In the word’s of Neil Young- “It’s better to burn out, than it is to rust.”
I am now an entirely apolitical person. I excused myself from the annals of the internet in mid 2019 after what you may call internet induced political fatigue. Thats quite a feat considering I come from a family with political roots in both federal and local government, went to a polling university that garners an A+ from FiveThirtyEight where I pursued political science and later went to law school where Mr. Biden himself was a constitutional law professor. The cacophony of purity tests and conspiracy theories from the left and right were so deafening that I now abstain from all news and voting and vowed to fulfill my civic duty by creating jobs in my local economy and being an active participant in my kid’s school district, the ultimate goal being to help impact my local community and hope that there is a butterfly effect that ripples further.
In a country so divided, surfing and reading about surfing were my safe haven. In the water, especially during COVID, my friends and I would put any politically induced stress in a neat box and compartmentalize it for an hour session, focusing on the things that unify us, rather than separate us. Environmentalism was always a topic of discussion, parenting, jobs, etc. But never politics. The sport we love has unified so many disparate characters that it only seemed logical that the sport could get us to drop our arms and embrace our brethren from 6 feet away and enjoy one of the last bastions of human contact many of us have since we are all working from home and trying to also, somehow, teach our kids science via a fucking Zoom connection while also taking conference calls.
Surfer magazine was, for years, the sports bible. With a long history of writing some of the most interesting and compelling articles in surf, Surfer magazine represented, to me, a unifying publication aimed at every surfer. As I exited the internet and stopped reading news, I vowed that the only things I would read would be BeachGrit, PE Newswire, and Surfer. The articles on surfer, especially the ones by Zander Morton, scratched my itch and reminded me of when I would thumb the physical pages as a kid.
As I read daily, I was pleased and loved what I was reading. But as 2020 went on one voice, Todd Prodanovich, stood out as just fucking tone deaf. Dude straight up doesn’t get it. He is the exact type of person that pushed me off social media (and out of Democratic Party affiliation). Purity tests, finger wagging, and hyper politicization of everything are Todd’s name of the game. As things got weird in 2020, TP dropped the facade of any sort of journalistic integrity and wrote articles (more like Vox than Surfer) finger wagging at those who surfed under COVID regulations, selling COVID pseudoscience, finding injustice everywhere, and just being the worst kind of elitist opinionated limousine liberal most liberals hate. Earlier in the year he had a call to action claiming surfers should embrace our anti-establishment roots and then went on this week to endorse a ticket filled with two of the most establishment centric politicians who have ever filled a ticket, how radical.
Fast forward to this weekend, Todd announced that Surfer, is indeed dead. I for one, am happy. He announced that the cover will feature a paddle out for George Floyd and include a longford piece on the LGBTQ community. Those thought pieces are great for those who want that intermingled with ads for the SharkBans, but most of us don’t. I have no problems with the cover or the article, but putting those things front and center, Todd proved that as Editor-in-Chief, he didn’t care about all surfers, just the ones he agreed with politically. It was disheartening to know that TP’s vision for Surfer was not for surfers, but to turn the magazine into yet another virtue signaling outrage machine more focused on having its finger on the pulse of woke than on being the source of truth for all things surf.
We as surfers, are a group of individuals tied by a common bond- mainly a love for the ocean and getting fat tubes. Needless division in our tight knit group should not be tolerated. In almost every surf documentary, people of all races and socioeconomic statuses describe surfing as an escape from their day-to-day. Shoehorning politics and egalitarian elitism into a sport that so many of us rely on for an escape should not be something we accept carte-blanche. Who the hell is Todd Prodanovich to tell us what to think and who is he to needlessly divide us over what he perceives as important. We are anti-establishment, and that’s why Surfer Magazine was replete of political grandstanding, because surfing isn’t supposed to represent that. Also, judging by the fact that the majority of the comments and thumbs ration TP’s opinions into absolute oblivion, its pretty obvious the masses feel the same, at least the ones on Surfer.com.
In the word’s of Neil Young- “It’s better to burn out, than it is to rust.” Thank god Surfer did the former rather than the latter. Todd, Vox and The Atlantic might love your reductive and pedantic race to politicize everything and find your way to the lowest common denominator, but for the time being- don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. You won’t be missed.