While the sport has its origins in the banked-track roller skating marathons of the 1930s, Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon are credited with the basic evolution of the sport to its initial competitive form. Professional Roller Derby quickly became popular; in 1940 more than 5 million spectators watched bouts in 50 US cities. In the ensuing decades, however, it predominantly became a form of sports entertainment where the theatrical elements overshadowed the athleticism. This gratuitous showmanship largely ended with the sport’s contemporary grassroots revival in the first decade of the 21st century. Although some sports’ entertainment qualities such as player pseudonyms and colourful uniforms were retained, scripted bouts with predetermined winners were abandoned.
Modern Roller Derby is an international sport dominated by all-female amateur teams, in addition to a growing number of male, mixed gender, and junior Roller Derby teams, and is as a roller sport under consideration for the 2020 Olympics. Most modern leagues share a strong ‘do it yourself’ ethic which uniquely combines athleticism and elements from punk, camp and third-wave feminist aesthetics.
For more information about the origins of this fast paced sport, check out the Wikipedia entry.