1. It’s adults only. I should admit that pretty much as soon as I turned 18 I started whinging about “kids these days” but that’s not the reason I appreciate derby being an over-18s sport (in fact, as far as spectating goes, it’s an incredibly family-friendly sport). The reason I like that it’s adults only is because I don’t have to worry about not having played as a kid; it’s not like netball, for example, where you’re up against people who have been playing since they were able to walk.
Also, there’s an openness (embrace) of adult culture within the sport, such as when the commentator warns the front row that a stray roller girl may fly into them and, if that happens, to give her a slurp of your beer.
2. It blurs the line between sport and art. I love that it defies traditional definitions of what a sport should be by including outfits, make up and just a hint of theatrics. At the same time, it refuses to conform to the kind of discipline that other artsy sports like figure skating do.
3. It rewards brute force. A previous boyfriend used to joke that my only problem solving technique was brute force. This was mostly because he would occasionally come home and find me maniacally hacking into a can with a knife because the can opener wasn’t in the drawer. Or find me sitting on the couch, glowering, surrounded by a confetti of potato chips that had flung into the air after I had got frustrated with the bag and just ripped it open. Roller derby, rather than mocking me for this trait, will funnel it into a productive force.
4. It’s in the moment. Trying to stay upright when your feet are balancing on wheels takes a fair amount of concentration. Add tactics, manoeuvring, line boundaries and tackles into the equation and there is simply no way you can be anywhere but ‘in the moment’. Some people meditate or do yoga to free their minds and be one with the moment. Skating is my zen.
5. The bruises! Here are some of my favourites: