On Avoidance of Punching and Other Jackassery

Or, like, here’s a more obtuse angle.

Contact sports are like violence. But they aren’t violence. There are parts in common, but the activities are distinct.

Slamming your body into another person is often part of violence, so there are understanadble reasons why contact sports, where you slam your body into another person, are associated with violence. But that association is only as real as we allow it to be.

A skater can step onto the track intent on being as physically dominant as possible. They can intend to completely fucking lay out every opposing skater on the track. They can hit brutally, constantly, and without hesitation. They can do all those things and never once intend violence or enact violence on another person. Because, in the midst of play, everyone has agreed to the thing they’re doing. It’s about consent, yeah, but it’s also about the mutual understanding of the activity. Derby, as a game, has bounds. Within those bounds skaters might wreck the fuck out of each other. But they don’t throw punches. They don’t kick. They don’t wrestle other skaters to the ground. If you think those actions are part of derby, then you’re in disagreement with the sport in both rule and spirit. The game can change, but you’ll have to make your case to change it.

Here’s a shitty analogy. There’s a naked person in front of you. Do you get to fuck them because they’re naked? No? What if they’re masturbating too? There’s a naked, masturbating person in front of you. Do you get to fuck them? No? Why not? Being naked is usually part of fucking. Touching your genitals is usually part of fucking. But being naked isn’t automatically sexual, and masturbating, even in front of someone else, doesn’t automatically invite other sexual contact. Sometimes you’re fuckin’, and sometimes you’re doing something else entirely. And it is always, every time, forever, in perpectuity our responsibility to understand and respect the difference.

So don’t disrespect derby by saying that it’s already violent, that’s it’s pretty much a fight anyway. That’s a disservice to the game and the people who play it. Derby isn’t just an organized brawl. It’s a real sport with meaning and beauty in play. Fighting should be no more an expected outcome of derby than fucking is an expected outcome of being naked. Man, that’s just a terrible analogy. Super sorry.

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