Dear Roller Derby Community,
As you may know, the WFTDA has decided to part ways with the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA)—a decision that was made and discussed with our membership earlier this summer following years of work, evaluation, and reflection between both of our organizations’ Board of Directors and leadership.
Since our original 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU for short) with the MRDA, WFTDA Leadership has been trying to re-engage around the needs of both organizations. The original MOU was meant as a collaborative agreement to “lessen barriers so that we can all work together towards common goals.” After more than three years of negotiations, the WFTDA does not feel confident that further dialogue would be fruitful and we will not continue asking for engagement in those discussions. The WFTDA will continue to honor the terms of Confidential Information of MRDA as specifically outlined in the MOU.
In 2018, the WFTDA released a joint statement with the MRDA and JRDA, around improving the culture of our sport together. WFTDA leadership and membership listened closely to feedback around this shared statement about the culture of women’s roller derby. It has been and continues to be important for us to be accountable to all community members for the process of improving our culture—among other aspects of our sport.
As part of our continued commitment to the community, the WFTDA—our Staff, Board, and Regulatory Pillar—invested significant time and energy into reworking our Code of Conduct and launching a new Tool Kit for leagues, with additional trainings planned moving forward in 2020. We created a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Advocacy Committee in 2017 to tackle issues of discrimination and marginalization in our sport, with more community-building planned to amplify voices in the months and years ahead.
The WFTDA wants men’s derby to exist, and we want it to be a future-thinking, sustainable, and vibrant competitive pathway. This is the kind of commitment that the WFTDA has been and will be looking for with any partner moving forward: people who are putting in the work to make roller derby a safer, more inclusive, and revolutionary sport.
Together with membership and leadership, our organization collectively decided that our time and resources need to be focused on supporting our WFTDA members and our own organization’s needs.
We understand that the ramifications of this are much larger than the relationship between our organizations. The impact on officials was a key area that the WFTDA spent a lot of time discussing. Our WFTDA Officiating Pillar worked with our Board of Directors and spent a lot of time discussing the impact on officials, on the governance of officiating programs, and on the best ways to mitigate the challenges ahead. The Officiating Pillar leadership unanimously supports the Board’s decision.
In 2020, the WFTDA heads into our 15th year as an organization and it’s vitally important for us to plan for a long and sustainable future. More than anything, it means that we can’t do this important work alone. We need partners and members who are present and supportive. In our forthcoming WFTDA strategic plan, we are making a commitment to focus on investing in our members, and to cultivating officiating, announcing, and other areas of the sport. We need our partners committed to this in their own organizations and to have the basic infrastructure to do so.
We understand that this change brings many questions, so here are some basic pieces of information around the dissolution to help clarify the concerns of the community:
- WFTDA Insurance will remain available to all who wish to purchase it and will continue to have reciprocity agreements with several other insurers. WFTDA Insurance, through WFTDI, will continue to work on safety initiatives, with some important developments in concussion research coming in 2020;
- WFTDA Certification is open to all officials who meet the requirements of certification. WFTDA Officiating Education online learning, lessons, and clinics are also still available;
- MRDA-sanctioned games officiated on or before December 31, 2019 will count towards “sanctioned game” requirements for certification until they expire two years from the date of the game. Starting January 1, 2020, all MRDA-sanctioned games will count as “regulation” for the purpose of game counts unless they take place in a WFTDA Recognized Tournament (see the Rules Competition section below);
- The WFTDA Tournament Officiating Selection Panel (TOSP) will no longer count MRDA-sanctioned games as “sanctioned” starting in 2020. All MRDA games under the current game count will count towards your 2020 application. As with Certification, they will count as “regulation” if they are played by full WFTDA rules;
- All MRDA games should continue to be tracked in the Games History / Officiating History document. When fully rolled out, the Officiating History Document (OHD) will automatically apply the above criteria in the Stats tab of the document;
Rules and Competition:
- The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby and published WFTDA games and officiating standards will remain available for use by MRDA as is the case with all leagues who are not WFTDA members;
- MRDA games will continue to be considered “regulation” as long as they follow the requirements of regulation games as listed in the WFTDA Sanctioning Policy;
- Starting January 1, 2020, the WFTDA will be beta-testing a new Open Division program that does not have any gender requirements but will be played under all WFTDA Code of Conduct and games/officiating standards through our 2020 competitive season (June 30). Any Men’s or Open Division games are welcome to register for the beta test program;
- To support the needs of officials and our Recognized Tournaments Program, WFTDA will automatically allow participating officials to count any Men’s or Open Division games run at WFTDA Recognized Tournaments as “sanctioned” Open Division games for the purpose of the required officiating game counts for certification and tournament staffing. WFTDA Officiating Technology will work with TOSP and Certification to ensure that Recognized Tournaments are tracked correctly;
- WFTDA has added a new regional importance clause for the Recognized Tournaments program in order to include tournaments who cannot have the required number of WFTDA games due to regional competitive difficulties with the hope of adding opportunities for officials in these regions;
- WFTDA is looking to open individual memberships for officials and other support staff who are not affiliated with a WFTDA league in 2020. Those who wish to be a part of our community and believe in our goals and our standards will have the ability to participate in it more fully;
- MRDA seats on the WFTDA Rules, Officiating, and Risk Management committees will revert to WFTDA and/or JRDA seats. MRDA will no longer have member-access to review proposals. MRDA reps who also have WFTDA status have been invited to continue in that capacity. We will work with JRDA to add their seats to Officiating committees and Rules Application to complete the work on our JRDA MOU;
- WFTDA-partner National Governing Bodies (NGBs) who also have MRDA-league members will not be asked to adjust their membership policies as a result of the MOU ending. We will continue our work together to align our standards and they are welcome to adopt them for all of their members and competitions. With the new Recognized Tournaments regional clause, national tournaments could qualify for Recognized status and therefore provide additional sanctioned gameplay opportunities for national officials. WFTDA will work with NGBs in the coming weeks to set this up appropriately.
- The WFTDA will continue to notify our partner organizations, including NGBs, JRDA, and others, as well as the MRDA, of grievance issues that may impact their organizations. We do so with policy, process, and confidentiality in mind.
As always, community members are encouraged to participate with either organization as best suits their personal values, goals, and needs.
The WFTDA maintains our deep commitment to making sure that our changing culture is as inclusive and welcoming as possible. We are excited to continue working with roller derby organizations who share the same values, and with community members in collaborative efforts towards realizing our goals in the development of our sport.
If folks have questions about what these changes mean, please join us on Friday, November 1 at 2 pm EDT on Twitter for an AMA, or you can reach out to the WFTDA Board of Directors via firstname.lastname@example.org.
WFTDA Board of Directors
Master Blaster, President
Deadeye, Vice President
Kim H. Fandango, Secretary
Lois Slain, Treasurer
Aphrobitey, Crazylegs, F-Bomb, Gloom, Tacocat, General Board Members
Beverly Crush Her, Officiating Officer
Strong Female Character, Officials’ Certification Chair
Tarabyte, TOSP Chair
Theminist Killjoy, Officials’ Advocacy
Erica Vanstone, Executive Director