Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Roller Derby

(Mark holding up one of the "posters" for his co-worker, Breen, who plays) 
Two weekends ago Mark and I watched one of his co-workers' roller derby matches. This was the 2nd match we've watched this year...or ever for that matter (other than back in the day on TV), and I have to admit, it is a very unique and entertaining sport to watch. The most mind boggling part of this sport is that it was the only sport I could think of that doesn't invlove an object of some sort (ie. bat, raquet, stick, ball, puck, etc.), is team based, and yet is still incredibly physical and competitive.

If you've never heard of this sport before, basically it goes likes this:
You have teams on roller skates (yes, skates, not blades), and each team has a "jammer," which is marked by a star on their helmet (the jammer can change each round). In order to accumulate points, the objective is to get your own teams jammer around the track, and more specifically through the pack of opposing team members, as many times as possible, whilst staying ahead of the other teams jammer.

Of course, there is an abundance of miscellaneous rules, which I am still learning. But here are a few that I've picked up on:
-The current lead jammer can "stop the play" at any time in order to prevent the other teams jammer from overtaking the lead position
-Each team has an "alternate jammer" marked by a stripe on their helmet (can change each round) which, during a round, the original jammer is allowed to pass their "jammer star" onto in order to advance the play and accumulation of points
-If the jammer gets knocked out of bounds (happens often), they must retreat behind the furthest rear player from the opposing team and then continue their attempt to progress around the track
-You are allowed to "jump the track" as long as your take off and landing point are within the boundaries of the track
-Physical rules: no elbowing, no grabbing, etc. (it's basically just body a lot of shoulders and hips)

Again, I can't stress enough, how interesting the dynamic of this sport is. It's neat to watch the variation of offensive vs. defensive strategy in order to either help your own teams jammer to pass through the pack, or preventing the opposing teams jammer from getting through the pack. The physical body maneuvers are very similar regardless, however, it's how the teams coordinate themselves within the pack to make the best progression which I find so entertaining.

Also, another interesting point, is that there is an abundance of referees, 5 or 6 if I'm not mistaken. A head ref who starts and stops the play, two jammer refs (each one watches one teams jammer), and then a couple others who are watching the "pack" to ensure all proper conduct is being followed (i.e. no grabbing or you know, eye gouging! Hehe!)

I'm not sure if it's just because of the nature of the physicality of the sport or because it's on roller skates (a kind of dated item), or what, but I am a little saddened that this sport isn't more popular. I highly recommend that you check it out if you can find it in your area! You definitely won't be bored!

What do you think about Roller-Derby?


  1. It looks fun, exciting and brutal! I'm certain I'd be falling all over the place. Have you seen the movie Whip It? I had this tiny urge to try to do it after watching it and if you enjoy roller derby you will like it! It was a good movie anyway.

    1. No I've never seen it, but I think I'm going to have to now!