Inspirational speaking circuit rapidly shutting.
The World Surf League kicks off its 2024 Championship Tour in mere days, though not that you’d know it. The sounds emanating from the “global home of surfing’s” El Segundo veterinarian office can only be described as “radio silent” with a dash of “dying cat.”
Well, no matter and it’s true. Filipe Toledo is certainly gearing up for his third crown in a row but it is unlikely that he will ever catch one Kelly Slater. Surfing’s greatest of all-time has amassed an eye-watering eleven championships over the course of his decades-long career.
All things come to an end, however, and now fifty-six, and only on tour thanks to a “special” season-long wildcard, Slater must be planning on what life looks like outside of the singlet.
One avenue, that of inspirational circuit speaker, likely blocked by an angry mob. For you have certainly seen the trouble shark attack survivor and icon Bethany Hamilton has faced in recent days. A woman’s group in Oshkosh, Wisconsin invited the Kauai native to address its members. All very innocent… except. A gaggle became enraged and collaborated on a five-page open letter seeking to have Hamilton removed.
“For those who may not be aware, Bethany Hamilton announced in February 2023 that she refuses to compete in World Surf League events in response to their decision to adopt the International Surfing Association (ISA) policy on transgender participation,” the framers declared. “Bethany Hamilton wants transgender surfers to be segregated into a separate athletic division. Currently, there are no transgender athletes competing in the World Surf League, and only one transgender athlete, Australian longboard surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson, has ever won a professional surfing competition.”
Bravo for our Sasha Jane to make news in Oshkosh, B’gosh, but ominous for Slater who has gone on record to state that there should be a specific transgender division in professional surfing.
Absolute fighting words in this day and age.
Fighting words or worse.
It must be assumed that five, or even six, page letters will be written to any board that dares invite Slater to the lectern. Must be assumed that protesters will gather outside Ramada Inn conference rooms, pitchforks held high.
Slater’s indelible voice drowned out by rage-filled shouts for justice and rights.
So no inspirational speaking but then what?