Roller Derby is a relatively new sport, steadily taking over the world. It might at first look like chaotic wrestling on quad roller skates, but look twice and you'll see it for the awesome team-sport it is.
Roller Derby is a full contact sport for women on roller skates with some elements of rugby and ice hockey. It's been around for about 15 years in its current form and has it's roots in banked-track roller skating marathons of the 1930s. Back then most things were staged and it was more about showmanship than actual athleticism. Today Roller Derby is played as a real sport where the goal is to out-skate the other team's members, not to fake spectacular crashes. As such the rules for how players can and cannot hit each other have matured. Here's a run-down of the basics.
Roller Derby is played on a flat, oval shaped track. There's two halves of thirty minutes divided in jams that last up to two minutes. At the start of a jam there's five players of each team on the track. Four of each team have the role of blocker, the fifth player is a jammer. So in total there's eight blockers on the track, collectively called the pack. And there's two jammers on the track. These jammers wear a big star on their helmet to make them stand out.
The jammers can score points for their team by passing members of the opposite team, but only after they have passed the pack at least once and then lapped a round. The first time the jammers make their way through the pack, it's not about points. In stead, the jammer that is first to complete this passing is awarded the lead-jammer status. This grants her the right to end the ongoing jam before the two minutes are up. This is called calling off the jam and a jammer would want to do this to stop the other jammer from scoring points.
The blockers have to stay together as a pack, their objective is to stop the opposing jammer from passing them, but also to help their own jammer to pass through the pack. They may do so by blocking and hitting within the legal zone. This legal zone means the torso with the exception of pushing someone on the back. So no use of arms, legs or head is allowed. Any blocking or hits outside of this zone causes a penalty. Four penalties or one penalty that's more severe means the player has to exit the track and sit out a minute of play-time in what's called the penalty box, before she may re-enter the game.
The team with the most points after two halves of jams, wins the game!