I must say, the most surprising storyline following the just-finalized World Surf League mid-year cut was the ferocity with which mainstream media reacted. Headlines crowed, from major national capital to major national capital about the “devastating scenes” unspooling on Margaret River’s fatal shore, about the “unfairness” and wanton “cruelty” and “depressing.” Surprising, I suppose, because none of these publications cared much about professional surfing at the highest level prior to “the cut.”
Not knowing what to chalk the passion up to, I filed it under “HMMMM” right next to “Ben Gravy’s popularity” until this very morning when the picture began to clarify.
Stumbling upon a new piece by Yahoo! Sport titled Sally Fitzgibbons speaks out amid ‘heartbreaking’ surf controversy this morning, I first wondered what this “surf controversy” might be until putting my surf journalism hat on (one of Nick Carroll’s socks) and diving in.
Sally Fitzgibbons has vowed to fight her way back onto surfing’s top tour after falling victim to the World Surf League’s controversial new mid-year cut.
Fitzgibbons was one of a number of high-profile casualties of the new system after she was eliminated from the Margaret River Pro in the round of 16.
Only the top 10-ranked women advance to the second half of the Championship Tour, with the other surfers relegated to the Challenger Series and forced to qualify for the top tour again in 2023.
On the men’s side, the top 22 advance. Aussies Owen Wright and Morgan Cibilic fell victim to the cut, as did Brazilian young gun Joao Chianca.
And there we have it.
Sneering anti-equality measures blaring from a league that has staked its new reputation on parity.
I was, of course, aware that the women’s field was to get cut down too and even heard the number ten bandied about but didn’t think much of it until right this minute. Ten surfers competing against each other for the rest of the year to cut it down by a whole five for final’s day at Lower Trestles?
That seems utter nonsense. Like trotting longboarders out at Manly and Huntington and telling them it’s good. Like Kelly Slater dating a woman for fifteen years and still planning on marrying her “sometime in the future.”
Like or dislike the women’s side, ten surfers is a dumb amount to then cut to five and if the “equality” push is really pure performance for the World Surf League, it should do the dignified thing and cut the men’s side to ten also.
Surf controversy is right.