World Surf League pivots to teen social app TikTok: “It’s so endemic to who we are as a sport.”

"On TikTok, two of the five most-followed North American sports leagues are non-Big Four: UFC (674.3K) and The World Surf League (611.4K)."

You into TikTok, the two-year-old Chinese vid share network adored by teenage girls?

Yeah, me neither.

But maybe we’re missing something.

The World Surf League, which is a surf-content creation company owned by a non-surfing billionaire and former waterman of the year, is all over it.

And, as revealed in a story in Front Office Sports, the WSL was one of TikTok’s earliest sports accounts.

Come, read, it’s good.

Over time, (WSL Chief Community Officer Tim) Greenberg saw the synchronicity between TikTok’s musical inclinations and WSL’s surfing background. “Video surfing is aspirational, and music is aspirational in a lot of ways – therefore, we have this very natural space to begin programming content because it is so endemic to who we are as a sport,” he said.

On November 20, WSL posted a close-up of waves merging under a sunset with the song, “Can We Kiss Forever?” by Kina playing in the background. In only 12 days, it has mustered more than 14.4 million views – the most of any WSL post – and 2.1 million likes. As of December 2, the WSL has surpassed 611,400 followers – the fifth-most of any sports league, according to Conviva.

With the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo on the horizon, Greenberg wants to further the WSL’s diversity efforts. According to him, 70% of its followers are female and its three biggest countries are Australia, Brazil, and the U.S. But with TikTok, he sees the Olympics as a perfect chance of broadening both the WSL’s audience and geographic reach.

“As our sport is put on the world stage, it’s going to be important for us to keep [the Olympics] in mind and have a very focused, deliberate content strategy heading into 2020 that focuses on supporting our athletes,” Greenberg said. “As [TikTok] creates enhanced tools and more opportunities for us to reach newer audiences, we want to make sure that we’re focused on what’s going to drive our business and that consumer journey that connects back to the WSL.”

Stand there while I unpack the best quote.

“We want to make sure that we’re focused on what’s going to drive our business and that consumer journey that connects back to the WSL.”

Does this excite or does it signal, to you, the final capitulation of a once-great culture to phone zombie VALS?

Breaking: WSL Cancels Bells, Margaret River, likely G-Land, “We want to share positivity during these anxious times!”

"Hardship is forcing creativity!" says WSL CEO Erik Logan.

As predicted a few days ago,

Bells is going to be cancelled for the first time in fifty-eight years (“It’s a bummer,” says the Curl’s Neil Ridgway, “Bells at Easter with the surf pumping and the stands thumping is better than Christmas for us, but in the end it’s just a surfing contest”) and Margaret River, the tour’s on-again, off-again, stop is out for 2020, even without the spectre of Great White sharks.

From the WSL,

Due to the continued evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Surf League (WSL) is postponing or canceling all events, at all levels of competition, through the end of May. This includes the postponement of the remainder of the events in the Australian leg of the Championship Tour, Bells Beach and Margaret River, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The Quiksilver Pro G-Land – scheduled to take place in a remote part of Indonesia in June – will either be canceled or moved to an area with more infrastructure.

While full details about the impact these changes will have on the 2020 Tour are not yet available, the WSL is working diligently to land the best solution for surfers and fans alike.

The love of surfing is the bond that holds our global community together. We want to share positivity during these anxious times, by continuing to celebrate that bond, and our shared passion for this sport, the ocean, our athletes and one another.

Opinion: In accordance with new motto “An Abundance of Caution,” World Surf League must declare Nat Young 2020 champion!

Break out the celebratory methamphetamine!

Let’s just take for granted that the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2019 has thrown the entire world off its axis, and along with it, our World Surf League. Let’s just assume there will be no 2020 World Tour. Let’s just factor there may be a few events but no “series.”

No “league.”

Except every year needs a champion and this year belongs to Nat Young.



Due an abundance of caution, of course, seeing as it’s our World Surf League’s new motto.

And Nat Young, longtime professional surfer, Santa Cruz local, blonde, snagged a precious top ten finish in the last professional surfing event of the calendar year likely, in Australia’s Sydney Surf Pro and might currently lead the World Qualifying Series.

Either him or Australia’s Matt Banting.

I can’t tell.

Who can?

Whichever the case, we need a champion and give me a coherent reason why Nat Young ain’t it.

Sure, there will be discussions and asterisks. Certainly there always are in pandemic shortened years.

Nat Young as 2020 champion.

Or Matt Banting.


Nat Young.

But who in 2021?

I’m jet lagged and can’t do math.

Or think.

The sweet dance of tongues.
The sweet dance of tongues.

Watch: Flaunting calls to distance, socially, Killer Whale and baby Grey Whale engage in passionate “French Kiss!”

Love in the time of Coronavirus.

And has French kissing ever been a more dangerous display of affection than it is right now, in this historical moment, when France is the new epicenter of our world’s Coronavirus pandemic and the disease is spread, mostly, through human mouth/nose contact?

Oh the dance of tongues is as forbidden as taking two child brides is everywhere outside of Utah.

Frowned upon.


But, thankfully, we have nature to tamp down our sheer panic and pull us, once again, toward the right path for you remember your first French kiss don’t you? Such a coming of age moment. So necessary for human development and watch here as a Killer Whale and baby Grey Whale remind us of the pure passion, the pure glorious passion.

The Killer Whale appears to twist its head round and round, taking the baby Grey Whale’s tongue and filling the water with the color of love.

The color of sweet romance.

Back to your first French kiss, though. Do you remember where and with whom?

Mine was in Coos Bay’s Egyptian Theater with a high school sophomore named Candy Gram.


Welcome to America, now you're in jail.
Welcome to America, now you're in jail.

Humbled surfer-father and young daughter declared “Enemies of the State” upon return to USA, forced into “Internment Camp!”

"Avoid contact with others."

“This could get very ugly. Extremely brutal with much wailing, gnashing of teeth and other wanton displays of grief.” I tell my young daughter as the stewardesses aboard Delta flight 119 with direct service from Charles de Gaulle to Los Angeles International deliver the “welcome Bellinis.” Peach puree for the children. It’s a nice touch, bringing some upper class to the petit bourgeois here in the back, and why Delta is now the number one US carrier, leapfrogging both United and American this past year.

“…there are reports of six to eight hour waits in the airports back home while medical folk scramble to take temperatures and give comprehensive interviews to those returning from the Schengen, which hasn’t been this dangerous since 1944.” I continue, after we toast. “It’s all very poorly designed at chaotic and could be grotesque. Endless serpentine shuffling with the sleepless, jet lagged, face mask’d hordes. Do you care?”

She takes a sip and shrugs.

This whole adventure to shred Europe’s Coronavirus Zombie Apocalypse has truly turned her into a little Arab, an honest practitioner of the “Inshallah Life.”

If God Wills.

There is nothing we can do to change this arc so we might as well sit back and laugh when and where we can, shrug when and where we can’t.

Her mother, on the other hand, has the unique ability to bend fate to her liking. She is why we’re drinking Bellinis while hurtling toward Los Angeles instead of on our way to a Caribbean prison island. Why I’m not weaving palm frond hats for us both.

And who knows what happens next? Paris went into complete lockdown two hours after our final steak frites. President Macron, furious with the French for continuing to live their lives in pink, closed all restaurants, bars, cinemas. Mimes forbidden from miming. Le Tower Eiffel darkened. Chanel, Dior, Hermès boarded up as if preparing for a hurricane.

Germany shut its land borders for the first time since World War II.

New reported cases, and the death toll, continue to rise as Europe is now Coronavirus “ground zero’ but this madness is coming to the United States next once people actually start getting tested. Cases will leap from the hundreds to the thousands overnight threatening to take the stock market all the way to zero.

Wild, crazy days ahead.

We watch Happy Death Day together and 10 Things I Hate About You before she pivots to Blue Crush and I move over to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I had seen it in the theater upon return from Paris last time and had slept through the entire thing.

It’s a fine film, worthy of all the praise but I’d find myself glancing over at Blue Crush often, forgetting that Noah Johnson surfed for Kate Bosworth in every single scene and become mesmerized by the grotesque oddity of big man legs paired with the most petite face.

And then we are circling LAX. The stewards and stewardesses, as confused as anyone, had delivered hastily printed “United States Traveler Health Declaration” forms but had no idea what anyone was supposed to do with them. Midway when the plane was over Nevada they had announced, over the intercom, that health officials would be boarding the plane, conducting interviews and tests and everyone should stay in their seats.

This news is reconfirmed as we wait to land, circling. I get a taste of the hardships those cruise passengers had to endure. The ones floating at sea with no port willing to take them and am forced to order one more vodka soda and watch the introduction to Bethany Hamilton’s Unstoppable.

A surf journalist to the very end also unstoppable.

After a few minutes we are given permission to land. Everything normal except for people actually staying in their seats once the airplane reaches the gate. Another announcement is made, this one stating we will all be getting off instead.

“Time for travel nightmare hell.” I tell my young daughter.

She shrugs.

We walk off, down the corridors into a custom’s hall so overstaffed with medical personnel in face masks and officers that it takes all of ten minutes to reach the street outside. An LAX customs record. The medical personnel welcomed us warmly, asked if we had symptoms, took our temperatures, (young daughter 97.8, surfer-father 98.1) and gave us a card that read:

“Health Alert: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

You have traveled to a country with an outbreak of COVID-19 and are at higher risk. Stay home for the next 14 days and monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and watch for symptoms.

We are now officially enemies of the state, forced into the internment camp of our home but I’ll obey the rules as I’ve already infuriated enough people with my “ruthlessly cavalier” attitude toward a pandemic. Heedlessly dragging my young daughter along for misguided kicks. My mother-in-law let it be known she is “extremely angry.”

Well, how does this damned Coronavirus spread? By having other people cough in your mouth or touching faces with Coronavirus tainted hands. Through other people. My young daughter and I paddled out into a virtually empty European lineup, two of very few at every fabulous restaurant. With only slightly more at churches, zoos, parks and palaces. Many feet apart from all.

Much natural social distancing but joy everywhere.

It was an unbelievably surreal experience, something I am so beyond happy to have shared with a person who will grow into this crazy world and have to choose her own way to approach the next apocalypse, whatever and whenever. To play in these margins together. To dance down the Seine by night, dance through the Tiergarten by day and toast Bellinis at the end.

She amazed me in every single moment, always looking for the adventure, always one step ahead and I am humbled.

Humbled in the same way marquee athletes are “humbled” by smashing their competition with a dazzling show of unique skill and bravado seeing as she’s my own flesh and blood.

That li’l champion is, without doubt, going places.

In fourteen days.