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Roller Derby NOUN
1. A race on roller skates, esp one involving aggressive tactics !
2. “Roller Derby” – Defined as : A race between two teams on roller skates where a player ( jammer) scores points for his team by overtaking opposing players after skating completely around the track within a given time limit.

This definition is found in Funk & Wagnall’s International Dictionary and demonstrates that Roller Derby is truly an American institution. Hence the formation of our current league, ARSD which formed in 1996. Information on the ARSD can be found in the last paragraph of this timeline. Thank you for visiting and enjoy the history!

Since conception, Roller Derby has fascinated and intrigued audiences both young and old around the world. Roller Derby began from a few notes scribbled on a tablecloth in Chicago’s old Ricketts restaurant in 1935 by Leo A. Seltzer. Roller Derby was a spin-off of the six-day bicycle races of the Great Depression and was initially an endurance contest between male/female couples. The goal of each couple was to complete 57,000 laps, a distance equivalent to a trip between New York and Los Angeles, non-stop on an oval shaped banked track. The Transcontinental Roller Derby drew nearly 20,000 spectators during the opening week in 1935 Between 1935 and 1950, Roller Derby was promoted in major cities across the United States. During this time, the concept of physical contact and a simple point scoring system were introduced to the game.

Jerry Seltzer, Leo’s son, moved the organization to Southern California in 1950. Between 1953 and 1960 the appeal of Roller Derby boomed on television. This was due in part to the uniqueness of the male/female team concept and the constant interplay of offensive & defensive skating. In 1958, the Seltzer organization moved its base of operation to Northern California in order to secure larger indoor arenas capable of holding the growing crowds. When the Seltzer organization relocated to Northern California a new group emerged in Southern California. Roller Games. Skaters who chose not to make the move to Northern California founded this group. Roller Games promoted their product primarily as a public exhibition form of entertainment. Roller Games flourished in the Southern California market and eventually grew into a worldwide organization. Between 1958 and 1973, the popularity of both Roller Derby and Roller Games increased measurably. Each organization established strong regional markets and was seen in virtually every state. In addition, Roller Games was able to begin operations in several foreign countries. In 1973, the Seltzer organization sold the promotional rights for Roller Derby to the Los Angeles-based Roller Games organization. A number of reasons for the sale have been speculated upon, including the state of the 1973 economy, lack of interest in continuing the organization and the need to liquidate company holdings.

Between 1973 and 1975, Roller Games began to suffer from the weak economy, high overhead costs and the complexities of acquiring the Roller Derby organization. Roller Games discontinued operation in 1975. In 1977, the International Roller Derby League organization was formed in San Francisco. This company operated until 1979, when one of the owners absorbed the company and revised it into the International Roller Skating League, (I.R.S.L.). Skating during this period of time was confined almost exclusively to Northern California. In 1985, Roller Derby reappeared on national television on the ESPN cable network. In conjunction with this, live events were scheduled in several Northeastern cities, the Midwest and Canada. During this time span, the I.R.S.L. organization formed Rollermania, under the guidance of a Buffalo, New York Promotions Company.

In 1986, Rollermania acquired the ESPN contract from Roller Derby and began to branch its operations. Sporadic appearances continued on an irregular basis in the New York and Northern California areas. The I.R.S.L. organization is now dormant; they are not producing any events in or out of the California area. During the early 1980’s, there was also another “Roller Derby type” of game being seen on a major television network, Roller Games. This television extravaganza featured wild looking skaters, battling on a track that had an “Alligator pit” and a “wall of death” !

In 1996 the American Roller Skating Derby ( ARSD ) league was formed by long time fan, Dan Ferrari. During this transition, Dan took over as the owner of the San Francisco Bay Bombers and old school Banked Track Roller Derby. He became sole promoter for Northern California. Under his guidance, the league has skated over 60 games in Northern California including Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, Hayward, Modesto, Vallejo, and our home base hear in San Jose. ARSD Also houses- The Brooklyn Red Devils and The Los Angeles Firebirds. American Roller Skating Derby has been featured on National TV “Road Rules vs Real World” and locally on “Evening Magazine”, “Bay Café”, “Mornings On Two” “The Ultimate Cake Off” “Marriage Ref” “Women Gone Wild n Sports” and many, many more!

ARSD would like to take this time to thank you for your continued support of these amazing teams ! You can find a growing list of information on everyone that makes ARSD successful. Click here to find your favorite retired skaters, current skaters, free agents, score keepers, announcers, referees, team managers, vendors and all the behind the scene administrators!

The Official Homepage of The San Francisco Bay Bombers Roller Derby Team