We are no historians, but we believe the modern flat track roller derby was established somewhere around year 2000 in the United States of America. Earlier, in the 20’s, it used to be a bit different game played by individuals, both men and women. In the 2000’s the first teams were established for women, and the first men leagues started around 2006. The first women leagues began in 2009 in Finland, and we are honored to be the first regularly practicing men’s roller derby league in Finland, bringing great track awareness and impeccable fashion sense to the derby scene since 2013.
The rules, briefly
In the modern flat track roller derby two teams of 14 players play against each other for two times 30 minutes in a oval shaped track. There are five players from both teams in the track simultaneously, four blockers and one jammer from each team. The blockers (all eight of them) for a pack: they need to stay within 20 feet (6 meters) from each other, otherwise they are considered out of play. The jammers, recognizable from the star in their helmet, make the points be passing the opposing blockers -each blocker passed means one point. When a jam begins, the jammers storm to the pack from behind a jammer line, and the pack starts moving the track counter clockwise.
The first jammer getting pass each of the opposing blockers (legally) is entitled as a lead jammer, which means that he/she will have the right to call of the jam (by continously touching his/her hips -so that is what they do when it seems that they are trying to fly). If the jam is not called by the lead jammer, it will last for 2 minutes. After the jam there will be a 30 seconds break before the next jam starts. Naturally the jammer will want to time the calling so that his/hers own team gets more points than the opposing team, so getting the lead is sort of important! Naturally the team who gets more points wins the game.
There are seven referees on the track taking care that penalties are issued when need be. The players get penalties for example from illegal blocks (such as blocking to the back, too low or too high, using your elbows or forearms, blocking out of the pack, outside the track or clockwise, forming a multiplayer block with your teammate), cutting the track (if you get pushed out of the track, you need to return to the track behind each player that was in front of you before you left the track) or not staying in the pack. The penalties are 30 seconds, and if you get seven penalties in one game, that game is unfortunately over for you.
The team usually has three or more designated jammers, and often the blockers have their specific position as well. One of the blockers is playing as a pivot, and he/she is wearing a helmet cover with a stripe in it. The pivot has the strategic opportunity to get the star pass from the jammer: if he/she receives the jammers helmet cover, he/she will become a jammer and can start scoring points. The lead status is lost in the star pass. Besides the players, there are usually two bench coaches in the team.
The Champs, the Cups and the Tournaments
The first World Championships for men’s roller derby was organized in 2013 in Birmingham. Team Finland fought their way to the ninth place. Next championship tournament will be arranged in 2016 in Canada.
The governing body of men’s roller derby is known as Men’s Roller Derby Association or MRDA. Tampere Rollin Bros will try to apply for the MRDA membership as soon as possible. MRDA championships are played yearly. The current MRDA champion is Your Mom Mens Roller Derby (USA). You can check out the most current rankings of the MRDA leagues !
Men’s European Cup is organized yearly for the top ten European leagues. There are also punch of other tournaments organized throughout the world.
Some similar but separate sports are the banked track roller derby (that is the one you might bee familiar with from some of those movies) and the roller games (especially popular in Japan) -those are often confused with the flat track roller derby.