The Race City Rebels take on the Chicago Bruise Brothers. Photo courtesy of Mark Sheehan.
Roller Derby usually conjures up women with fun names, short shorts, and fishnets. The sport of derby is evolving though. Some teams have given up the names, and have gone to a more uniform look. And oh yeah, men play now too.
The Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) started a few years after the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and has been slowly gaining popularity sense. Men’s derby isn’t close to women’s in terms of popularity, and really that’s too bad. Here’s five reasons you should check it out:
1) You’re a sports fan: The men on our local team have come from a wide variety of sports backgrounds. Some are marathoners. Some played soccer. Some played rugby. Several were skateboarders or aggressive inline skaters. You see styles from all of these sports on the track. You’ll notice the agile footwork of the soccer players. The endurance of the marathoners. The aggressiveness of the rugby guys. The cool confidence on wheels of the skateboarders and inline skaters. And that’s just in one jam.
2) You’re already a derby fan: If you’re already a roller derby fan, you’re going to love men’s roller derby. It’s the same rule set you know and love (or at least know and are familiar with), but the style of play is different. The center of gravity of men vs women is enough to change the game on it’s own. Men hit with their shoulders more, rather than their hips. From what I understand of derby lore, they were the first to start backwards blocking as well (how true this is, I do not know).
3) You love everything local: Roller Derby as a whole is a local sport through and through. The merch sold? Produced through local companies. Those sponsors on the wall? Local businesses. The beer in your glass? From a local microbrewery. Roller derby supports local businesses because local businesses support roller derby.
4) You have hipster tendencies: There are 31 MRDA leagues at the writing of this post. There are 172 WFTDA leagues, that’s almost mainstream. Don’t you want to be able to say you were into men’s derby before it was cool?
5) You like boys: Not going to lie, there are some really good looking guys who play mens derby. And they’re agile and athletic. My favorite thing to do at Spring Roll? Decide who gets to be what month in my fictional “Men of Roller Derby” calendar. I seriously considered starting a tumblr around the idea, but I didn’t think my husband would much appreciate me objectifying his teammates (I really wouldn’t want him objectifying mine).
Ok, I know the last two are a little silly but what is derby without being a little tongue-in-cheek. In all seriousness, men’s roller derby is a blast to watch. It’s awesome to watch the same game played in a different way. The men who skate on these teams are guys who love the sport. They often spent time with women’s leagues as coaches, refs, or NSOs and decided “hey, we want to do that.” They’ve built their leagues with the same love and passion that built women’s leagues.
If you’re here in Indy, head over to RaceCityRebels.com to see the latest bout schedule.