Because of my passion for flying the Birmingham Roller, during the past 10 years or so, I have dedicated many of my personal resources to supporting the roller hobby in many ways, including internet roller sites. I do this because I believe they are good for the hobby in providing an avenue for communicating and sharing with each other our experiences in the breeding and training of rollers, and providing an educational experience for us all. My personal support of roller internet sites has taken the form of donating birds, cash donations, participating extensively in discussions and debates in chat rooms and forum discussions, and providing announcements and communications from the World Cup and the National Birmingham Roller Club in my role as a Regional Director, National Fly Director, Vice-President, and President. This is especially true of the roller site “Roller World”.
Today, the internet abounds with Face book pages, internet forums and chat rooms, all dedicated to the Birmingham Roller hobby. “Roller World” evolved as an early leader in providing a place for roller enthusiasts to communicate with fellow hobbyists around the world about the breeding, training and flying of the Birmingham Roller, as well as providing discussion forums about issues that confront roller enthusiasts. This has included the politics of the roller hobby and roller organizations, as well; primarily the National Birmingham Roller Club and the World Cup. At one point in time, Roller World was a neutral and cordial site, and an informative one; with only the occasional passionate discourse that threatened the civility of the site, and that occurring primarily due to the fact that it is not moderated.
Unfortunately, over time, we have all observed that the communication on Roller World has become more negative, more intimidating, and more threatening. A thug-mentality has now turned Roller World into something much more sinister in its agenda. Fewer and fewer individuals are contributing to the discussions, as the intensity and aggression has increased. Contributions from European roller enthusiasts have practically dried up completely. Profane and vulgar attacks on individuals who express their personal opinions are commonplace and often degenerate into personal threats, ridicule, name-calling, and intimidation. Unfortunately, Roller World has degenerated from an international discussion site for the Birmingham Roller to one that is dedicated primarily to West Coast activities, and primarily to supporting and reporting on local club events and pigeon sales. This, in itself, is a relatively harmless function. But we also can see a more negative role that has been assumed by key participants on Roller World in attacking and criticizing the NBRC as an organization, as well as its officers, at every possible opportunity.
This anti-NBRC sentiment seems to have evolved, first, as a result of the NBRC Executive Committee decisions requiring that all NBRC regions in the US define their borders with permanent boundaries rather than using club memberships as boundaries; and, secondly, as the result of admissions among Californians that some fliers regularly and routinely cheat in World Cup and National Championship competitions by flying the same kits twice. The NBRC Executive Committee, which consists of the Regional Directors of all the US regions and the officers of the NBRC, made necessary changes in response to the concerns of its members across the nation. But certain individuals have taken things personally, in their failed attempt to convince a majority of the members of the NBRC to chart a different course in their efforts to resolve these issues. And now it appears that some individuals who were active on Roller World, also do not feel that it is fair that Californians be required to compete on the same level playing field as the rest of the country. This has culminated in Roller World’s attempt to organize a boycott of the 2015 NBRC National Championship Fly in the foolhardy notion that NBRC competition cannot exist without them.
However, I want to emphasize that not all Californians support these efforts that have been initiated using Roller World as the instrument of spreading propaganda to further this agenda. I have many friends in California, and have attended more NBRC Conventions; seen more kits in the air in California than in any other state . Most all of them do not agree with the anti-NBRC position that Roller World has taken on these issues, and most of them do not cheat.
Whereas, in the past, Roller World remained relatively neutral in the discussions, making the site more unbiased and more credible, there is now evidence that the site administrator often manipulates the information that the readers who visit Roller World are able to read, by screening certain posts in order to promote an anti-NBRC agenda and attacks on its Executive Committee and its officers. For example, as President, a few weeks ago, I posted a report on the success of the NBRC Convention in North Carolina, planning to add pictures, announce the members who had received awards, etc. as I have done on Roller World many years in the past. Within 24 hours, the site administrator had removed this post; apparently since it communicated the positive side of membership in the NBRC, and did little to support this anti-NBRC agenda. Both myself and the 9A posted information about the NCF competition in 9A on roller World. This too was removed by the site administrator, which resulted in fliers in the region who wanted to participate being misinformed by Roller World and thinking that the entire region was not participating in the competition. As a result, they were left out.
Roller World is now being used to launch a number of accusations, ridicule, and profane attacks on the President of the NBRC, as well as continuing to spread gossip and misinformation in general, and specifically with Region 9A’s participation and reporting in the 2015 NCF. It has used rumors and misinformation that are currently being posted on Roller World in an all out attack to attempt to discredit some of the fliers and the new RD in Region 9A, as well as the NBRC President. NBRC members can all take comfort in the knowledge that the NBRC National Fly Director, Don Macauley and myself, as President, has investigated these accusations and found that the inaccurate reporting was simply an error; a transposition of the scores of the last two fliers on the report. There was no cheating, false reporting,or cover-ups etc. as Roller World reported as fact from their “reputable sources” The judge, the flier and the RD have all confirmed that the flier who had not flown was reported to have received the zero and the flier who had flown was reported to have received the dnf when the opposite was true. There was no benefit to the region whatsoever to reverse those scores. It was an obvious simple error. But Roller World was intent on creating havoc and confusion, intent on creating suspicion and distrust to further its anti-NBRC rhetoric and agenda rather than providing meaningful and truthful information. There will be those who ignore the truth and the facts, and will persist in their conspiracy theories. So be it. The failure of the boycott endorsed and supported by Roller World ultimately resulted in some of its fliers who wanted to fly not having the opportunity to do so. Roller World has, unfortunately, become a negative force in the roller hobby, and it is doing a real disservice to the fliers in California who used to depend on it as a reliable source of information.
The collapse of civility on Roller World is regrettable. If the truth be known, the root cause is probably the fear that the NBRC’s efforts to thwart the cheating in the area and level the playing field among all the regions is likely to have an impact on the success of certain rollers families in competitions and decrease the demand and the resulting sales of certain families of rollers. Be that as it may, I will no longer be participating on Roller World, or responding to issues; either on behalf of the NBRC, or in defense of myself, on Roller World in response to any questions, attacks, ridicule, disrespect, or insinuations. I am not intimidated by these tactics. I am merely choosing to walk the paths of my life with different partners, especially with regard to the roller hobby.
Personally, I encourage each of you to do the same. If you are the type of person that enjoys conflict and aggression, then by all means, go for it; damn and hell your colleagues in the sport and arrogantly proclaim you profound expertise in the hobby to the exclusion of all others on Roller World. But, as an individual, if you do not support the kinds of activities you see on Roller World, you should let the site administrator know how you feel by refusing to participate or donate. If you do not appreciate the fact that you cannot express your opinions on Roller World for fear of being attacked, let them know by withdrawing your profile page as I am doing, and by going to any number of other qualified roller sites to make your contributions, share your experiences, and ask you questions. Let Roller World know that each of us has valuable experience in the hobby to share with each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect on the internet, and that we all expect to be treated accordingly. Let Roller World know that here is no room for this kind of activity in the roller hobby…this is not the kind of roller site that we need in our hobby.