Would you enjoy transparency and opinion in your milky surf commentary?
Where I’m from, surfing and footy go hand in hand like religion and guns. Whether it’s Ryan Callinan or the Newcastle Knights, the blind fervour of local partisanship burns bright.
A man’s gotta have a team etc.
So, it’s only natural then that I turn to one to find answers for the other.
(A quick aside. Footy is football is rugby league. Non-Antipodeans often confuse league with rugby union. The difference? Rugby league is a simple game played by simple people. Rugby union is a complicated game, played by cunts.)
League is the most watched sport on free-to-air TV in Australia. But despite its popularity the NRL, its peak body, is in dire straits.
Under siege on all fronts. Sex and drug scandals. A dissolving traditional media model. Increased physicality leading to junior players, its lifeblood, haemorrhaging to “safer” sports.
Still, it makes for great viewing. We simple people watch them shed blood every week. We hoot in jingoistic delight. Watching it on television is even better than the real thing. You get an up close view of the ruck, where all the action happens.
And you get the expert analysis of the commentary panel.
The panel’s a mix of former legends of the games, ex-coaches, top pundits etc. All employed by the governing body, or sponsors and affiliates of.
Skin in the game.
Yet come kick off they speak unencumbered. They’re impartial. They’re honest. They criticise players who are down on form. They chastise referees who make bad calls. In fact, they delight in it. And they will lampoon the powers that be for institutional changes that are impacting the way the game is played.
In real time. On air.
Compare that to surfing. History might be a set of lies we’ve all agreed upon, but as Longtom points out it takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to look at two and two in real time and say it equals five.
Each comp gives us hours and hours of asinine pleasantries and pro-corpo enthusiasm.
“For me, the sub par conditions offer an exciting challenge to the competitors. just like they did last comp.”
“This extra seeding round, I think, improves the format and watchability of the overall package.”
“I really think this year is Jadson’s year.”
Scripts read directly from the spin doctor 101 handbook. Never say anything damaging to the brand.
Ipso facto, don’t say anything at all.
It’s the approach taken by politicians and listed companies.
“The economy is doing just great.”
“I’ve got full confidence in the Prime Minister.”
“We didn’t fire anyone. We are just giving them external employment opportunities.”
Despite the moral payment we’ll all make come judgement day for letting these weasel words seep into our everyday mindset, it sorta makes sense for politicians and the like to employ the tactic.
If your words can be used against you in the future, you need to be careful with them.
But why surfing?
Who does the WSL have to fear?
Even us meatheads that consume League while drinking beer and burning coal are erudite enough to appreciate a lucid critique of the game we’re so passionate about.
It doesn’t make us love it any less. Or think less of its sponsors.
We want to see the sport do well. Go from strength to strength. Continue to entertain us. Provide us that little valve of release from life’s pressure cooker. Same goes with surfing.
Why does the WSL treat us like we just came down in the last Facebook Live stream?
Why not bring some transparency to the fore?
Ronnie letting loose that verbal barrage re: ill-chosen lay-days we all know is sitting at the tip of his silver-plated tongue.
Rosie grilling Jordy after a signature late-round melt: “Whet the fack did you call that, bru?”
Turps, at the sight of another cookie-cutter air rev, finally breaking that monotone drone, ripping the headphones off his Spicoli bob and screaming at Pottz, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”
To be fair, live coverage is a new thing for the sport. It’s come along away from the days of post-production commentaries on hour-long TV packages and late-release VHS tapes.
And it’s even improved since last year.
See Pete Mel’s strident defence of Slater at D’bah, like a teenager who just realised his parents don’t control him anymore.
“This scoring… is… it’s poop! That’s what it is! Poop! Poop! Poop!”
It’s getting there.
But we want to see more of it. Go out on a limb, crew. Call a spade a spade.
And see how we respond.