"Younger surfers are pissed that 'kook' Slater is getting in and wondering who the kid is that didn't get in because Kelly Slater got his slot."
Hours ago, the World Surf League made an entirely unsurprising announcement that 11x World Champion Kelly Slater will, officially, receive the 2024 Championship Tour’s season-long wildcard. The 52-year-old is clearly the greatest competitive surfer to ever live. He is also, clearly, very much past his prime. Slater’s interest wains from event to event. Even when he is engaged, Kelly Slater’s old body cannot challenge the younger crop.
And herein lies the trouble.
Slater may be a light ratings boon for the aforementioned “global home of surfing,” but his instance of hanging on robs others of showcasing their talent thus stunting the overall game.
Does Kelly Slater retard professional surfing?
An important question. The short answer is “yes.” The long answer is also “yes.” There is still a chimera of “Kelly Slater” out there that performs well in certain conditions. Barreling lefts, say. Pipeline, Cloudbreak, Teahupo’o. Except, let’s be honest, he now performs well for a quinquagenarian. His name, no doubt, draws viewers but what are they left with? Their hero bowing out in the elimination round. If the World Surf League had a competent Chief of Sport, it would grant Kelly Slater a lifetime achievement award and move him to the booth. If Kelly Slater was not a wild freak, he would read the tea leaves and leave with dignity.
The pairing of incompetence and stubbornness tea leaves us where we are.
According to a well-placed source, there is much grumbling in the ranks. Notably “younger surfers are pissed that ‘kook’ Slater is getting in and wondering who didn’t get in because Kelly Slater got his slot.”
Jessi Miley-Dyer did not address in her press release. The Chief of Sport simply declared, “We’re excited to welcome and officially confirm the new class of Championship Tour competitors.”
Miguel Pupo joins Slater.
More as the story develops.