Derby's origins go all the way back to the 1930s when promoter Leo Seltzer put on a show with teams skating on a track simulating the distance of a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to New York. Over the course of these races, people began to knock into each other as faster skaters began to lap the others and tried to weave through them. Seltzer realized that these collisions garnered the largest crowd response and the beginnings of derby as we know it today were beginning to be formulated.
Eventually, derby became a full-contact sport with checking, elbowing, and fighting; and the crowd was loving it. Derby's popularity grew to a sustained peak in from the 1950s-1970s, but started to decline in both television ratings and crowd pull. A couple attempts to resurrect the sport were made, including an inline skate version in the 1990s. It wasn't until a group of hard-working and forward-thinking women in Austin, Texas came together in 2001 that modern women's flat-track derby was born!
For a more in-depth treatise on roller derby history, we highly recommend this Wikipedia roller derby article.
ROLLER DERBY 101
Many aspects of the sport are similar to the original version. The pack is still made up of five skaters on two teams, including a jammer who laps the pack to earn points. We also still use four-on-the-floor quad speed skates. The sport has many rules and if you break them you get a visit to the penalty box or worse!
With each season strategies and tactics change and evolve but the basics always remain the same! If you'd like to use this video for a bout or website please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The vast majority of today's leagues play on a flat track instead a banked (sloped) track like in the past. This gives them the flexibility to play in any space that is large enough and doesn't have posts in the track area. This new batch of leagues that have formed all around the country are primarily skater-owned, all-female, and for the most part all the work that goes into forming and running the organization is done by the players.