About 10 years ago, I briefly dated a roller derby skater. After we weren’t together I still checked it out online now and then, but haven’t for quite a while.
Well wife has been itching for a new “thing” and it occurred to me that it might be up her alley, so I looked in to it again today.
I may be mis-remembering, but I think the entire activity changed. What I remember is what you would imagine: actually skating around in circles. From what I’ve seen of recent matches, it’s pretty static and looks more like a rugby scrum that over in about 40 seconds and moves about 10 yards before they reset and do it again.
So it went from fun and dynamic to watch, to basically watching paint dry. On skates.
I’ve watched it in person multiple times over the last probably 6 years or so. I’ve never seen it be the way you describe – like a rugby scrum. I don’t really see how that would be possible without fouls.
Most of what you see now are women’s leagues on a flat oval. About 6 years ago in Santa Cruz I went to an old-school roller derby with a banked track, (mostly older) men and women, staged stunts, and theatrical trash talk. It was a hoot until the paramedics arrived to take away a skater with neck injuries. The derby had to be called and we all went home early. I got the feeling I was watching the end of an era.
A jam usually starts out like a scrum as the jammers fight to get through the initial blockers. Once one of them breaks through, the whole pack often starts skating to keep the jammer from passing them too much (and therefore scoring points). There’s still blocking, but the jammer has speed so you see a lot more acrobatic moves to get through instead of the brute-force pushing. You can still get scrum-style blockages if the defense resets.
This video is pretty typical of the games I’ve seen, and I don’t think it’s changed in the 10 years I’ve gone. Your links aren’t working, so I can’t compare them.
My daughter plays roller derby, or did until she decided to make me an upcoming grandpa, and it’s legit. I’ve watched a number of matches since she’s started, yet still have no idea what I’m watching or how scoring works.* But I get to watch my daughter skate and have fun and hit people (or be hit) like I used to when I played hockey (many many decades ago) and drink beer.
*Don’t bother explaining. It’s been tried many times. I zone out after about 8 seconds of explanation now, down from 30 seconds initially.
Just remembered a movie about women’s roller derby: Whip It, with Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig, and Drew Barrymore:
Great fun. It’s banked-track, not flat track, and apparently an honest contest between two teams (as presented in the movie), and well worth a watch if you’re interested in roller derby. It also does a good job of explaining the rules of the game.
When EPSN did their “Ocho” day one year they did show a flat track roller derby championship. I assumed it was legit based on the fact that it was much more boring than the days of the banked tracks and soap opera storylines.