No tour? Who cares etc.
“Now, if I were to go out and knock on the doors of Hollywood and corporate America to try and promote surfing, what would I promote it as? Would I promote it as the 40-contest-a-year thing, or would I promote it as a free-wheeling, adventurous, man-and-nature challenge? If I was I corporate sponsor, I know what the obvious choice would be for me: I’d go for the adventure stuff.” – Tom Curren, Surfer magazine, 1987.
Am I the only one getting a perverse buzz watching Covid-19 sweep through the global halls of power like a Soviet purge?
(Death and misery not withstanding.)
World leaders, celebrities, religious figures fall before it. Trillion-dollar industries buckle. Entire countries are brought to heel as the global economy quickly shits its dacks.
All because some idiot ate a pangolin that kissed a bat in a seafood market in China. It’s a viral revolution with a wicked sense of humour
Professional surfing, you’d think, won’t be spared the rod. To the naked eye, the WSL looks like it’ll suffer the same fate as the NBA, EPL, AFL etc. Royally Fucked.
The Australian leg of the tour’s cancelled. Jewels stolen from the crown. The rest of the year uncertain. Many surfers will be feeling the pinch. ‘Specially the QS hustlers going cheque to cheque. There’s no endgame in sight.
Unlike my pal LongTom, I don’t see 2020 being salvaged.
But I’ve got a feeling CEO Erik Logan ain’t that mad about the fall of once-mighty empires. He’s our own little Gorbachev. A realist, pragmatic to a T. And this global crisis presents some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for his new plaything. A time to transition.
From the man himself:
We are going to keep talking about surfing, and worldsurfleague.com will continue to deliver daily content – and release awesome new content – about where surfing’s been, where it is and where it’s going.
We are going to do that on all of our platforms. We are going to increase the volume of content we are producing from WSL Studios, deepen our editorial, and find new ways to stay connected.
There’s never been a better time to become a content provider. People got fuck-all else to do than look at their phones right now. Captive audiences abound.
WSL social channels are mostly healthy.
TikTok’s going from strength to strength.
Erik couldn’t care less about crowning titles when there’s a new ice bucket challenge or reusable plastic straw to go viral.
Even before the outbreak of the ‘rus I could see the tour did not feature in his grand plans. He looks beyond it. Its forced closure is the perfect opportunity for the WSL as a media house to unfurl its wings, and brand surfing in his image.
Unlike most other mainstream sports, surfing doesn’t need competition. It doesn’t need teams. It doesn’t need stadiums. It doesn’t need physical contact of any type.
It’s the future of sport in the isolation era.
Think Julian’s boardslides.
JJF vlogs (noticed those coming through?).
Ben Gravy acid dropping Niagara falls in the name of mental health awareness.
The spectrum of our experience condensed and posted into controlled, curated fifteen-second videos for a worldwide audience to consume.
Forget about Gabe’s heat strategies. Leo and Mikey’s wildcard playoff. Kolohe’s stage fright. Endless non-elimination rounds. There’s too much testosterone. Too much dead air. Too much risk. Not enough ROI when pitching to corporate sponsors. What a perfect time to transition away from it all.
Just like Curren prophesied over 30 years ago.
And it’s good news for us, too.
Because soon the tour will be abandoned completely, in its current form at least. And what emerges from the ashes will be leaner, cleaner, tighter. Depending on who buys the right.
Meanwhile, E-LO will be off chasing $$ from Walmart for his new Soft Diplomacy* YouTube miniseries.
Or it won’t.
And like the rest of the world profession surfing will disassemble, decentralise, disappear.
Either way, we’ll keep surfing.
*In which individuals from two warring factions (Republican & Democrat, PLO & Israeli, Crip & Blood) go for a surf lesson on WSL branded recycled plastic softboards. Erik, you can have this one for free.