About Men’s Roller Derby

Though roller derby originally began as a coed sport, the modern incarnation of the sport is dominated by women. Initially, there was pushback when men began to play flat track roller derby, the most popular form of roller derby currently played. However, these days, both sexes have begun to work together for the betterment of the sport as a whole.

The Origins of Roller Derby

People first began strapping on skates and hitting each other back in the 1930s. Around 1939, skaters were broken up into two teams of five, and the teams collected points by lapping opponents. The games were held on banked tracks and much of the gameplay and violence was orchestrated for the purpose of entertaining the audiences.

Flat Track Roller Derby

In the early 2000s, flat track roller derby was born in Austin, Texas. The Texas Rollergirls created a version of the banked track game that was played on the much more economical flat track. Essentially, the physics of the banked track were reproduced on a two-dimensional surface. With the all-female led, punk rock/do-it-yourself aesthetic, flat track roller derby spread like wildfire. By 2005, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) had formed to organize all of the leagues and create a standardized ruleset.

The Birth of Men’s Flat Track Roller Derby

Men were always involved with flat track roller derby from the start, mainly as officials and coaches. However, it was not until 2006 that men’s teams began to form. In 2007, the first full-length men’s flat track roller derby bout took place between the New York Shock Exchange and the Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen. These two teams along with the Harm City Homicide would be the founding members of the Men’s Derby Coalition, the precursor to the Men’s Roller Derby Association.

The Men’s Roller Derby Association

The Men’s Roller Derby Association, or MRDA, is the international governing body for men’s flat track roller derby. There are currently more than 45 leagues from four different countries in MRDA. The Lane County Concussion joined MRDA in February of 2012. These days, MRDA and WFTDA work together on a variety of projects, and the two governing bodies share the same rules: The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.

Basic Game Play

In flat track roller derby, the bouts are made up of two 30-minutes halves. Each half is made up of a series of jams. There are two teams on the track at a time. Each team starts with four blockers and one jammer. The jammer wears a star cover over the helmet. They are able to score. The first jammer to make it through the pack of blockers is awarded “lead.” This means they can end the “jam” by repeatedly touching their hands to their hips. After the initial pass, the jammer gets a point for each opposing blocker they pass legally. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

When a player commits a penalty, they are whistled off the track and must head to the penalty box for 30 seconds. His team then skates shorthanded. It is illegal to hit with your elbows, head, forearms, knees, or lower legs. It is illegal to hit someone in the back, the head, and from the knees down. To learn more, click here.