The WSL serves up lukewarm Sunday mush.
It is early Sunday early afternoon and I am in Portland, Oregon with my gorgeous family. Sunday is, of course, a sporting/entertainment/family day on television and, being in Portland, the television is on because it is raining outside.
My two-year-old daughter needs a nap but I am channel surfing for a minute before serving her an organic goat’s milk bottle and turning off the lights. I pause on football and she says, “No, papa. I want to watch a girl thing.” I pause on Kurt Russell’s masterful Big Trouble in Little China and she makes me stay until its conclusion because, “Big kids don’t get scared of it.”
I pause on the Portugal contest which is airing on ABC’s World of X and I forgot they did this. It is a cut for network package detailing the highlights, per round, with expert WSL analysis from your favorite commentating team and Olympic-style cut away interstitials featuring Tiago Pires and some other Portuguese surfer. My daughter says, angrily, “Papa, turn this crap off!”
And is she ever right. I am, for better/worse richer/poorer a fan of competitive surfing but watching Mick Fanning’s hunchbacked approach floating a slo-mo 2-foot piece of Portuguese beachbreak is awful television. It is supremely awful when compared to the National Football League. But it is equally awful compared to Kurt Russell’s award-winning Big Trouble in Little China. It is awful compared to the women’s ice-skating we watched together earlier in the day. It is awful compared to the Chevy Chase franchise Vacation remake we watched last night. It is awful compared to anything and everything because that Portuguese contest was a) lame and b) whatever.
So why did the WSL agree to showcase garbage contests with junk waves on a national platform? Do the powers believe that it is compelling enough to stand alongside ratings juggernauts (NFL, Big Trouble in Little China) and look brilliant?
I’m afraid my two-year-old’s unbiased impression is proper and correct. Powerful surfing in amazing waves, like Pipeline, draws gasps and wins hearts. Hunchbacked surfing in dribble is confusing, at best i.e. crap.