When I was a kid, I remember watching roller derby, and enjoying the quick action as women raced around a track and tried to knock crap out of each other. In my adolescent mind I probably thought that the whole thing was just for show, but as an adult I know that Roller Derby is a real sport that requires a lot of really hard work.
Many of my wife’s siblings have been involved in Roller Derby for many years, and even my wife volunteered to help with a small team in her hometown. For fun last year, we attended a Minnesota Roller Girls bout, currently the main competitive team here in the State. It’s a lot of fun, and the entire family had a pretty good time watching. We also returned to my wife’s hometown to watch her sister’s team play on occasion.
Then this year, my wife’s sister got drafted to the Minnesota Roller Girls team, which solidified that we were going to be attending some bouts this year for sure. This past weekend was the first bout that my wife’s sister was in, and we dragged our 19 year old along for the fun of it. We had a great time watching the bout, and if you’ve never seen roller derby, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
The basic rules involve a “jammer” skater, who’s job is to get past all of the opposing team’s blockers (as many times as possible), as the whole group of skaters travels around the rink, counter-clockwise. Both teams have a jammer, and both teams have blockers, so the amount of strategy involved is great to watch. The players have split seconds to decide which way to move, and when to concentrate on blocking, or perhaps play offense to help your own jammer get further.
Each jam can only last 2 minutes, so the match is very fast paced, and there are very few breaks in the action. There are also amazing jumps, slides and crashes, as the players attempt to do their best to score points for their team. Thankfully, injuries don’t happen too often, but I’d be lying if I said that this was a completely safe sport.
Unfortunately, this past week, my sister-in-law’s team got defeated, but in a few more weeks there is another bout, and I’m betting this might be a regular event for us for the near future.