Street League & SPoT Weigh In On New Partnership & State of Skate Contests
Street League announced this week they have put together a new partnership with Skatepark of Tampa. The result is the two companies coming together to define a clear events structure for up-and-coming skateboarders, and also to create a broader content platform for SPoT’s Tampa Am and Pro events.
The thought process from both organizations is to focus mainly on helping support and grow the sport, starting with the very foundation of what skateboarding is built on: youth. By putting more clear guidelines on the contest circuit, and giving incentive to those top skaters in the Tampa Pro, Am, and the Damn Am Series to move up into the SLS events, the two organizations hope to provide motivation to young aspirational skateboarders by keeping them involved and driving participation overall.
We tracked down SLS President Brian Atlas and SPoT Owner and Founder Brian Schaefer to get hear more behind-the-scenes details.
Why did Street League see an immediate need to partner with SPoT to help with live contest broadcasting?
BA: This partnership is not about helping them do their contest. We want them to continue to operate and execute in the same fashion with the very same crew that they have since the beginning. For us, this partnership is about creating some structure between the events skateboarders care about and creating a defined path to greatness for up and coming skateboarders. Since day one we have wanted to support the growth of skateboarding and look for ways to better serve fans of skateboarding globally. When the opportunity to partner with SPoT came up it was an obvious opportunity to serve that mission but also bring some of the most respected, long-lasting live skateboarding content to our platform. To have the SPoT events help to do that is a dream scenario for SLS.
What does this partnership mean for SPoT? How will it help you grow and evolve your contests?
BS: Our partnership with SLS is important in that it will expand the reach of our events, Tampa Am, Tampa Pro, and the Damn Am Series. With SLS promoting the events across all of their platforms, along with hosting the Live International webcasts of the Am and Pro, we can focus on what we're good at, which is throwing amazing events that every skateboarder comes to for a great time. The contests themselves are going to remain exactly the same— just raw, core skateboarding at its finest. The benefits of sending skaters from the Pro, the Am, and the Damn Am Series into the SLS events will give what we've already established over the last 22 years even more importance. Winning our events has always been a milestone for Pros and Ams. Now, it'll be that much bigger.
How do you think putting more structure in place between these two organizations, and the newly formed global qualification system, will help grow the sport?
BA: Right now if you are a pro skateboarder not in SLS it may be unclear on how you qualify or can enter into the league. This partnership further defines those opportunities. On the amateur side, there are so many different events and series with no real understanding of where it all leads or how one amateur event is different from another. To work towards a global am series that can lead to the pro ranks of SLS is very exciting and further builds out some structure for all skateboarders to understand. This should help motivate aspirational skateboarders to stay involved and participate in these events when and where they can.
“Amateur skateboarders comprise about 99.9% of skateboarding. Since they are tomorrow's pros, giving them more opportunities is great for skateboarding as a whole.”—Brian Schaefer, SPoT Founder & Owner
From your perspective, why do you think it’s so important to give Ams the chance to prove themselves and be a part of the SLS tour? How will this help elevate skateboarding as a whole?
BS: You have to assume that any amateur that's coming out to skate our Damn Am events or Tampa Am would like to make skateboarding into a career, but the path from being an amateur to becoming a pro has always been undefined. Now there's a very direct link between doing well and moving on to the next level. The Ams are hungry, they'll welcome the opportunity. Amateur skateboarders comprise about 99.9% of skateboarding. Since they are tomorrow's pros, giving them more opportunities is great for skateboarding as a whole.
How does this alliance help strengthen SLS’ overall business model?
BA: The alliance helps us in a number of ways. For one, it creates a year-long journey for fans that can follow the wider community of pros compete in Tampa Pro as well as our soon-to-be announced SLS Pro Open, right into Super Crown World Championship. On the amateur side, we will be working with SPoT to introduce an evolved Damn Am series that qualifies both into the Tampa Am and the SLS Pro Open in 2016. The additional content, events, and evolved system we are establishing brings a lot more substance to both our brand partners and our fans.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities within the skateboarding contest landscape at the moment? Where does SPoT fall in the grand scheme of things and how do you hope to shape the landscape moving forward?
BS: The biggest challenge is trying to consolidate the amateur skateboard contest space. There are a number of different types of events, with different companies involved in trying to do their own things, but which ones really matter? We want to be the one series that everyone knows really matters, and I'm confident that that's exactly what we're going to do with SLS as our partner.
What specific growth goals and ROI do you hope to meet as a result of this partnership?
BA: I’d love to see SLS support a growing audience for the Tampa Pro and Tampa Am events as well seeing some of the best, most respected skaters, not yet in SLS win their way in and become stars on our platform. Guys like Ishod Wair, Luan Oliviera, and Trevor Colden helped make a name for themselves with Tampa Am and Tampa Pro and we want countless more examples of that in the upcoming years.