Derby’s Money Problem: Is Roller Derby Entertaining? – Part 2.1

While I finally have a bit of time to catch up (between work, half marathon training (heading to Disney this weekend finally), and getting in the grove for my 2015 baseball season it’s been a bit nuts) let’s get back into my series about if derby is actually entertaining. I had some great feedback from Part 1, including an absolutely amazing article from WindyMan ( that I suggest everyone check out, and it is time for me to continue to the second part in this series. Now my original intention was to do a huge post playoffs analysis on if derby is entertaining, but instead Im actually going to break down this second part of the series into 3 parts (D2 Playoffs Including Champs, D1 Playoffs, and D1 Champs).

So let me explain a little bit behind my thought process before we just dive into the stats.  We all will agree that bouts like Bear City/Sin City or Gotham/Rose City are absolutely amazing and worth every penny and then some, but not all bouts are like that.  In fact a good number of bouts are over so early that it makes it hard to justify paying to watch.  Remember, hardcore derby fans are there and will be there, but the fan base must grow if derby is to truly thrive.  There are so many sports fans out there, like myself, who just love watching good competition and will pay good money to do so.  But I want to know I’m going to see good competition.  I regularly go Wisconsin-Milwaukee basketball games, not because it is the best basketball in town, but because the majority of games are close and that is what I want to see.  Can I say the same about derby?  Sadly, I don’t think so.

The best part about breaking this part of the series down further is that I can really focus on both bouts that featured closely ranked teams and not-so-closely ranked teams.  With the D2 Playoffs (including the 2 bouts at Champs) there were 36 total bouts and only 8 of them (22.2%) included two teams that were ranked over 10 spots apart in the WFTDA Rankings at the time of the Playoffs.  That should be a sign of good things as closely ranked teams should be putting on great bouts, but looking back what do the number say?

On average, each bout had just under 45 jams (44.75), with the 1st half on average having just slightly more jams than the 2nd.  Now out of those 45 jams, the final lead change took place on Jam 19.  That means over the course of 36 bouts, the average was that the final lead change occurred in the 1st Half.  That is not a great stat if you are trying to draw new fans looking for a new competitive sport.  Now you could use the argument that just because there aren’t lead changes it still could be a competitive, close bout.  And there were plenty of examples just like that, including Tucson vs Big Easy where Tucson led the entire way, but the lead was as small as 3 with 4 jams to go.

But, I went a bit further with my stats to determine at which jam was the point spread never smaller than 25 and also never smaller than 50.  On average the last jam in which the lead was less than 25 points was Jam 31.  Making it for an average that the last 31% of the bouts didn’t see a lead smaller than 25.  For a 50 point spread that is Jam 36, or last 20%.  Again I am doing this purely from a statistical average perspective.  So basically if I was looking at this on a bout by bout analysis, there was a 50/50 chance the last 18+ minutes of the bout was just going to be watching a team hold on to a 25+ lead.  I’m sorry, but those are not encouraging odds if you are trying to get people to come back and grow the fan base.

I don’t bring these stats up to put derby down, but to continue/begin a real discussion that needs to take place if derby is to grow from it’s incredibly loyal fan base and expand/attract more casual fans.  Some will argue that they will only want hardcore/loyal fans, that is great, but fiscally very short-sighted.  There is a ton of money just sitting there looking to be spent watching sports, just look at sports bars all over the country.  Why not produce a highly entertaining product that those people would love to come watch and have a few beverages at?  Just my two cents, and as a little teaser, D1 stats are going to be looking not this good.  I hope to have those up Thursday.

I appreciate all the feedback and thank you again for supporting Derby Math.

Edit 11/11/2014:

For those of you looking for the hard numbers here you go.  As you can see, for the most part Standard Deviations are rather high, that is such a product of having such extremes in the bouts.  While I focused on the averages as it is easy to point to, these figures show that there are very few middle ground bouts.  It tends to be either close all the way thru (counting 25 to be close) or blowouts from the very beginning.  When I do D1 Playoffs I am going to do them as a whole, and then also break out bouts with teams ranked within 20 spots and those greater than 20 spots.  That will be important as I get closer to releasing my playoff recommendations.

Last Lead Change:
Mean – 19.33
Median – 17
Standard Deviation – 17.31

Last Jam with Lead below 25 Points:
Mean – 31.36
Median – 36
Standard Deviation – 15.28

Last Jam with Lead below 50 Points:
Mean – 36.67
Median – 41.5
Standard Deviation – 13.64

Total Jams:
Mean – 44.75
Median – 45
Standard Deviation – 4.16

One comment

  1. Can you supply the Means as well? Also, Windyman’s article is flawed in it’s reasoning and his math does not support his hypothesis.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s