Because all we do is complain
The armchair commentary that runs alongside the World Surf League – of which I am at times a guilty member – is pretty funny at the best of times. We do tend to moan a lot, with most of it being that the system is broken, and that it is just not enjoyable to listen to two commentators desperately trying to keep viewers interested in watching competitive surfers sit silently on their boards in a listless ocean, waiting patiently for waves that simply do not want to appear. That it is not fun to tune in to a webcast and watch bouncy onshore waves somewhere in Brazil pouring through over a close-out bank, and surfers trying desperately to string together two moves before they hit the sand. That it is not a fun evening’s entertainment; staying up at night to watch a contest getting put on hold for a few hours as the tide fills in, the predicted swell starts arriving, or the wind backs off.
Hell, we love to complain about this shit, but in reality we love it; we dig the free webcast and the insight into the lives of the best pro surfers in the world, and the only reason we’re complaining is because we can, and most of us do it anonymously anyway, thanks to social media.
Then along comes change, and boy is it sweeping. The change thus far is a rumour, nothing is confirmed by anyone, but there’s bound to be something in it if it is being pushed around the websites of the world. Unless it’s a bold plan to prove the effectiveness of fake news, but that would be another story altogether. Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, there’s some truth in the rumour.
It could, quite possibly, be the best thing to ever happen to the sport of professional surfing. All that the sport needs is change. It needs great minds to implement change, and it needs to be for the good of the sport.
When Kelly Slater came up with the dual heat system, it was accepted immediately because it worked, and it was a great way to move forward with surfing heats in a limited time or swell window. He had the sport foremost in mind when coming up with the changes.
Similarly, with the possibility of a new Grand Final for the world title race, as well as a new venue for this Grand Final, there are massive changes coming into play that both seem extremely positive.
An attacking format to try and wrestle the title from Number One? That’s exciting shit for a spectator. Possibly having it run off at six-foot HT’s, eight-foot Rifles, ten-foot Nokanduis? Imagine that! It would be groundbreaking, it would be hella exciting, and it would be a spectator’s fucking dream to be able to get all that on the webcast. For free. There’s no pay-per-view.
We all want the sport to work, and we all want the WSL to continue with their great work. They have after all literally pulled the remnants of the sport from an untimely grave, given it a new shape and form, and elevated professional surfers to a place and stature that they deserve, as prime sportspeople of the world.
The idea of this Indonesian Final is the most electrifying thing to happen in many years, and we should be rejoicing that there is freshness a-coming, that there is progress, that there is change, a revolution. Something new.
But no. We’re going to whine and complain about it all, aren’t we?