When is it okay to forfeit a bout? Is it ever okay? These are questions I’ve mulled over many times. While I’ve never skated in a game that ended in a forfeit, I’ve watched it happen during other bouts. Last weekend my old team, the Savannah Derby Devils, played against the Sintral Florida Derby Demons. The game was cut short when Sintral forfeited just after halftime.
Now I want to make it clear that I wasn’t there. The only information I have is from former teammates, so obviously it’s a little biased. The story I’ve been told is that Sintral brought two jammers. One got hurt during the first half and could not continue to play.
Sintral brought another player from another team to fill their roster. Savannah was aware of this player and had included language in the bout contract stating that the player was allowed to play as long as she didn’t jam. During the half, Sintral asked if they could play the additional girl as a jammer. Savannah stuck to the contract and refused. (They’ve been screwed over in the past.) Sintral then decided to forfeit the game.
As I stated before, I wasn’t there, and the only person from Sintral I sort of know never replied back to me. I have no idea what the team’s thinking was. It’s possible that none of the other players felt comfortable jamming. It’s also possible that the coach refused to play anyone else as a jammer. I really don’t know. What I do know is that Savannah was left in a awkward position with fans having paid good money to see a double header.
Savannah made the best of the situation by scrimmaging against the Hostess City Hellions (Savannah’s B Team) who had just finished their own bout. From the pictures I saw, everyone played with huge smiles on their faces.
Fans pay good money to see us play roller derby. With the exception of a very small handful of skaters, we don’t get paid to play. Is it fair to put fans through a forfeited game? Is it fair to put your own team or other teams through a forfeit? I say the answer is no.
I’ve been to baseball games that were rained out. Obviously, that’s not something the teams can control. But I’ve seen games “rained out” over a short sprinkle. What that says to me is that the people in charge of that call don’t take the sport seriously. If they don’t take the sport or the reputation of the teams seriously, then why should I as a fan. I think it’s the same thing with forfeits. It’s like telling the fans that you really don’t care that much about playing derby.
Now there is a specific instance where I think a forfeit is justified: if players are at risk of serious physical injury. Let’s say Team A and Team B are playing a bout. Team A has a reputation for playing dirty and starts throwing elbows and purposefully tripping girls on Team B. Team B’s coach makes the refs aware of the situation, but they aren’t calling it. Girls on Team B start getting hurt and there’s a good chance that they may be seriously injured. In that case, I would say forfeit. I love to play roller derby, but I don’t want to see anyone go home in a cast if it can be avoided.
Having said that, I have seen plenty of teams continue to play in the face of possible injury. In fact, I’ve skated with Savannah when we went up against a team who clearly didn’t care about playing safely. We played to the very last whistle, though, and then went and partied like we won.
I think it’s a good idea for every team to have a discussion about forfeiture and make a decision whether or not this is ever an option. What do you think? Is forfeiting an option to you?