What follows is a fairly short and sharp overview of where Roller Derby stemmed from and how it has evolved into the roller sport it has become today.
HISTORY: Background and History of Roller Derby
Roller derby is a full contact, fast spaced, adrenaline filled sport played by two teams of five members on quad roller boots skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short match ups ("jams") in which both teams designate a scoring player (the "jammer") who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer whilst hindering the opposing jammer—in effect, playing both offence and defence simultaneously.
Roller derby is played by approximately 1,250 amateur leagues worldwide, nearly half of them outside the U.S. Although it is predominately an all female sport, there are quickly becoming different branches such as ‘Merby’ (Men’s Roller Derby) and Co-Ed (a combination of both) evolving and not only this, the first Roller Derby World Cup also took place in December 2011, with England finishing in 3rd position.
There is now talk of Roller Derby being introduced into the Olympics for 2016, whilst European Tournaments and American events have already been planned to take place on an annual basis. With more than 70 Leagues (each having one to four teams each) just in the UK alone means that this is definitely roller skating’s biggest growth sport.
Though the sport has its origins in the banked-track roller skating marathons of the 1930's,Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon are credited with the basic evolution of the sport to its initial competitive form. Professional roller derby quickly became popular; in 1940 more than 5 million spectators watched in about 50 US cities. In the ensuing decades, however, it predominantly became a form of sports entertainment where the theatrical elements overshadowed the athleticism. This gratuitous showmanship largely ended with the sport's contemporary grass roots revival in the first decade of the 21st century.Although some sports entertainment qualities such as player pseudonyms and colourful uniforms were retained, scripted bouts with predetermined winners were abandoned.