November 10, 2017
In light of various problems coming out of championships weekend, the WFTDA Board of Directors has reached several decisions with overlapping implications we would like to share with the roller derby community at large.
Due to some inappropriate material in programming (unrelated to the WFTDA), ESPN informed us shortly before our Championship Tournament that we would not be aired live on ESPN2 (but re-aired this Sunday) and they requested a number of name changes from skaters and officials to be FCC compliant.
One of the names requested was "Bicepsual" from Victorian Roller Derby League. WFTDA leadership determined (thanks to VRDL's quick response) that omitting this name was discriminatory. ESPN made the move to engage their internal LGBTQ advisory committee in the conversation. After asking ESPN to do something it has never done before, they are now prepared to run the entire broadcast as-is.
We believe this broadcast is a win for roller derby and the larger conversations about representation in athletics and corporate patriarchy.
As you may know, Double H and AK are the voices in this final broadcast. Originally, we felt it may be beneficial to wait and asked ESPN2 to delay airing it. We want our community to feel heard and appropriately responded to.
We have now heard from ESPN that they are likely unable to postpone the broadcast. Not airing it this Sunday would mean not having roller derby on ESPN2. The Board believes this would truly be a missed opportunity for our sport and its visibility, including the hard fought right to represent ourselves as we choose. We have chosen to air the broadcast.
This choice was not easy and is contingent on our ability as an organization to make the changes necessary to show we are dedicated to taking responsibility and doing the actions needed to create a different culture in the WFTDA. The Board of Directors has determined the following consequences for Double H’s comments:
Double H will be taking a course in Inter-cultural Competence
She will not be appearing on any Broadcast in 2018
Double H is one of our most valuable employees and the Board stands by our decision, made in October, that she is the right person to be our Interim ED. She has and is actively taking responsibility for the hurt she has caused. It is important that we create a culture that allows for growth and accountability. As we move forward the Board has tasked our Diversity and Inclusion Committee with the formation of an Advocacy Committee to be scoped out before the end of 2017.
While D&I is tasked with bringing our awareness with the WFTDA forward around our own cultural blind spots, the purpose of the Advocacy Committee is to give a voice to the causes, issues, and problems that affect and impact our membership while positioning us as an organization to be an active public force in those causes.
The change is ahead of us and we believe that taking pride in what we’ve accomplished, taking responsibility for our actions and taking the necessary steps to improve will bring us forward.
The Board of Directors
WFTDA members can find more details and get involved in discussions related to these topics on the WFTDA Member Forum.
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.