When it comes to roller derby, most people think of a game of aggression and chaos on skates played mostly by women. But the gender dynamics of this wild sport are starting to change.
Men’s roller derby has picked up speed in the last couple years and there are now over 63 men’s teams around the globe. The number still pales in comparison to the 369 women’s teams. At the forefront of the trend: the New York Shock Exchange team, which is the city’s only men’s roller derby team.
The team just did a tour of South America to spread the word about men’s roller derby and to encourage other male teams to join the Men’s Roller Derby Association. The Shock Exchange’s players are determined to make roller derby just as popular for men to play as it is for women.
“Now there’s about 60 teams,” said Joe Mihalchick, New York Shock Exchange team member. “We’ve got teams from the US, Canada, England, France, Finland, Australia.”
Some animosity between the two genders existed at the beginning of 2007, when men started increasing their involvement in the sport. But some male players say that now things are much more collaborative. The men’s derby association has even started accepting women into their teams, and they say this is probably the way the sport is heading.
“Derby is a very accepting, open sport and it’s great,” said Kye Ehrlich, New York Shock Exchange team member. “You run into people from every walk of life.”