Roller Derby Madness
This weekend, Joyce and I, along with several friends, visited the famous Coney Island in New York. Navigating around hot dog toting (Nathan’s… yum!) sun worshippers and beer guzzling shirtless men on the boardwalk is nothing short of a contact sport!
Our destination, though, was to witness a different sort of contact sport – a woman’s roller derby match at the Abe Stark Arena. Hyped up by our friend Bill as a frolicking great time, we purchased tickets for the Wall Street Traitors vs. Ithaca Sufferjets and The Gotham All Stars vs. Pittsburgh Steel Hurtin’ double header match.
Being roller derby virgins, we knew very little about the sport. After watching a few rounds, the concept seemed simple enough. Two teams of five people roller skate around a track in the same direction while referees on an inner track monitor the progress and call the plays.
The teams each designate an offensive scorer, known as a “jammer.” The jammer is typically the fastest and most maneuverable skater on the team. The remaining four team members are called “blockers.”
The objective of the jammer is to first make her way around the track until she has lapped the pack. The first jammer to complete this lap unscathed becomes the lead jammer. She goes on to scores points by passing members of the opposing team. The blockers on the opposing team attempt to hinder the jammer’s progress by bumping her out of bounds or slowing her advancement through other blocking strategies.
Even if you don’t understand the finite details of the roller derby playbook, the sport is nothing short of a blast to watch (especially when drinking beer1) There’s a ton of gritty physical contact and the commitment to play was absolutely evident on the faces of all players.
Once a fringe sport, roller derby has generated a committed following world-wide and is even being considered as a new event in the 2020 Olympics.
If you’re interested in checking out a match, simply Google “roller derby schedule” to find an event near you.