A long time ago I asked the question “how do you pronounce WFTDA?”
There were lots of different answers. The double you eff tee dee aye, woof ta dah (aka “the dog magician”), wif duh, wif tu duh, and half a dozen others. The point I was leading to is that derby is not monolithic. Leagues are individual cultures, even though most skaters think all other leagues are exactly the same as theirs because they’re all playing the same sport.
This is something I try to remember when I post, not only to keep up my secret identity schtick, but also because it leads to all sorts of confusion when you use terms that are standard in your league but mean totally different things in others.
Just a few weeks ago someone responded to a CKDC post using an abbreviation for the name of a non-standard NSO position that I’d never heard before. I had to look it up and make an educated guess as to what they were talking about.
These individual culture issues apply to refs as much, if not more than skaters. So much ref training depends on word-of-mouth folklore about how to interpret and enforce unclear rules there ends up being a lot of difference from league to league and bout to bout in how things work. One thing I’ve seen is that many HRs have a pet penalty they focus on, while their knowledge of others areas could be quite weak.
I’ve known veteran refs who can quote the entire penalty box section word for word but miss basic uniform violations. And vice versa.
Players tend to be blind to this if they only know their own league. Then on bout day suddenly rules are being enforced in different ways than they’ve gotten used to. 20 ft of bridging is suddenly 3 feet more or less than they thought it was. 3 seconds of touching another player is now 2. Or 5. This is why it’s so important to play with as many other leagues as possible.
The same is true for scrimmaging. All too many new players get used to how to block or pass their teammates and are then lost on bout day.
The differences in leagues show up not only in play and officiating but also in organization, finance, rules knowledge, training, strategy, treatment of NSOs, competitiveness vs social, relationships with refs, conflict resolution, etc.
If you’ve only ever skated in one place, you have no idea how different the culture can be in a different league.
Think about what flavour your league’s kool aid is and what it must taste like in other places.