Somewhere right now, a derby skater is sighing in her cubicle, idly wishing or posting to Facebook, “I wish I could get paid to play roller derby.” I get that. Working 40+ hours a week is a) not super fun all the time and b) takes up time that you could be skating or training. Training like an elite athlete sure would be easier if you had about 50 hours of your week open up, right?
That would be the upside.
What would be the downside to being a professional roller derby player?
Your private life would become public.
Professional athletes are public figures, and highly-scrutinized ones. Would it be fun to go out for drinks after the fans, like it (mostly) is now? You bet it wouldn’t! They would post pictures of you with your beer on the internet, and there would be comments about how you obviously aren’t a dedicated athlete, that you suck, that this guy’s friend heard you’re a real piece of work, that ur aktully pretty hottt, lol no ur ugly, etc.
You probably wouldn’t get paid that much.
You’re not going to make NFL money here. How about arena football money? That’s could be about $15,000 a year for a league with average attendance around 8,195 per game. The WNBA draws an average of 7,950 a game, and they make a minimum of $37,950 a year. Plus per diems! We were getting up to the 6,000 range for record attendance a few years ago, but few leagues get anything close to that. If there was money to be made, it probably wouldn’t be much.
Free wheels, though, I’ll bet.
Professional athletes get traded.
Would you and/or your family be prepared to move every year or two? This is the weirdest aspect of professional sports to me – that humans can be “traded” and forced to move across the country. It’s all an understood part of the game, of course, and it wouldn’t be so bad for you younger folks without kids.
Professional athletes are held to a professional standard.
Roller derby is basically your whole life now, but what if you have a wedding to attend on a bout night? You’re free to make that choice on which event to attend. What if you want to quit? That’s cool. What if you want to skip practice on your anniversary? No big, as long as your attendance is acceptable for the month. What if you slump and have a bad couple of games? No big – your team has your back. Right now, you probably have the freedom to blow off endurance practice to eat ice cream and watch Netflix if you feel like it. Not that you do very often, but you CAN.
Those nights when you’re smelly and frustrated after a tough practice or game, it’s heartening to remember that we’re all just doing this for fun. Once someone starts making money off of you, it’s not just for fun anymore. As exciting as it would be to make a livlihood from roller derby – your livelihood would depend on being able to play roller derby to the highest standard. No week off when you’re feeling burned out. Injury could be an end to your career.
Other than there being a complete paradigm shift required in league and skater relations for skaters to turn professional?
Has it started?
Of course, as roller derby grows, some skaters do get paid to play derby through coaching businesses. Leagues exist where skaters don’t pay dues, which is fairly exciting. Superstars get sponsorships. Once in a while, there’s a big sponsored tournament with prize money. Is there anyone else out there making money from skating?