Pushing, shoving, bumping and falling are always seen in this sport, which is often referred to as rugby on wheels.
Roller Derby, a sport mostly dominated by women, is all about getting down and dirty on the track while trying to lap the opposing team.
Two teams of five are on the track during the battle and of course helmets and pads are a requirement in this sport.
Roller Derby does have some pre-conceived notions by most people when they think of the sport.
“There are actually pretty solid rules around hitting, blocking and being knocked out. People often think it’s a no holds-barred kind of sport, but in reality there is a strict enforcement of rules. You can’t hit someone in the face, even if you really want to…” said Maddie Foley of the Tucson Saddlebrat roller derby league.
Another popular stereotype that the skaters get is that people want to know if roller derby is real. Often back in the 70s and 80s roller derby was rehearsed and was put on as more of a show then a sport.
The Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association, which governs all teams and rules of the sport, said that the roller derby seen today is looked at as a sport not a spectacle. The skaters train every week and take roller derby seriously as a sport and they are the athletes. .
Each team has one scoring player, also known as the jammer, the remaining four players act as blockers toward the other team. How each team accumulates points is when the jammer laps members of the opposing team. Each game is played in two periods of 30 minutes.
Many are also curious about the unique names that each skater takes on. “The derby names came about to give us an “alter ego” that we can be outside of our regular lives. A friend of mine who also plays for Tucson Roller Derby is a public defender who has a very different life outside of roller derby. In a sense, the derby name gives me the strength to be more tough and outgoing, which is not how I am in real life at all,” said Yoohyun Jung, an avid roller derby skater.
Since roller derby is becoming so popular the sport that is mostly dominated by women has now opened up to some male teams as well. There are approximately more then 1,200 teams worldwide participating in roller derby today.
If interested in joining a roller derby team the basics to get started include, a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads and speed style roller skates which generally range from $150 to $500 depending on the quality of equipment purchased.
If throwing a few elbows while skating a track does not sound appealing but something you’d like to watch check out The Womans Flat Track Derby Association for a complete schedule of roller derby events around your town.