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Extreme Sports Image Gallery

Roller derby was inspired by the fascination of watching skaters collide during races. See more extreme sports pictures.

Photo courtesy Frank Mullen / The Atlanta Rollergirls

Imagine a hockey game, but replace the ice with a roller rink. Swap out the baggy jerseys for fishnet hose and tank tops, and abandon ordinary names in favor of pseudonyms like Tanya Hyde and Demi Gore. What you have is a reasonable facsimile of women's roller derby. The scoring is completely different, but both sports are rowdy, raucous and sometimes punctuated with fights between the players.

Unlike professional hockey players, the vast majority of roller derby participants are unpaid. Most actually spend money on the sport -- they purchase their own equipment and pay monthly dues to support their leagues. Teams usually practice several times a week, and injuries are common.

So why pay money to work, compete and possibly get hurt? Why take the time to re-learn to skate? What makes it fun? 

We went behind the scenes with the Atlanta Rollergirls to find out.

Read on to learn about roller derby's history, its rules and why it's become so important to its players.