While I am very certain there was much joy in John John Florence’s camp at his punching one of the two tickets to this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, the world’s largest media organizations only had teary headlines.
The New York Times: “Kelly Slater Misses Olympic Surfing Berth as John John Florence Qualifies”
CNN: “Surf legend Kelly Slater to miss out on Tokyo Olympics”
The Guardian: “Kelly Slater misses Tokyo Olympics as John John Florence takes final US spot”
And while the lack of exclamation mark in each is unsettling, the point is clear. People wanted to see the greatest of all time competing in surfing’s Olympic debut.
Yet there is still a bold and beautiful way forward. An opportunity for Kelly Slater to not only punch his own ticket but possibly bring peace to the Middle East.
As floated here five months ago, on my birthday coincidentally, Kelly Slater is of Syrian descent and would no doubt be embraced by the war weary Arab Republic.
Just imagine how much joy it would bring, how much wonderful warm joy, for Kelly to take an entire nation on his shoulders. To carry the hopes and dreams of children from Damascus to Homs, Latakia to Aleppo. A storyline so moving not even the World Surf League’s Office of Content, Media, Studios could botch.
Now, it might be argued that Slater’s surfing for Syria would further legitimize an evil dictator but Bashar al-Assad ain’t so bad, just a doe-eye’d ophthalmologist from London thrust into a tough spot. Just doing what he can to get by. Having Kelly Slater, and Kelly Slater’s energy healer Charlie Goldsmith, in the room would certainly help him make better decisions or at least be happier with the decisions he is making. To live in the moment, enjoy his accomplishments etc.
What is impossible to deny is the unifying power a Kelly Slater for Syria Olympic run would have. Government and anti-government forces would gather together in coffee shops and clasp hands as Slater dispatched surfers from Australia, France, Brazil. Kurds would forget their many and varied beefs while holding their breaths alongside Syrian Turkmen.
Kelly Slater’s ability to captivate would even overwhelm the most hardened ISIS man for it is impossible not to be swept away.
Would peace in the Middle East be a stretch too far?
Well, who could have ever imagined that a 47-year-old from Cocoa Beach, Florida, by way of Syria, would still have the sweetest carving 360 in the game.
More as the story develops.