Trump’s travel ban throws roller derby into chaos

Trump’s travel restrictions are ruining the 2017 International Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s season. Many players hold citizenship in one of the banned countries, and their teams simply won’t play without them. Seems roller derby, if not the United States, is about inclusion.

Via Vice Sports:

It all couldn’t come at a worse time for the young but fast-growing sport of women’s roller derby. Since its revival in Austin, Texas, in the early 2000s, modern roller derby has been predominantly American, with most of the major tournaments and teams based in the U.S. The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the sport’s key governing body, accepted its first international member in 2009, and in recent years member leagues have joined the organization from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, South America, and Asia. There are a number of teams with skaters who are nationals of the seven targeted countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan) and for them this season presents an unprecedented challenge, with the prospect of both training and playing schedules being abruptly rearranged.

“As new info is popping up everyday, it is hard to know for sure what the situation will be like in a few months or even in a few weeks,” Dorna Behdadi told VICE Sports. Behdadi is a charter member of the Gothenburg Roller Derby team in Sweden. They are also an Iranian national whose parents fled a country in upheaval (Sweden has historically received a large number of asylum seekers and refugees, something that the U.S. President has alluded to recently). Behdadi was not born in Iran and holds a Swedish passport, but Iran still considers them a citizen because of their parents. Travelers with dual citizenship from one of the seven countries were initially included in Trump’s ban, although that guidance appeared to evolve in the days after the order’s rollout. Overall, the situation is marked by confusion, even as the administration reportedly draws up a revised executive order.

Gothenburg Roller Derby had been planning to compete in a tournament called Coastal Chaos in Maine this June, but Trump’s travel restrictions have made the team rethink those plans.

“If some of our players cannot participate because of racist regulations, the team will not partake in the event,” Gothenburg Roller Derby posted to Facebook days after the travel ban was signed. “Sports should be for everyone to participate in, roller derby is an inclusive sport, and we will never accept discrimination on the basis of race, religion or citizenship.”

It isn’t just people who want to go to Eugene for the Big O, the uncertainty and fear created by these ill-considered travel restrictions is also killing our tourism industry.

Write a comment...