A while ago, I wrote a post about roller derby drama that was pretty popular. The basic idea (oh go read it) was that most of the time, when people are complaining about “roller derby” creating drama, they really meant the people within roller derby. There’s plenty of drama and problems in any other given human endeavor.
This is true.
But in making my point, I was a little glib.
Yes, it annoys me when people misdirect their annoyance onto a group of people. Someone might say, for example, that “no one in Portland can drive.” It’s not really a Portland issue – there are lots of bad drivers everywhere. Portland has its own brand of bad drivers. Here, you’re more likely to be stuck at a four-way stop because the person with the right-of-way is trying to wave you on. In other places, two cars will try to go at the same time (and the car behind one of them will try to make it, too.) Bad drivers are not a Portland problem. They are a car + human problem.
That isn’t to say that we should dismiss a discussion about dangerous intersections in Portland.
We shouldn’t dismiss all discussions that involve interpersonal problems as “drama” either.
I know that some of you just liked that post for the Venn diagram, so here’s another one.
Maybe “roller derby” in the abstract doesn’t jump out and steal your girlfriend, but there are facets to the sport that create trouble spots.
Everyone has to pitch in to make the system work. Eventually, some people are going to pitch in more than others. Those aren’t necessarily the people with more time to spare. A few people will never, ever, volunteer for a duty that everyone’s supposed to be volunteering for (what is that all about, seriously) and their teammates will get tired of covering the slack. And on and on – the more work there is, the more management there is, and the more opportunities for anger and annoyance.
Adrenaline runs high when you’re skating fast and hitting people. People will get hurt. There’s an opportunity for targeting. Injuries can make a huge impact in life outside derby,
An aside, if you’ll allow me:
I’ve been watching basketball for about 14 years. There are some players that are seen as hotheads – they can’t keep it together if they’re pissed. Before roller derby, I didn’t understand them. At all. Why can’t a professional player keep it together? Me, I can pretty much keep it together in most circumstances, but I’m a pretty even-keeled person in the rest of my life (this may be an understatement) and my livelihood is not on the line when I play sports.
I’ve had teammates, though, who absolutely cannot handle the heat. They are physically unable to do it. It’s just their makeup.
No one’s getting paid here! Oh, wait. A few people are getting paid. More money causes more problems, as the kids say.
And it’s expensive to play. Ever pay for a plane ticket to play derby and not play more than two jams? It does not feel great.
High-level amateur play
You work your ass off 4-5 days a week, pay your dues, put volunteer hours in, promote, lose time with your friends and family, and get injured all for the chance to play. After all that, you can still get benched for the “best of the team.”
You can decide how much crap you’re going to put up with.
What some people call “drama” is sometimes a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
I’m not going to tell you not to put up with any crap, because if you did that, you would not get along with anyone or get anyone done. You can’t have an expectation for perfection, because ain’t no one perfect. You can get along with people you don’t like much, and do things you know someone else ought to be doing. That’s part of life. But how much?
You set the limit.
Life is too short to suffer through your hobbies and pastimes. Is your captain not rostering you, and being vague about why not? Are you getting body shamed? Is there a serious inter-personal issue? Are you being bullied or harassed? You absolutely do not have to put up with that. You can try to fix it, or find a new team or a new league. You’re a grown up person, and you can decide. Don’t let anyone dismiss your concerns with the word “drama.”
Just like in any other arena in your life, your feelings are valid.
You do you.
We also talked on Twitter a little bit about how “drama” as a term can be applied in a pretty sexist way to dismiss women’s concerns. I’m not really prepared to type about that today, but feel free to chat about it in the comments here.