Roller Derby History

  liberté, égalité, sororité

Équipes de Paris Roller Derby

Roller Derby came about in the 1930s, amidst the Great Depression in America. Leo Seltzer, a Chicago sports promoter invented roller derby after reading that over ninety percent of Americans had roller-skated at least once. Seltzer also realized that sports demographics were lacking female participation and interest. Roller derby originally started as endurance races. Twenty- thousand people came for the first Transcontinental Derby competition, where teams of two, one man one woman, skated 57,000 laps around a flat track. There was a large map with small lights to track the skaters’ progress, symbolizing the route from New York to San Diego, California. The 2,700 miles on average took more than three weeks for a skater to complete.

In 1937, Seltzer feared that the laps were getting repetitive. He teamed up with sportswriter Damon Runyon to create a new structs of derby that is still seen today. This new idea of roller derby involved physical aggression, including players putting each other in headlocks at high speeds. The audience loved the aggressive nature and entertainment as often it would lead to fistfights..

One of the unique aspects of derby is that it has been inclusive since the beginning. Leagues were co-ed, although men and women only played against their respective genders. However, men and women played by the same rules, which is huge. Even today most sports have different rules for women vs. men. Roller derby pushes against female norms, and breaks down stereotypes of women. When roller derby came to be popular early in the 21st century, women were often criticized. Women participating in a sport, especially an aggressive one was seen as immoral. Although it was a largely female- dominated sport, pay inequality was a large issue as women derby athletes got paid $10,000- $15,000 less than men. By the 1960s, roller derby was a televised event and had a large following. Now, roller derby is an international sport dominated by women’s clubs. Roller Derby has always been a sport that promotes breaking stereotypes and inclusive for all..
“This is the only American sport ever created where men and women are equal,” Leo Seltzer told The New York Times in 1971. “The women can see themselves in the roller derby.” In France, out of just over 100 teams, only about ten are made up of men and rely on a female structure. The first leagues in France were born in Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Paris.

Anaïs Le Belle aka Bonnie Tagueule is a Roller Derby player at Paris Roller Derby. Anaïs spoke on how roller derby made her feel, saying, “It's a feeling between stress and excitement. I'm always very eager to play. Always the desire to progress and the desire to build something beautiful individually and collectively.” You can read the full article with her interview here. She also broke down the game into the basics, found below.


Here are the basics of the rules of roller derby:

- Roller derby is a team sport, in quad (roller skates) and contact.

- The principle: Two teams (consisting of a maximum of 15 skaters) compete on a track (flat oval track).

- In the game, on the track, there is one attacker for each team (jammer) and four defenders for each team as well (blocker) there is no ball.

- To score points, the jammer must pass the hips of each blocker and one point is earned per blocker passed.

- A match is 2x30 minutes of play with a 15 minute break and is broken down into periods of 2 minutes maximum called "jams". And if there are fouls whistled, it's a 30 second penalty in Penalty Box.

- The team that wins is the one that scores the most points!

Sources :

New Account Register

Already have an account?
Log in instead Or Reset password