How to write an article about roller derby

Ever wanted to write an article on roller derby?

There are certain stylistic guidelines to which you are expected to adhere for articles on roller derby.

Using these guidelines, as used by major media outlets, you, too, can write about roller derby the proper and professional way:

Introduce roller derby as if it has never been written about before. Focus on aspects that have already been reported hundreds of times instead of making any progress into the field of roller derby reporting in terms of your subject and focus.

Do not mention current scores or events, whether they be local or at the world stage. Do not make any attempt to help the reader follow current scores, events, trends and rankings in roller derby.

Treat athletic women like a freak show, whilst completely ignoring the aspects that make athletes interesting and worth reporting about, such as their drive, dedication, challenges and achievements.

Make the reader think that a woman who is doing something outside her job and home is akin to a superhero or freak, instead of being e.g. an athlete or a person with a hobby.

Focus on derby names and big hits. Mention, completely unnecessarily, that roller derby is no longer fake and scripted. Mention that the days of fishnets and scripted pro-wrestling play and fights are gone, even though many newcomers to the sport never knew those days existed anyway.

Ignore the fact that people can easily follow other sports without being told the sport’s origin story each and every time. For instance, did you know that the origin of rugby football is reputed to be an incident during a game of English school football at Rugby School in 1823, when William Webb Ellis is said to have picked up the ball and run with it? But in roller derby the reader needs to know this stuff lest she should accidentally consider roller derby as a legitimate, established sport that has moved on from its early days.

Be astonished that women would want to engage in a contact sport at all, fragile beings that they are.

Ask why women would chose to do roller derby, even though you would not ask anyone why on Earth they chose to play basketball.

Ask players to justify the very existence of this sport, instead of spending more time reporting on current scores, events and culture.

Use terms like ‘smashing into each other’, even though you would never feel the need to use such phrasing in male-dominated contact sports. Also use terms like ‘brutal’ or ‘vicious’; as if women might only want to take part in physical competition for sinister reasons, or women who want to play contact sports must have something wrong with them.

Mention the fact that roller derby players sweat and smell, as if that is somehow unusual in physical activity.

Overstate the fact that players can get injured to emphasise that roller derby is a crazy freak show. Ignore the fact that injuries are par for the course in any sport from skiing to football. You might not feel the need to point out that several people from a skiing team have had injuries and that the whole sport of skiing is therefore a bit ridiculous. But this is roller derby and women should not be allowed the option of such risky behaviour.

Put skates on journalists and have them be surprised that, as in any sport, you cannot get amazing at roller derby in two hours.

Be surprised that there are rules to this sport. Act as if you thought that players were just skating around in circles at random. Write about the rules to make the reader believe that each player has to memorise the entire rule book. Ignore that fact that other sports also have rules and that it is perfectly possible to play with an intuitive, functional grasp of the rules without learning everything.

Mention ‘elbowing your way through the pack’, even though that is one of the few body parts that you cannot use for blocking (You can blame this on the movie Whip It, which probably forms the only basis for your article.). The above also applies to ‘shoving’.

Mention roller blades, even though it sounds as uninformed as reporting from the ‘rugby court’ or talking about a ‘tennis bat’.

Ridicule how much money players spend on their skates and other gear. Ignore that expensive custom equipment is completely normal in any competitive sport from cycling to badminton.

Misspell the league’s name and confuse the World Cup with Champs to emphasise that you really do not care enough to even check the very basic information. It’s fine, you were probably too busy writing about ‘elbows’ and ‘smashing’.

Media outlets of all kinds have announced that they will use these guidelines to continue publishing clueless, shallow and incorrect pieces on roller derby to make the sport sound like a freak show that was invented yesterday.

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