Flat track roller derby is a fast-paced contact team sport that requires speed, strategy, and athleticism. The flat track version of the sport evolved in 2001, and has quickly grown to encompass more than 400 leagues worldwide. This is in large part due to the ease of setting up a flat track -it can be done on any flat surface that is suitable for skating, such as skating rinks, basketball courts, parking lots, and even airplane hangars. This greatly reduces the capital needed to start up a roller derby league, and allows small groups of people to get a fledgling league off the ground. The DIY spirit that drives the sport allows roller derby leagues to create their own unique identities and adapt their structures to reflect their local communities.
The roller derby you may have watched in the 70s and early 80s was often scripted and rehearsed. The roller derby of today is thought of as more of a sport than a spectacle. The skaters involved are athletes and take the sport very seriously. They train hard every week. One reason there are so many referees rolling around is to enforce the rules, which are in place to protect athletes’ safety and preserve fairness. Among other things, skaters are not allowed to elbow, punch, grab, head butt, trip, or shove the opposing team. There are still plenty of hard hits, hard falls, and fast action.
Roller derby is played on classic quad-skates. A roller derby game, also known as a bout, consists of two 30-minute periods during which the two opposing teams try to score as many points as possible; the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Each team has only one point-scorer on the track at a time, she is known as the jammer. It is the jammer’s job to pass through the pack of other skaters, known as blockers, to earn one point for each opposing blocker that she passes legally and in-bounds.
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