No, I’m not talking about my favorite EA basketball video game, NBA Street. I’m talking about skateboarding! I work for Quiksilver at their headquarters in Huntington Beach California if you didn’t know. Naturally I’m plugged into the action sports industry happenings. This year, Rob Dyrdek’s dream came to fruition with the new Street League, and I really wasn’t sure how it would play out when I first heard about it. He pulled together DC Shoes (a company owned by Quiksilver) and Monster to sponsor his skateboarding Street League. Growing up I was much more into snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, and eventually surfing to a lesser extent over the ball and stick sports, but the appeal went away when my free time dwindled. I was never a huge fan of how you couldn’t really declare a winner or call someone “the best” for any of these sports since it’s subjective to whose style you like, but Rob created a league that comes very close to finding a true winner. I do watch some of the X-games, but only for the good events, like the street skate, and find myself more into the contests they show on FuelTV than the X-games ones. To this day, I have so much respect for the pounding that these guys take just to get this good. In my opinion skateboarding is by far the hardest of the action sports to learn, and is probably why I love watching the street skating contests. This contest series really does embody all that is street skating. Last night the first leg of the Street League competition was aired on ESPN, and after watching it, I knew I had to write why you should be watching it too. Skateboarding is probably the most popular non ball and stick sport, and Rob Dyrdek is taking it to a whole new level showcasing the best of the best.
Rob’s vision was like nothing we’ve seen from the skateboarding world. He threw out the old style/formats for contests where you can go where ever you want on the street course to make a run that suits your abilities, and instead he made it so the skaters would have seven trick attempts for a specified obstacle in the skate park. Dyrdek basically threw out the whole timed run type of contest, which already made it a better platform for a skating event, since nobody is timed when they are street skating, unless a security guard calls the cops. Last night they had four obstacles set up where each skater was given seven tries to do tricks on that obstacle. This brings out some strategy within the contest. If you go for a big trick and don’t land it, you get zero points. If you do an “easy” trick, you don’t get that many points, but it’s much better than bailing. Nyjah Huston ended up winning the event, and I was happy for the 15 year old. He has a silky smooth style that makes everything look effortless. Plus being from Norcal (Davis), always made me root for him a little more or maybe I just get mesmerized by the flowing dreadlocks. If you don’t know who I’m talking about you can check out clips of him ripping hard here and here. Anyways, this contest came down to the wire, and Nyjah laid it on the line throwing down HUGE tricks that the judges rewarded him with high scores to take over first place, and ultimately winning the contest for him. He had a habit of finishing second in nearly every contest I’ve watched him in, so it was great to see him get his first win, and the $150K check to go along with it.
The genius part of this whole league is how Rob made it have the feel of ball and stick sports game. Each trick is scored live before the next guy goes, so you can see the names jumping up and down the leader board with the real time scoring after each contestant goes, so the scoring looks kinda like a basketball game where you can’t win on the first couple obstacles, but you can definitely lose if you fall too much. What makes it feel like a sporting event? The simple fact that all these contest are going to be held in arenas in front of a crowd oohing and ahhhing over the tricks. Supposedly nearly all of them have been sold out. It’s a big step up from the X-games in terms of declaring a true winner, and I think it will help the sport grow/conform for the viewers. It might not ever be as big as the major sports, but it could give the NHL a run for their money!
How can we be sure that these are really the best 24 skaters there? Well, it’s by invite only, and there’s no way any of the top skaters would turn down the invitation to compete. There’s $1.2M in prize money, and $150K up for grabs at each venue. They also throw $5K to the skater with the best trick (highest scored trick of the night), so even if someone isn’t doing all that well, they can go for huge tricks that have a high failure rate to win that backup prize. If you missed the contest last night, don’t worry, they are going to show all three of the contests on ESPN. As an added bonus Rob and Steve Berra are doing the commentating which is much better than listening to Tony Hawk during the play by play during the X-games.