Monday, March 1, 2010

Isn't roller derby dangerous?

Sport, or not a sport ...

Roller derby: Little-known fact: If you stare in a mirror and say
"roller derby is not a sport" five times, the ghost of Ann Calvello*
will appear and bodycheck you into the rail.

Ruling: Sport

You'd be surprised at how many people ask me if roller derby is dangerous. Those who think I'm crazy for joining ask that question. Like any contact sport, participants in modern roller derby may experience physical injury. Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are fairly universal, and many derby girls look on them as badges of honor. More serious injuries can include broken limbs and tailbones, separated shoulders, and ligament tears, particularly in the knees. To minimize these risks, skaters practice injury-avoidance techniques like falling correctly, and work on strength and conditioning to ensure they're in good enough shape to take the beating. A typical roller derby practice session consists of less than 50% scrimmage activity, and focuses more on basic skills, strength, endurance, and safety. Derby skaters also wear a protective equipment to prevent serious injury. Modern derby rulesets (and insurance providers) require skaters to wear helmets, mouth guards, elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads. Some skaters elect to wear additional protection, such as tailbone protectors or padded shorts. For a little perspective, it's worth pointing out that cheerleading remains the most dangerous sport girls commonly engage in today.

*Ann Theresa Calvello (August 1, 1929 – March 14, 2006) was a U.S. athlete and notable personality in the sport of roller derby. Calvello had competed in roller derby in seven decades: the 1940s through the 2000s. She broke into the sport in 1948 originally skating for a league called International Rollerspeedway. Calvello, who often sported dyed hair and wild makeup, was known for her temper along with her unconventional looks.

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