Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roller Derby, what is the big deal?

It has been interesting to watch the Roller Derby Reverend story progress.  Along the way there have been a number of comments left on sites along the lines of "what is the big deal" about being a roller girl. Sometimes talking about how other ministers participate in other semi-pro or pro sports.  Well, if you are one of those folks I would suggest checking out this article about Roller Derby Names.  The question in the article being something along the lines of "do we want our sport to be taken seriously?" and giving examples of how the sport can sometimes be not so family friendly.  I am really glad that the Derby City Roller Girls are a great family friendly league.

The story was picked up by CNN, but they post a shorter version of the story.  Also, they got rid of any suspense and imply declared in the title that a Pastor came out as a Roller Derby girl.  Last I checked the short version of the story only had a few hundred Facebook shares, and not the 10,000+ shares the original story has.  The CNN version cutting out the "moment of acceptance" which is what I think made the original story so great.

In addition to Facebook it has been shared by Feministe as the Holy Roller (a name Liv Fearless considered but rejected). It also made it to Fark.  It even sparked a theological question for the Roller Derby commissioner.

It has been great to see people asking about Unitarian Universalism, and Roller Derby, and hopefully everyone has learned a bit about both.  It has been really great to see a positive new piece be so popular.  For CNN it was in the top 100 stories in a 24 hour period, and was the top in their lifestyle category. 

Update 9/27/2011:
Another version on YouTube: Local Reverend rolls out big secret this version is the full WHAS version minus the context of the actual news cast.

Another post I will be checking on to see the commentary (but likely won't create an account) is Would your (church?) hire a Roller Derby Girl to be a Senior Minister?  The way the question is framed it isn't really what happened (she was not involved with Roller Derby while a candidate), but could be interesting.


Chalicechick said...

FWIW, I was one of the people who said "what's the big deal?" and my lack of care does not come from not knowing that lots of Roller Derby skaters have dirty nicknames. It comes from feeling like not everything, even not everything a minister does, has to be "family friendly."


UUpdater said...

@CC - No doubt, and I hope I didn't come across as implying anything different. I am happy DCRG is a fun family friendly environment for purely selfish reasons.

Dirty nicknames? Heck in OWL we hear much worse than the names in the article. The main reason I provided that link was for folks who might not know a whole lot about Roller Derby and were curious as to why there would be any shock value associated with the sport that you would not get from other sports.

Even some folks in the Roller Derby community were thinking "aren't we past this whole 'I've got a derby little secret..' thing yet". For those who are interested Roller Derby has gone through a revival and is a bit different than the old pro wrestling style entertainment it used to be. The sport is still evolving and trying to figure out what direction it wants to head in. Do they want it to be an Olympic sport, or a place where people can laugh at the "clever" names inspired by date rape drugs. There is no doubt in my mind if an NFL player made any sort of a public joke about date rape drugs the commisioner would be called in to discipline the player. I doubt an NFL team would be like "that is so funny, har har, we will print that on your jersey". So yeah, to the general public Roller Derby will carry some shock value when contrasted against the general public's expectation of ministry.

Actually, on G+ when the story first came out I was complaining about how the story took a bit of creative license by making it into a "scandalous" revelation of a big secret. If the story had been geared toward a UU audience it would have been told a bit differently. Part of the hesitancy to say something to the congregation was actually due to the pressure she would then face to make the roster. Most people reacted with "that is so cool when can we see you skate?" and for most games that season she was an alternate and would not be skating. Suddenly stress relief was becoming stress inducing with the pressure to make the roster. A UU version of the story might also go into "coming out" to her team mates that she was a minister, and dealing with the assumptions and misconceptions from some of the players.

Remember when Peacebang was mortified that the news announcer said she gave fashion tips to her congregation? Sometimes you just don't know what the news folks are going to do with your story.

WHAS made it into a positive story about love and acceptance in the church, and although there may have been some innaccuracies I approve because they conveyed the heart of the story. If the only thing people walk away with is that this is a community of love and acceptance I am totally cool with that. The CNN version seemed edited down to "pastor skates in church, how shocking", which really isn't... so it isn't much of a story. The real story, that would take longer.

So although I may not have conveyed it that well in my original post. It is really interesting to see how creative editing can change a story.