It has been quite a week for professional surfing, maybe the most attention paid to our little corner of children who can’t read good by outsiders since 1976, but wow. Quite a week. It all got underway with the official release of Make or Break, a television show that might just may transform professional surfing into a sport watched by more than just thirty middle-aged men. Then came Margaret River and its mid-year cut. Possibly spurned on by the aforementioned Make or Break, mainstream media came swooping right down on the plan, decrying it as “brutal” and “thuggish” especially after surf darling Sally Fitzgibbons was marched to the guillotine and beheaded.
World Surf League CEO, Erik Logan, sensing a potential enraged public, opened up his shit hose full and sprayed The Guardian with, “The redesign has been met by the industry and fans with genuine excitement and we are already seeing significant increases in engagement and viewership. In redesigning the tours and competition framework, we focused on optimising the competition structures to create a dynamic, compelling and long-term sustainable format to compliment the incredible talents of the world’s best surfers. The mid-season cut is a cornerstone of the new framework and allows us to ensure that post-cut events can run in one optimal swell cycle, create a dynamic season-long narrative and drive fan engagement – all of which allow us to drive more revenue so we can continue to invest in the platform of the world’s best surfing.”
But alas, mainstream media followed the headless ex-championship tour surfers to Coolangatta wherein they were forced to compete alongside Adrian Buchan and Chelsea Tuach at the “challenger series” opener Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro.
Well, Saint Sally inspired with news coming out yesterday that she would be given the “first half of the season” wildcard for the 2023 campaign and also making it into the semifinals where she lost to eventual champion Caitlin Simmers. Mainstream media, mollified there, turned its attention to poor Owen Wright, who, like Fitzgibbons, was decapitated at Margaret River but, unlike her, performed poorly at Snapper, bowing out in the round of 48.
Wright, also, was given no wildcards injury or otherwise.
Fox Sports declared Wright was “Brutally snubbed.”
Yahoo! Sports beat the drum of “unfairness.”
The Washington Post would have added, “It is undignified and beyond comprehension that a man of his stature, an Olympian no less, should be treated so barbarously” if it was not solely focused on covering the Trump presidency.
Logan is yet to respond.
But will this growing chorus provide wings for the Olympic bronze medalist like it did his countrywoman Sally Fitzgibbons? Will we see a tan, rested and ready Owen Wright ahead of 2023 ready to climb back to the top?
Also, does Rip Curl now sponsor 100% of professional surfers?
More questions that answers.