There are fans, super fans and stalkers. Love the first two. Can’t stand the third. But before you think this is an attack on fans who just really, really love derby or certain players, let me talk about some of the truly wonderful fans I’ve met. Real fans are something to cherish.
Houston has some amazing fans. Out of the three places I’ve played derby, I think Houston has my favorite fanbase. (Sorry, Savannah. If it makes you feel better, you’re second.) They show up to our home bouts, fly to our out-of-state bouts, make nifty bout signs, make sure we get home okay from after parties, and leave us cheery Facebook comments when we’re down. Some of these wonderful people have crossed over from super fan to friend. Tim, Nick the Vegan and Mark come to mind.
Tim is one of the first non-derby player people I met when I moved to Houston. We met at a Valkyrie (one of HRD’s home teams) fundraiser. He wanted to help the players raise money, so he was auctioning off a date with himself in the silent auction. I’m not sure how many bids he ended up getting or what the winning bid was, but I thought it was a sweet gesture. Tim is definitely apart of the HRD family now. We look for him at events. He even nerded it up with us at Comicpalooza. While he’s more of a Brawlers super fan, I still like him.
Nick the Vegan is another super -fan-turned-friend I met at a team fundraiser. He was a huge Psych Ward Siren fan before I ever joined the team. We finally met at a Siren chili cook-off, which also happened to fall on his birthday. He was adorned in birthday gear while making chili (vegan, of course). We decided our weirdness complimented each other and became friends. Now, a bout isn’t officially over until Nick has awkwardly lifted me off the ground by carefully balancing me on a straitjacket- bound arm. (Did I mention he wears a red straitjacket to our home bouts?)
Mark is another Siren super fan. He is the kind of fan derby leagues need. You know how some people really love football? They wear the jerseys, have stickers all over their cars, and even have whole rooms dedicated to their favorite team or athlete. That’s the kind of fan Mark is. He has a Psych Ward Sirens shrine in his house. He has his picture taken with every single Siren. If it has a Siren logo on it, he’s probably got it. I wish every team had a fan as dedicated as Mark. But you can’t have him. He’s ours.
Now I realize the three fans I’ve mentioned are guys. There are super fans who are women, but most of the ones I’ve met also play derby for other leagues or are about to start playing. Two perfect examples would be Catatonic Crush and Beat-a-Trick Kiddo, the 50 Cal Super Pals.
The 50 Cal Super Pals is the unofficially official fan club of Jammunition, former Savannah Derby Devil and current member of the Atlanta Rollergirls All-Stars. Cat and Kiddo skated with Jammu when she was still with Savannah and immediately fell in love with her awesomeness. And why wouldn’t they? Have you met Jammu? Have you seen her skate? Then why don’t you feel inspired to make 50 Cal Super Pal shorts or put Jammu on your birthday cake? Maybe because Cat and Kiddo already did, but the point is that derby girls can be super fans just as much as non-skaters.
So super fans are great. I love having them. I love meeting them. What I don’t like are stalkers. I had a whole thing about stalkers written, but then I can across this post from Amanda Palmer that pretty much summed up everything I wanted to say.
Amanda Palmer is an amazingly talented musician who obviously loves her fans. But no one owns Amanda Palmer, and no one owns you either. If you notice certain people spamming your Facebook wall, making unreasonable demands, or even threatening you, these people are not fans. They have officially crossed over into stalker territory.
If someone is making you feel uneasy, there are a few things you can do. 1) If it hasn’t gotten that bad, try mentioning to the person that certain things make you uncomfortable. If they’re cool, they’ll back off. 2) Mention it to a committee member. Someone on your team has got to have a contingency plan for stalkers. Your safety, as a member of the team, is a priority. 3) If nothing else works, file a restraining order.
So those are stalkers. They are bad, and we don’t like them. But we should love our fans. They are part of the reason we play this sport. We couldn’t do it without their support and the occasional, awkward straitjacket hug.
Speaking of support, the Houston Roller Derby All-Stars are raising money for all the traveling they are doing this season. If you have a second, check out their IndiGoGo page and make a donation.