Milford — “They say I have broken every bone in my body. Not true. But I have broken 35 bones.”
Anyone with a tattoo has been asked the question, “Does it hurt?”
I have tattoo. When someone asks me this question, I answer honestly: “Yes, it hurt. But not that badly.” What I mean is, the process of getting the tattoo was painful, but not so painful that I made the artist stop halfway through because I was tired of having needles jabbed into me; I knew what I was getting myself into.
Similarly, people who play roller derby are asked fairly regularly, “Doesn’t it hurt?” or “Aren’t you afraid?” or “What if you break something?”
Sometimes roller derby hurts. Last night at practice, one girl on my right side and another girl on my left side slammed into me simultaneously. For an instant I felt like a tube of Crest that someone was trying to get the last bit of toothpaste out of, before I fell flat on the ground.
I laughed about it; I got back up and kept skating; I made sure not to situate myself between the two players again. I did not throw in the towel because I got hurt.
Derby, sometimes referred to as rugby on wheels, is not everyone’s cup of tea. The people who choose to play know they are going to get hurt at some point. Runners don’t stop running because their legs get sore, and seamstresses don’t stop sewing because they prick their finger – it comes with the territory.
Honestly, one of the most entertaining parts about watching derby is seeing people get hurt. Of course I don’t wish serious harm on anyone who plays (least of all myself), but a few spills and a little blood tend to grab people’s attention.
Nascar fans want to see who wins the race, but most will admit it’s a lot more entertaining with a few car crashes thrown in. Ice hockey fans pay upwards of $400 for seats that put a piece of Plexiglas between them and their favorite players. They could sit at home and watch the Caps game for free, but isn’t it more entertaining to see Eric Belanger lose his teeth up close?
I watch roller derby bouts to see a face-off of strategy, endurance and skill. But I also watch because it’s fun to see people crash. Speaking as a player, I don’t mind taking a spill, and I don’t mind that people are entertained by it – that’s the name of the game. Sometimes I get hurt, but never so badly that I want to stop playing.