How to write an article about roller derby

Ever wanted to write an article on roller derby?

There are certain stylistic guidelines to which you are expected to adhere for articles on roller derby.

Using these guidelines, as used by major media outlets, you, too, can write about roller derby the proper and professional way:

Introduce roller derby as if it has never been written about before. Focus on aspects that have already been reported hundreds of times instead of making any progress into the field of roller derby reporting in terms of your subject and focus.

Do not mention current scores or events, whether they be local or at the world stage. Do not make any attempt to help the reader follow current scores, events, trends and rankings in roller derby.

Treat athletic women like a freak show, whilst completely ignoring the aspects that make athletes interesting and worth reporting about, such as their drive, dedication, challenges and achievements.

Make the reader think that a woman who is doing something outside her job and home is akin to a superhero or freak, instead of being e.g. an athlete or a person with a hobby.

Focus on derby names and big hits. Mention, completely unnecessarily, that roller derby is no longer fake and scripted. Mention that the days of fishnets and scripted pro-wrestling play and fights are gone, even though many newcomers to the sport never knew those days existed anyway.

Ignore the fact that people can easily follow other sports without being told the sport’s origin story each and every time. For instance, did you know that the origin of rugby football is reputed to be an incident during a game of English school football at Rugby School in 1823, when William Webb Ellis is said to have picked up the ball and run with it? But in roller derby the reader needs to know this stuff lest she should accidentally consider roller derby as a legitimate, established sport that has moved on from its early days.

Be astonished that women would want to engage in a contact sport at all, fragile beings that they are.

Ask why women would chose to do roller derby, even though you would not ask anyone why on Earth they chose to play basketball.

Ask players to justify the very existence of this sport, instead of spending more time reporting on current scores, events and culture.

Use terms like ‘smashing into each other’, even though you would never feel the need to use such phrasing in male-dominated contact sports. Also use terms like ‘brutal’ or ‘vicious’; as if women might only want to take part in physical competition for sinister reasons, or women who want to play contact sports must have something wrong with them.

Mention the fact that roller derby players sweat and smell, as if that is somehow unusual in physical activity.

Overstate the fact that players can get injured to emphasise that roller derby is a crazy freak show. Ignore the fact that injuries are par for the course in any sport from skiing to football. You might not feel the need to point out that several people from a skiing team have had injuries and that the whole sport of skiing is therefore a bit ridiculous. But this is roller derby and women should not be allowed the option of such risky behaviour.

Put skates on journalists and have them be surprised that, as in any sport, you cannot get amazing at roller derby in two hours.

Be surprised that there are rules to this sport. Act as if you thought that players were just skating around in circles at random. Write about the rules to make the reader believe that each player has to memorise the entire rule book. Ignore that fact that other sports also have rules and that it is perfectly possible to play with an intuitive, functional grasp of the rules without learning everything.

Mention ‘elbowing your way through the pack’, even though that is one of the few body parts that you cannot use for blocking (You can blame this on the movie Whip It, which probably forms the only basis for your article.). The above also applies to ‘shoving’.

Mention roller blades, even though it sounds as uninformed as reporting from the ‘rugby court’ or talking about a ‘tennis bat’.

Ridicule how much money players spend on their skates and other gear. Ignore that expensive custom equipment is completely normal in any competitive sport from cycling to badminton.

Misspell the league’s name and confuse the World Cup with Champs to emphasise that you really do not care enough to even check the very basic information. It’s fine, you were probably too busy writing about ‘elbows’ and ‘smashing’.

Media outlets of all kinds have announced that they will use these guidelines to continue publishing clueless, shallow and incorrect pieces on roller derby to make the sport sound like a freak show that was invented yesterday.


Roller derby captain’s meeting drinking game

Before the start of a roller derby game, the head referee will meet with representatives from each team, usually captains and alternates, in the captain’s meeting.
During the captain’s meeting the head ref will go over the rules and procedures of the bout with the team representatives.

Have you already had the chance to enjoy captain’s meetings? Are you about to go to your first captain’s meeting?

Either way, you can now drink your way to a happier captain’s meeting using our captain’s meeting drinking game!

Take a (discreet!) drink for each of the following:

o Captain’s meeting is awkwardly scheduled to clash with all your team’s essential pre-bout prep.

o No location is specified for the captain’s meeting, making it impossible for the relevant parties to find each other at the scheduled time.

o One team’s reps are late. Take one drink for each minute of time wasted.

o Head ref turns up with their ‘captains-meeting binder’.

o Head ref evades questions from teams about recent rules updates and clarifications.
Take one drink for each evasion tactic:
– The head ref simply quotes the relevant rule from the rule book, but offers no further clarification.
– Head ref claims that more intricate questions had to be submitted beforehand, though no team was made aware of this.
– Head ref instead discusses a clarification that nobody cares about (e.g. the width of stripes on referee uniforms).

o Team reps look befuddled at the concept of a recent rules update or clarification.
Take one drink for each team rep who looks like they are just nodding along.

o Head ref comes up with insane venue- or event-specific rules.
These are often brought up under the guise of ‘safety’ but may in reality be more about something that the head ref needs to work through emotionally.
Take one drink for each made-up rule. Possible examples include:
– No hitting on one side of the track due to lack of room outside the track.
– Time does not stop during any time outs.
– As the venue only allows for a 90% size track, teams may only field three blockers per jam and the engagement zone ends 10ft from the pack.
– No red-coloured items to be worn, because they might attract vampires.

Bonus: It is not really possible to object to any of these insanities, because it would likely mean having to cancel the bout after everyone has travelled there. Take another drink to get through these tough times.

Take extra drinks if it later turns out that these rule changes were only relayed to a portion of the people who needed to know about them (officials, teams, etc).

o Captain’s meeting takes far longer than necessary.

o The head ref warns that teams are not allowed to talk to any official other than the head ref.

o Team reps ask inane question about the rules that could easily be answered from reading the rules (‘How will you be assessing cuts?’), instead of focusing on important questions that cannot be answered simply by looking at the rule book (‘How will you be assessing forearms?’).

o Head ref makes completely unrealistic promises about the skills, attitudes and procedures of their crew (‘We will keep on top of that.’, ‘We are here to ensure a fair and save game.’)

o Head ref details fouling out and expulsion procedure and you just know they cannot wait for this to happen.

o 90% of the information discussed during the captain’s meeting is not useful for either team.

o Head ref declares themselves Supreme and Benevolent Leader of this bout/tournament and clarifies that any and all questioning or back talk from the teams may lead to beheadings.

o Neither team has brought a jammer ref identifier. Items from teams’ merch stalls are quickly repurposed.

o The head NSO hands the teams a stack of evals that they cannot wait to fill out in a professional manner (i.e. give to their least drunk supporter in the audience to fill in).

o One team bombards head ref with rules clarifications that are clearly meant to work in favour of their team and against the other team’s style.

o Time comes to a standstill.
Children are born, people die, lives are lived, the cure for cancer is found, several rare species go extinct and glaciers disappear forever; but you are still in this meeting.

o International records are broken for exchanging the least amount of useful information in the longest possible time. And all this while there are several important topics that could be discussed.

o The head ref completely forgets to address important questions like switching benches at half time or comparing team colours.
Take an extra drink if they have to be reminded by the teams.

o You have lost all sense of purpose and hope. You cannot remember why you are even here.

o The head ref makes comparison to previous captain’s meetings that they have lead (‘This was much shorter than my usual meetings!’).

o At the end of the meeting you still have no idea how forearm penalties will be assessed in this bout.

**Anticlockwiseblog does not endorse skaters, bench staff or officials to be intoxicated during a bout.

St. Louis Gatekeepers to be the official villains of this year’s MRDA championships

The Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) have confirmed the St. Louis Gatekeepers to be the official villains of this year’s MRDA championship tournament.

MRDA spokesperson Faraday Rage explained: “All the MRDA teams came together, discussed the situation and everyone agreed that those Gatekeeper guys are not very nice and we do not like them.”

The Championships will see the best ten MRDA teams battle it out on the track for the championship trophy, which last year was won by Your Mom, with the St. Louis Gatekeepers coming in second. This year will see St. Louis coming in at seed two and playing the winner of Bridgetown Menace vs TC Terrors in their first game.

The Gatekeepers are in fact the hosts of this year’s MRDA Championship tournament – River City Rumble – which is to take place in St. Louis, MO. As well as being home to the Gatekeepers, St. Louis also houses the headquarters of Monsanto, the infamous agrochemical corporation.


Much like Monsanto, the Gatekeepers, too, are known to be harmful to human health and society. It has been said that the reason that both Monsanto and the Gatekeepers are so successful is that they do not care about the damage they cause; they only care about the profits.

They have both accumulated a lot of power in their respective realms, but leave human tragedies in their wake.

A participating player who wants to remain anonymous commented: “I’m not saying that they are bad people, but if you google St. Louis Gatekeepers, the first suggestion is ‘unbelievably and one hundred percent evil’.”

“The Gatekeepers have clearly trained hard to be one of the best teams in the world. Games just seem to magically go their way. We’ve sometimes wondered if they bring their own Monsanto genetically-modified officials that they can control with chemicals and stuff.”

“But we have learned so much from playing them in the past. Our medical knowledge of bout injuries has really improved. Thanks, chaps, for making us better!

“We do look forward to our game against the Gatekeepers and we also look forward to the end of our inevitable injury-recovery periods post-game.”

“We cannot help but wonder if the Gatekeepers are trying to lure us into a trap by hosting MRDA champs.”

Throughout the tournament, the Gatekeepers will be supported by their home crowd, which included their sister team Arch Rival Rollergirls: a team who prove that women, too, can be villains.

An anonymous player from a European team commented: “The Gatekeepers are a great and skilful team, and playing them would be jolly good fun! Like gouging your eyes out is fun.”

Some have suggested that the Gatekeepers may in fact be yet another product of Monsanto itself, created to amass power and profit and spread evil:
“DDT, PCBs, agent Orange and now the Gatekeepers.”

The big question for the MRDA championships remains: Will the other teams be able to stop the Gatekeepers, before they cause irreparable harm to human health? Will good will triumph over evil? Can we stop the Gatekeepers from imposing a new world order?

The St. Louis Gatekeepers commented: “We look forward to hosting and destroying you all. See you soon, xxx.”

Watch the action on 17th and 18th October live in St. Louis or on


Passages from the WFTDA roller derby rules where the word ‘skater’ has been replaced by ‘n00b’

1.1.1 – At most, 14 N00bz may be on the roster for a specific game.

1.5.4 – Any N00bz who are not completely in bounds at the jam-starting whistle will not be permitted to join the jam in progress.

1.8.1 – The Penalty Box Area is the designated area where penalty time will be served. Benches or seats must be provided as part of the Penalty Box. The benches or seats must be capable of accommodating a total of six N00bz (three from each team). – The Official Score must be highly visible to Officials, N00bz, and audience members.

N00b positions refer to the position a N00b is playing during a jam. A N00b is not limited in the number of positions that N00b may play during a game, but is limited to playing one designated position at a time.

2.1.1 – Blockers are positional N00bz who form the pack. – A N00b lined up in the Pivot starting position will not be considered a Pivot unless the N00b is wearing a Pivot helmet cover with a visible stripe. – A Jammer may earn Lead Jammer and so become the only N00b with the privilege of calling off (ending) the jam prior to the expiration of the full two minutes.

2.3.2 – Jammer Identification: A N00b who is serving a penalty from a prior jam in the position of Jammer will be identified as the Jammer for their team. If no such N00b exists, a N00b in possession of the Jammer helmet cover will be identified as the Jammer for their team. If no such N00b exists, one single N00b who is lined up in the Jammer Starting Position will be determined by the Jammer Referee to be the Jammer for their team. If no such N00b exists, that team is not considered to have fielded a Jammer for that jam. – Jammer Status may not be transferred by handing off the Star via other N00bz, or throwing or dropping the Star.

2.5.2 – If the Star is passed illegally, Jammer Status is not transferred, even if the Pivot has sole possession of the Star. Both N00bz retain their original status, and the initiator of the pass is penalized accordingly.

2.6.5 – If a helmet cover falls to the ground or is removed from play by any means, a qualified N00b (e.g., the Jammer or Pivot) may skate out of bounds to recover it, but only if the helmet cover is itself touching out of bounds.

2.6.6 – Helmet covers must be on a qualified N00b’s head, or in a qualified N00b’s hand, before the jam-starting whistle. – Proximity is defined as not more than 10 feet (3 meters) (as measured from the hips) in front of or behind the nearest pack N00b.

3.2.7 – N00bz who line up completely outside of their legal starting area (but fully inside the track boundary) will be issued a penalty.

3.2.8 – N00bz who line up fully in bounds but in an illegal starting position (while touching their legal starting area) are considered to have committed a False Start, and will receive a False Start warning. Once warned, N00bz who False Start must cease all forward motion until they have yielded to all N00bz in the immediate vicinity by ceding relative position to those N00bz, or they may be issued a penalty.

3.3.8 – N00bz may leave play mid-jam by removing themselves from the track, in order to remain safe. This includes but is not limited to a N00b leaving the track due to injury, or to adjust or reposition the N00b’s safety equipment or skates. N00bz who exit the track for other reasons may be subject to penalties.

3.3.9 – Airborne N00bz retain their prior in-bounds, out-of-bounds, or straddling status until they land. Note that passes achieved while airborne do not count toward gaining lead, and do not earn points, unless the N00b also lands in bounds. – Only N00bz who are in play may skate in front of an opponent to impede the opponent’s movement on the track.

4.1.2 – The N00b who initiates contact to an opponent is considered the initiator of a block. – It is possible for both N00bz to be considered initiators.

Penalties are applied to both a N00b and the position that N00b is currently playing. N00bz and teams are assessed penalties due to infractions.

5.3.10 – Flailing and sprawling N00bz who low block an opponent causing the recipient to fall or lose relative position.

N00bz often work together to execute more effective blocks on opponents. – The penalty will be issued to the N00b most responsible for the wall’s impenetrability. If neither N00b can be identified as most responsible, the penalty will be issued to the N00b closest to the Referee.

5.8.1 – N00bz must be in bounds when engaging other N00bz.

5.9.3 – N00bz are permitted to skate clockwise on the track provided they do not engage with other N00bz (e.g., block opponents or assist teammates).

5.9.7 – Skating in the clockwise direction in a way that does not affect other N00bz.

5.9.12 – Incidental contact from a N00b getting spun around as a result of another block.

5.10.2 – If the actions of a N00b, team, or group of N00bz create a “No Pack” situation, one penalty for destroying the pack will be applied to a single N00b who is most responsible or the Pivot. – Examples of illegally destroying the pack may include but are not limited to a N00b, N00bz, or a team running away, braking or coasting to drop back more than 10 feet (3 meters) behind the opposing team; taking a knee; intentionally falling; or intentionally skating out of bounds in such a manner that the legally defined pack is destroyed. – A N00b or group of N00bz is always responsible for the consequences of their actions.

5.10.5 – During a No Pack situation, N00bz will be warned that there is no pack and will be penalized if they do not immediately attempt to reform the pack. For N00bz in the rear group, this includes stepping or skating in the counter-clockwise direction. For N00bz in the front group, this includes coasting, braking, or coming to a complete stop.

N00bz cannot drop back while in play in efforts to undo or avoid Cutting the Track penalties. – An upright and skating N00b who returns completely in bounds (having previously been out of bounds) in front of at least one in-play, in-bounds and upright N00b, which results in the offending N00b having improved their relative position.

5.12.2 – Exiting the track of one’s own accord in order to avoid an obstacle (e.g., spills, debris, or downed N00bz). – Mistakenly exiting the track due to mishearing an Official’s instruction (e.g., a N00b thinking that they have been called on a penalty when in fact they were not). – A N00b who returns from the outfield to the track and misjudges their speed, causing them to exit the track on the infield, has left the track entirely under their own power. – A N00b who fully exits the track in order to avoid receiving a block is considered to be exiting the track entirely under their own power.

5.13.3 – Too many N00bz on the track. The extra N00b is instructed to return to the bench without stopping the jam.

5.13.12 – Forcing a jam to be called off due to too many N00bz on the track. If too many N00bz are on the track, the Referees will direct a N00b off the track. If a N00b does not leave the track and the jam is called off due to too many N00bz being on the track, that N00b will receive the penalty.

5.13.17 – A N00b exiting the Penalty Box who re-enters the track in a manner that would constitute a penalty for cutting, given that all in-bounds and upright Blockers are assumed to have superior position to a N00b returning from the box.

5.13.21 – Too many N00bz and/or team support staff in the designated team area.

5.14.3 – A N00b who, after having been clearly and appropriately called on a penalty, fails to leave the track. This penalty will be assessed even if the N00b is not aware that they have been called.

5.16.16 – Any contact initiated by a downed N00b that causes an opponent to fall or lose relative position, or allows a teammate to gain relative position.

5.16.18 – A N00b initiating contact or engaging an opponent before the jam-starting whistle that allows the initiator to gain a superior starting position.

Gross Misconduct is defined as an indiscretion so serious that it justifies the instant expulsion of a N00b, even on the first occurrence.

5.16.27 – A N00b who, on their way to the Penalty Box during a jam, makes forcible contact with another person (other than a teammate), or who causes a Penalty Box seat to do so.

6.1.4 – If a penalty is committed by a Non-N00b (e.g., by a team’s bench staff), the penalty will be assessed to the Captain, unless otherwise specified. – Penalized N00bz must be substituted in the case of a N00b who has been injured, fouled out, or expelled. These substitutions may only take place between jams. A N00b who has fouled out or has been expelled is not permitted to return to play and that N00b’s team must skate a N00b short for the remainder of the jam.

6.2.2 – Penalty Box Procedures, Rights, and Restrictions: When a N00b is sent to the Penalty Box, the N00b must immediately exit the track to the appropriate direction. The N00b must then skate to the Penalty Box in the counter-clockwise direction without returning to the track. – If, after being sent to the Penalty Box, all parts of a penalized N00b have passed beyond Point of No Return, the N00b must skate all the way around the track in order to enter the box from the appropriate counter-clockwise direction. – The penalized N00b will be sent to the Penalty Box as soon as there is room in the box, provided another Blocker from the N00b’s team is on the track and has joined the pack. – In the new jam, N00b substitutions from the bench are allowed, with the exception of the penalized Jammer.

6.4.1 – Fouling Out: A N00b fouls out from the game when seven penalties have been assessed to that N00b. – Coaches and managers are held to the same standard of sporting behavior as N00bz.

The team of a N00b who is ejected from a game, either due to an expulsion or fouling out, must play down a N00b in the ejected N00b’s position, as if a penalty had been assessed.

Only N00bz wearing the designated Jammer helmet cover with visible stars are eligible to score points. – The Referees are responsible for determining that both teams have the correct number of N00bz in the jam, taking into account N00bz in the Penalty Box. – If the jam starts with too many N00bz, the Referees must direct the last Blocker who entered to leave the track. If that N00b cannot be identified, the Blocker who is closest to the Referees must be directed off the track. – If the jam starts with too many N00bz, and the extra N00b cannot be directed off the track, the Referee must stop the jam. The extra N00b should be penalized. – The Referees will ensure that the N00bz are wearing all required safety equipment, the correct uniforms, and the correct N00b designations. – The Referees will determine that the N00bz are in the proper formation. – Referees will: – Exclusively use a N00b’s team color and roster number for referring to that N00b (for example, calling penalties on the N00b). – Too many N00bz on the track. After the jam has started Referees will expeditiously direct any extra N00bz so that the jam does not have to be called off. – Too many N00bz on the track that gives that team a competitive advantage. – A team has five or fewer N00bz still eligible to participate in the game. – N00bz are strongly encouraged to secure or tape down loose Velcro on pads. – If more than one jam is called off for the same N00b, the N00b must sit out of the remainder of the period.




The N00b identified to speak for the team.

Engagement Zone

The zone in which Blockers may legally engage and be engaged. The Engagement Zone extends from 20 feet (6 meters) behind the rearmost pack N00b to 20 feet (6 meters) in front of the foremost pack N00b, between the inside and outside track boundaries.


Any sort of interaction with another N00b on the track during a jam.

Established Position

Where a N00b is physically; an area of the track where the N00b has secured their place.


The first legal opportunity in which a N00b may complete an action.


A N00b or set of teammates is considered impenetrable from a certain direction when, to achieve a pass on one or more of the N00bz, an opponent would need to physically break said teammates’ bones or joints.

Out of Bounds

A N00b is out of bounds when part of the N00b’s body or equipment is touching the ground beyond the track boundary, including both arms or hands (one arm or hand does not render a N00b out of bounds), or any part below the N00b’s waist (e.g., a knee, a skate, or a hip). N00bz who are airborne maintain their prior in-bounds (or out-of-bounds, or straddling) status until they land. N00bz who are straddling are considered out of bounds, except where otherwise noted.

Pack N00b

Any Blocker who is part of a legally defined pack.

Pass (verb)

To end up in front of a N00b, such that the passer’s hips went from being behind to being in front of the other N00b’s hips.

Positional Blocking

Blocking without contact; positioning oneself so as to impede an opponent’s movement on the track. It may also be done unintentionally if the blocking N00b is not aware of the opponent’s position behind the blocking N00b.

Relative Position

A N00b’s location, when in bounds and upright, in relation to other N00bz involved in the action. Relative position is said to be “gained” or “lost” if said location changes in a way that gives or loses some advantage (for example, one N00b passing another, or being knocked down, out of bounds, or out of play).


A list of N00bz for a team, and their identifying numbers, who are eligible to play in the game.

Slide Tackling

A N00b who leaps and/or slides and extends their leg(s) or arm(s) in order to disrupt the movement of an opponent’s feet and/or legs.


A N00b not making any directional movement with their skates.


Replacing a N00b on the track or in the Penalty Box with a teammate.


A formal verbal indication from the Referee that play is improper and that a N00b must take corrective action.

Rules about penalising skater ‘closest to referee’ to be changed to penalising skater who is ‘furthest away’

The WFTDA have revealed a number of rule-changes that can be expected in upcoming WFTDA rules publications.

Currently, there are several rules which state that, if in doubt as to who was responsible for an illegal action, the skater nearest to the referee is to be given the penalty.

Examples include multiplayer blocks where, if two teammates are grasping, the penalty is issued to the grasper closest to the referee. Analogous guidelines apply if the initiator of an impenetrable link, or the skater most responsible for an impenetrable wall, cannot be identified.

Similarly for illegal procedures: If a team fields more than one designated pivot, and the pivot to last enter the track cannot be identified, it is the pivot closest to the referee handling the call who is instructed to remove the helmet cover or return to their bench. The same principle applies when a team fields too many skaters.

Finally, it is also the skater closest to the referee who is penalised if, at the jam-starting whistle, a pack cannot be identified because one or more skaters are improperly positioned.

The proposed changes state that in future, in situations where the initiator of these illegal action cannot be determined and in absence of a pivot, referees will penalise the skater furthest away from them.

WFTDA spokesperson Mental Floss commented:
“These rules have always seemed a bit lazy and imprecise compared to the rest of the rule set which, elsewhere, is anal enough to, for example, define impact as ‘Illegal forearm or hand contact to an opponent that forces the receiving opponent off balance, forward, and/or sideways but does not cause the opponent to lose relative position or the initiator or a teammate to gain relative position. For example, a slight but observable push with the hands or forearms.’.”

“Those rules about penalising the closest skater are entirely arbitrary anyway, so we thought we might as well switch them around for a while.”

“We felt that the current system was unfair and discriminatory towards skaters who commonly position themselves near the inside and outside edges of the track during gameplay, and are therefore always closest to the inside and outside referees. The skaters in the middle lanes of the track, those are the sneaky ones and should get their fair share of penalty calls. Those skaters already get away with more stuff, because they are often between other skaters and thus harder to see for referees. This rule-change should even things out a bit.”

One level 4 WFTDA-certified referee commented:
“To be honest, I mostly just give those kinds of penalties to a random skater anyway. And I’ll probably continue doing so.”

“Multiplayer block actions are often blocked from view by other skaters, so you kinda have to infer the appropriate penalty call from what you think might be happening.”

“That skater who looked at me funny probably did something shifty, I’ll assign the penalty to them.”

It remains to be seen if the general reasoning behind these rules is to be expanded to other rules. For example, if two teammates both commit a track cut, only one of the skaters (either nearest to or furthest from the referee) would be issued a cutting track penalty. Similarly for (gross) misconducts: if two team mates bite an opponent, only one would get penalised (probably the one that’s furthest away, because that’s less scary).