Posts Tagged Windy City Rollers

Roller derby dodge ball

When you think of fishnet stockings and tight tank tops you might not picture them with roller skates.

League-leading The Fury vs. Manic Attackers (photo Hello Chicago)

But roller skates moreso than sex appeal are what the latest incarnation of women’s competitive roller derby is all about.

I took my wife to the Windy City Rollers May bout for her birthday. She’s a former Division III athlete and current marathoner whose eye had the twinkle of competitive fire—lit with wine—watching last night’s bout.

There are two bouts each night at the UIC Pavillion and each bout has two thirty-minute halves split by entertainment. Two teams field five players in two-minute jams, including their fastest, deftest skater, called a jammer. The jammer for each team is the one who scores the points and must eclipse the pack of blockers and booty-bumpers to essentially skate circles around the other team. A point is awarded for each opponent that is lapped. Everyone else either protects their jammer or tries to block opposing jammers. There’s strategy and penalty boxes and a leisure-suited emcee, but that’s the gist of it.

Manic Attacker fans

We were both disappointed that there wasn’t more ass-kicking. It is not the glorified sexed-up spectacle of the Derby’s 60s and 70s heydey, when it was sister—or at least cousin—to the WWF. What remains from that era are the outfits and the player names, with puns such as Terriyaki and Mis DaMeaner, or crowd-favorite chants like BorkBorkBork.

While we both respected the speed and agility of the jammers, there was something missing from the object of the game, the going around in circles not enough to sustain interest for very long. Then again, I think baseball should be capped at two hours. And I don’t roller skate. I proposed adding a dodge ball to the roller derby mix. What if there were one dodge ball that could be hurled at jammers’ skates to knock them on their ass when they weren’t in the pack. Then there’d be a scrum to get the ball, which would be kept in play with the help of the crowd or the six referees. My wife dismissed my idea as my general preoccupation with balls.

Like many sports, the fans are the ones creating the spectacle. And the fans pictured here, supporting the Manic Attackers, are clearly devoted to the grass-roots league.

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