When you think of a roller derby, you probably mean solid people on roller skates who spin around the track and hit each other. You’re probably not thinking about blockchain. But the crypto has entered the arena, regardless of whether the roller derby is ready for it or not.
Three roller derby skaters – Lady Trample (real name: Samara Pepperell), Miss Tea Maven (Jennifer Dean) and Sharon Tacos (Cailin Klein) – tried to launch an NFT project this month. NFTs, or non-replaceable tokens, are digital assets that are stored on a blockchain. One of the most well-known uses of NFT is proving ownership of digital art, e.g. you cartoon monkeys you may have seen around, or Reese Witherspoon current Twitter avatar (i the latest business venture). But you don’t “own” art; rather, you own the token that represents it. You can also make a lot of money by selling these tokens.
Like cryptocurrency itself, NFTs are polarized. Some see this digital asset as a major new frontier in art collection, digital ownership, and community. Many other people think that this is a scam that destroys the environment, where a small group is very rich in what are actually just lines of code with no real value or use. These criticisms were reflected to a lesser extent when the NFT derby project was announced.
In a way, the roller derby and the NFT are similar. For many, they are not just a sport or an investment opportunity. These are also communities that outsiders do not understand. Both are accused of being a sect or a fad.
But these theoretical parallels do not mean that roller derbies and NFT communities go hand in hand in real life. Trample, Maven and Tacos thought they would and created ‘Bout Time NFTTT. (Roller derby games are called fights and each of the skaters has a T in their derby name.)
If you follow the roller derby, you know who at least one, if not all three, of the founders of ‘Bout Time’ are: They are elite athletes who have played for the best roller derby teams in the world. Tacos came up with the idea in January. She says she entered cryptocurrencies during the pandemic, and that she had the skills and knowledge to make her own NFT collection. Inspired by other NFT projects that donated for various purposes, Tacos thought she could do the same for the roller derby by donating a portion of the proceeds to struggling leagues. She approached two skaters whose skills the project will need: Trample is an artist who can draw pictures, and Maven works in marketing and can promote the project.
It’s not uncommon for skaters to run their own derby-related businesses, from making equipment and clothing to owning stores that sell them. But these are all tangible goods and services that make sense to people. The NFTs would break new ground for consumerism in the derby.
Roller derbies would benefit from help. The sport was largely closed during the pandemic. Two years later, he is nowhere near recovering, and probably never will. Many leagues have lost their places, sources of income and members. A cash infusion could do wonders for them. The three of them also saw it as a way to generate more outside interest in the derby, or as a starting point for other uses of NFT and blockchain that could also popularize the sport.
You can see where that idea came from. Many other sport league i athletes are entering NFT, so why not this one and why not them? And Derby’s DIY ethos is similar to the decentralized community that the most successful NFT projects – and the NFT space itself – involve. Maven said she also saw this as a chance for more women to get involved in a male-dominated industry. Trump drew a basic picture of skaters in a roller derby and hundreds of interchangeable elements, from skates to tattoos, that would be layered on it. They generated thousands of images, each with its own NFT.
“I was just trying to be a broad representation of the sport and a cool way to create something collectible,” Trump said.
They announced the project on March 9 via Instagram live, along with a Web page which provided all the details, social media accounts and Discord channel.
Here’s how it was all supposed to work: On March 31, ‘Bout Time’ would roll out 10,000 NFTs that people could buy for $ 25 a cryptocurrency called Polygon. Depending on how much NFT they sold, they would donate up to 50 percent of their revenue to roller derby leagues, with NFT owners as a group deciding which leagues to be. Another 5 percent would go to natural non-profit compensation organizations environmental cost forging NFTs. The rest of the money would be divided between the three of them, less any other fees they made and taxes they would owe. If they sold all 10,000 NFTs, each would earn a nice chunk of the change, but no one got rich here. Not from the initial sale anyway – it is known that NFTs, of course, jumped into the sky.
One has to wonder if there were enough crosses between the derby community and the NFT community to sell 10 of these, let alone 10,000. But ‘Bout Time didn’t think it would have to be. People who deal with NFT buy from collections that don’t represent things they like or do all the time cartoon cats to pixelated punks. Why not a skating derby?
“I think the artwork is super cool,” Tacos said. “I love most of the things that Trump designs, and I’m sure other people think it’s great.”
Ideally, they said, most of the money would not come from the derby community at all. But it would come back to that.
Most of the derby community – or at least its loudest segments – did not see things that way. In hundreds of comments on social media related to the derby, the three of them have been accused of many of the same things criticized by the NFT world in general. People did not understand what NFT was or what they would buy. They said they were NFT fraud and pyramid schemes. They saw celebrities using his fame to make money on their fans. They promoted a project that harmed the environment. If you don’t know much about NFTs and can’t imagine them, you’ll easily spot their shortcomings. It is much harder to see how good or useful they are.
However, unlike most NFT projects, this criticism came almost entirely from their community, one that had supported them in the past and thought the project could help. The three of them expected something from this and thought they were ready to deal with it. But they did not predict how angry, numerous and evenly negative the comments would be. They had supporters, but most of them were afraid to express their support publicly, so that they would not be attacked. ‘Bout Time is also concerned that all the leagues in which they have participated will face similar animosity. Social media combined with the derby community can lead to pretty nasty accumulations.
“They just want to fight, and I’m not a fighter,” Trump said. “It’s not my nature – on the track, yes. Off the track, no. ”
In the end, the three skaters decided it wasn’t worth angering the rollerblading derby community to create what this new one could become. They decided to pull the plug.
“If this community doesn’t want us to run this project, then we won’t do this project for them,” Trump said. “The whole reason was to raise money for the derby community, and they spoke so harshly against us.”
So, ‘Bout Time NFTTT was over before it started. But all three say they believe NFT – or at least the blockchain technology on which they are based – is there to stay. Tacos is already involved in another NFT project, which could find a more receptive audience. Or maybe not: Some reports they say the NFT bubble will burst, with average sales prices falling in recent months. On the other hand, people have been saying for years that the bottom will fall from the crypto market, and that is still going on.
For now, it seems that the roller derby is not ready for NFT. Or maybe he will find a different, unique derby path to it. As one person remarked in a derby gossip group on Facebook that fiercely debated this topic: “Blockchain” would be a good name for a derby.
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