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Skating For The Sisterhood Essay

1821 words - 8 pages

While some depictions suggest that roller derby includes staged fights, nearly everyone familiar with the sport disagrees with that assumption. I conducted two interviews, and both derby players displayed annoyances when asked about fake fighting in roller derby. Samantha Boehle states, “I actually get kind of angry when people compare roller derby to things like professional wrestling. We don’t perform fights like they do. Roller derby is a competition. Yes, it’s rough, but there’s no performed fighting.” Likewise, Josie Esker states, “I am so frustrated with derby’s early history of staged performances and ridiculous theatrics. We have to follow rules just like other sports, which means no fights.” Speaking from my own personal experience, fights, staged or not, do not normally occur in roller derby. I have never witnessed nor heard of one happening. While derby girls push and shove, fist fights are unlikely to occur. In roller derby, any violation of the rules will result in penalties. Penalties normally consist of spending a minute in the penalty box before re-entering the jam. If any player accumulates too many major penalties, it can “lead to expulsion from the game” (Parnavelas). Because fighting is punishable, roller derby players are encouraged to maintain roller derby's objective of professionalism.
The athleticism of roller derby is evident in the many hours of demanding training it requires. Like any other serious sport, derby teams practice several times a week, and they focus on conditioning and stamina training. Because tired players are more likely to injure themselves, derby teams work extremely hard to make sure that their players have the stamina to handle the challenging physical requirements that derby entails. When asked about her team's practices, Samantha Boehle said, “Our practices normally start out with an endurance workout that last around thirty minutes. Then there's ninety minutes of various drills that are supposed to improve strategies and personal skills.” Through vigorous training, players gain the necessary skating, hitting, and defensive skills needed to play roller derby properly and without injury. Such abilities are tested in an intense beginners training program called the “fresh-meat process.” In this process, “participants are deemed ‘deserving/undeserving' or ‘ready/not ready’ to join the league, based on a combination of group-orientation and physical ability on skates” (Ridgeway qtd. in Wehrman). Skaters pour their hearts and souls into practices for the sake of improvement. Their blood, sweat, and tears work as evidence to prove the legitimacy of athleticism in roller derby. Women can be tough, driven, and competitive in roller derby, which serves as a support for the feminist ideal of gender equality.
Like feminists, roller derby participants reject traditional gender roles of the past. They do so by displaying masculine qualities without contradicting their feminine qualities. In general, the...

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