Derby 101: Fouling Out

Are you new to derby or just looking to brush up on your rulebook skills? Wayne Mooney is your man! This week, he’ll explain what happens to rollergirls who commit too many penalties.

The best way to understand fouling out is to picture the rollergirl as a loose-cannon cop from an eighties action movie and the head referee as her blustering police chief. “Darn it, girl!” the head ref exclaims, forehead vein bulging. “You’ve been throwing elbows left and right! Do you have any idea how much it costs to buy enough stop watches to time all your penalties? You’ve got to play by the rules!” The rollergirl leans back in her chair and props her feet up on the ref’s desk. “I do what I have to do to get my team lead jammer, chief. Sometimes that means rules have to be broken.” The ref starts shouting, spittle flying from his mouth. “That’s it! You’ve got to learn that your actions have consequences! Turn in your helmet and your skates!”

Photography: Chris Albright

Refs (bulging forehead veins not pictured).
Photography: Chris Albright

But the rollergirl doesn’t literally take off her helmet or skates. Instead she goes to the locker room until the game ends, and she never gets to solve the big case or get a commendation from the mayor, but that’s the difference between real life and the movies, I guess. On the other hand, the rollergirl has the advantage of knowing exactly how many times she can get in trouble before the ref will flip his top: seven times. When a skater reaches seven trips to the box, she has fouled out and will be removed from the game. She doesn’t even get to stick around long enough to serve time in the box for her last penalty. Someone still has to serve that time, though, so when the jam ends her team send one of their own to the box to do so (which does not count toward that skater’s seven penalties), and as soon as the thirty seconds are up she’ll get on the track and avenge her fallen comrade.

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