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Roller Derby Girl: Research

"The idea is simply this: to kick ass."

After visiting websites, blogs, and watching videos we have come across a lot of issues concerning the Roller Derby world. People have very strong negative and positive opinions about this sport. One of the main issues we encountered was this preconceived notion that these women are sometimes tattooed and pierced, but all types, shapes and sizes fill the rink. The concern takes place in the clothing, names, the overall facade that these women portray. Their punk nature often leads people in a negative direction, but really once you look closer, these women portray a sense of strength, friendship, and competition.

"Some have criticized roller derby as relying too heavily on shtick or sex appeal, but for many participants highlighting their sex appeal or kitschy fun adds to the value in the sport. Derby girls may be embracing their femininity in the form of funky (and often skimpy) outfits, but they are undeniably strong and fierce, evoking Kali on wheels. This duality is, to me, evidence of how far we’ve come: why shouldn’t our sexuality and our strength be displayed simultaneously..."- Younger Women's Task Force

The Women
The best part of the sport is not the pushing or the speed on the track- it is the women that fill the skates. These women are moms, lawyers, students, and teachers. They find this sport as a way of individualism and a way to focus on themselves outside of their families or school. There is a wide range of females that make up these teams. They have a punk aesthetic in which some girls are tattooed and pierced but all shapes, sizes, and types fill the rink. All body types are welcomed because there is a place and purpose for everyone. These women love the thrill of experiencing a new hobby, understanding a new devotion to only themselves, and friendship. These women make roller derby their lives. Often many of the team members haven't been to a skating rink since middle school, but everyone is welcomed with open arms at a chance to take part. Veterans are the ones encouraging and helping the newcomers. Roller derby is giving younger women a sense of purpose and pride, but also a way to have stronger self image through the mind and body. It serves as a outlet for stress and place for women to connect on a completely new level. 

1. Camaraderie
2. Individualism
3. Pride
4. Purpose
5. Outlet for relieving stress

6. Respect
7. Acceptance
8. Self- Expression
9. Outlet 
10. Dedication 

Roller Derby was invented by sports promoter Leo Seltzer in 1935 in Chicago, Illinois. Seltzer created the Transcontinental Roller Derby in effort to bring more attractions to the Chicago Coliseum. Roller derby began as a co-ed endurance race, modeled after dance marathon and bike races that were popular in the 30's. By the 1960's roller derby evolved into a full contact team sport with a large spectator fan base. However, due to economic downturns in the 1970's, the official league was brought to a halt.

Today's roller derby was as a result of a resurgence that started in Austin, Texas and had started to spread across the country throughout this decade. Due to it's DIY entertainment value mainstream media has helped in it's growth and popularity.

The Bout
What's a bout? A bout is what a match is called in roller derby terms. There are 3 types of players: Jammers (Stars on helmet and point scorers), Pivots (Stripes on helmets and sets the pace), and Blockers (Skate in packs, assists their jammer, and stops opposing jammer). Bouts are played in two periods of 30 minutes and point scoring occurs during "jams" which last for two minutes. During a jam, a team scores when their jammer laps a member of an opposing team. Each team's blockers may use body contact, changing positions, and other tactics to help their jammer to score while preventing the opposing team's jammer from passing. Certain types of blocks and plays are violations so referees can call penalties and require violators to spend time in a penalty box.

Here's a visual:



Roller Derby League & Resources:

Two Evils (Name Database)

Derby Life (Article on derby names)


Videos & Documentaries:

Hell On Wheels (Documentary)


Experimental Type, Reading Responses

IA, Reading Responses