Festivus: Street League
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2010
It’s a little surreal finding yourself sitting in an arena full of screaming kids, watching some of the most amazing skateboarders on the planet going berserk on a custom-made street plaza and competing against one another for their share of millions of dollars … really.
Ask anyone who was at Street League—a pro, an industry dude or a fan in the upper level who’s been skating for half his life—they’ll share the sentiment, because none of us (people who’ve grown up with skateboarding) ever expected to be in this position.
No matter how popular, rich or mainstream skateboarding gets—or how much we should be used to it by now—skateboarding always feels like a small little bubble for the lifers.
There’s always going to be something a little “black sheep” about being a skateboarder, despite how much Target or Toyota tries to get their hands in the till. We didn’t start skating so we could get a reality show and a Bentley.
Our shit is grounded.
The cool thing about Street League though, is that it’s OUR thing. I’m confident not too many skateboarders have an issue with Rob Dyrdek representing them and hosting a contest series. And if you do, then could you please propose a current and more favorable option? A sports network? A soda company? C’mon dude. If Rob is running a contest instead of those kooks, you gotta be at least a little bit thankful.
While the Street League hype was building, many of us heard Rob talking about how the format and scoring system would “keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last minute,” which is probably something most die-hard skateboarders would have trouble accepting … that is, until you witness the last few minutes of a Street League event and you are sitting there screaming, with an arena full of kids, watching some of the most amazing skateboarders on the planet going berserk and competing against one another for their share of millions of dollars.
Did you see the finals in Arizona? Cole vs. Nyjah vs. Malto vs. Pudwill vs. Nugget? Those dudes got gnarly, culminating in a long-overdue win for Nyjah.
Did you see Chaz miss a $150,000 crooked grind in Ontario? Or, to take a more “glass-half-full” approach—did you see Malto’s $150,000 backside overkrook in Ontario? Pretty exhilarating.
As for Vegas, well, Shane O’Neill is the man and what isn’t memorable about anything in Vegas?
Obviously, being out on the streets watching someone like Brandon Westgate or Dennis Busenitz do their thing is equally, if not more raw and exciting than a contest. But, love ‘em or hate ‘em you have to accept that skateboarding has many co-existing realms to it and big money contests are now one of ‘em.
So why not make each realm as bat shit crazy and thrilling as the next? If we can elevate every aspect of skateboarding to the level of the Pro Tec Pool Party, Dylan’s Gravis part or the last few minutes of every Street League event, our little bubble will be an even better place to live in.