We have made these decisions for YOU.
Are there millions of fans of pro surfing we’re unaware of?
How about, Mr Logan, you tell us how many unique viewers there were. Or how many people were tuned in simultaneously at the peak of the Finals.
I’d warrant those numbers are spectacular in a very different way.
What do we think? 20k? 30k, tops?
Are you really telling us, Mr Erik Logan, that the WSL Finals were more popular than last year’s NBA conference finals, watched by an average of 7 million viewers (East) and 6.7 million (West)?
The 2022 Champions’ League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid averaged just 2.76 million viewers in the US. Granted, soccer is still a growing sport in North America, but it’s significantly more popular than surfing.
Plain and simple: the WSL’s numbers are ludicrous. It’s a campaign of such deliberate misinformation and manipulation of statistics that it amounts to sheer lies.
The quest for data is a goldrush. It’s the mark of Erik Logan’s media savvy, if you could call it that. Whilst new for surfing, it’s hardly an original tactic. In fact, internet culture is predicated on it.
Consider TikTok, the app that has monetised our attention and vanity like no other. By the numbers, TikTok crushes all else. Where Instagram or YouTube offered millions, TikTok gives you trillions. Nevermind overnight fame, TikTok can make you famous in a few hours.
But where are these views coming from? What does it mean? How are they generated? What exactly constitutes a “view”?
These are questions no-one knows the answer to. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company, ByteDance, and they’re not exactly transparent.
Do the end users of the app care? Not in the least. They just see numbers. They don’t question them.
The WSL strategy is no different: here are some numbers that look impressive. Nevermind the evidence.
Fiddling the numbers may work in the short term. If the play is to make the WSL look like a catch so Ziff can offload it, then Logan and his campaign of nonsense is bang on. But if they really care about long term stability, the core fanbase, or the quality of the product on offer, the strategy is sorely wanting.
Where does this less-than-inviting schedule leave Medina and Florence? There should be little debate that these are the two most talented and well-rounded male surfers in the world. But would you, in their shoes, be motivated to return?
Is John Florence likely to tie up Vela and forgo chasing empty waves in the South Pacific to scratch around in the mush at Trestles, or be ousted by Filipe Toledo in a knee-threatening air show?
As for us, we’ll still watch, like the black and blue spouse who swears it doesn’t happen often. He’s just under a lot of stress, you see. Things will get better. It’s my fault, really.
But although the WSL may not lose us or care if it does, it should very much care about losing its stars.
The machinations of the WSL are nothing short of Orwellian. They do not hear, they do not care.
And in Orwellian fashion, only those who keep the machine going, the surfers themselves, have the power to do anything about it. Not that they ever will.
And who can blame them? Look how their little petition was scrumpled and dismissed after Margaret River.
We have made these decisions for YOU.
It is in YOUR BEST INTERESTS to DO WHAT WE SAY.
DO NOT QUESTION our strategies or structure.
But unlike Orwell’s proles, living in blissful ignorance of the meagre existence they are subjected to, the competitors on the WCT, men and women of the world as they are, surely know that the Tour schedule (and arguably, structure) is not as it should be. They know better waves exist.
They might squeak dissent in private, yet none seem willing to stand against Eric Logan’s cult of personality. Instead, they will shut up and get on with it.
They will begin the season at Pipe, knowing full well it should be the end.
They will return to Kelly’s Ranch, each sweltering and seething silently in the stink of Lemore’s heat. Nodding graciously to Kelly as they pass his trailer. “Yes, sir. Thankyou, sir. Please, sir, may we have some more?”
And they will trudge despondently back to Trestles, neutered and spayed by a venue that makes professional surfing look like it has all the verve of a model railway exhibition.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine Eric Logan’s clean Vans stamping on the face of surf culture – forever.