We all want surfing to be a certain way. It’s the nature of the beast. We all want empty hollow breaks, solo glassy walls, and the personification of our love for surfing to have just as much of a soul as we have developed because of it. When it comes to broadening surfing as a horizon of consumption by the masses, it becomes everyone for themselves as far as who is right and who is wrong. With that said, I have a news flash for everyone:
The same “cynical marketing and faux nationalism” finger being pointed at the Olympics should be cloned and directed towards the very backbone of the WSL. Since when does Samsung have a place in a lifestyle like ours? What is the purpose of providing such a huge audience to surfing when it simply produces a generation of surfers that are one click of a Billabong advertisement away from never stepping foot in their local surf shops? Free wax with every order is making the front counter shit-shooting go the way of the buffalo.
If you think about it, dissect it, and let it all marinate for a bit, the commercializing aspect of surfing itself is the issue. It’s not the olympics or the seldom-faced fact that the WSL is the NBA of a counter culture. While stewing over surfing being grouped in with track and field and figure skating on a global competitive circuit, try focusing your journalistic anger toward the phasing out of the local shaper pumping out boards built to last and shaped for their neighborhood breaks; look at them being replaced by the high volume computer pop outs slapped with a big name logo and sold on websites for an astronomical amount of money. That’s become the industry standard. Now try to tell me there’s nothing wrong with this.
Surfing built family businesses for generations without Red Bull and web edits. The foundations of which are quickly eroding. The Olympic banter and who-did-what-on-tour that has been commonplace in opinion pieces should be replaced with the real issues. Why don’t we buy surf magazines at surf shops anymore? Where are the videos being purchased? If the cashier at Barnes and Noble probably isn’t interested in Dave Rastovich’s tweaked out smile while he’s shot out of a barrel, odds are the computer at Amazon where you’re forced to buy DVDs won’t be either. Why is the general surfing population taking money from local shops to support people who don’t give a damn? And why is it becoming exponentially more difficult to see a future for people who live and breathe this? Meanwhile, the same corporation sponsoring a World Tour issues cell phone bills that equate to a fresh new board in our hands every three to four months. These are the faceless entities that are the future of the surfing industry. It’s a marketable commodity to them. They aren’t going to look miserable when they have to open up a shop in the morning, knowing the waves are firing, simply because they don’t care about surfing. They are too busy crunching numbers after a month of paying sponsorship fees to The Tour, charging you money to watch it all, or while it’s flat, and handing spreadsheets to higher ups and determine if it’s worth continuing to pay Peter Mel to sit in the lineup with a microphone.
While you’re doing that, think about how many people actually have to survive off of the consumer levels of surfing while the widespread one click solutions keep another board from being sent out of the doors of the neighborhood shops, and the option of a pair of 50 percent off board shorts as an incentive makes them lose out twice.
Fuck the Olympics, fuck the WSL, and fuck you too if you don’t go buy a shirt from your local surf shop tomorrow. Get the ball rolling on taking this lifestyle back from its utter destruction. Enough is enough.
PS: Peter Mel rules. May there be no misconstruing that point.