If there is a sport I was healthy and badass enough to participate in, it would be roller derby.
I spent a year or so traveling to games all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania (the pictures taken above come from a tournament held in PA). And what I saw were players working together to come up with strategies and score points. They were athletes, ranging from newbies termed “fresh meat” to seasoned veterans of the sport. And like any sport, there were rivalries and in-fighting, players splitting off to form new teams, gossip. But I never once got the impression that these people didn’t take the sport seriously. Any professional wrestling-type vibe is fading away, fast. There is discussion of making it an Olympic sport – at least on an exhibition level.
And there’s this:
Those are kids, they play co-ed, and they are awesome.
UPDATES: I used to have a PDF of the story available on the “My Work” page if people wanted to read it, but in a past website cleanup effort I removed the link. If you’re interested in reading it, reach out to me: joannemaustin AT gmail DOT com.
Also, the pandemic has put a halt on close-contact sports, and I sincerely hope that roller derby will be able to hip check its way back when it’s safe for people to play again.