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Wednesday, May 07, 2014
The end of roller derby names?
In the closing segment of this week's Slate Hang Up and Listen podcast (go to 57:55 mark), Slate's Josh Levin discusses efforts to make roller derby a more serious sport at the intercollegiate and international levels, also discussed in this Slate piece. Making the sport serious includes the demise of the roller derby nickname--Nun Meaner, Sigmund Droid, Haute Flash, Carmen Getsome, and my favorite, Stone Cold Jane Austen (that one belongs to Devoney Looser, an English professor at Arizona State). More players are going by their given names, at least in international competition, to make the sport seem less like professional wrestling. Occasional GuestPrawf Dave Fagundes, who wrote the definitive article on roller derby names, will no doubt be saddened to learn of this development.
And, since we all need a break from grading: What would you choose as your law- or law-professor-related derby name?
Posted by: JDEswq | May 7, 2014 9:43:31 AM
Posted by: Me | May 7, 2014 4:18:09 PM
The conclusion of my article is actually titled "The Twilight of Derby Names" and explores this issue. As I was finishing it, the first reports emerged of a famous skater from Michigan who announced that she was skating under her government name, so I thought it would make sense to end the piece by contemplating the possible decline/demise of the practice. The puzzle for me is whether names are really a barrier to mainstream acceptance (assuming you'd even want that, which some skaters don't). After all, the names bring attention to the game and that is good PR. Are the credibility costs of having fake names greater than the PR plusses of the attention they get (when I mention derby to people they always mention the names as the major thing they think is fun and memorable--because honestly the sport can be confusing and defensive at times).
Another reason fake names might be declining is that more people are attracted to derby just as a sport and fun extracurricular, not as a countercultural/subcultural niche (again, not something everyone in the community is excited about). Some people are like, "I'm here to skate and be a kickass athlete. I don't want to have to make up a name and identity to do that."
Btw one of the skaters I interviewed in the article is a lawyer (public defender) who skates for Nola and her name is Miranda Warning (she also considered being Confrontation Claws), and her number is section 1983.
Posted by: DF | May 8, 2014 9:53:08 PM