EROC 2017 Workshop ‘Announcers – Your greatest promotional weapon’

At EROC 2017, the European Roller Derby Organizational Conference, at the end of January in Berlin, I had the great pleasure to attend a workshop talking more generally about announcing. It was held by sMACklemore, an independent announcer, who did little events as tournament head announcer such as the Men’s World Cup in Calgary 2016 and is also one of the hosts of the ‘Talk Derby to Me’ podcast series. With kind permission, I share my notes of the session here. There are three parts to it: Why Announcing?, Important Stuff for Announcers and Important Stuff for Leagues. But since both interested leagues and announcers should know about the other side as well, here you have it as one big giant post. Sometimes you’ll see a Leagues in the Announcers section, which means, this was related to something important for announcers, but Leagues should consider that in their bout preparation.

Why Announcing?

What people hear is more easily retained than what they see. The background medium of announcing (think of radio working in a similar way) makes a game memorable.

Just winning games is not enough to grow your league and the professionalism.

Important Stuff for Announcers

What do you even do?

  • Inform the audience
  • Educate the crowd
  • Promote upcoming events
  • Entertain the crowd
  • Promote sponsors
  • Make people want to come back for more games
  • Sell merchandise (by mentioning it; Leagues: a ready list for announcers is handy)
  • Give out contact details of the league, Facebook etc.
  • Sell the sport, the drama and the enthusiasm

Keep in mind:
The first few jams you explain EVERYTHING. There is a really good chance, that there are quite a few people in the audience who have absolutely no idea what is going on. Having them in on the fun within a couple of jams is essential. However, don’t bother talking too much before the game starts. Nobody will listen to it really anyway, but if you test the PA, do so potentially engagingly without expecting too much.

It’s really important to create an emotional connection with your audience. You want to make derby desirable to grow your fanbase. And that means, as an announcer, you need to be passionate as well. Hence, (Leagues) it’s important that there is an emotional connection between announcers & league, that is fostered and upheld.

The sport is highly complex and fast paced. And there is a whole lot of visual, auditory, and, let’s face it, olfactory input. This means, that a background explanation is essential for the audience to make sense of all that.

When the crowd is pumped up and loud, let them be invested in themselves. People should leave on a high at every game.
You can excite people by upping tempo, tone and speed. Particular words are not essential to carry over excitement.
You don’t need to be super knowledgable about the sport to start announcing, but you need to be able to get excited about it.

Important Stuff for Leagues

Invest in your announcers! Usually they don’t want to have much, but at least give them food and water. If you can, consider reimbursing travel costs and if required, host them!

How to recruit announcers?

  • local, community radio stations
  • Media/broadcasting students at local colleges or universities
  • Local podcasters
  • Public speakers (teachers, lecturers)
  • Auction houses
  • Other sporting commentators
  • Local celebrities

How to develop announcers in your league?

Bring announcers to away games as well. Especially in international games, that encourages fans to join you on your trip as they can be ensured that they will understand something in their language.

Include them in trainings and scrimmages, where you potentially also offer them a small audience, e.g., friends and family, for practice. Provide a mentor, even if you don’t have any other announcers. It can be any member of the league (well, maybe not a completely new one who’s still figuring things out for themselves). And let them grow! Give them opportunities for feedback from peers, by inviting other announcers and encourage self learning. Invite them in footage watching sessions where they can listen to the game.

How to grow that sweet sweet emotional connection with your league?
Involve them as members of the league. This includes committee work, but also visibility: promote them on your social media. Show that you trust in them and want to invest in their skills by sending them to other leagues, tournaments and/or learning camps (such as EROC, Rollercon or EuroDerbyCon). Alternatively, you can always invite others and host your own. This is only beneficial for your now growing army of announcers.

Hi, I’m Tinker Bull, Bench Coach of the Vienna Beasts, the B-Team of Vienna Roller Derby. Under the name Extermikate, I’m also a roller derby official (skating and non-skating).

Fancy Sweatbands

This pattern was mostly an experiment with a multicoloured Wollmeise yarn I had still lying around. But hey, why not have a fancy sweatband!


You need about 25g of fingering yarn and 2.5 mm double-pointed needles.
Multicoloured yarn adds the nice colour-effect.



  • k — knit
  • p — purl
  • k2tbl — knit 2 stitches through back loop
  • m1 — make 1 — add a stitch by lifting and twisting the strand between the two stitches on row below
  • k2tog — knit two stitches together

Pattern Note — Woven Chevrons:

  • right leaning row: knit 2, slip 3 stitches with yarn in front until end of the row minus one stitch — beginning of round now moved one stitch to the right
  • left leaning row: knit 2, slip 3 stitches with yarn in front until end of the row, knit 1 — beginning of round now moved one stitch to the left
  • Woven Chevrons right: 6 right leaning rows followed by 5 left leaning rows
  • Woven Chevrons left: 6 left leaning rows followed by 5 right leaning rows



  1. Cast on 72 stitches with your preferred cast on method and join in round. Be careful not to twist.
  2. (k2tbl, p2) — repeat over the round for 10 rounds
  3. (k2tog, k34) x2
  4. Woven Chevrons right
  5. knit for 6 rounds
  6. Woven Chevrons left
  7. (k1, m1, k34) x2
  8. (k2tbl, p2) — repeat over the round for 9 rounds
  9. Bind of loosely in ribbing pattern
  10. Weave in ends and block lightly.


On Reviewing and Receiving Reviews

Evaluation is not just a matter of threading a judgement through a procedure, but also of characterizing the quality of something. — Stefan Hirschauer: Editorial Judgements

Double-blind peer review is one of the pillars of the scientific apparatus. Many manuscripts are evaluated by their peers before they are being published in order to ensure quality standards and constantly redefine the scope of a field.

I mostly enjoy reviewing — no matter the quality of the paper –, since I can contribute to an idea and improve a manuscript. However, sometimes, there is this sneaky paper, where you can see that someone has been left alone by their peers. Those manuscripts have obviously not received any love or critical feedback and are rough 2nd or 3rd drafts of writing. I love discussing the content, but if I’m overwhelmed by the amount of grammar, style and structure issues I need to mention I feel like someone used the review process for proof reading and editing feedback more than actually expecting to get published. Doing this type of work for friends and colleagues is ok and I offer it willingly, but having the job dumped on me feels weird. Now, I could always reject reviewing a paper, but then I feel like I’m just deflecting the job to some other poor soul who has to go through the motions regardless. One solution there would be that publication venues offer mentors who are willing to proof read papers of more junior writers and give them structural feedback. Most academic writing is published in English, which privileges native speakers. For grammar and style issues — mostly from non-native speakers –, we should think about having an optional editing stage before or after reviewing — and communicating that to reviewers. These things cost money and time, yes, but then publishers make tons of money from work they don’t pay for anyway, so why not invest into that, so that we all can enjoy reviewing papers more and getting enthusiastic about ideas.

There is another side to reviews as well: the receiving side. I mostly enjoy receiving reviews — no matter the result –, since they always help to improve an idea as well as the manuscript and, ultimately, that’s what I want: the best version of a manuscript possible. Some reviews are unhelpful, yes, some reviews didn’t quite understand what you were writing about, yes, but in the end it tells you, that you have to be more concise in your writing. However, sometimes we receive reviews that are unkind and unappreciative towards the work you describe in your manuscript. Sometimes we receive reviews that tell us we chose not only the wrong venue (fair enough), but also that we have no place in the chosen field. This seems awfully ignorant of the fact that almost no publications come from authors who are not embedded in public or private research institutions in which they have to work with others who are also part of their field. The anonymity of authors and reviewers alike during the review process is essential to counteract the most obvious favouritism. However, often authors are already obvious to reviewers during the process or become obvious when a manuscript is published. Reviewers remain anonymous other than when they choose to identify themselves to the authors after publication and even that is frowned upon. I argue that anonymous reviewers behave somewhat like anonymous commenters on the internet: they are ultimately harsher. Reviewers are not accountable for what they write and, hence, sometimes don’t filter their criticism with the appropriate appreciation for the work in front of them. Making it standard that reviewers are disclosed after the review process is finished and a decision has been made, encourages them to stay more focused on their evaluation task and creates a more helpful and supportive review system that we all can profit more from.

Person-First or Identity-First?

When I started my PhD, I was occupied for several months with almost exclusively the question on whether I would say “autistic people” or “people with autism.” Before I say more, you should know that I do not identify as autistic myself – albeit disabled – but grew up with an autistic sibling.

I stumbled across the question of language in the way that most researchers probably do, in that I had never really thought about it, since ‘it does not concern me personally, right?’. Through that I kind of offended a friend of mine who has a kid with autism and explained to me that there is a difference in person-first or, as they called it, ‘label-first’ language. Not wanting to offend anyone, I dove into the debate. And it’s an intense one.

The main argument for person-first language is that by othering and labeling individuals through adjectives, they become second to their label and are not seen as individual. Others have elaborated on this more, but that seems to be the gist of it. If you say ‘a person with autism’ it becomes more about the person than about the autism. But then, does it?

According to Jim Sinclair, this way an autistic person is also seen as separate from their autism, which is contrary to their experience. Why can they be called clever and handsome, but not autistic? Why is it not a person with smartness or a person with beauty?

Ultimately then, it does not seem to matter how we talk about a condition grammatically, but rather, which semantics are attached to it. For those who are into that, there is some research on how the grammatical construct does not necessarily alter semantic meaning.

However, those who connect the construct with a certain meaning care very much about how we talk about autism and autistic individuals. You might have noticed by now that I am mostly using identity-first language and those who know me also know that I strongly advocate for using it. This is not only because I find Sinclair’s argument slightly more convincing, but also because a large survey in the UK indicated that autistic individuals tend to prefer it as well. Sue Fletcher-Watson recently analysed the results of the survey and shows how professionals dealing with autism according to the numbers care emphatically more about which language is used and strongly prefer person-first constructs whereas autistic people just indicate a slight preference. The conclusion then is that mixing grammatical constructs might be the least offensive way for everyone involved. I disagree.

I perfectly understand the need to work with the autism community at large, which includes autistic individuals, their families, their carers and professionals. But what is language if not a political statement. If there is a debate on how language is used and a large portion of the people we try to address is telling me ‘please call me autistic’, then who am I to judge them wrong? I need to listen to them and I need to listen to them more than to professionals who do have more power in this conversation already. Using identity-first language to me is a political act that acknowledges the preferences of those who are marginalised all too often.

This is my conclusion, but this is not the only way to do it. I don’t think there is a ‘correct’ way to talk about autistic individuals. First of all, I also change my language if I talk about an individual who prefers e.g., person first language (see above when talking about my friend’s kid). Second of all, I don’t think it helps anyone if people just try and do what is ‘politically correct’ without thinking about the circumstances that does make something correct or incorrect. That is why I might ask you why you are making a certain choice. I want to learn more about the different arguments surrounding the language and re-evaluate my own use. For me, it is most important that I make an informed choice in how I speak, especially when speaking about something that is outside of my personal experience, such as being a non-autistic researchers talking about autistic children.

Ultimately, and I think that is where everyone in the debate agrees on, consider the preference an individual has when talking about them specifically. Only that way we can start establishing a person-first attitude regardless of the grammatical constructs we use.


For two years now I have been a PhD student with the OutsideTheBox project, in which we co-design technologies with autistic children. Our prototypes are supposed to make sense in the children’s lives and enable them to share the positive experiences they make with the technologies. My PhD work focuses on the experiences the children have with their technologies.
To that effect, I’m developing an evaluation tool that allows for critical reflection and purposefully includes the direct perspectives from autistic children. It is based on Actor-Network Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis.


illustration drawn by Julia Makhaeva

Multicoloured Hourglass

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This is just a colour pattern, that I used as a substitute in a Norwegian Sweater, but I wanted to share that with peeps in order they want to conduct a similar feat. It has been created with a sense of symmetry and triangles. It came originally not with the hourglass idea, but upon actually knitting it, I realised it kinda felt like hourglasses with a top. Anyway, I hope you’ll have fun or are inspired by this.

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This pattern is only offered as a graphical pattern, because all stitches are knit (or purl on the way back) in three colours of your choice (marked as gray, white and black).


Quick Mittens

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Last year my sister got a loop made with Manos del Uruguay’s Silk Blend (Luisa).


This year I also made her a matching hat of from the same wool upon request as a thank you for proof reading my Master’s thesis.
Hat picture

This weekend I had a visit from her and told her that there was still a hank left, so if she wanted to give it back or whatever. But instead, she asked for mittens. And because that’s a challenge, I have to accept, I promised them within 24 hours including making up a pattern for her and all. However, I now want to give that pattern to you as well, so that you can also have an instant gratification mittens experience.
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So for these quickies you’ll need:

  • Set of 3.5mm double pointed needles (dpn)
  • 40g of DK yarn (If you want the tactile qualities of the fabric to be more visible, you might want to choose a yarn that is more evenly coloured, though)
  • Stitch markers (if desired)
  • Tapestry needle

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  • k – knit
  • p – purl
  • k tbl – knit through back loop

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Pattern Notes:

  • 1×1 rib – (k tbl, p) and repeat that all round
  • flowery weave (Variation on the Basket Weave taken from the Potter Craft 400 stitches stitch dictionary) – do 12 rows as follows over a multiple of 8 stitches (or confer for a visual reference down below)
    1. k all stitches
    2. like row 1
    3. (k3, p2, k1, p2)
    4. (k3, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1)
    5. like row 3
    6. like row 4
    7. like row 1
    8. like row 1
    9. (p1, k1, p2, k3, p1)
    10. (k1, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1
    11. like row 9
    12. like row 10

How to do it (Finally!):

  • Cast on 32 stitches and distribute on needles as desired; if you want a larger or smaller version, you can cast on 8 more or less and follow this pattern just having 8 stitches more or less in the end
  • 1×1 rib for five rows
  • 2.5 repeats of the flowery weave pattern
  • in the next round (it’s a knit round) place stitch marker (if desired) after 7 stitches and then again after 2 stitches
  • in the next round (still a knit round following the pattern), make one left and right from the two stitches between stitch markers (this is an increase round)
  • Follow pattern for 2 more rows
  • repeat increase round
  • Follow pattern for 2 more rows
  • repeat increase round and do so every second round until a total of 10 increase rounds have been worked; not that for the pattern to work, you will have to incorporate one of the added stitches on each side. The rest of the thumb is knitted flat.
  • knit one round (this should coincide with a first round of the flowery weave
  • next round: knit 8, bind off 18 added stitches loosely (I use this method, but only on every second stitch, to get the results shown in the picture) and knit rest of stitches
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  • from this round on you will finish this repeat of the flowery weave
  • In order to tighten the connection at the thumb you might want to knit the edge stitches together with their neighbours on the left and right from one row under (If this needs further clarification, I am happy to provide a more detailed description, so please let me know in the comments.)
  • when pattern repeat is finished, knit 2 more rows
  • 1×1 rib for 4 rows
  • Bind off all stitches as before
  • Make a second glove
  • Weave in ends
  • Block if desired
  • Be happy and proud!

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I hope you have fun doing this pattern. If there are any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to put them in, so that I can improve this pattern.