The History of Roller Derby

Roller Derby was one of three major league sports created in America. Invented by Leo Seltzer, Roller derby currently appears internationally. Roller Derby is a roller-skating race-like sport where skaters acquire points by passing and blocking opponents.

The sport first appeared as a marathon in Chicago in the 1930’s. Male and female skaters simulated a cross-country marathon race by circulating on a banked surface thousands of times until either fatigue or completion of the race. The invention of roller derby also brought jobs to depression-era jobless. Derby was a lifesaver, offering work, food, and shelter.

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following the derby debut, the transcontinental roller went on the road to different cities across the United States. Similar to a traveling circus, in each city the “rink” was set up and later torn down before going to another.

After years of marathon contests, roller derby eventually turned into a team sport. Co-ed teams of five skaters would circle banks in packs using a jammer to lap opponents and accumulate points. Roller derby was the first sport where men and women played by the same rules.

Roller derby today includes co-ed, women’s and men’s teams who represent cities worldwide. There are tens of thousand of skaters who currently compete. Along with the thousands of skaters come hundreds of thousands of loyal followers of roller derby.

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