Derby Drama

Hey! What exactly is “derby drama,” and how can I avoid it?

So you've been with your league, oh, a month or so, and already you sense the tension that exists between some members of your league. You see them taking little potshots at each other online and snapping at each other during league meetings. But isn't derby supposed to be about sisterhood and camaraderie? Sure, sure – but in any large group, at least a few people will have trouble seeing eye-to-eye. Your mission is to stay above the fray and avoid causing drama within your leage.

Following are five simple rules for avoiding derby drama:

STAY OUT OF IT! Not sure why two of your teammates don't get along? Good. Maybe you don't need to know. Don't start asking other people what the dealy-o is, because you may be putting your teammates in an uncomfortable position. Eventually, after you get to know everyone better, the cause of rifts in your league may become apparent as you realize some people are the derby equivalent of a turd in a punchbowl. But you've got to work with them, so learn to live with it.

WATCH YOUR TONE ONLINE. Roller derby leagues have a lot of business to sort out, and most of that happens online. You may find yourself fielding and responding to tons of e-mails every day, or struggling to keep up with a busy online message board. And you've got a life to lead outside of derby (or so you claim), so you may be frantically trying to respond to 33 e-mails about an upcoming derby fundraiser while answering phones at your office, or balancing a kid on your lap, or walking through the grocery store, staring intently at your smartphone. And often, the result of trying to sort out details online, on-the-fly, is that someone ends up seeming terse, or unclear, and then someone else gets angry about it. So try to be mindful of the tone you use in your online communication, and try not to take it personally if you send a four-paragraph e-mail to someone, only to get a reply of: “ok – ttyl.”

DON'T CAUSE A SCENE. We all lose our cool at practice sometimes. Maybe we got clobbered in the back 10 times in a row, and no one saw it. Or we got tripped and landed crotch-first on someone's skate. Or we just don't like the way someone barked an order. Whatever the case, losing your cool at practice is not the way to deal with anger. Don't throw things, or swear at people or storm out in a huff. Take a well-timed bathroom break, if you need to regain composure. Because one or two angry outbursts might be forgiven, but you don't want a reputation for being a petulant diva.

TALK TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. If you've got a complaint that so-and-so is doing a crummy job at such-and-such task, don't waste your time by grumbling about it to anyone who will listen. Take your complaint to someone who's in a position of authority, and be discreet about it. No one likes a tattle-tale, but if you're concerned that the league may be suffering because someone is slacking off, do something about it.

BE CORDIAL TO OTHER LEAGUES. Reputation is important in roller derby, so if your league is known for spouting off on Facebook about how much other leagues suck, don't expect anyone to be interested in playing you this season. Keep your catty opinions to yourself – or at least don't publicize them.