Both Teams Played Hard: A Regular-Ass Sports Dude’s Take On Street League

October 16, 2010


c'mon man


Originally, I intended to do a Bill Simmons-esque running commentary on the 2010 Street League grand finale in Las Vagas with my fraternity dude brother. He agreed to come over and all that shit, and I tested the cassette tape recorder to make sure it still was operational.

Go time.

However, he had ensconced himself so trenchantly in his man cave that dragging him out in the midst of a tropical storm-inspired rainy East Coast night became futile. So, we executed a running commentary by text message for as long as he condescended to watch Street League on ESPN2HD. One would assume that Dyrdek focus-grouped the fuck out of some regular-ass sports dudes before launching the whole thing, but just in case, I have interspersed the resultant quotes with a series of recommendations (from myself, not my brother) for making Street League more appealing to the average sports dude.

Why is my brother qualified to provide such feedback? He is a regular-ass sports dude. He created a man cave in his home and refers to it as such.  He holds season tickets to a Division I college football program (as a matter of fact, as I type this, he is up there killing it at homecoming weekend). More importantly, he does IT engineering shit for a living, so he is quite rational, enabling him to provide quality feedback.

In addition, why, might you ask, am I qualified to provide feedback re:@streetleague? I like sports. I won a fantasy football league in 2002 (I think). When I lived in the tri-state area, I listened to WFAN religiously. The start of the Mike and the Mad Dog show coincided with the beginning of my lunch break at my old job, so every day I would listen to it on a cassette walkman in the break room by myself.

Like a mental patient.

When 12′ o’clock rolled around, I would refresh compulsively to see the newest Bill Simmons column, often reading them surreptitiously by cut/pasting into an email. I like sports, and I like skating, so why did Street League–at least the Ontari0, CA event–literally put me to sleep? As I watched Sean Malto land overcrook after overcrook, I felt myself slipping into the arms of Morpheus, like Jimmy Page with a fresh shot of heroin circa 1973. With that in mind, I respectfully submit a handful of recommendations to make the Street League more appealing for the average sports dude, which was its goal, based on some Dyrdek interview on an ESPN/Disney web site. This is kind of like the YES Network interviewing Joe Girardi about the upcoming season and how Jeter is still the best shortstop out, or some shit.

Besides the above interview, I did not hear or see of any coverage of Street League in traditional sports media. I don’t watch Sportscenter anymore though–can’t deal with the information overload. If anyone can recommend a more low-key sports news program, please hit me up @carbonite1994. I did, however, search If you are not familiar with this web site, one could compare it to a much more elitist sports-journalism version of the SLAP Forum–albeit a version on which industry folk post instead of mostly lurk. For example, you have to “apply” or some shit to be able to post there. ANYWAY, deadspin kills it at shit like posting photos of Stuart Scott doing karaoke in Greensboro, NC. The most effective coverage of the Street League finals was through the various twitter feeds of the various industry folk in attendance–especially that Rob dude from S.P.O.T.  So ANYWAY, here is some feedback from my brother, plus some recommendations from myself.

* * *

“I don’t understand any of these words; very confused–like a girl watching football. No explanations of scores, so they seem arbitrary.”

1. Broadcast the contests over AM Radio

What makes baseball extremely effective on the AM Radio is the “Theater of the Mind” element; the players stay in pretty much the same place, so one can visualize the action with relative ease. For example, one just fuckin’ knows what a 6-4-3 double play looks like. Similarly, hypothetically speaking, if one hears “Lutzka 270 b/s noseblunt down the rail,” one just fuckin’ knows what that looks like. In addition, listening to stuff on AM radio makes me feel like an old Jewish guy on a park bench, which is legit as fuck.



designated hitter be damned


“These tricks are lame–nothing I haven’t done in Tony Hawk Pro Skater a billion times. Most entertaining thing so far is that one dude’s dreads.”

2. Rivalries

Dyrdek wants to create narrative. 90% of narrative in sports is built on bitter rivalries. 2004. The Bad Boys Pistons walking off the court in ’91. Federer/Nadal a couple years ago. Unfortunately, most skaters are cool with each other; they lack the elusive “killer instinct”–unless they happen to be playing a game of s.k.a.t.e. at a certain private indoor skateboarding facility.* In that case, no mercy in this dojo, or some shit like that.

Anyway, creating rivalries in skating poses a considerable challenge. Stevie Williams/Darren Harper comes to mind, but is Harper even pro in the traditional sense? Maybe they could have an “undercard” kind of thing with a Berra/Dyrdek vs. Jovantae/Henry Sanchez Tag Team Match of Doom.

I would pay to see that.

me: The best dude in this contest didn’t make the finals, he likes to drink and play beer pong and shit

my brother: Sounds like my kinda dude**

3. Wagering

“You’re my horse. I’m betting on you.”—Rudy [Johnson] to Mikemo about Street League via the ‘tap

Crailtap posts many interesting quotes, but the above is by far the most Bukowskian. Buk knew, as so does most everyone else, the following truism: A gentlemanly wager makes anything (and I mean anything) more interesting. I sincerely believe that most of the interest in the NFL derives from its gambling-facilitating format, whether in the form of FFL, pick-em leagues, over/unders, or what have you. Wagering creates a fabricated, heightened reality that forces one to care. By the way, whenever an NFL (I hate college football–it’s too easy to score) game is on at the gym, I always ask anyone that’s watching “Hey, what’s the spread?” No one has ever known, but if they did, they would undoubtedly be cool as fuck. Come to think of it, the gym is probably the least likely location for a degenerate gambler on Sunday during football season. A more likely one is locked in his bedroom with a cooler of Natural Ice, flipping back and forth from whichever game he has action on to the DirecTV “Red Zone Channel” and back again.

Like a mental patient.

OK, this is not entertaining to me. The guys are just doing short random tricks, not routines. It’s like they’re doing drills. Lame. The most entertaining part is when they fall, just like fights in hockey or NASCAR crashes.

4. Girls, Girls, Girls

Fact: Sexy-ass dancers increase the excitement level at virtually any function. For example, my local minor-league used to bring a hot tub into the arena and station (I have no idea how this was organized or from where these young ladies came) young ladies therein. The team later changed their name and subsequently folded, but that hot tub is the only thing I remember about the game besides my friend ironically yelling “Get off yer knees ref; yer blowin’ the game!” Another case in point: the above Bell Biv Devoe video–apparently their interpretation of the classic “Home Sweet Home” tour saga. Wonder if they still have all those snapbacks…

ANYWAY, Hubba girls*** would probably show up for PBR and Jager.

Might not even have to spring for the Jager.

This does not look hard. I feel like a decent 13 year old could do these tricks.

Maybe they _are_ 13.

5. Press Conference Tirades

Whether passive aggressive, as in the immortal, transcedent Rasheed Wallace “both teams played hard” press conference, or histrionic and Shakespearean (‘THE BEARS ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE”), I enjoy press conference tirades about 100x as much as the actual games themselves.  Unfortunately, the dudes in the @streetleague press conferences (which press outlets publish the quotes from these conferences?) are way too aware of the ways of the internet to ever say anything interesting. So until Antwuan makes it into one of these shits, there’s this video, which hopefully will again be re-uploaded if the powers that be remove it (again).

I’ll tell ya, some of this dialog is so perfect, so over-the-top, it seems inconceivable that it was unreheased. Like that one Jim Mora quote–it comes off like text from an early-Nineties World ad:

me: Hypothetically speaking, if you could attend any sporting event (MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA football, NCAA basketball, NFL, MLS, MLLAX, or Street League), rank in order of preference.

my brother: NFL, NCAA football, NCAA basketball, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLLAX, MLS, Street League.

Me: Dang, MLLAX over MLS?

My Brother: Yeah, LAX is sweet and MLS is lame–not like it’s a World Cup game or Premier League.

6. Mascots

Oh dang–the Skatemental mascot just ate one of the Hubba Girls.

Literally and/or figuratively.


The dialog between me and my brother revealed two main findings: firstly, that regular-ass sports dudes prefer routine-based contest skating to an elaborate, decontextualized scoring system, and, secondly, that regular-ass sports dudes still perceive skating as some shit that 13 year olds do.

How might one change this? Over the course of thinking about and writing this essay, I contemplated the reasons why certain sports are popular. Dyrdek contends that the narrative of the contest itself fuels popularity. I would argue that branding, and the psychological power of said brands, drives the mania of sports fandom.

Specifically, the National Football League is the most popular sport in the USA. I highly doubt that this is due to the compelling nature of the contest itself, in a micro sense. Although there are undoubtedly football nerds out there that appreciate the intricacies of the west coast offense, wildcat offense, and nickel and various other packages (nhjic), most fans allign with football in a macro sense. Even though Commissioner Guidell has laid the hammer down on dudes who shoot themselves in the leg and/or get DUI’s, the NFL still brands itself as a big fuckin’ violent alcohol-fueled party. with hot chicks. on which one can gamble. Unfuckwithable, as far as marketing and branding goes.

Street League focuses, in a micro sense, on the decontextualized act–quantifying tricks–of skating, while ignoring the macro shit that makes skating interesting as fuck. However, there is a brand in the skating universe that has built itself on a philosophical foundation of drinking, strippers, and an acute sense of humor.

Schaefer and them.

So, in order to appeal to the regular-ass sports dude, should @Streetleague  synergize with SPOTlight Productions on some SpikeTV type shit?  Only if they get Clyde and one of those alcoholic baseball lifer types (are any of those dudes still around?) to commentate.

NOTE: if you remember Bob Murphy (rip) and/or Harry Caray (rip), this is well worth the eight-minute time investment:

my brother: So yeah, I think I’m about done with this. Need any more opinions?

me: Nah that’s cool those are some good quotes.

my brother: Cool, glad I could help. Time to go up my entertainment level and watch some paint dry.

*In the wake of P.J.’s loss in BATB 3, I tried to pinpoint its magnitude on the Bill Simmons Levels of Losing scale. I concluded that it was a combination Princeton Principle/Guillotine. P.J. is still the best though.

**Full disclosure: my brother used to have a beer pong table–used only for that purpose–in his home.

***I wonder how much Hubba girls earn per ad. I would bet that it’s between $50 and $200. My only point of reference for this is that I saw on the internets one time that “Suicide Girls” earn about $500 per set of photographs. However, there are thousands of Suicide Girls photo sets and only one Hubba Wheels ad per month, so which is more valuable? Who could possibly answer this question? Ayn Rand herself, perhaps.

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