By Jamie Rieger
Some of you may already know that my daughter, Carmen has been playing roller derby for the Gas City Rollers for quite a while now.
I often get asked if the roller derby of today is anything like the wild, televised roller derby a lot of us watched on TV on Saturday afternoons back in the 1970s. Well, yes and no.
The contemporary rules of the game, developed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, are pretty much the same. Each team has five players on the track at a time, a jammer and four blockers. In a nutshell, the jammer tries to rack up points by skating around the track as the blockers use various tactics, including body contact, to assist their jammer while trying to block the opponent’s jammer from scoring.
There are plenty of rules the girls have to follow. People may remember the old roller derby on TV where it was quite common to see a player take an opponent down by a good yank of the hair. Actions like that would land a player in the penalty box by today’s rules. Clean body hits are allowed and the girls have to be careful about not how high their arms and elbows are and where on the opponent they are laying the hit. Violations will result in a penalty or even an ejection from the game.
So, this is quite different than the roller derby of the 1970s where the games seemed to not have any rules whatsoever. That can partly be blamed on some of the management and broadcasters of the day who were attempting to increase viewer numbers by making the games appear more violent. At the end, the games were completely scripted.
Not so today, roller derby has strict regulations and has been making a resurgence and has more than 1,200 amateur leagues worldwide.
Also, those televised games were played on a banked track, and I am sure there still some games played that way in larger centres, all of the games in this area are played on a flat track.
Last weekend, my daughter played a game with the Swift Current Redneck Betties in Rapid City, South Dakota. That’s a long way to travel for a single game, but Carmen was pretty stoked about it all.
The Canadian girls thoroughly beat the Americans on their turf and Carmen (derby name is WykydTron) was named MVP blocker.
Back on Canadian soil, the girls can relax for a day or two before they get back to the training and practices to prepare for their next game.