By: John “Fragglepuss” Evans
There has been a lot of criticism regarding the derby strategy commonly referred to as “stroller derby”. People close to Roller Derby are quick to judge the slow style of play that has become common in the past year or so. Crowds will boo their own team if they are strolling for too long. There have even been people trying to get others to boycott any league using this strategy.
Now before we start bringing out the torches and pitchforks, let us think logically about stroller derby. Why would a team purposefully not want to let the jammer go? Don’t the teams realize that the jammer has to jam in order to score points? Don’t they know that the fans are getting restless by watching the time tick down while the jammers are patiently waiting to be set free? What’s the point of even having a jam if the jammer never leaves the jammer line?
Stroller derby was invented in the same way that other strategies were, which is through clever thought on how to obtain a competitive advantage against an opponent, especially when the opponent does not know what you are going to do. Any team with hopes of playing at the highest level always has to be on top of developing and implementing new strategies. Strolling at the start of a jam is an effective way to kill time. Let’s say that Team A has more points than Team B and time is running low in the bout. It makes perfect sense for Team A to not be in a rush to let the jammers start. If Team A runs down the clock until the bout is over, they win. Team B on the other hand needs to be smart about the situation and not allow Team A to simply run the clock out because they need to catch up and score more points in order to win.
This style of derby may not be the most exciting to watch, but it is not the end of the world. Time wasting happens in any sport that uses a time clock, and it is up to the team that is behind in points to respond to the strategy. There are several ways to counteract this strategy, and smart teams are able to do so with little problem. I am sure that WFTDA will come up with a rule to destroy stroller derby, but until then, enjoy the game for what it is and show some appreciation for the people that dedicate themselves to making this amazing sport possible.