Female Roller Derby Athletes’ Athletic Identity and Systematic Pursuit of Leisure


  • Hung-Ling (Stella) Liu South Dakota State University
  • Timothy Baghurst Oklahoma State University
  • Michael Bradley Eastern Kentucky University




gender, Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), sport


Athletic identity is a foundational element of an individual’s self-concept and affects psychological, social, and behavioral characteristics. The purpose of this study was to investigate a unique sport phenomenon, roller derby, by exploring the relationships between athletic identity of women athletes and serious leisure pursuit in the sport. Participants were 578 women registered with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) who completed an online survey concerning their athletic identity. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that demographics (family income) was a minor predictor of participants’ serious leisure pursuit. Both internal and external components of athletic identity were positively associated with their level of serious leisure, while internal components (i.e. self-identity and positive affectivity) were stronger in predicting women athletes’ systematic leisure pursuit in roller derby than external ones. Results of this study provide support for exploring untraditional sport offerings for women, as findings suggest that roller derby provides an opportunity for women to enjoy a full-contact sport and develop identity as an athlete with strength and knowledge through their systematic leisure pursuit. The results of this study suggest offering promotion roller derby programs or other untraditional women sports to foster women’s engagement and greater commitment to sport, as well as to facilitate equality for women in sports.  

Author Biographies

Hung-Ling (Stella) Liu, South Dakota State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences

Sport and Recreation Management program

Timothy Baghurst, Oklahoma State University

Associate Professor
Physical Education/Coaching Science

Michael Bradley, Eastern Kentucky University

Associate Professor

Department of Recreation & Park Administration


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How to Cite

Liu, H.-L. (Stella), Baghurst, T., & Bradley, M. (2018). Female Roller Derby Athletes’ Athletic Identity and Systematic Pursuit of Leisure. Journal of Amateur Sport, 4(1), 108–128. https://doi.org/10.17161/jas.v4i1.6702