COVID-19 Return to Roller Derby

Aside from contacting your local government directly, many nonprofit organizations and open source projects have compiled information in a variety of regions. Below are just a few of the resources we’ve found:

We ask that leagues work to find the best information they can using the resources they have locally. The WFTDA is happy to answer any questions about this and leagues can email covid19@wftda.com.

The WFTDA would never recommend that you violate your city, state, province, or national directives around COVID-19. Abiding by the laws in your league’s region is important.

However, the WFTDA recognizes that our values around preserving the health and wellness of the roller derby community may conflict with the desires of many governments to return local economies to pre-COVID-19 activities. As in, your government may be telling you to return to activity, but in accordance with our guidelines, not all of our WFTDA conditions have been met.

The WFTDA is interested in assisting leagues in making ethical, science-and data-based decisions about whether it is safe to return to social integration in your area. This may be at odds with governments focused on rebuilding the economy, and we ask that leagues put lives above the economy by working with us for this plan.

WFTDA members and member organizations purchase insurance through WFTDI, and agree to follow our WFTDA Risk Management Guidelines, which are meant to help keep our sport as safe as possible. Our WFTDA Return to Play Guidelines are designed to work in tandem with the Risk Management Guidelines, to limit the amount of liability your league is taking on.

The WFTDA works hand-in-hand with WFTDI to manage adequate insurance policies for the sport of roller derby. As we ask leagues to abide by our Risk Management Guidelines, these Return-to-Play Guidelines are meant to limit, but not eliminate, your liability.

While we cannot guarantee the acceptance of any claim, failure to utilize our WFTDA Return-to-Play guidelines could result in the denial of claims for your policy. By adhering to our Guidelines, you are providing evidence that you have taken steps to protect your members and your community. Failing to do so puts lives at risk, but may also potentially open your league up to additional liabilities.

The WFTDA acknowledges that the decision to return to roller derby is a personal and important decision for your league. It is clear that our community has missed the sport, and the WFTDA understands the desire to return as quickly as possible. While some leagues may have remained relatively impact-free, many leagues are facing a long road to recovery after widespread COVID-19 infections in their areas. The WFTDA fully supports any league’s decision to refrain from activity, and this will not be penalized.

As of October 1, 2021, the WFTDA Return to Play Guidelines are strongly recommended but no longer required for WFTDA Member Leagues. This shift in our Guidelines from requirements to recommendations represents a deep trust in our member organizations to keep their participants safe. We ask WFTDA members to re-familiarize yourselves with the WFTDA Code of Conduct, and seek legal counsel if you have access, to determine what risks you may need to consider. We also want to remind you to consider members of the community who may be immunocompromised, or require additional accommodations to return to play with your league.

You are not required to return to play, but if/when your league decides to return, in order to help responsibly manage re-introduction to the sport of roller derby, we ask that every WFTDA league attempting to return follow their local and federal guidelines for contact sports, and recommend that every member of the community who can get vaccinated does.

The WFTDA will continue to monitor the success of leagues returning to play, and may change our COVID Guidelines again if we feel that leagues are putting their communities at risk through reckless behavior.

In an effort to discourage an emphasis on WFTDA rankings play until the appropriate time, we are also asking leagues to participate in and report on their Tier status and Guidelines Followed via the Member Portal in order to eventually be eligible to sanction games once they have reached the appropriate level, to ensure that our leagues have reintegrated as safely as possible.

This data is also used in our WFTDA League Return to Play Status Map, allowing leagues to find the information they need to make responsible decisions about whether teams are at the same Tier or level of readiness, and it helps the WFTDA gauge the recovery of regions in real time.

The ultimate goal of this plan is to save lives. Participation and tracking of our Tier system represents your league’s commitment to our WFTDA mission, and our community’s efforts to keep roller derby as safe and healthy as possible.

Members can find information and provide feedback about our plans for competition and rankings in 2022 on the WFTDA Online Community.

The WFTDA recommends leagues enter into any agreement with a conversation about what an opponent can do if COVID-19 means a game cancellation. Dropping out of a game to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is considered a responsible, life-saving measure and should not be penalized.

Using our new Member Portal, the WFTDA will create a Tier-tracking menu for your WFTDA league administrator to update each time you enter a new Tier on the Return-to-Play Ladder. Tier status changes will be pulled into public-facing data on wftda.com, and act as a way for the community to understand the recovery efforts of leagues in a visual and ongoing way.

The WFTDA believes shared transparency around league Tier status can create group accountability, which can then be used as a mechanism for controlling the spread of COVID-19. Data will help the WFTDA make corrections or updates to policy quickly, and act to prevent further spread with the goal of saving lives.

If league members choose not to join the league in starting activity at Tier 1, they may join the league at later tiers. However, the WFTDA strongly recommends that the league set up a training program for these individuals that follows the WFTDA Recommendations for Return to Full-Contact Skating to support their safe return to full roller derby participation.

Back to top