"You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto!"
Today is Christmas morning and I woke up to the most wonderful present under the tree. Dirk Ziff, the owner of professional surfing, reads BeachGrit! Oh I have known that WSL CEOs and CMOs and Graham Stapelberg have devoured our little site for years but never for one second imagined that the big cheese himself had either the time or the inclination to participate. But he is here, like me, like you and this thrills to no end.
And it gets better. Not only does Mr. Ziff read BeachGrit he has a message for us that he delivered at the end of Saturday’s ball where he, alongside wife Natasha, were honored as Watermen of the Year.
Shall we read together?
Some of you are here in this canyon. Journalists, and other influential voices who unload on social media. I wonder if some of you get up every day and stir the milk into your coffee, thinking about what you can write that day that might humiliate the WSL. It goes way beyond constructive criticism, which we all need and which the WSL frequently deserves, and into the realm of foul spirited attack, which I think we can all agree we have enough of right now in this country.
“I have a message to the haters, and it is simple. Be tough. Call us out. Keep us honest. Tell us what we need to improve.
“But don’t pretend you don’t know that when you go beyond constructive criticism and cynically try to rally negative sentiment towards the WSL, when you try to take us down, you are not just going after us. You are going after Kelly Slater. You are trying to take down Lakey Peterson. You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto. You are undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair, dreaming of being a world champion one day.
“And I ask you: Why? It seems pretty obvious that if the WSL keeps growing in popularity, and surfing takes its rightful place among the great and elite competitive sports, everyone connected with our sport, and certainly all the members of SIMA, will prosper, except maybe a few grumpy locals who have to deal with some new faces in the lineup. So…why not work together?
Such passion! So many emotions! And since we know Mr. Ziff reads would you mind if I spoke directly to him?
I do wake up in the morning and make coffee but take it black with neither cream nor sugar. While sipping I enjoy reading surf news and, mixed in, there are often very funny/odd moves by your World Surf League too ripe for jokes. And so I joke and joke and joke. Laugh and laugh and laugh. I have tried to include you. Have begged for interviews with Graham S., Backward Fin Beth, ex-WSL CEO Paul Speaker, etc. though have been rebuffed at every turn so dry my tears and laugh alone.
Leaving the charges of “foul spirited attack” and purposeful “humiliation” and the dream destruction of Griffin Colapinto aside, there is a fundamental misunderstanding in your remarks that goes to the very heart of the matter. You believe that surfing should take its “rightful place” next to basketball, baseball, etc. and that this will bring riches to all connected with the sport and that the odd “grumpy local” fearful of lineup crowding is wrong and antiquated.
But surfing is not a sport, or at least not just a sport. It is a way of life embraced by damaged youth wanting to escape a scowl-faced football coach/P.E. teacher. By fathers who crave 20 minutes alone in the big blue ocean. By mothers whose hearts beat to the news of a rising swell. By a whole host of people with something slightly broken inside. Southern Californians who wake up too early to pull on a stinky cold wetsuit to paddle into bacteria-filled water. New Jerseyites who drive 20 hours holding the faint hope that tides and winds will work. Western Australians who glide over the gaping maws of great white sharks. Brazilians who don’t need wetsuits because their water is so bacteria-filled it self-warms. Floridians who get trunks and bikinis filled with sea needles. Hawaiians.
Surfers are not looking for prosperity, we are looking for… I don’t know. Respite from imperfect lives? An endorphin kick? Laughs? Sadistic knocks? I genuinely don’t know but think we surf because it somehow found our slight brokenness, crawled into our prefrontal cortexes and absolutely refuses to let go.
We surf because we can’t stop.
And the most passionate, these “few grumpy locals” are by far and away your most valuable asset. They may not be Watermen of the Year but have poured more into surfing than money can ever buy. You would do well to ponder what they want besides an ice cold Michelob Ultra brewed from Organic Grains.