The WSL's return to competition is going to be a little bit underwhelming, to be fair.
Nobody ever listens to me, not even my wife and kids. Everything I say gets greeted by disbelief or even the shaking of heads. "Don't talk crap," I get more often than not, or the 11-year-old boy looks at me, and I can see his eyes tap out and stare at someplace in the distance as he quietly deadpans, "Oh my gosh, dad."
As a surf journalist, I am unbelievably not right all the time. A few months ago, however, I wrote that COVID would wreak havoc around the world. Most readers called me a dumbass and worse and said that they were heading off to Indo while all the scaredy-cats can stay behind. So how did that turn out for you guys?
Then 2 weeks ago I wrote that the new and improved WSL 2020 plan was absolute hogwash. I extrapolated that it was possibly part of a more extensive media plan to tell surf fans what they wanted to hear, but that it wasn't going to happen.
Again, there was plenty of bullshit called on me, but a bit less than usual, a little less pushy.
There is no fun in calling out the WSL because this screwed up situation has nothing to do with them. The only thing that we can call them out on is for not keeping it real. If they spoke with truth and veracity, their support base, I believe, would grow. If we, the fans, were welcomed to the fold, made to feel accepted and invited to become part of the think-tank and part of the problem-solving, then we would probably endear ourselves more to the WSL.
As it is, we are made to endure poorly thought-out plans and ideas. Concepts that seem too bizarre and off-kilter in relation to what we as fans want to see or hear – we feel totally alienated and no one likes that.
Maybe if the WSL asked the fans what they want to see, in addition to asking the surfers on tour what they wanted to do, we would be in a different place right now.
The Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Rumble At The Ranch looks like it is going to run. Still, from all accounts, the surfers who are in the teams are all in the area right now, and will not need to cross any state borders to get to the Ranch.
Crossing USA state borders right now is a bit of a guessing game, not knowing each state's current rules and regulations. Still, the risk of 14 days quarantine is real and is changing all the time, and even more so the risk of catching COVID is escalated when you travel.
Surfers do get COVID as well. I was chatting to a friend who is a surfer and who works at high profile surf events. He tested positive for the virus and spent two weeks feeling really shitty before making a full recovery.
The Australian Grand Slam strike event concept is not looking good at all though. The situation has gone backward in Australia, and the borders are closed. If you're the sort of person who watches these numbers and stats and observes how they actually morph, you would be able to make an educated guess. Things are going to get a bit worse before these lockdown regulations start to ease the infection rate.
The waiting period for these events kicks off in about three weeks. Still, right now the Gold Coast and West Australia both have strict border protocols, including 14-day quarantines. These events are not going to happen unless they only allow entry to people already within the state borders, as they are doing at The Ranch.
If that's the case, then all good and well, let's go surfing, good on you all, but let's lose the delusions of grandeur and address these events for what they really are.
Let's not call them 'WSL Grand Slam Tournaments.' Let's lose the 'Strike Mission' status. Let's keep it honest, and call them something a little bit more realistic.