I don’t know about you, but I like our Dear General Secretary World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. We haven’t spoken much, just a few pleasantries at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch, but… I don’t know. There’s something about her. A spark. And glimmer. Like she could pitch an office chair from Santa Monica’s High Castle in a fit of explosive rage. Like she could have all her enemies killed overnight and never lose that little smile.
Anyhow, she gave a wide-ranging interview yesterday to SportsPro and let’s tuck into some highlights.
On today… “The reasons I took the role have been even more firmly reinforced. The sport’s at an incredibly exciting tipping point. Momentum is building in all sorts of ways. I’ve pretty much loved every minute of it.”
On growth potential… “We have so many different aspects to surfing, both the high-performance, elite end of the sport but it transitions into lifestyle, I think, more authentically than any other sport. That’s a real opportunity, and then also growing the profile of these athletes.”
On the Olympics… “I think we both need each other. The Olympics has done an amazing job, especially over the last few Games, and they’re evolving all the time. But I think they’re aware that there are certain segments of the population out there that maybe don’t resonate as much with it. And I think surfing definitely offers something very different.”
On wave tanks… “I think it’s important to state that the ocean has never been more important to us; the variability, the fact that [the athletes are] also competing with Mother Nature, as well as each other, makes the sport truly unique. But this is very complementary for all of the reasons I mentioned – it allows us to go to markets we could never have dreamed of, to be properly programmable from a TV perspective, to engage with audiences in different ways.”
On building two wave tanks in Paris… “We have one in Lemoore, which is our pilot facility. To be honest, we never thought we’d have events there but it’s just gone so well and the technology has become so robust that we are using that. But we’re building one in Florida; we’re also going to be building one in Tokyo, in Australia, in Brazil, likely LA, and we’re looking at building a couple in Paris.”
On being an agent of change… “I think I’m able to be a bit of an agent for change – again, the timing is right. But I’m not afraid to take some risks and be innovative and when you’re trying to punch above your weight, which surfing is as a sport – you know, we’re an emerging sport – we can have that challenger mentality. We have the flexibility because of the structure to act that way, which is incredibly exciting.”
All very great but tucked into the middle of the interview was a very cryptic passage, one that I’m having difficulty in really nailing down the meaning. Would you like to try with me? Ok here we go.
“It’s always been known as a kind of counterculture-type sport and progressive for different, maybe political or other reasons. But actually, considering it’s all about the ocean and nature, they’re really open-minded. I mean, the athletes have been fantastic. We’ve changed a lot, we’ve tried a lot this year and they’ve really embraced it, which is great. That hasn’t always been my experience in sports so that’s a real positive for what we’re trying to do.”
Got it? What does this first sentence mean to you?
“It’s always been known as a kind of counterculture-type sport and progressive for different, maybe political or other reasons.”
To me it would mean that surfers are a little rebellious and… no, throwing the “maybe political or other reasons” in really confuses though it confuses less when the following sentence is included. “But actually, considering it’s all about the ocean and nature, they’re really open-minded.”
To contrast “counter-culture type progressive for different maybe political or other reasons” with “But actually, considering it’s all about the ocean and nature, they’re really open-minded.” can only mean one thing.
Our Dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt believes surfers are far-right and probably racist, sexist, ageist too but with hearts of gold.
Is there another reading?