Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Rosy. Rosy Wonders, “What is Roller Derby?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rosy!

What comes to mind when you hear the word “derby”? Many children might think of a famous horse race, like the Kentucky Derby. Believe it or not, though, there are actually many different types of derbies all around the world. Let’s take a look at a few.

The annual Kentucky Derby is probably one of the most famous derbies in the world. After all, fans do call it “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” It’s not the only derby when it comes to horse racing, though.

In horse racing, “derby” can refer to any horse race limited to three-year-old horses. The term came from the Derby Stakes. This was a famous horse race in England. It was named after Edward Smith-Stanley, the 12th Earl of Derby.

There’s another type of derby that is popular all around the world, and it doesn’t involve horses. What is it? The roller derby!

Roller derby is a contact sport that features two teams of five members each roller skating around a track. Each team picks one player called the “jammer.”  This player can score points by skating fast enough to lap members of the other team. The teams play offense and defense at the same time. They try to help their own jammer while blocking the one on the other team.

Although some men play on roller derby teams, the sport is dominated by women. It developed from roller skating marathons that were popular in the 1930s. Today, it is a popular sport that is also fun to watch.

Besides horse racing and the roller derby, derby is also used in other sports. In England, they use the term “derby” (and pronounce it “darby”) to refer to soccer matches between local rivals. In the United States, we might call such matches “crosstown rivalries.”

“Derby” can also refer to a more general type of competition. In American baseball, for example, the Home Run Derby is held each year before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It’s a contest to see which of the top batters can hit the most home runs.

If you’re a Cub Scout, then you probably know of another type of derby: the Pinewood Derby! In the early 20th century, Soap Box Derby races were very popular. A Cub Scout leader had the idea of creating a miniature version and started the Pinewood Derby in 1953. Today, Cub Scouts race wooden cars they’ve carved by hand from a block of pine wood each year. 

Would you believe you can also wear a derby? It’s true! In the United States, the word “derby” is used to refer to that popular and stylish hat often known as a bowler hat!

Did you have any idea that the word “derby” could be used in so many ways? Although they’re not all races, most derbies do tend to be related to competition in some way. Have you ever taken part in or watched a derby? Maybe you’ve even worn one!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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