From the Surfers-rule-jocks-drool Dept: Malibu High School drops 11-man football, keeps surfing!

My, how times have changed!

Once upon a time surfers were outcasts, deadbeats, ne’rdowells, trouble-niks and their sworn natural enemies were jocks. Big, strapping, buzz-cut’d, part of the system, man. For years and years these two groups fought a asymmetric war. Not asymmetric like modern surfboards, no. Asymmetric in that jocks had muscles and strength so that the surfers, skinny and addled, could not go mano-a-mano with any hope of success. The surfer would rather attempt to make the jock feel lame.

My how times have changed.

For now it is the mighty jock who has been shunned by society. The once-proud football player maligned. His game criticized as “retard-making.” His way of life erased and the once lowly surfer raised up and seated upon the throne of “things parents want their kids to do.”

Let us now read about the sad fate of 11-man, or real, football at Malibu High School.

It’s clear that surfing — not football — has become the more attractive sports option to Malibu students. The school has a surfing team that’s more than twice the size of the football team.

“We’re on the coast, so it only makes sense,” (one time Malibu High football coach) Lawson said. “The whole demographics of football and all the concussion concerns have changed things. Going eight-man football is better than dropping football.”

High school participation in 11-man football declined for the second consecutive year nationwide in 2017, according to the annual survey by the National Federation of State High School Assns. The decline was 21,465 out of more than one million participants. Football is still the No. 1 participatory sport by a wide margin, but signs of trouble can’t be ignored.

Practice rules have changed to include less hitting, which might reduce concussions. But there’s a lot more to be done. There are so many sports options to have fun. Football can’t rely on the past. Coaches must innovate and lead.

And these are the days of our lives.

Occ, Kelly, Vaughan, Jed etc. | Photo: @kellyslater

Listen: Vaughan Dead vs Kelly Slater vs Jed Smith!

Ain't that Swell hits apogee at dirty ol Victorian bowling club… 

During the recent Bells surfing carnival, the podcast Ain’t That Swell put on a live show at the Torquay Bowling Club, a sports joint for old people on the waterfront there in that lizardy surf town.

Over two-and-a-half hours, Vaughan Dead (Goons of Doom frontman, bro of Ronnie, writer, surf identity etc) and Jed Smith (likes weed and getting jerked off on massage tables) made a very good interview with Kelly Slater, who licked his lips and opened his mouth wide to catch Vaughan and Jed’s consecrated whiskey rainfall.

Kelly explains why he jumped on Adriano’s world title with the pool reveal (“I wanted to put it out before Pipe even happened!”) and various other things and Vaughan talks of making out with Layne Beachley at the Rip Curl Media Night some years ago.

Some of the stories will make you weep, some whimper.




gabriel medina
I was apoplectic Medina didn’t win at Bells, but I realised that in the grand scheme it will not matter. Ultimately I believe that he will not only win the world title this year, but he might have it wrapped up by France. (Even allowing for the inevitable juiced scores of the Golden Child). | Photo: WSL

JP Currie: “Gabriel Medina is the most naturally gifted, progressive and powerful surfer in the world”

Scottish surf gambler falls under spell of man he once hated…

At some point during the Bells event I had an epiphany. I was violently affected by Gabriel Medina.

Suddenly, I recognised that he is the most complete surfer in the world. He is the most naturally gifted, the most progressive and the most powerful. He is not just a double world champion, but the future winner of many, many more titles. He is the GOAT in waiting.

And what a transition. What a character arc. Where once he was the Night King; now he looks like the rightful heir to all of the Seven Kingdoms.

He’s come a long way from the moment we shared in Portugal. Minutes after a buzzer beater defeat in the final by Julian, Gabby and I were alone, behind the event scaffolding.

We locked eyes: his filled with tears; mine with joy.

I wanted to see him cry then. I wanted to see the bubbling little Brazilian baby crying his dark eyes out at the unfairness of it all. But we’ve changed, both of us.

Today, I would snivel and snotter with and for him.

Sometimes, exceptionally talented people are hard to like, especially if they are young. But you can hardly blame them for brimming with the self-confidence that supreme talent affords.

It must be difficult.

Given even a national level of athletic talent as a teenager I would have been an unbearable cunt. I can’t imagine how you rein things in if you’re world-class. Top talents are often polarising, Kobe, Tiger, Floyd Mayweather, Neymar, Michael Schumacher, Lebron, Shaun White.

For all the adulation, there are millions who yearn to see them implode. We all love a fallen idol.

Lots of surf fans hate Medina, primarily because of his nationality. Or because he’s the one surfer in the world better than golden boy John Florence on any given day.

But, racist or American or not, you should consider the objective facts.

When Medina joined the Tour in 2011 as a seventeen year old (during the experimental and short tenured mid-season rotation) he blew the doors off.

There’s a reliable, early way to determine superstars in the NBA – they don’t start slowly. The good guys are nearly always good right away. Same with surfing. Think Kelly, think Parko and Mick both winning events as teenage wildcards. Think Gabriel Medina. There is no weakness in his game, none.

He won two of his first four events outright and made the quarters at Pipe.

His aerial surfing changed the game. He was banging out perfect 20s on the WQS and carried that form onto the CT. Judges hadn’t a clue how to score him.

No-one was doing airs like Medina.

There’s a reliable, early way to determine superstars in the NBA – they don’t start slowly. The good guys are nearly always good right away. Same with surfing. Think Kelly, think Parko and Mick both winning events as teenage wildcards.

Think Gabriel Medina.

There is no weakness in his game, none.

He can win on any day, at any wave, in any conditions. He is tactically savvy. (For pure, cinematic brilliance, sending Jordy over the falls at Pipe last year was a tactical masterstroke that will never be bettered.)

He cares about winning. He loves competing. He has the optimum level of cunt in him. And he’s an absolute beast. A physical specimen who could rag doll the best of us.

You might poke at his style, but you would be naive. Style scores nothing, if anything it might cost you a point or more.

Medina surfs at the absolute apex of the given performance criteria. Why would he do anything else? I’ve heard Parko refer to him as “the most talented human I’ve ever seen stand on a surfboard.”

And remember the goatpool? Remember what happened when everyone was given the perfect canvas to showcase their skills? All of a sudden the gulf between Medina and everyone else looked even greater.

At Pipeline last year he was masterful. I’m no pro surfing historian, but I can’t believe many performances have ever been so dominant, even in the eyes of the layman.

Recently, Ronnie Blakey said that he thought Medina might have been studying the form of some of the great Bells performers of all time. He reckoned Medina might have got better. That’s a terrifying prospect. If true we could see a period of competitive dominance like the Slater era.

I was apoplectic Medina didn’t win at Bells, but I realised that in the grand scheme it will not matter. Ultimately I believe that he will not only win the world title this year, but he might have it wrapped up by France. (Even allowing for the inevitable juiced scores of the Golden Child).

My mortgage is on it.

Longtom put it best in his Chelsea grin of a rebuttal to Sam George: what Medina did at Bells is yet to be understood.

Gabriel Medina is playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers.

WSL President of contest etc, Erik Logan, left, and Chas Smith, BeachGrit, multi-shaka.

Dear Friends: What would you like to ask WSL Pres. of Content, Media etc. Erik “Elo” Logan?

Tuesday is the day!

This coming Tuesday morning I will be sitting down across a fine, oak conference table with all the bells and whistles, from the World Surf League’s President of Content, Media and Studios Erik “ELo” Logan.

The table, if I recall, has one of those fancy conference phone call gizmos in its middle and also USB ports near each seat. I assume it also has plug-ins for various other technologies. Bluetooth, Firewire and the like.

It’s far too large to clear in a single bound but, with a small running start, could be slid across much like the Duke boys slid across the hood of the General Lee as long as avoiding the conference phone call gizmo in its middle is considered beforehand.

Oh I don’t know why I’m even considering such dramatics. President Erik Logan is our friend. He is willing to speak openly and candidly with David Lee Scales and me for our bi-curious podcast The Grit! but I am merely a vessel for you.

For The People™.

So tell me, what would you like to ask Mr. President?

What are your innermost curiosities?

What do you want to know and/or what do you want to say?

I’m yours.

The sexy former colour man Ross Williams with Pottz, left, and Smoking Joe, at right.

Discussion: Should the WSL Loose their Commentators’ muzzles?

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?

Imagine it.

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.