— Willy Wonka
I’m interested to know how other derby skaters feel about this. Do you have any interest in skating under your “square name” or do you want to keep your derby persona?
I think our sport is going through an identity crisis. I see this in my own league which was started by women, most of whom were not athletes before derby, who were drawn to the outsider-ness of derby. Now though we see the sport growing in popularity and legitimacy. Many of our newer skaters have a strong background of athletics and are less interested in bout themes and the theatrical side of derby and are more focused on competitiveness and furthering the legitimacy of our sport. That is not to say veteran skaters aren’t interested in competitiveness or newer skaters don’t come in excited by picking a derby name and picking a themed boutfit.
The distinction is not always clear and we are currently struggling with how to be clear about our team and league expectations while striving to maintain our core beliefs, including the empowerment women and inclusivity. To derby name or not to derby name speaks to this internal struggle.
Many pro athletes have sports related names but they are still known by their real names as well. Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus and William “The Refrigerator” Perry are two that come to mind.
So what say you, derby athletes?