Any sport, anytime, anywhere.
We now know, more than ever, that in our modern world words have the power to hurt. I felt hurt when old mate from Zig Zag said BeachGrit were snark merchants and the comments were where “human hope comes to die”.
That seems not just unfair, but untrue. Hold that thought, please.
I know Chas has already had a swing at the following subject but it does deserve, I think, a story all it’s own.
After much research and deliberation I think we can make the claim, and have it both true and fair, that the 2019 Tahiti Pro had the worst commentary in the History of Sport.
Any sport, anytime, anywhere.
The big day before the finals was a true gift to the WSL as a sporting spectacle. The last such day was 2014.
Five long years ago. Five years in professional surfing is an epoch.
Five years ago the WSL did not exist.
Five years ago there was no Willian Cardoso, no Yago Dora, Wade Carmichael, Ricardo Cristie, Kanoa Igarashi.
Five years ago Filipe Toledo sat out Teahupo’o with an ankle injury.
For a professional league that has now laid on, what I call the narrative pivot, and considers itself, in the words of 2IC Pat O’Connell to be in the “business of telling stories” never has so much ripe material for commentary gone so unremarked.
A truly stunning negation of reality.
Ross Williams was the best of a truly woeful bunch but his fallback line “There are no easy draws on Tour, everyone is a weapon” sounded more and more peculiar as events transpired.
He first employed it as Kanoa Igarashi was giving a tepid performance, that was far from the worst of the day. A generous appraisal is that he was just thoughtlessly repeating a rote phrase.
The actual story was the exact opposite: here we had an actual world title contender who had not been tested in heavy water and was being found wanting, right in front of our eyes.
The story of the coral was comic.
Of course we want Coral Gardeners; not a pre-school kiddie between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn should be allowed to start school until they have mastered the art*. But to have the wozzle send in Joey and Kaipo as the pitch men, and call the play by play was…..it seems too snarky to call it weird.
Whatever is weirder than weird. Joe calling the glowing coral a “cry for help”; there is no precedent in the annals of sports commentary.
Barton was woeful. During the insane Italo/ADS heat Italo’s first wave was ridden in silence.
Action: Adriano De Souza standing tall in a huge watery cavern, one of the best waves ridden in five years.
Commentary (BL): So they literally take the coral and put it into the bamboo and let it sprout?”
(Lea Brassy): “Yeah!”
Missed: an eight-point ride from Italo (Interview with Bourez).
Missed: another eight-point ride from Italo (his best).
Missed the start of another one.
Missed the start of ADS’ heat-winning wave.
BL: “I can’t stop smiling (laughs) These are the days you dream of being a pro surfer (Cardoso safety surfs a shoulder without remark). It’s hard to get to the point of talking about coral but how was it for you?”
If I am being snarky, can you find me another example of a sport that on its day of days so spectacularly loses touch with the play by play?
I spent the weekend searching, looking through thousands of hours of You-tube videos and cannot.
There are clips of commentator gaffes, clips where a guy misses a Touchdown conversion and the commentator claims he kicks it, but nowhere does the commentary completely lose touch with the action.
Medina’s ten-point ride: “I was watching that interview more than the wave and enjoying Jeremy’s insights” (BL).
He missed the days only ten-point ride!
I don’t want to be unfair. I don’t want to trade in snark.
Is it over-reach to claim a new, world-historical low has been reached?
There’s an exchange somewhere between BL and Joe, about Owen and helmets and coral that is better that anything Monty Python every wrote.
And it’s serious.
Real sports have oversight committees or arms-length commentary. It feels terrible to flog this dead horse we all love so much for putting on free live surfing for us to watch, but how could they blow it this badly?
And, what was your favourite piece of commentary gold from the day of days?
I will never get past the “cry for help”.
My shameful secret: the worse it gets, the more I enjoy it.
One more: have we now officially entered the post-sport phase of professional surfing?
*A bootie ban in tropical waters is surely the best way to save corals. Keep schlubs from stepping all over it.