In a nutshell
Roller derby is an international sport; it is played by two teams on quad roller skates on an elliptical track in ‘jams’ that last up to two minutes each. Each team have up to five players on the track in each jam, including four blockers (one blocker is called the pivot and has a stripe on his/her helmet) and one jammer (who will have a star on his/her helmet). Each team will have one scoring player (which may be either the jammer or, under some circumstances, the pivot) who will earn points by passing opposing players on the track (without committing any penalties). Blockers skate together in a group, called ‘the pack’. Each team’s blockers will attempt to assist their own scorer in navigating the pack, while simultaneously trying to prevent the opposing scorer from making his/her way through the pack. Games are usually played in two 30-minute halves. The team with the most points at the conclusion of the game will be the winner.
The origins of roller derby date back to the 1930′s. Leo Seltzer, a promoter, hosted events where teams speed-skated around a track. This track was supposed to reflect the distance of a typical cross-country trip from LA to NYC. As these races continued, skaters began to knock each other over and off of the track, while others tried to knock other skaters over and weave through them. This excited the audience and Seltzer realized that there was more fun to be had in a contact sport. Thus began roller derby.
During the 1960′s, roller derby’s popularity peaked. It started to decline in TV ratings and on-location audiences. In 2001, a group of Texan women in Austin pushed roller derby into the limelight once again.
Today, roller derby is full-contact sport. Blocking, leaning, hitting and giving ‘whips’ (pushes or help to a teammate) are all common. The audience? They love it – not just for the entertainment, but because of the skills, techniques and strategies that are behind every league, team and bout.
Roller derby is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle. It allows people to build their confidence, their health and fitness, and their friendships.