Roller Derby research/Five Strides TODO
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Five Strides on the Banked Track TODO
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Excerpts from Five Strides on the Banked Track that can be paraphrased and incorporated into Wikipedia articles, and/or that need further research:
- p. 6: Variety has declared that the Derby is "the fastest-growing entertainment attraction in the country," and then tried to explain what that attraction could be: "It is neither sport nor show biz, but a new television art form with elements of both. It is cathartic, dramatically structured, fast-paced and classic as a John Wayne movie."
- Find the original source for this.
- pp. 17-20, 207-211: IRDL rules
- Figure out what to do with this.
- pp. 6-7: At the heart of the whole enterprise are the Bay Bombers. The Bombers, in brown and orange, are the home team for virtually every Derby fan in America. For twenty weeks of the year, these heroes play various villainous opponents in San Francisco and Oakland, in San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, and other towns in northern California. Every week that they are playing in the Bay Area, the Sunday night game at Kezar Pavilion, an old arena hard by Haight-Ashbury, is videotaped and sent out to the 124 or so TV stations all over America that run the Derby games. The stations schedule the tapes at their own leisure. The Derby comes on mostly over the weekend, usually in the afternoon, but there are many exceptions. In St. Louis, the Derby appears at 10:00 A.M. Sunday morning, in New york at 10:30 A.M. Sunday, in Denver at midnight Monday. Nevertheless, whenever and wherever the Derby is scheduled, it invariably outrates the opposition on the other channels at that time. It beats all competition in about eighty percent of the cities where it is shown. When measured against such "respectable" sports as hockey, golf, bowling, skiing, track, and baseball, the Derby always has higher ratings. It duels basketball and football pretty evenly. The Derby always does better than news and talk shows and most movies. What secrets of this land Roller Derby can reveal! In Albuquerque, Roller Derby just edges Meet the Press; in Charleston, South Carolina, Roller Derby nearly triples the rating of Meet the Press. Every week at least three million persons in the United States see a Derby game on television. Slightly more than half of these people are women, a statistic no other sport can claim.
- Topics covered here: The focus on the Bay Bombers as America's heroic "home team" and portrayal of opponents as villains; c.1971 season length; TV schedule, competition, and audience demographics.
- p. 10: ...virtually everybody who comes to the Derby roots for the Bombers. They are America's Home Team, as perhaps the Yankees or Notre Dame once were, as nobody else really is anymore.
- Further ref for Bay Bombers focus.
- p. 21: ...Seltzer owns all the Derby teams and manipulates the rosters to keep them competitive.
- Topics: ownership and team management concentrated in one person.
- p. 21-22: The only genuine competition in the Derby comes from outside the Derby, from a duplicate skating universe that is based in Southern California -- and which is, coincidentally, also very big on Japanese TV. It is called the Roller Games, or the National Skating Derby. The name Roller Derby is copyrighted, and Seltzer is suing the NSD for fifteen million dollars. A couple of years ago, Scott Paper Company referred to Roller Derby in a TV advertisement which showed a "race" between two rolls of toilet paper, so Seltzer sued them, too, and made them yank the ad. Some of his skaters professed to be upset by the association with toilet paper. Seltzer himself thought the whole thing was pretty funny, and he quite liked the commercial, but he is very zealous when it comes to protecting the good name of the Derby. He always writes polite but forceful little letters to all publications that make the mistake of not capitalizing the R and the D. Even with the suit outstanding against his competitors, though, he maintains something of a working truce. Sometimes the two skating rivals even trade visiting teams with each other, in order that the Bombers -- and their NSD alter egos, the Los Angeles Thunderbirds -- may have just a few more faces to contend with. There is also a frank professional respect in evidence at the managerial level, since the Los Angeles wheel s also operated adroitly and imaginatively. It is run by Bill Griffiths, a suave former adman, and he utilizes some of the same modern precepts of sports promotion that Seltzer does. For instance, the Roller Games also plays to a regional schedule, taking its game to suburban arenas all over the Los Angeles area, instead of placing the burden of attendance on the fans and making them travel long distances to one home site. Griffith also provided his constituency with a product that is flashier and more theatrical than the Derby, and this seems to appeal more to the gaudier neon tastes of Southern California.
- Find info about the two lawsuits mentioned, and their outcomes.
- Topics: Jerry Seltzer protecting his trademark; Roller Games; cooperation and competition between Roller Derby and Roller Games.
- p. 23: Most of the players are paid well enough these days to remain with the group they break in with, but a few "float" (free lance), regularly signing with the different organizations each succeeding season. The skaters, floaters and otherwise, call the Roller Derby "the Derby" and refer to the Games a "the other outfit" or "another outfit."
- Topics: sharing of skaters between Roller Derby and Roller Games.
- p. 26: There is a minimum of interest in standings, records, and other cold statistical formalities that are so important to other modern sports.
- Topics: stats & standings; comparison to other sports.
- p. 27: When a fan turns on his TV set to watch a Derby game, he has no idea which team the Bombers will be skating against. He does know he will see only the second half, but he does not know when the game was videotaped. It is quite possible that it was taped weeks before the game he saw on TV last week. The announcer, Walt Harris, can make no reference to any standings or any other pertinent information, because the game will be shown at different times in different places weeks, even months, later when everything is changed.
- Topic: TV schedules.
- p. 28: Roller Derby fans...feel relaxed with the Derby, and certainly many of them even identify with it, for it is the one celebrated thing that appears tough and obvious, like their lives. It is easy for them to relate to the players, who are working class, like them, carpenters and laborers and bartenders. ... "A competing sports event in the area doesn't hurt our gate," Griffiths says. "What can hurt us is a good adventure movie on television." Most of the fans have no interest in other, more traditional sports. "Who are these people? Where do they come from?" The arena owners always ask Jerry Seltzer. "They're never here for any other sporting event," they tell him.
- Topic: Audience demographics.
- p. 29: The tour is a triumphal procession, playing only the towns that feature the Bombers on TV. ...a typical winter tour reached 55 cities in 62 days of 15,000 miles of travel. ... So, the Derby caravan, thirteen carloads and one semi-trailer, which carries the track and other heavy accessories, took off again over the Interstates. In order, the tour went: Reno to Lincoln to Omaha to Chicago to St. Louis to Pittsburgh, and on to Steubenville, Detroit, Toledo, Providence, Boston, Worcester, NEw Haven, Dayton, Canton, Steubenville, Cleveland, Chicago, Richmond, Norfolk, Greenville, St. Louis, Peoria, Moline, Dayotn, Hammond, Boston, Worcester, Providence, New Haven, Norfolk, Camp LeJeune, Washington, Greenville, Salem, Akron, Cleveland, Moline, Madison, Peoria, Toledo, Dayton, Detroit, Boston, Providence, Waterloo, Minneapolis-St.Paul, and Duluth.
- Topics: Tour scope, c. 1970.
- p. 32: Virtually since it was created in 1935 by Leo Seltzer, Jerry's father, the Derby has had to contend with charges that it was all an act. Sometimes that has not been a bum rap, either, but nowadays the Derby people all bristle at such talk.
- Topic: Real or fake
- p. 33: Seltzer rarely books a town with bad TV ratings.
- Topics: Tour scope, c. 1970.