Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Roll With It

On August 13, 1935, at the old Chicago Coliseum, Roller Derby was introduced to the world of American sports. The brainstorm of promotor Leo Seltzer, the first roller derby took the form of a race between one man and one woman on a banked track.

As a kid, I remember watching the roller derby on its banked tracks featuring brutal clothesline hits on the "jammers" and theatrical fights on the grainy UHF channels of our black and white portable TV.

The derby has come a long way, through the twisted peaks and valleys of American culture, from adolescent guilty pleasure to righteous competition. Today, Chicago features not one, but two roller derby leagues. Both Windy City Rollers and Chicago Outfit Roller Derby race on a flat track, which liberates the new game from much of the pro-wrestling aura of the old game while preserving a wild spectacle of controlled abandon.

Whether you have to ask some old geezer like me what a UHF channel is, or if you have your own memories of the ultra-high frequency broadcast spectrum, nowadays you can catch up with the Roller Derby action on the Windy City Rollers' YouTube channel.

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