As someone who loves roller derby at the age of 18, this has become an apparent problem with my home league. And the strangest part is that I haven’t seen this age limit problem with men’s derby. So why do women see things so differently?
Currently I am exclusively an official, but my ultimate goal is to someday play women’s roller derby and officiate men’s. I absolutely love being an official, but I am not loving the way women’s leagues treat their officials (for the most part, I am in no means speaking about every women’s league, or saying that all men’s leagues are perfect). This is why this has become so frustrating to me. This is why I want to say something.
Why is a skaters ability to play based on if they can go to the after parties or not? This just doesn’t seem to make sense. If you’re concerned about underage drinking, don’t allow your under 21 skaters to go to the after parties. It’s not hard. Be strict. If they’re seen at the after parties, they are out of the league, no longer a member and no longer in good standing with the league. You can be doubly safe by only allowing underage skaters onto home teams, just to eliminate the possible problem of drinking while traveling.
This is the most aggravating and frustrating issue to have, speaking as an underage league member.
I tried to change this age rule with my league, but it didn’t get played off as drinking being the problem when the change was denied. Skaters were expressing the fear of being sued by the parents of the new underage skaters. Now, WFTDA insurance covers anyone over 18 all the way through bouting. I haven’t seen a league yet that doesn’t have waivers that eliminates the league or its members from fault in the case of any injury. Considering the fact that the skaters are legal adults and have signed waivers, these lawsuits would get absolutely nowhere. This shouldn’t even be a concern.
I didn’t have a problem with any of this until they just didn’t treat me well as an official.
You can’t expect me to be perfect immediately. Hell, you can’t expect me to be perfect ever. Don’t expect perfect officiating (especially from newer officials) at scrimmages. Scrimmages are meant to be learning experiences for everyone, skaters, officials, bench staff. Everyone.
If you’re going to say that you now have a ref trainer, make sure they have the capacity to be training officials. Check in with them, make sure they’re working with your officials.
There is nothing more confusing than trying to learn the rules and learn what to watch for for penalties on your own. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the rules are the most clearly written, well worded things on the planet. Help is greatly appreciated.
If you’re going to have a set scrimmage night every week, have a scrimmage. Don’t decide 5 minutes before your scrimmage time that you’re just going to have a regular practice. I hate wasting my time and gas to show up to volunteer my time for nothing.
I am sick of skaters not knowing the rules. Getting frustrated with calls and just lashing out. As a league, make sure it’s known that skaters can ask officials rules questions. We want the skaters to be just as informed as we are.
Lastly, teach your new skaters from the start to always respect officials. I’m sick of the head shaking when I make a call just because a skater doesn’t know the rules. Teach them to say thank you to those volunteering for them personally. Yelling “thank you refs and nso’s” at the end of a scrimmage or bout just feels so impersonal, as if the skaters are just thinking “fuck them, lets go party.” Go shake the officials hands and say thank you like you mean it.