Paramedics walked hurriedly toward the athlete, rolling a stretcher as hundreds of people looked on. The crowd watched as they discussed the situation with the injured athlete and the medical volunteers who attend every bout. As the paramedics took their patient to the ambulance, people clapped in support. Only a few minutes later, the serious mood changed and the crowd cheered as the two teams skated back on the track.
With players using derby names like Shock Therapy, Buster Up, and Kamikaze Kim and team names like Grave Danger and Throttle Rockets, you know it’s a rough sport. I watched a rugby match in college, and this was way more intense. The injured athlete, Oh So Final (#26 for the Sockit Wenches), ended up needing surgery for “a broken right fibula and dislocated ankle” (according to this article posted by the Rat City Rollergirls (RCRG), the flat-track female roller derby league in Seattle.
Roller derby, I learned from my friend (who just made the roster on one of the RCRG teams!), has a history of being scripted entertainment like some TV wrestling shows, but has left that behind and is establishing itself as a legitimate sport. The basic idea is that two teams skate around the track, attempting to help one of their teammates to pass the other team as many times as possible. The announcer did give explanations of some of the game play, but like any sport, there are a lot of other rules and exceptions. If it’s your first time watching roller derby, I suggest going with someone who knows the rules (like I did) or reading up before and asking questions to fans who seem like they know what’s going on.
It was fun to learn about a new sport and spend time with fans who were that excited. I also enjoyed the sense of humor, from the silly jokes the announcers told, to some of the skaters’ derby names (like Jill Nye the Science Guy, Mayja Look, and Patience Grasshopper). It’s an exciting sport to watch, and easy to pick up the basic rules, so it’s very accessible to a first-timer. While I wouldn’t want to skate in a roller derby bout, I would recommend watching one for an interesting bucket list experience.
Have you been to a roller derby bout? What was your experience?
Resource for your own list:
Read the basic rules of roller derby at the Rat City Rollergirls website, and then find a bout near you at one of the leagues in the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association).
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