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Monday, April 5, 2010

Will The Street League™ kill skateboarding?

By Xavier Lannes

A couple of weeks ago, Street League™ Skateboarding announced that for the first time in its history, street skateboarding had been organized into its own professional league, with the best skateboarders in the world competing head to head in a series of individual tour stops starting this summer. Signed to multi-year contracts, 24 of the world’s biggest skateboarding stars will compete in Street League exclusively. The pros include Chris Cole, Ryan Sheckler, Greg Lutzka, Torey Pudwill, PJ Ladd, Sean Malto, Mike Mo Capaldi, Mikey Taylor, Billy Marks, Tommy Sandoval and Paul Rodriguez. The Street League™ pros will battle it out for more than $1 million in prize money. To maximize the talents of these street skateboarding stars, Street League™ has designed authentic concrete skate plazas to be built on the floors of world-class sports arenas.

The inaugural year of Street League™ features a three-stop arena tour beginning at Arena in Glendale Aug. 28, followed by the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., Sept 11; and the final stop in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center Sept. 25. The skaters will compete at each event for the largest prize pool in skateboarding history. Founded by 20-year professional skateboarder and entrepreneur, Rob Dyrdek.

Some say Street League™ is the future of competitive street skateboarding.

Some others are not so positive…

One argument against The League™ is why building a concrete street park inside an arena just to tear it down and build another at the next arena? Like what the Maloof will do in the next Maloof Money Cup in New York where the plaza will be left untouched after the contest. Opponents to The League™ argue that the embarrassment would diminish if The League™ built the plazas permanently for the contest cities and be permanently donated to the cities as lasting skateparks. Others objects that why don’t just pay all listed skaters an X amount of money and then fly them to different cities and do free demos, with money for a best trick only for a local skater in that community. The idea would be to pay the pros and have them skate free with the kids.

But the biggest objection about The League™ is that it is getting harder and harder to argue that skating is not a sport. Some fear that Skateboarding is loosing its identity and core values by becoming just like any other sport. Everyday skateboard is going more mainstream and that is inevitable that skateboarding will be one day on the cover of the NY Times sports section. As skateboarding gets more and more competitive more and more mainstream, and more and more coverage, big corporation will change it for future generations. The risk now is that skateboarding starts escaping true skaters and land in the hands of people that know nothing against the true essence of skateboarding. Regardless that Rob Dyrdek is a skater himself or that the League has been endorsed by 24 top-nocth international skaters, including Chris Cole, the 2009’s Dew Tour Champion, Maloof Money Cup Winner, twice X Games gold medalist and Thrasher’s Skater of the Year. In regards to his exclusive commitment to Street League™ Chris Cole says, “It’s what we have always wanted; it’s a contest circuit that is actually created, owned, and operated by skaters.” But opponents say that if things keep going this way, skateboarding will be just like baseball and other competitive sports that impose restrictive rules and don’t allow any creativity with crazy-ass coaches yelling at everyone in front of thousands of posers sited on bleachers.

People think that skateboard is about to die because when they “started skateboarding, it was a way of life, not a sport, and it never will be!” Actually, this argument is at the center of the controversy: for a very long time there was an argument on whether skateboard is a lifestyle or a sport. The advocates of the “lifestyle” side are against Dyrdek’s idea of The League™ whereas the advocates of the ‘sport” side argue that competitions are okay but it just makes us no different than the jocks that made us feel like crap in school. The time when all the kids play s-k-a-t-e will be gone forever. Skate is not about being better than others and The League is how skateboarding turns out being about competing against each other instead of skating together. Even if it’s a good idea for those who like competition, ultimately, skateboard is not competing against each other, skateboard is like surfing: it is fighting against self and overcoming the elements.

With The Berrics game of skate, it seemed like the sport was for the first time a game with set rules and able to be bet on. Others did it before The Berrics but not like this. Rob is taking it to the next level and obviously is looking to create something that will be the same as other spectator sports.

Actually, Rob defends himself by saying that: “It has been a dream of mine to create a professional tour that bridges the gap between true street skateboarding and contest skating, which to date has been fragmented and misguided,". "Street League is more than just a new contest series; it will redefine the way skateboarding competitions are done.”

So, is The Street League™ a good thing or not? Should we find a way to keep the underground anti-league alive or is it too late? Finally, isn’t it a lesser evil that The League™ is represented and endorsed by some of the best skaters worldwide? Let me know by posting your comment.

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Monday, April 05, 2010 


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