There’s been a “12 Reasons you should watch roller derby” buzzfeed article floating around. Guess what, folks? Some of it they got right! Some of it they got eeeehhhhh…..
So I’m rebooting this blog! It was one my first popular article on Examiner.I’ve re-written some of the explanations, but I’ve kept the headlines the same. 2010 derby or 2015 derby, these are still the 10 reasons you should watch roller derby. (PS Most derby leagues still don’t have seating, so you may want to pick up a Coleman Stadium Seat for your comfort at the game.)
The WOW factor
How many of your friends watch roller derby? If the answer is “many”, then maybe there is something to this. Maybe they have an in on something. If your answer is “none”, you can introduce your circle to the fast-growing sport on the planet. How cool does that make you look? Roller derby is a completely unique, high-impact sport that is totally inclusive of age, gender, nationality, etc. It is an international phenomenon that grows every year. The speed, power, and finesse on 8 wheels is enough to keep you entertained, even if your local team isn’t allowed to sell beer.
The social works of derby teams
Roller derby teams are often non-profit organizations themselves; regardless you will find your local teams out at charity events and raising money for good causes at their home bouts. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised worldwide for charities. Whether promoting suicide prevention, helping wounded animals, collecting for homeless shelters, promoting love as love, or helping a city rebuild after tragedy, derby has covered the spectrum of charitable causes.
These are athletes. Teams practice between two and six times a week, and the participants work out beyond their practice limits. Yoga, crossfit, powerlifting, Spartan Races, aerial silks… the cross-training of roller derby knows no limits. Impressed by your favorite hockey player doing fancy footwork and scoring points? Wait until you see Rollomite of Your Mom dance through the pack effortlessly. Get hyped up by your favorite safety playing all over the field defense? Watch Lunch Lady of the Tampa Tantrums crush the hopes and dreams of her opponents. The feats of agility and pure strength on display at any bout (whether it’s the Rose City Rollers or Race City Rebels).
“Any Given Sunday”
Just like in any other mainstream sport, roller derby has the “any given Sunday” mantra. The Oly Rollers came out of nowhere in their first season as a WFTDA* team, and took the Hydra as the underdog. It is possible for any team to sweat and bleed their way to beating a giant of roller derby. Tournament play has seen a lot of international teams come in and shock the world with their undeniable strength. Teams from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia have been doing damage in WFTDA and MRDA** rankings the past few years.
Less expensive than a movie date
An American movie date can easily breach $75 (IMAX anyone?). Yes, there are some places that offer beer or full entrees (thank you Charm City). Yes, buying merch will up the final cost, but most teams still play in roller rinks with small concessions and bake sales. A derby date can easily stay under $30! Derby encourages interaction and conversation, whether you are with one person or a group. It’s way better than sitting awkwardly in a dark theatre with your Tinder date. Bring them to derby!
The roller derby community is a very inclusive place; if it’s a tailgate kind of bout, get a group together and hang out beforehand. Groups often mix and mingle. Don’t know what’s going on during the game? Ask the people beside you! Regardless of the side you are rooting for, everyone is super friendly and inclusive. You will make friends in the fans, the refs, and the league members themselves at bouts and events. Labels and judgement have no place in our house, so come one. Come all.
Direct interaction with athletes
How many sports teams offer one-on-one time with their athletes? Every bout and after party is a meet and greet, and leagues host events throughout the year where you can meet your favorite skaters. You can catch up with league scores from those directly involved, and can really feel like a part of the organization even as a fan. Websites like Flat Track Stats even gives you chance to follow how your favorite teams are doing, even if the team hasn’t received official sanctioning ranking yet!
Mainstream sports are chuck full of big characters, and roller derby does not disappoint. It is not make-up and fishnets that define big characters: it’s the heart, soul, blood and tears that they pour into their work. Big characters in derby are the big hits, the big jams, and acrobats on skates. Whether your team matches in black compression pants, or dons old school rainbow scale DerbySkinz, you will see the personalities on skates.. and off skates. The announcers of roller derby are some of the most colorful characters you can imagine, and are super knowledgeable about the game. So make friends with them!
You might find a new love
Skaters, refs, NSOs***, announcers, and coaches have to come from somewhere. Often, they come from the audience. Fans, friends of the fans, and the munchkins of fans are the future of roller derby. Even if you never end up skating, your support is vital to your league. Being a fan and posting about the games, inviting your friends to the events, watching WFTDA.tv, watching the YouTube archives of bouts… it spreads the goodwill of derby to people outside of the community who may never have heard of derby before. Or, maybe they went to a game three years ago and “have been meaning to return”; maybe you reminded them to spend a Saturday night at the rink.
It’s just plain FUN
The excitement is infectious. Regardless of your familiarity with the sport, the skill and strength of roller derby pulls you in. It is impossible to resist cheering as your jammer breaks through the pack. Try not to flinch when your team knocks an apex jump out of the air. The more you learn about your league, the more fun you will have each bout. The only way to learn more, though, is to go!
If you have been pushing off attending a roller derby bout, it’s time to get off of Facebook and go.
Friends, excitement, and real social networks await you at the rink. Youtube offers some great fan tutorials, or just inquire about the game from the skater walking around holding an “ASK ME ABOUT DERBY” sign. Spend some time at your local games. You’ll be cheering more than at a Marvel movie, you’ll get closer to the action than nosebleed seats at Lincoln Financial, and you’ll build relationships that you cannot build anywhere else.
*Women’s Flat Track Derby Association
**Men’s Roller Derby Association