Who gives a fuck about surfing, other than our globally dispersed splattering of non-conformists and authority-thumbers? The battle for middle America/Australia was never fought, let alone won.
So. This is where we find ourselves.
The 2020 WSL season wrapped in plastic and thrown in a ditch somewhere along Santa Monica Boulevard.
#homesurfchallenges and Russian surf bots assume its place, with E-Lo hoping nobody notices.
Or was it Sam George with Jeff Hakman and the guy from Bros on a beach in Cabo?
I don’t even know anymore.
But I do know we’ve reached peak Covid, at least for this first wave.
It’s time, I think, to take a peek over the other side and wonder what professional surfing might look like in an A.C. world.
Shit is bleak.
Let’s start with the international aviation industry.
The carbon-pumping, border-opening lifeblood of the world tour.
Like a house built on the low tide mark, the WSL has benefited from decades of cost-cutting carrier companies making international travel the cheapest and most accessible it has ever been. The tour and its supporting infrastructure rely on that low water mark holding.
But the tide has turned.
Most countries have shut their borders for who knows how long. The ones that are open generally come with mandatory quarantine periods. Expect that to continue indefinitely for countries with poor health systems, i.e. the ones with all the good waves.
Carrier companies, especially the povvo cheap ones, are collapsing.
When things do come back online the price of a ticket will take a drastic hike as mandatory one seat spacings between passengers are enforced.
What will this mean for tour operating costs?
And what will the ROI be for Quey warriors flying year ‘round to chase points and meagre pay cheques?
The days of easy global travel are no more.
Then there’s the sponsor income streams.
Even before the virus industry brands were being decimated, Soviet style.
Now the cull’s looking more like a Pol Pot bloodbath.
What endemic and surf-adjacent companies will a) be left standing and b) in any position to throw the type of coin needed to rescue an already spluttering tour from its demise?
This is probably the biggest challenge the sport will face.
The Olympics and its supposed shot in the arm for surfing?
About as safe a bet as a Deivid Silva world title.
Then there’s the surfers themselves.
Across the board professional athletes are seeing their earnings cut, if they’re still lucky enough to have a sponsor.
And while the few elite ‘CT should be fine, anybody below, say, the top 16 is gonna feel the pinch.
(Is that a bad thing, though?)
Finally, who is gonna be there to help advocate for the tour when it is ready to navigate the post-Covid world?
In Australia, we’re seeing the national sports fast tracked back to competition. Thank fuck.
But that’s because they’re operating on home soil, with a large percentage of the population pushing for their return. They have solid support from corporate and government interests.
Getting them back online is a money spinner and a vote winner.
Who gives a fuck about surfing, other than our globally dispersed splattering of non-conformists and authority-thumbers?
The battle for middle America / Australia was never fought, let alone won.
Ergo, who is gonna champion surfing to the myriad of stakeholders, stretched across multiple continents, governments, jurisdictions etc, that are responsible for green lighting competition, while the effects of the worst economic crisis in over 100 years play out before them?
Shit is bleak, bleak, bleak.
The tour looks viable no more.
As laughable as it is, E-Lo’s pivot to the WSL as content farm is his only logical choice at this point. Expect the convolution of inanity and click chasing to intensify, to the point where the WSL as surfing’s peak competitive and administrative body is no longer recognisable.
It is a dead man walking.
Thing is though, I like competitive surfing.
I want it to continue.
And, I know you do too.
Who will step in and take over the show once the Woz is buried in that same Santa Monica ditch?
What is it it all gonna look like in a post covid world?
Spunky surf commenter seeking advice.