The latest WFTDA rule set was released on March 1, 2014 introducing some important new rule changes for the coming season. Perhaps the most innovative change, made in an attempt to minimize power jam dominance, is the 50% shorter 30-second penalty. There are drawbacks and advantages to this and other changes, none of which will be discussed in this article.
Hidden away in the redline strikeout version of the rules, allowing hardcore derbyists to see even the most minute changes the WFTDA made since the last revision, is something really quite disturbing: the elimination of the word "bout" in exchange for "game." In the new Section 1.3 STRUCTURE, the word "bout" has been eliminated leaving the sentence to read: "A game is composed of 60 minutes of play..."
Let me begin by saying that it is against company policy (aka the rules) for me to use the “I” when writing on this forum. Then let me say that right now, I don’t give a crap about the rules. It’s simple. I don’t want to play games. For years I have worked hard to improve at roller derby so that I could one day skate in a bout. Is that not what we do?
I knew that WFTDA was beta testing the 30-second penalty and cleaning up some confusion in the rule book, as they always do, but I had no idea they were going to sneak in some subversive conformative mainstream language and unsay all that we have ever said. Why can’t we keep a single thing WFTDA, that made us unique? Now our rule book doesn’t even say that we are women, thought the name WFTDA begins with the very word. The loss of minors wasn’t exactly high on my like-it list but this is too much.
So we don’t bout anymore? We just play games. We've lost the verb, to bout, which I have forced my computer to remember because it is the verb I have come to live my life in honor of and now it's meaningless. Well that is stupid. Shall we stop being derby girls and just be girls again? Bout was the word that couldn't be lost in translation, country to country wherever roller derby sprang up. It was the name of the thing that we do and now it is gone. Now we game.
Then again, maybe I’m making too much of it. It is just a word right? Maybe it's better not to call our games bouts so we can minimize confusion. Let's ask the dictionary which fits us better.
Maybe we shouldn't call it roller derby any more either, if we're so concerned with society's definition of words. After all derby is defined as "a race or contest (or a hat)." We, at least those of us involved in roller derby, know that derby isn't a race but it is frequently depicted as a race on television and people still ask if it’s a race. We should clean that up to, so it makes more sense to the mainstream world. Now we shall call it “roller sparring.” After all, it's just a word.
And next rule set, don’t mention it in advance or let WFTDA leagues vote on the importance of it. Just go ahead and put it in redline strikeout that we are all now roller sparring females who play games. That should garner widespread understanding and affection...at least in those who have no idea what is going on in the game formerly known as roller derby. In closing, what did that tiny change earn for roller derby? Why must things needlessly be taken away? If it's not broken must we needlessly fix it.
Haters: you have a comment box because I so will it. Go on and fill it up.