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RollerGames was a U.S. television series that presented a theatrical version of the sport of roller derby for a national audience, and featured a number of skaters who had been in the Roller Games league (1961–1975), as well as younger participants. It was broadcast for one season (1989–1990). The series came from the combination of Roller Games owner William Griffiths, Sr. and the television production team of David Sams and Mike Miller.
The show took place in the Super Roller Dome, where all matches were broadcast. Instead of a banked oval track, a figure eight track was used where one side was heavily banked. It included obstacles such as the "Wall of Death" (which was located on the heavily banked side) and the "Jet Jump". The only ones who could score during each 45-second scoring cycle were the "jetters," who wore helmets and got six points if they got above the top line for three steps on the Wall of Death without going over, and two points if they got between the two lines for three steps. The "Jet Jump" had a 12-foot marker that allowed six points if the jetter got past it, and two if the jetter landed in front of it. In either case, the jetter had to land safely. Also, there were only four skaters on the track at a time (instead of the usual five).
The rest of the cycle involved traditional roller derby elements of scoring one point for every opponent lapped. The players got as many 45-second cycles as possible within four six-minute periods (cut down from eight 12-minute periods in traditional roller derby). The team with the most points won. The last cycle went the full 45 seconds regardless of what the period clock said.
The first jetter to legally enter the jetwave won the status of "lead jetter," and could cut off the cycle early by tapping his or her helmet, signaling the referees to call off the cycle.
As a tiebreaker, two skaters would skate around a pit full of alligators. The first skater to skate around the pit five times or to throw his or her opponent into the alligator pit was declared the winner. The debut episode was the only time live alligators were ever used, as no ties ever happened after that (although a "news report" featured another tiebreaker). The episode revealed one of the rare times that the T-Birds lost the championship, with the Violators taking it (although later footage revealed that Skull, the manager, cheated by interfering, but the Violators got to keep the Commissioner's Cup in spite of that).
Instead of a penalty box, skaters that committed misdemeanors sat in a "penalty pod," one of each was located on either side of the broadcast booth where Sams and Underwood called the action. Because the rules said there were always four skaters on the track, a jetter got one bonus point each time they passed the skater inside the pod. Referee Don Lastra frequently referred to the penalty pod as "jail," and would tell skaters who got a penalty to "go sit down." (Lastra would also fine players specific amounts of money; these fines were to be paid out of pocket as a check and given to him, since he issued the fines. Fines usually were issued if the act incurring a penalty came in between a period or after the end of the game, but the players who got fined always said vindication was theirs, and thus a moral victory was earned).
The "world famous" Los Angeles T-Birds were one of the teams used for the show. Other teams were the Rockers, Hot Flash, Violators, Bad Attitude and Maniacs. Many of the athletes that skated for Griffiths in the past were used for RollerGames. (The Hot Flash team was referred as "Hollywood Hot Flash" on a couple of occasions.) Some of the most visible skaters included twin sisters Jennifer & Kristine Van Galder, the "T-Bird Twins" (two blonde waitresses that Sams recruited while dining at a trendy LA area eatery), "The IceBox" Robert Smith, brothers "Mr. Mean" Harold Jackson & "Monster Man" Bernie Jackson, Michael Flaningam "The California Kid", "Skinney Minnie" Gwen Miller, "Electric" Randi Whitman (who got her nickname because of her hair), "Stars and Stripes" Matt Bickham, "Dar The Star" Darlene Langlois, "Latin Spitfire" Patsy Delgado, "Sweet" Stephanie Garcia, and Rocker Speed Skater and Guitarist on the Roller Games TV Theme Song, Michael "Fish" Fischer (who was forced to leave the team before the first telecast because he broke his hand in practice), and Ralphie Valladares, whose daughter, Gina, skated for Hot Flash. Other past Roller Derby personalities to appear on RollerGames included "Mizz" Georgia Hase, the cantankerous heel manager of the Detroit Devils and Bad Attitude, and "Little" Richard Brown, the Maniacs' top skater who got to manage and coach several skaters on RollerJam.