Rob Dyrdek’s Street League, the premiere skateboarding tour, is back for a third season, with new dates, locations, qualifying system and an increased prize purse.
“Our goal is to continue to refine the series and make it better year after year,” Dyrdek recently stated.
For better or worse, Street League has emerged as the professional tour for skateboarding, with live national telecasts and a competition format modeled after traditional sports.
But can it be considered a legitimate professional tour when the best skateboarder of the season doesn’t win the championship?
In 2011, Nyjah Huston was unbeatable– dominating the first three contests. But it was Sean Malto who earned the title as Street League champion when he won the winner-take-all championship at the fourth and final event in New Jersey.
If this format were used for professional surfing, for instance, Kieren Perrow would’ve won in 2011 for his victory at the Pipe Masters– surfing’s final and most prestigious event– instead of Kelly Slater. Same goes for the 2012 Supercross season. It would be James Stewart and not Ryan Villopoto winning the title, since Stewart won Daytona, the biggest event on the tour.
In some ways, Street League’s championship is comparable to the playoff system in many mainstream sports where the regular season serves as a qualifier and the championship event as the playoffs. With a playoff system, the most dominant team doesn’t always win. Instead, it’s the team that gets hot at the right time.
It’s arguable which format produces a true champion. But for now, this is what skateboarding has going, and it appears to working for them.