‘The fastest skaters in the world’: the Transcontinental Roller Derby, 1935–1937

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During the Depression Era, American entrepreneur and promoter, Leo Seltzer, invented a new sport–roller derby. Combining the endurance of entertainment spectacles, such as dance marathons and walkathons, with the popular pastime of roller skating, Seltzer drew large crowds to watch as skaters attempted to travel thousands of miles on a track. In these dismal economic times, Seltzer found success in his new sport. One reason for his success comes from his purposeful inclusion of women, both as skaters and spectators. Drawing from his prior experiences in walkathons, Seltzer included women as often as men. He also sought them out specifically as spectators, marketing the sport, at times, to a female audience. Seltzer’s ingenuity allowed roller derby to find a measure of success and a niche place in the American sporting landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-76
Number of pages27
JournalSport in History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • History


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