The World Surf League Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer is many if not most things. Iconoclastic equalitarian, one-time Association of Surfing Professional, inspiration, game changer, role model, keynote speaker. Fans are kept abreast of her many accomplishments, thoughts and feelings through her robust use of social media, particularly the millennial+ communication tool Instagram. The brave Australian usually posts between one and three times a day, sharing everything from honors she has received to causes she supports.
Though an eerie silence has taken over her page since three top Brazilian surfers, all former champions, complained about judging at the just wrapped Surf Ranch Pro which led to a full blown insurrection. Ex-pros, current pros, legendary coaches each and all weighing in.
Even though Miley-Dyer is the Chief of Sport, the task of getting the peons back in order apparently fell to Chief Executive Erik Logan who issued a letter reading:
To the WSL community,
I want to address the conversation that happened in our community following the recent Championship Tour event at the Surf Ranch. As you likely know, a small number of athletes made statements questioning the judging of the competition and the final results.
I want to respond directly to those statements, however, we first need to address a much more important issue. In recent days, a number of surfers, WSL judges, and employees have been subject to harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence, including death threats, as a direct result of those statements. Those things should never happen in our sport or any sport, and we’re devastated that members of our community have been subject to them. It is an important reminder to us all that words have consequences. We hope the entire WSL community stands with us in rejecting all forms of harassment and intimidation.
In terms of the statements made, we completely reject the suggestion that the judging of our competitions is in any way unfair or biased. These claims are not supported by any evidence.
Firstly, the judging criteria are provided to the athletes ahead of each competition. All athletes competing at the Surf Ranch Pro received these materials on May 20th. Every athlete had the opportunity to ask questions about the criteria at that time. None of the athletes who made these statements took advantage of this opportunity at the Surf Ranch Pro.
Secondly, our rules allow any athlete to review the scoring of any wave, with the judges, and receive a more detailed explanation of how they were scored with the judges. This process has been in place for a number of years, and is the direct result of working with the surfers to bring more transparency to the judging process. It is not acceptable, and is a breach of league policy, for surfers to choose not to engage with the proper process and instead air grievances on social media.
A number of athletes at the Surf Ranch Pro received points for elements such as progression and variety, so it is simply incorrect to suggest these are not taken into account in the judging criteria. Furthermore, our rules have been applied consistently throughout the season, including at events this season that were won by athletes who are now questioning those same rules.
Surfing is an ever-evolving, subjective sport and we welcome a robust debate around the progression of our sport and the criteria used to judge our competitions. However, it is unacceptable for any athlete to question the integrity of our judges who, like our surfers, are elite professionals.
No one person or group of people are above the integrity of the sport.
WSL Chief Executive Officer
Response from all corners was furious.
Surf journalist in good standing, JP Currie, wrote, “Once again, you respond to criticism of the WSL (from your athletes, no less, your most valuable commodity) with a tone that lies somewhere between a dictator and a domestic abuser,” with others piling on.
And it might have been thought that Miley-Dyer would have stood up in defense of her boss but no.
Nothing today, an unprecedented six days of silence with no end in sight?
Logan utterly abandoned.
But when do you think the World Surf League’s other chiefs, Jessi Miley-Dyer and Dave Prodan, will finally respond? What do you imagine their response will be?
Is she simply waiting to be nominated for another honor?
Is he hoping Mitch Salazar can clear some calendar space so they can not deal with the “Brazil issue” again?
Here is a song for Logan, anyhow, while we wait.