On the eve of skateboarding being included in the 2020 Olympics, Street League Series gives the public a glimpse of what skateboarding is.
Street League Series (SLS) was founded by former pro skateboarder and current TV personality Rob Dyrdek, in 2010.
SLS is a skateboard competition unlike any other. The contest is held across the globe in countries such as Germany, Spain, as well as multiple locations in the states. SLS grants competitors the strategic advantage of in-contest,,up to date scoring. Meaning seconds after a skater lands their trick they’re given a score, 1 out of 10, by five official judges.
The highest and lowest scores are not incorporated into the final score. This allows skaters to create a better strategy, figuring out the needed difficulty to get an ideal score to come out on top.
SLS includes the top skaters from all over the globe, including Nyjah Huston, Luan De Olivera, Chris Cole, Shane O’Neill, Sean Malto, and Torey Pudwill, to name a few.
However, unbeknownst to the public, there are different classes of skateboarding and skateboarders. The culture of skateboarding was built on freedom, lawlessness, and being an outcast to society.
That culture has endured from the 70s into the 2000s, partially. Though there are the skateboarders who participate in contests, the majority of professional skateboarders do not. Instead, opting for the traditional image of street skateboarding, what is referred to in the community as “core”.
Though some contest skaters are looked down upon for doing just that, skating contest. Much more skaters, even “core” street skaters are turning to contests for the unprecedented cash prizes. Over 75k in prize money was given out at this past weekend SLS in Chicago.
The money is good by skateboarders’ standards, but not what it once was in Street League’s inception.
In 2010, 1st prize winners would walk away with over $100,000. This led to SLS super star Nyjah Huston to earn over $1.4 million at the age of 18. Houston has secured 8 first place finishes in the last 4 season of SLS.
SLS has been a hit, even for those who never stepped on a skateboard. The league has gained sponsorship from notable companies such as Nike, Monster Energy, and GoPro. Full recaps of SLS competitions are televised on ABC and ESPN. Live broadcasts are shown on the app ETN.
SLS’s importance lies in its innovation and availability to the public. Before SLS, skateboarding never had a nationally televised platform where the sport’s stars could showcase their talents to the public.
The success of SLS and the fact skateboarding will be in the 2020 Olympic games goes to show that not all skateboarders are punk kids, with malicious intent, out in society with the goal to destroy property. Skateboarding is an art that one must dedicate themselves to. An art that teaches life lessons of toughness, community, and perseverance. An art with an ultimate risk: one’s health and well being.
“I’ll tell you one of the great activities is skateboarding. To learn to do a skateboard trick, how many times do you have to get something wrong til you get it right? And if you learn to do that trick, now you’ve got a life lesson. Whenever I see those skateboard kids, I think those kids are going to be alright.”