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Street League Teams up with X Games

By Shannon Stern

               

Both the Street League website and their Twitter handle had been silent since January. Imagine my surprise logging on to Facebook Wednesday afternoon to find that they released their 2013 dates. Not only were the dates released, but their partnership with X Games was announced as well. By this point, it is common knowledge that X Games is going global this year. This new partnership means that Street League is going global as well.

           

The first Street League stop this season will be at the X Games in Brazil held in April. This will continue at the other X Games locations in Spain, Germany, and the United States in May, June, and August respectively. There will be Street League stops mixed in as well, hitting Kansas City on June 9th and Portland on July 14th. Once again, the Super Crown Championship will be held in New Jersey on August 25th.

           

Okay, so this sounds like great news…in theory. There are twenty Street League pros. What about all of the other professional skateboarders who compete at X Games? I found little to no information included in the Street League press release and looked to the X Games article for clarity. According to the “X Games Partners with Street League” article on ESPN that was posted on March 13th, “The agreement essentially replaces X Games Men's Skateboard Street contests with Street League events, ensuring that the league's 20 contracted pros are automatically invited to compete at the four new stops. But fans can also anticipate a showing of non-Street League skaters.” Essentially, all twenty of the Street League pros will compete in the X Games events, but the other professional skaters may compete as well. To me, that is not a fair competition. Just because a skateboarder does not skate for Street League does not make them any less of a professional skateboarder than the ones that do. Some of my favorites skate for Street League and some do not. What happens to the ones that do not? Will they still be invited to compete at X Games? I guess only time will tell.

 

"I was in total shock when Street League announced in 2011 about their athlete exclusivity contracts, but now to team up with X Games and what seems to be only giving twenty skateboarders a chance at a skateboarding career, is disappointing,” stated aspiring action sports broadcaster Amelia Allen. “From a business perspective, I can reason with them because combining two of skateboarding’s biggest competitions into one and taking them global can be beneficial. But, I do not want to have to anticipate seeing my favorite skateboarders when I travel across the United States for a competition.”

 

Brad Jay, an action sports announcer, believes that X Games will have a say in the athletes that will be competing. He believes they will not sit back silently and will have input into who is competing in X Games. Jay also stated that the partnership with Street League brings legitimacy to the competition. Now, the best of the best will be guaranteed to compete at X Games. In turn, Jay feels as though the added exposure will draw in bids from other cities globally to host future X Games events. Although some people will be left out, that is just the way it goes. It is tough to make the cuts. But, Jay knows that the goal of the event is to still draw people in, including both Street League skaters as well as those who did not make Street League’s cut, such as Eric Koston, Lizard King, and Adam Dyet.

           

Not only does Street League involve the skaters, they have an entire broadcast team working with them as well. What happens to those who are only involved in X Games? Will they still be able to broadcast the event, since technically it is still X Games? Once again, only time will tell.

           

Jay’s love has always been with street skateboarding. It has always been his favorite. He believes that there are politics involved in the sport that do not need to be there. It just complicates things. Jay definitely wants to be back up in the booth this summer having a hand in the announcing of Men’s Skate Street at X Games in LA.

           

While I can understand, from a business perspective, why this decision was made, it still leaves me uneasy. This is a great way to add more contests, broaden the fan base, and expand skateboarding as a whole. As was noted by people in the industry as well as spectators, this was a very strategic business decision. While Josh Posner, a skateboarder, father of two skateboarders, and the person who got me involved in this industry, sees all of the skateboarding events globally expanding as a good way to get the skaters involved and a great business decision, he ultimately thinks that Dydrek, the name behind Street League, became corporate. As Posner put it “Dyrdek sold out.”

 

But, skateboarding is not comprised of one singular company, one competition, which involves twenty professional skateboarders. There are other skateboarding events and competitions as well as a plethora of other skaters. Why only show the world a select few? Not to mention that street skating is not the only discipline in skateboarding. Now, street skating is being shown at a much higher level than vert skating. Is that fair? I certainly do not think so.

 

This decision leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Not only are the events global, the majority of the US based events are on the West Coast, besides the Championship in August. Why not spread them out more evenly? Almost all of the action sports events as it currently stands are West Coast based. Bring some of the events back to the East Coast so all of the action sports fans have a chance to attend the events. It is moves like this the deter people, such as avid action sports fan Anna Selden, from attending the events in person.

 

The news that broke Wednesday is not the only news to shake the action sports world this year. The death of Caleb Moore shook the industry earlier this year. In response to the accident, the safety of the Best Trick contests was re-examined. It was announced earlier this week that both Snowmobile Best Trick and Moto X Best Trick would be dropped from X Games. Jay sees this cut as a good decision for X Games to help determine the safety of the sports and to go back to the drawing board to see what else they can come up with. Other action sports brands have also dropped athletes and teams from their rosters.

 

So, with two out of the three major action sports competitions making the move globally, will Dew Tour follow suit? Dew Tour, it is your move.