Love ’em or hate ’em, derby wouldn’t happen without your skating and non-skating officials. This is ESPECIALLY true of smaller leagues with lots of skaters, but very few dedicated volunteer officials. So, Derby Frontier would like to sincerely thank ALL of the volunteer skating and non-skating roller derby officials out there, and here’s why:
1. They love the game just as much as you do. The skating and non-skating officials who regularly staff your home games are there because they love derby too. They love most everything about it and are proud to be a part of the community that surrounds it. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t keep coming back! Simply put, officiating is an often thankless job and officials are always, ALWAYS seen as the thorn in the side of every skater and the “bad guys” to fans. It sucks, I tells you!
2. They’re a lot stronger than you may think! Officials have to have a VERY thick skin, unwavering patience, and extreme self-confidence. Not only are they constantly under pressure from the riled up, judgmental fans and announcers (who all seem to think they could officiate the game way better than anybody else working the track) but they are also regularly bombarded with criticism, anger, and frustration from skaters and coaches. They’re screamed at, they’re blamed, they’re taunted, and their booed and the ones that love derby the most stand proud and take all of that straight to the fracking chin like champs! Recognize!
3. They don’t have to be there, they’re not getting paid either. They don’t have to staff the bouts, they don’t have to attend practice to answer questions, they don’t have to organize rules nights to educate nearby leagues, they don’t have to actively go out and recruit more officiating crew members, they don’t have to benchmark or do the freshmeat program, they don’t have to travel to get game experience in other cities at invitationals or scrims, or attend bootcamps. But the really good ones do! So if you see any of your officials putting all this effort into improving themselves for the good of the game, to provide professional, educated officiating services to anyone who asks, then give those awesome folks an epic high-five that will resound through time itself!
4. They keep you safe!!! Contrary to popular belief, the officials aren’t out there to find fault in your skill and gamepley. They’re out there to ensure that everybody is playing fairly and that nobody gets seriously hurt. They call High Blocks to discourage skaters from punching each other in the head or accidentally poking each others eye out. They call Low Blocks to encourage skaters to further finesse their skills and control so that they are not taking everybody out by their legs and feet. They call Back Blocks to discourage people from recklessly shattering anybody’s spleen and to kindly remind skaters not to barrel into the backside of a group of skaters (because frankly, it’s incredibly dangerous). It’s all for your benefit and safety and it’s all further meant to promote competitive, but SAFE, skating and fair play. There is literally nothing malicious or personal about any of the calls they make!
So, Happy National Officiating Day! And to every single referee and NSO I have ever had to pleasure of working with and learning from, thank you!