Mayhem N. Suze

July 12, 2010

Life is a little more colorful now after witnessing the awesome spectacle that is The Nashville Roller Derby. With names like Killah B. Killed, RambO SambO, Jersey Jackhammer, Britches n’ Hose; it was everything I thought it would be and more. There were tough broads, ripped up fishnets, fierce tatoos, alter egos, bruises, elbows to the face. I’m not kidding when I tell you that for me, it put every other sport to shame, especially watching it live. It was the best. A sport that is athletic, conniving and incredibly strategic, while at the same time both ultra feminine and ultra bad ass.

I grew up going to Tigers games, watching the Bad Boys and the Fab Five, booing Notre Dame on football Saturdays. But I’ve never actually been a real sports fan, although I do love a good basketball game. I’m not what one would call competitive, unless it comes to Boggle or Scrabble in which case, play me at your own risk. My mind is nimble with words.

I’ve had a privileged life when it comes to being a sports fan, always keeping myself at an emotional distance, only watching the important games, never a full season, so even if my team loses in the end, I can at least feel good about the fact that they made it to the big leagues. And depending on whatever connections my brother has going on, a nice box suite will make even the slowest baseball game seem as thrilling as the Kentucky Derby.

By the end of the Nashville vs. Tallahassee bout on Saturday night, I had become a die hard roller derby fan. Though judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, I’m not sure there are any fairweather fans. And it must be said that this crowd was the most diverse of any I’ve seen at a sporting event. There were the young and old, the suburbanites, the airbrushed southern bells, the butch, the goth, the muscle heads. Everyone hanging out, laughing at the misfortune of the other team, jumping out of seats and yelling when your jammer is on a roll weaving in and out of blockers as the points add up, the collective “whoa!” when someone gets clocked in the face or skids off the track into the crowd. It was true comradery.

I like roller derby because it is a sport that is both smart and witty, takes a cunning focus to avoid getting hurled into the crowd and requires strategy, since much like basketball, you can be up by 20 points and five minutes later be losing by twice that. Not to mention it has cheerleaders (both guys and girls) that parody the real thing with an attention to detail that makes for a great halftime show.

And although these women will hip check and body slam each other, many of them having had torn ligaments and broken bones, it is still all in good fun. And it’s respectful in that “we’re all pretty much over the age of 30 and some of us probably even have kids” sort of way. When a Tallahassee girl got a fist to the face and needed medical attention, every rollergirl stopped where she was on the track and sat down in silence facing the injured girl until she got fixed up and was able to walk off the track.

But as soon as the applause died down, the mayhem ensued.

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