Last night I climbed into bed after a long day of surf journalism and began browsing the news. Stories about Covid-19 spikes, economists warning of imminent market collapse and then a headline from The Atlantic that read, “The Mad, Mad World of Niche Sports Among Ivy League-Obsessed Parents.”
“Time for more surf journalism,” I thought to myself, somewhat exhausted but, as a true professional, got down to reading.
The piece begins with a profile of Sloane, a “buoyant, chatty, stay-at-home mom from Fairfield County, Connecticut” who is shepherding her three daughters through school with dreams, like all stay-at-home mom’s named Sloane, of having them placed in Ivy League colleges/universities.
Harvard, Yale, etc.
Fairfield County is called the “Gold Coast” as it sends more children to the Ivy League than any other place.
The daughters need grades, advanced placement classes, social service activities and, of course as the title suggests, niche sports.
I wondered which east coast surf club the girls belonged to as I skimmed slightly ahead. Wondered if they were hitting one-star QSes or focusing solely on the pro junior events.
Then I was stopped dead in my tracks. One daughter fenced. The other played squash. I read again. Fencing and squash then raced ahead realizing the whole piece was about fencing, squash, lacrosse, rowing, water polo etc. with surfing nowhere to be seen. Nowhere to be even sniffed.
I continued reading, anyhow, and realized that too many rich parents put too many kids with too many coaches etc. into these niche sports and now it’s all a big disaster.
Per The Atlantic:
The stampede of the affluent into grim-faced, highly competitive sports has been a tragicomedy of perverse incentives and social evolution in unequal times: a Darwinian parable of the mayhem that can ensue following the discovery of even a minor advantage. Like a peacock rendered nearly flightless by gaudy tail feathers, the overserved athlete is the product of a process that has become maladaptive, and is now harming the very blue-chip demographic it was supposed to help.
Is there an opportunity to bilk rich parents with dreams of Ivy League placement due the entirely recherché activity called surfing?
An ancient Peruvian pastime with roots stretching to Polynesia?
Turning Connecticut’s Gold Coast into Queensland’s and getting wealthy in the process?
Much to ponder.