Dear Irene Casey, Crossword puzzle creator,
I'm normally not one of those nit-picky people who gets all wrapped up in semantics and is easily offended by an incorrect phrasing. However, your crossword puzzle "Failing Grades" (published on 10/8/10 in the Boston Globe) really failed with me.
Take a look at 14-Across. A 5-letter word for "What a roller derby queen throws." What's your answer? ELBOW.
If you take a look at the Women's Flat Track Derby Association Rules, you will see in rule 6.4 that use of elbows is not allowed in roller derby. Heck, even banked track derby doesn't allow elbows, according to the Bay City Bombers. Maybe it was back in the day, and perhaps that's what you meant by "roller derby queen," but today's roller derby is different. The queens of today throw BLOCKS, not elbows.
I wouldn't be so picky about this, except that I'm tired of explaining that roller derby has evolved and is different from the derby on TV that the old-timers remember. Roller derby has moved away from the drama and the story lines and the fighting, and it's turned into a legitimate sport, where the outcome isn't pre-determined. The roller derby queens of yesterday were fantastic, but the skaters of today are taking the sport to an entirely new level. It doesn't help when people like you continue to perpetuate the myths that derby girls (and their officials, which includes me) are trying so hard to shed.
Next time you write a crossword puzzle, please check your facts. Even though a crossword is entertainment, it's also a learning tool, and it should be as accurate as possible.
cc: Timothy Parker, editor