Welcome geriatrics, to the greatest show on surf!
America’s National Football League (NFL) gets slapped with the moniker “No Fun League” from time to time due to its litigious nature, love of fining players, disallowing elaborate end zone celebration, etc. It really can be a soggy wet blanket but an even soggier, wetter blanket has just dropped on the professional sport scene and it is called the WSL!
CEO Paul Speaker and crew have gone out of their way to make pro surfing a game for geriatrics. Take this latest KFC commercial dust-up, for instance. If pressed, I have to admit that Chick-fil-a makes a better sandwich but the piece was light and funny and completely unoffensive. And yet, the WSL is siding with Mick Fanning’s mom in trying to get it removed from the airwaves. I am sure that Mick Fanning’s mom is a lovely woman (she once got very angry with me!) but she is also old. Are the sensitivities of old people really where the WSL wants to be positioning the brand? When it gets out that the league has its singlet in a bunch over a South African parody will younger consumers say, “Rad. The WSL is like the cranky elderly man who shouts at me for skateboarding down the sidewalk. I like it…”?
Likewise with forcibly removing cute videos from your very own BeachGrit and the much less provocative/totally vanilla Surfing Life. “Take those down, youngsters!” CEO Paul Speaker crows from his rocking chair. “Take those down dagnabbit!” Graham Stapelberg echoes waiting nearby to rub Vics Vapo-Rub on CEO Speaker’s chest.
I get that professional surfing is a different game than “free” surfing except for it’s not and it shouldn’t be and it used to not be. I’ve told this story many times but I will tell it again. I made tons of fun, a few years back, when the WSL was called the ASP and CEO Paul Speaker was called CEO Brodie Carr. I made fun of the surfers, events, locations, and CEO Carr, especially that he wore a deliciously tight baby blue t-shirt, like, always. What did he do? Challenge me to an arm-wrestling match. He bounded into the bar where I was drinking a beer, hood over his head like Floyd Money Mayweather, and smashed me very easily. I have loved Brodie ever since and it is because he doesn’t take himself ultra-seriously. It is because he knows, above all, surfing is a laugh.
And CEO Speaker, any time you want to have a go I’ll be waiting. Graham Stapelberg can even come rub Vics Vapo-Rub on your bicep before I smash you.