A recent study has shown that recorded game scores of roller derby games show no correlation with the number of points that teams actually scored.
There are times when Roller derby players, bench staff and audience members seem to disagree with referee decisions during games.
A study was carried to out to analyse this problem. A panel of highly experienced officials watched live games and were provided with detailed video footage for post game dissection. The officials on the panel were asked to use the information to determine the final score of the bout.
The study showed that the points that went up on the score board during a game were completely unrelated to the number of points that jammers actually legally scored by lapping the pack and passing the hips of opposing players.
There are a number of factors that complicate the roller derby scoring process. A jammer ref has to visually assess whether a jammer has successfully scored a point by legally passing the hips of an opponent. The ref has to consider jammer lap points and NOTT points. Star passes, penalties, recycling, and occasional ref incompetence can all confound the situation further. The ref then signals the points to an NSO on the sideline. The NSO has to do mathematics as high level as addition on the go, and also communicate the score to the score board operators.
Overall, the large number of steps between (A) a jammer scoring a point and (B) that point going up on the score board means that (A) and (B) really show no correlation whatsoever.
Observations showed that referees cannot get it right, but other present parties may be just as wrong. At times, players, bench coaches or members of the audience demanded up to seven additional points for their team in a single pass or claimed an additional five scoring passes in a jam (judging by the number of angry fingers in the air).
The authors of the study hasten to emphasise certain factors that complicated the study. “It almost no cases did the research panel themselves agree on the number of points scored in a given jam, even given detailed video analysis from multiple angles.”
The report finishes with: “Ultimately, we do not really know how points are scored in roller derby. It appears that it may happen through magic after all.”