For a long time, many people did not believe roller derby was a real sport. They thought it was like professional wrestling, because it had fake fighting and other things for TV. But in 2002, a group of women in Austin, Texas started playing it as a real game, with nothing fake. A TV show called Rollergirls was made about some of these women. By 2006, women in every big city in the USA and Canada were starting their own roller derby clubs. There were even clubs starting up in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
How roller derby is played [change]
Two teams of roller derby players skate around an oval track. The track can be flat or banked (raised up around the outer edges).
There are 5 players on each team:
- 1 jammer, who races around the track faster than the rest of the team
- 1 pivot, who usually stays in front of the blockers and make them go faster or slower
- 3 blockers, who try to keep the other team's jammer from passing them
The jammer is the only player that can score points. The jammer's team gets a point every time the jammer passes one of the other team's players. To score a point, the jammer has to play fair and stay on the track when they pass someone.
Jammers get a 2-minute time period, called a jam, when they can score points.
Before a jam starts the teams line up side-by-side: pivots first, then blockers behind them, then jammers farther back. The jam starts when a whistle blows. Then, everyone except the jammers start to skate around the track. They try to stay together in a "pack". Then another whistle blows, and the jammers try to catch up to pack. They have to get through the pack and go all the way around and catch up again before they can start scoring points.
The first jammer to get through the pack without leaving the track gets to be the "lead jammer". The lead jammer can put her hands on her hips when she wants to stop the jam early. Stopping the jam early keeps the other team from having time to score points.
Blockers and pivots try to help their own team's jammer get through the pack, and they try to slow down the other team's jammer. When the jammers are near the pack, everyone is allowed to bump into each other. If someone is trying to push someone from the other team out of the way, then they have to be careful how they do it. They can only push from the side, and they have to use their shoulders, the top part of their arms, their hips, or the top part of their legs—so tripping, shoving, punching, or pushing the other team's players from behind is not allowed.
Players who break the rules are kicked out of the game for a little while, and their team has to play without them.
Even with these rules and safety equipment, roller derby players can get knocked down and get badly hurt, so usually only adults play "full contact" roller derby. There are junior clubs for younger players. They play without trying to knock anyone down.
A roller derby game is called a match or a bout. It takes a certain amount of time, such as 60 or 90 minutes. The teams skate as many jams as they can until time runs out. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.