Participating in the derby, be it as a player, a ref, or a fan, is a great opportunity to make new friends, learn a few skills and begin to understand the deeper strategic meanings in derby life.
Certainly, people of any age, any background and any socioeconomic status will know that the derby is low-cost, high energy fun. People who haven’t been a part of the roller derby economy or social niche, however, might not understand what it is that keeps people coming back.
After seeing their first tournament, many people are drawn to the sport, and find it enjoyable to watch, but simply don’t get why some of us are willing to dedicate so much time and energy to the sport.
When I was a very young man, roller derby was not a popular sport. It wasn’t until roller derby went through its first renaissance in the US in the 1970s that I was introduced to it as a way to meet people. Being somewhat shy and solitary, I had a small circle of friends, and one of the people I was close to was an active participant in the roller derby of the day.
She went by the derby name Trojan Herse, and her best skills were in the area of team leadership. Alas, her opportunity to rise to the top of her team and make sure her mates succeeded in destroying their opposition was cut tragically short when she suffered a serious spinal injury during her 12th tournament.
Even when this happened to someone close to me, I was unsure why there would be an impact of loss to the elimination of the roller derby from her life. Little did I know what was around the corner for me.