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Press Release - Dec 22, 2011       Back   Download
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Roller Derby World Cup Demonstrates the Meteoric Rise of a Once Marginalized Sport

Seattle - The Roller Derby World Cup held earlier this month, was the pinnacle of seven years of rapid growth. Sponsored by Blood & Thunder magazine and hosted by Toronto Roller Derby in Toronto, Canada, the World Cup featured national teams from multiple continents, a first for the sport.

Thirteen teams from as many countries boasted sold out houses of nearly 1500 people each day. In short, the Roller Derby World Cup celebrated a revival that began with one league, in Austin, TX, to more than 1100 leagues world-wide in just under a decade.

Brown Paper Tickets Alternative Sports Doer Bob Noxious organized the announcing and provided the expertise that comes from over seven years in the business.

According to Bob, the acceptance of the sport world-wide is, itself, an incredible story. Only the United States has a steeped history with the sport, which took a near 20 year hiatus before returning in its present form. In the last six years, leagues have flourished outside of the U.S. even though fans walk into an event for which they have no point of reference. That alone is a testament to how derby has transitioned the curious into hardcore fans.

Bob would know. He witnessed modern derby's birth. Like so many skaters and support staff, Bob Noxious began his derby career by learning his role while simultaneously learning the sport. Without any prior public announcing experience, Bob's public career began with co-announcing the first season opener for Madison, Wisconsin's, Mad Rollin' Dolls in January 2005. Bob's tenure in the sport is matched by only a few dozen who have actively participated as long.

Roller derby has faced many obstacles in its quest to be seen as a legitimate sport. First, it had to overcome the shadow of the WWE-like actions some fans remember from the mid-1970s to early 1980s. The crazy antics, fighting and choreographed outcomes, which led to the demise of the sport originally, hasn't any role in derby's new era. As Bob says, "It's pure sport."

Many derby leagues start in neighborhood roller rinks, off-season hockey rinks, hangars and other small, public venues. With experience, they build their business and fan base, large enough to move into convention centers and small arenas, playing to thousands instead of hundreds. The sport was founded upon the DYI spirit, something that has never changed. To this day, every roller derby bout and event depends on volunteer efforts to get tracks built, venues staffed, and tournaments organized. Not even the skaters are paid.

Roller derby's rebirth began as a female-only sport, faced with overcoming preconceived ideas of how women should look, act, and behave. The sport proved an excellent haven for women to express another side of their femininity, blowing patriarchal athletic stereotypes out of the water. Tattoos, dyed hair, threatening pseudonyms and the punk rock attitude of derby's early return provided a shelter where self-expression was not only acceptable, but unconstrained. It remains an environment where both athletic and personal backgrounds are inconsequential, unlike mainstream sports. Many of the sport's top athletes have stories of not "fitting in", lacking an outlet to express themselves and void of a place they could bond with others. Yet these bands of cabbies, house moms, master's students, business professionals, and, yes, even doctors, continue to find their escape in roller derby. They practice and play numerous hours every week, nearly all year long.

Through the rabid support of the derby community, we've now seen the sport grow to international status in just five short years. As local fan bases have grown, so has the attendance at events like RollerCon and Blood & Thunder's Roller Derby World Cup. Every town has a cadre of aspiring young roller girls waiting for their chance to bring the sport into the next decade.

It's also no longer just a women's sport! Men have started to enter derby, using female leagues for inspiration, a unique phenomenon in the sports world. The recent formation of the Men's Roller Derby Association has given support to men's leagues, using the same rules and many of the bout production standards common in women's leagues. Of no coincidence, a strong number of male participants are current and former referees or other long-time staff from women's leagues.

Countless teams around the world are preparing for their chance to compete against teams that inspired them. Bob says, "For every sanctioned women's league, there's likely 1.5 others in the U.S. that are not sanctioned, many with aspirations to attain WFTDA certification."

The Women's Flat Track Derby Association is the sport's sanctioning body. Their standard rule set is the basis for the vast majority of play around the world and that figure is just in the United States alone.

Bob Noxious continues to offer his expertise to up-and-coming leagues, hoping to help them avoid common pitfalls, advance their level of play and grow their audience.

In short, derby is here to stay. What the world saw earlier this month in Toronto is merely the beginning. Many more skaters in leagues in many other countries, even on other continents, practice with hopes of skating on their country's national team. Tens of thousands of women will skate thousands of miles, all in hope of being part of the next big meeting of what is now, the international derby family.

About Brown Paper Tickets
Bob Noxious is the "Alternative Sports Doer" for Brown Paper Tickets. Brown Paper Tickets is a Not-Just-For-Profit ticketing company focused on making the world better, one ticket at a time. Give more. Take less. We keep prices as low as possible while providing the very best services, support package and features. We're not looking to make the most money possible, we're looking to change the live events industry for the better. And why stop there? Play nice. Have fun. Be a good citizen and share what you have. It works.

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