The ISA and Canoe Federation are fighting to be sport’s official body at the Olympics.
“The ISA is the only International Federation to organize a World Championship for SUP. SUP is surfing and not canoeing. SUP will continue to flourish in Denmark and around the globe under ISA leadership.”
And so ISA head honcho Fernando Aguerre fired another arrow across the bows of the battle to own SUP. He was talking at World StandUp Paddle and Paddleboard Championship (WSUPPC) that has just finished on a section of the Denmark coast known as “Cold Hawaii.” It has 31 recognized surf spots, none of which are in any way able to be remotely compared to Hawaii. It is however, quite cold, so that’s something. There was five disciplines across racing and wave riding, 700 athletes and a live stream that only the most pushy of parent or scarily devoted of partner could sit through. Oh, and Australia claimed the Gold medal in the teams event. And it’s the issue of gold medals that has led to the latest sporting wrangle.
You see while SUP isn’t in the Olympics now, there’s every indication that someday it will be. SUP has only been a thing for a decade and there are very sports in the world that can match it for its explosive growth. With more people and more money involved, coupled with surfing’s inclusion at Tokyo, it seems only a matter of time before it gets the green light for the Games.
However just who will be recognized as the official IOC body governing the sport is in dispute. The International Canoe Federation, or ICF, want in on the action. The use of the paddle, they contend, means it falls under their canoeing umbrella. When the ISA applied to the organising committee of the 2018 Youth Games in Buenos Aires for the inclusion of SUP in the Games, the ICF submitted a complaint to the IOC and the battle lines were drawn.
In another interview Aguerre responded, “We're the boarding mother sport. So of course, you know, we are cool people,” sounding about as cool as a drunk uncle stopping a teenage party to put on a drunk Abba cassette, then dancing, nude, to Chiquitita.
Putting the relative coolness of the canoeists and SUP’ers to one side, an easy thing to granted, both parties have stood their ground and the decision is now to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport who will make the ultimate decision on which body gets the nod. There is of course precedent in these Olympic sandpit fights. When snowboarding was first admitted to the Winter Olympics, the International Ski Federation wrestled control away from the professional snowboarding associations. This was akin to the World Goatboating Organisation taking over the running of the Pipe Masters. The ISA contend that this is a similar situation, and that most SUPers have had little or no dealings with the canoeists.
Now of course canoeists and SUP’ers don’t exactly have a long history of antagonism. To our knowledge we haven’t seen pitched battles between canoeists and SUP or any “Prone Only” graffiti sprayed in surf carparks. Yet with Olympic funding up for grabs, both sports' federations will know doubt battle to the death to make it theirs.
Personally, I couldn’t give a fuck.