Metropulse customers reading this article: DON'T BOTHER! I IMPLORE YOU... take it upon yourself to experience derby for yourself as this article is a COMPLETE misrepresentation of the sport!

Saturday 5/16
Double-header!
Old Convention Center (under the Holiday Inn downtown)
Doors at 4, 1st bout at 5

You won't be disappointed!

"SphereThis"
HKRG Mascot

jadecunningham writes:

Mr. Maldonado's words are false, demeaning, and insulting. His lack of research offends me AS A JOURNALIST, and quite personally, I feel as if you should be offended as well. I would love to see where any interviews, research, or references from this article came from, and I'll gladly shut my mouth.

When I joined my school newspaper, the first thing we were taught was a list of "journalism terms." Slander and libel being two of the main terms I learned. It is shameful to muck up the names of the intelligent, hard working dedicated women to the extent Mr. Maldonado has done. How does this man still have a job with so little regard for fact? If someone such as myself with simply a high school journalism career understands that this is simply unacceptable, how is it unclear to this so-called journalist? It's simply disgraceful. I would have been suspended from my paper had my article been proven as false as this one already has, but alas, I would have known better! Journalism is 75% research and digging, my friends! Anyone with a talent for writing can employ the other 25% effort to drudge up an article.

Something I was also taught is that a journalist never puts too much of himself into a feature article. Considering this is precisely what this article is labeled as on website and in print, I'm stunned. Mr. Maldonado's less than appealing, seemingly chauvinistic in places personality and apparent disdain for roller derby is all over the place. This isn't fact but simple-minded, uninformed poorly written opinion.

Furthermore, I should add that I am the daughter of the HKRG's beloved coach and former skater, Miss Murder. I am also a loyal, educated fan of the SPORT that these women strive every day to keep alive. They are mothers, sisters, friends, and heroes to myself and to my mother, and I am proud to say I know them. I couldn't tell you of a single woman (yes, they are women.) who is a bloodthirtsy, angry psycho as the picture painted by Mr. Maldonado portrays.

"We're average women, with average lives, average jobs, and a love for a sport that so many people do not even give a chance."

"It makes things more fun and interesting, and I think a lot of the girls feel a sense of 'I'm a superhero!' when they take off the business suit and put on the spandex."

(continued)

jadecunningham writes:

Mr. Maldonado's words are false, demeaning, and insulting. His lack of research offends me AS A JOURNALIST, and quite personally, I feel as if you should be offended as well. I would love to see where any interviews, research, or references from this article came from, and I'll gladly shut my mouth.

When I joined my school newspaper, the first thing we were taught was a list of "journalism terms." Slander and libel being two of the main terms I learned. It is shameful to muck up the names of the intelligent, hard working dedicated women to the extent Mr. Maldonado has done. How does this man still have a job with so little regard for fact? If someone such as myself with simply a high school journalism career understands that this is simply unacceptable, how is it unclear to this so-called journalist? It's simply disgraceful. I would have been suspended from my paper had my article been proven as false as this one already has, but alas, I would have known better! Journalism is 75% research and digging, my friends! Anyone with a talent for writing can employ the other 25% effort to drudge up an article.

Something I was also taught is that a journalist never puts too much of himself into a feature article. Considering this is precisely what this article is labeled as on website and in print, I'm stunned. Mr. Maldonado's less than appealing, seemingly chauvinistic in places personality and apparent disdain for roller derby is all over the place. This isn't fact but simple-minded, uninformed poorly written opinion.

Furthermore, I should add that I am the daughter of the HKRG's beloved coach and former skater, Miss Murder. I am also a loyal, educated fan of the SPORT that these women strive every day to keep alive. They are mothers, sisters, friends, and heroes to myself and to my mother, and I am proud to say I know them. I couldn't tell you of a single woman (yes, they are women.) who is a bloodthirtsy, angry psycho as the picture painted by Mr. Maldonado portrays.

"We're average women, with average lives, average jobs, and a love for a sport that so many people do not even give a chance."

"It makes things more fun and interesting, and I think a lot of the girls feel a sense of 'I'm a superhero!' when they take off the business suit and put on the spandex."

(continued)

jadecunningham writes:

Thank you Mayhem and Dolly Rocket for giving me fabulous quotes to work with. These women are far from average. They are in fact superheroes. Live and in person. Up close for women, men, and children alike to see. While professional basketball and football players get paid millions for kids to idolize them, dress like them, and put their posters on walls, these women get up and represent their sport every single day for nothing more than the support and admiration from the fans and sisters in the league. They show each and every one of us that we can make something from nothing, strive for our personal best, and even an average gal can get out there and be something special. The HKRG are more than just a team. They are a family - one I am proud to be an extended member of. I invite Mr. Maldonado personally to come sit next to me this Saturday, and I'll gladly give him the perspective he so greatly needs.

Last but certainly not least, I expect to see a formal retraction and apology from the Metropulse and Mr. Maldonado as soon as it can be in print. Perhaps he could even try this whole article one again from a factual, educated standpoint. I fear if the Metropulse doesn't feel that the cry from derby leagues, fans, and family from not just Knoxville, not just Tennessee, but the entire nation doesn't warrant an apology then it will result in a loss of many, many faithful readers and supporters. Hear what I say please and build your bridges rather than burn them.

Thank you.

jadecunningham writes:

Perhaps I am mistaken, but when I set out to read this article I genuinely thought I was sitting down to read a piece of feature journalism about the HKRG. Unfortunately, this "article" is little more than a fabricated piece of garbage barely fit for the National Enquirer or other such publications that read things like "Jesus Alien Baby Found!" and "Bat Boy Meets President Obama!" as their headlines. So before I get started I'd like to show a little research (crazy concept I know!) that I've done so as not to offend Mr. Maldonado or Ms. Beeson. Here are a few necessary definitions:

jour·nal·ism - 2 a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

editor - 1 a: the person who "edits" a story by revising and polishing b: the person whose job is to approve copy when it comes in and to make decisions about what is published in a newspaper or magazine

libel - 1 a: publishing in print (or other media) false information that identifies and deframes an individual

slander - 1 a: similar to libel, but spoken instead of published

Obviously from the out pour of complaint and upset that this article has generated, this is by NO means "a direct presentation of facts" as the definition so implies. Does the Metropulse have an editor? Surely to God Almighty Himself, this didn't slip in without being thoroughly checked and scrutinized! How on Earth did this utter rubbish make it into print?!

"[a conversation in which] the focus of which would be how journalists are mischaracterized, underestimated and stereotyped based on what often seems to be a narrow understanding of what it means to work in media."

Ms. Beeson,
my name is Jade Cunningham, and I'm 19 years old. Although it may be small time, I was the co-editor of my high school newspaper for two years and have one numerous high school journalism awards. If anyone has respect for the art of journalism, it's me. Writing is my passion and one of my true loves in life, and I'd like to say I pride myself on being able to read and write with skill and tact. "And I grudgingly admit to a little heartache at feeling so misunderstood as a journalist by those who chose to simply degrade the work that I participate in every day without making any effort themselves to hear me when I tried to broaden their understanding of it." By no means should you think that the things I have to say are meant with any disregard or disrespect to journalism, journalists, or anyone it takes to put a newspaper, magazine, etc. together. Each part of a publication takes hard work and dedication much like the very sport these women are so lovingly defending. HOWEVER, this is absolutely despicable.

(continued)

jadecunningham writes:

**NOTE TO EVERYONE

The stupid internet skipped up on me and accidentally posted the second half of my letter twice. The beginning is my third comment. Sorry everyone!

Darkjester writes:

Ms. Beever, Mr. Maldonado,

By now if your still reading this, you have found out unfortunately the hard way, that Derby lovers are fiercely protective over their sport as well as their players.

Was the article a bit 'sensationalist'? Yes. However I understand where the author was hoping to come from. He was trying to make it sound exciting, underground and as fierce as the people who defend it. I give him thanks for the attempt, however, he did definitely fail in achieving his goal.

Why warpaint, fishnets, psudonames?

Because it is fun and exciting. Modern Roller Derby, flat track and even Banked Track leagues, are DIY ( Do It Yourself) excitement. Loud music, self expression, and sport all rolled into on.
Roller Derby isn't "Feminism" though they have their share of feminists as well, its about 'empowerment'.

I understand where the quote you used comes from, yes, 'some' of the derby players DO refer to each other as b!tches, but it is meant in the empowering way B.I.T.C.H, Being In Total Control of Herself. Roller Derby is about strong women, uplifting other strong women, freeing themselves from the confines of small minded individuals who try to place them into a box of expectations. Roller Derby players include, Doctors, Nurses ( My wife) Police Officers, EMT's, Journalists, Housewives, Business Professionals,etc.,
For the most part Women's Flat Track Derby, is for the majority a "Woman's" sport, however, there ARE men's leagues, and leagues that do not have gender specific designation.

Yes, Mr. Maldonado was raked through the coals, his article hit upon many of the stereotypes of Derby that modern Derby leagues have been fighting for the better part of 3 or more years. I applaud you for coming to his defense, and your interest in trying to understand why there was such venom in many of the responses. The majority of people who hear about modern Roller Derby assume instantly its 'Wrasslin' on skates, All Derby girls are drug addicted, tattooed, and of loose morals. Unfortunately this article did little to nothing to refute those assumptions even though Mr. Maldonado did not outright repeat them.
Do not worry though, Roller Derby can withstand the pain, and this article isn't the first nor the last that will cause such turmoil in our sport.
I wish you well!
Darkjester
2112
Ref. Beach Brawl Sk8R Dolls
Fort Walton Beach, FL

vr5150 writes:

Well, I see links to remove comments - now where is the link to remove this so-called news story?

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