I first published this blog post on Saturday July 19, 2014, one week after the Bay Area Derby Girls regular season double header at The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. The bouts decided which teams will skate for the regular season title on August 23, 2014. You can see the entire photo gallery here.
I chose photos that highlighted the work of the officials. I liked the idea of my post, but my words bored me. I wanted to say something better to honor the contributions of derby officials. I do not know if my edits will improve the article, but at least I can think about how I can express myself better for the next time.
At derby bouts, I wish I could follow myself around and take my picture. Nearly everyone who participates has a derby name and persona. I am P Giddy. P Giddy is a great name, but I struggle putting on my persona. How do the derby officials do it? How can so many people adopt a persona that allows them to enforce the rules?
I probably photograph the officials as often as I photograph the skaters. In roller derby, there are a lot of officials. I think that there are seven skating officials during each bout. Even when I am trying to photograph the action, I notice the officials. There are two officials in the foreground and one in the background. (There might be another one to the right.)
Derby officials must constantly watch moving objects that shift in different directions. The photo above was taken shortly before the image below.
Even when the officials remain in one place so that they can see better, the action still moves in opposite directions. Skaters constantly block views. At the Craneway Pavilion, sunlight also filters onto the track.
Many people go to roller derby, because it is fun. Many fans do not know the rules. I do not really know the rules, but the officials know. Derby officials are constantly communicating with each other. I do not know what they are discussing, but they always seem to be communicating with each other.
Even though I do not know what the officials are saying, I know that derby officials are part of the derby community. They have derby names and personas. They practice. They work. They have their own elbow pads and helmets.
At a double header, I take about 600 images. Only about half of my images are of the skaters. The other half are of the officials and other derby community. This image above is a good example of many images I have taken of derby officials.
The officials are visible. The officials are dedicated. The officials work together.
That combination contributes to derby’s growing popularity.
The visible, dedicated team of officials seem to be everywhere. I noticed as the lights became stronger, the non skating officials’ shadows became larger during the second bout when players arrived in the penalty box.
Usually, I might edit a photo like this so that the action is tighter. (In other words, I would crop the photo so that the viewer does not see the two people on the left.) I also might eliminate the photo, because I probably have better action photos, but I like this one to show how officials work during a bout.
I probably notice officials, because I umpired baseball for several years. Players, coaches and fans yelled at me. Some people believed it was “part of the game.” When people yelled, they often did not even know the rules. Once people knew me, they usually treated me better, even when I missed a call. Why are baseball umpires kept anonymous?
Derby fans know the officials and treat them respectfully. Is this the secret? If we want to increase civility, do we increase interaction with those who maintain it?