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Is roller derby a genuine sport?

Christine Murray, left, with Paula Chemello, Deborah Hill, and Shannon Dillon. Photo: Melissa Adams.

Christine Murray, left, with Paula Chemello, Deborah Hill, and Shannon Dillon. Photo: Melissa Adams.

It's the debate sure to divide sports fans - should roller derby be considered a genuine sport?

A day after Canberra's superstar on skates, Christine Murray, upstaged a who's who of sporting royalty to win an online poll as the top Australian female athlete of all time, the five-on-five bash-fest is endeavouring to climb out of novelty status and gain mainstream respect.

While swimming legend Dawn Fraser was rightfully crowned Australian's greatest female athlete in a ceremony at Parliament House on Wednesday night, the multi Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist was no match in the online sphere for the feverish roller derby community.

Through an eight-month social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, they generated enough votes on the Sport For Women website to get Murray over the line.

Yet there's still a perception roller derby, with its crazy costumes, outrageous aliases and brutal hits, is more entertainment value than anything else.

Canberra Roller Derby League spokeswoman Iggy Block said the sport's booming popularity deserved greater recognition from the wider community.

''I hope it helps people know it is a real sport and they will perhaps take us more seriously,'' she said.

''It's more than just a spectacle.

''As a league we really recognise how much she (Christine) trains and how much she works.''

Block admitted she was a little surprised to see Murray upstage the likes of Fraser, athletics champion Betty Cuthbert and surfing great Layne Beachley.

''Yeah, but it's a contemporary sport,'' she said.

''It's the fastest growing women's sport in the world, so I think it's really increasing in popularity and getting a lot of recognition.''

Roller derby consists of five players on each team, with four players as blockers and teams scoring points when the ''jammer'' gets through the pack.

Murray, otherwise known by her roller derby alias of Short Stop, is an out an out superstar of the sport.

She represented Australia at the Roller Derby World Cup in Canada in 2011 and has been a guest skater for American outfit, the Gotham Girls, during their recent tour Down Under.

Block said events at the AIS Arena can attract between 3500-4000 fans, with six events held per year.

The CDRL gets underway on March 23 at Tuggeranong, while the city's representative team, the Vice City Rollers, is also involved in inter-state matches.

For more information on how to get involved, visit the website.

62 comments

  • The roller derby would probably be taken seriously if they didn't give themselves those ludicrously immature names. The silly names make them appear as mid-30's public servants living out their nerdy teenage dreams.

    I suppose it's all fun and I've just missed the point.

    Commenter
    Stir the pot
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    February 28, 2013, 2:57PM
    • The roller derby participants i have met are almost exactly as you described.

      Commenter
      Jane
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 3:19PM
    • Hey "Stir the pot" unfortunatley your inheritently gronkish nature has clouded your view. DERBY requires athletisism, commitment, determination and courage on a level that a spineless pot stirring w@nk like yourself would never understand!!! DERBY RULEZ

      Commenter
      Rokstarr
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 3:46PM
    • Funny, Jane, non of the derby girls I've met are at all as described. Not to mention that derby is plaid world wide, and, most participants aren't, actually, public servants, but rather a mix of students, business women, chefs, doctors, nurses, stay at home mums, business owner. You know the type, normal women, who want to participate in an inclusive, community minded sport.

      Commenter
      Tea
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 3:48PM
    • yep, said it yourself. missed the point.

      Commenter
      stripe74au
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 4:09PM
    • Flame down kids! So you're saying that the names are kosher? OK, that's alright, that's your opinion. I happen to think that they diminish from the idea that roller derby is a sport, much like dancing girls diminish rugby league or the 'super over' cheapens T-20 cricket (if that's even possible). It's a side show designed to add a little spice. If you need to add spice, maybe something's wrong with the product.

      Commenter
      Stir the pot
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 5:23PM
    • I think having 'nerdy teenage dreams' for a public servant is a far better concept than a grandiose sense of self for a 17 year old plucked out of college to play Rugby League and burn out at 23... oh they too also have player names; Bazza, Two Dads, Maatee, Wazza, Big, Blue, Thursty... etc. smart little bunch. I have never played Roller Derby or Rugby League. It is all just sport. GO THE BRUMBIES! That is all ;)

      Commenter
      Genevieve
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 7:13PM
    • Poor pot stirrer. What a drab, one dimentional, lack lustre attempt to undermine an activity that so many people enjoy and cherish. Go cry yourself to sleep...

      Commenter
      derby fan
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 7:51PM
    • Hey, I wasn't allowed to live my nerdy teenage fantasies when I was a teenager, so I'm doing it now, as a 30yo public servant ;)

      Oh, and there are a surprising amount of derby players who are teachers in their real lives...

      Commenter
      HolyShiitake
      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 8:56AM
    • Haven't you seen Whip It? i don't think any of those girls were public servants.

      Commenter
      castles
      Location
      Braddon
      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 8:56AM

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