If there is one narrative that has become cemented amongst grouchy fans of professional surfing, and its cadre of grumpy surf journalists, it is that there are simply too many professional surfers on tour. That the draw should be stripped back, losing perennial losers, the best of the best finishing in one swell window etc.
You’ve heard it many times because I’ve said it many times and likely written it more but yesterday evening found me minding my own business, scrolling through Instagram messages when I was almost punched off my stool.
Read with me.
I can’t disagree with you more regarding your desire for a championship tour with only the 10 ‘best’ surfers in the world. There should be more surfers on tour. In no other professional sport are there only 10 elite athletes competing. For example, 128 athletes compete in each tennis grand slam. More surfers, from more countries, makes professional surfing much more interesting. It would also mean more money for the sport due to increased viewership. A greater number of surfers on the championship tour also increases the chance of their being more characters in the sport. If someone only enjoys watching the top 10, there’s always the option of only watching their specific heats. More surfers on tour will create more interesting stories in surfing and more rivalries in the sport. The best ranked surfers aren’t always the most enjoyable to watch. I would like to see a minimum of 48 surfers on the CT, with 4 man heats from R1 to the final.
I parried, “Are there enough that aren’t boring?” and was directly hit between the eyes with…
Absolutely, the top 200 surfers in the world all rip, and are entertaining to watch. 4 man heats are always more exciting, there’s more action and more potential for drama. The key to growing viewership is having more countries represented on the CT. For example, when Tiago surfed, Portuguese surfers, and Portuguese sports fans in general, tuned in. The WSL needs a new format for the QS, that ensures each major surfing nation has at least one surfer competing on the CT at all times, this is easily done. The more reasons to watch, the more that will watch. More surfers, and more countries represented will do this. I’m already tired of watching Italo v Gab, imagine that for the next 10 years. Sure, they might still make every final, but along the way 4 man heats will provide compelling viewing for a variety of surf and sport fans all over the world. Nationalism could save the WSL.
Have I been wrong this whole time? Should the WSL explode its ranks and become a jingoistic free for all, flags waving, insults hurled, etc. Hooligan supporter groups?
Is this what the International Surfing Association does?
Am I missing out?