Olympic Surfing, Kelly Slater and Another Damned Opinion
Surfing is officially an Olympic sport.
Everybody is ecstatic! Well not everybody…
First, the specifics:
- The event will take place in the ocean, not a wave pool. Venue will be at Chiba, a 45-minute or so train ride from Tokyo
- 40 competitors in total: 20 men, 20 women
- High-performance shortboarding only; no longboard, bodyboard, or SUP division
- Countries from all over the world will be represented, including many surfers not on the WC
Now, to the silly haters out there who have suddenly felt the soul of surfing ripped from before their eyes, well…I roll my eyes.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: the sport of surfing never had any soul to lose. And surfing as pop culture – separate from the sport of surfing — lost it’s soul sometime in the late 50s when Miki Dora cashed his Beach Blanket Bingo paycheck (and probably somebody else’s too).
Of course surfing as an activity absolutely speaks to OUR souls. Surfing is many things: intimate, intense, gorgeous, thrilling; addictive; life altering; and it usually smells good. The smell of walking into Trestles; The frantic bike ride down Ke Neu road; paddling out at dark on a big winter swell. The thrill of surfing alongside dolphins, whatever your soulful experience is, they haven’t taken it from you. No amount of NBC coverage, national anthems, or priority buoys can ever take away our experiences. Ten judges on a beach in Chiba Japan can’t take it from us. The soul of surfing is within you. Nowhere else. My surfing experience is soulful; Your surfing experience is soulful.
The Olympics are just another step toward the commodification of surfing. It is what it is. One of the thousands of steps taken since a dollar was out to be made. It doesn’t change my daily experience. It doesn’t change your daily experience.
Surfing as a sport. Surfing as a commoditized lifestyle. It didn’t happen last week when surfing became an Olympic sport.
I enjoy pro surfing. I consume and comment on surf culture. But even if I didn’t, these concepts can never, will never get in the way of the soulful experience of partaking in the ocean on a surfboard… or for that matter climbing in Joshua Tree or… hiking in Yosemite, or however it is you find peace and solace and serenity.
If your upset that surfing is in the Olympics – I have a suggestion for you… go surfing, smell the ocean, feel the breeze, peer at the horizon.
Works for me.
Should Kelly Slater represent the USA in the Olympics?
Lunada Bay Boyz Legal Drama
A federal judge has denied the Lunada Bay Boys’ first attempts to extract themselves from a lawsuit seeking to ban them from the Palos Verdes Estates surfing spot they are accused of ruthlessly defending from outsiders.
Attorneys for Alan “Jalian” Johnston, Brant Blakeman, Michael Rae Papayans, Angelo Ferrara and a 17-year-old boy filed motions earlier this month to dismiss admiralty claims against them in the unprecedented class-action lawsuit, which was filed in March by El Segundo police Officer Cory Spencer and surfer Diana Milena Reed.
In a written order Friday, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero denied their requests, arguing that because the surfers are accused of recklessly impeding traffic on the waters, circling boats and even allegedly running over Spencer with a surfboard — slicing his hand open — the activity indeed has the potential to disrupt maritime activity and falls under the jurisdiction of federal admiralty law.
In essence, the lawsuit has now made it past the first round of pleadings and will go on to discovery, when Spencer and Reed’s attorneys say they will provide witness lists and evidence detailing decades of threats and intimidation at the hands of the surfers.
The federal lawsuit seeks to classify the Bay Boys as a criminal street gang, ban them from the shoreline with a gang injunction and force tony Palos Verdes Estates and its police force to prosecute vandalism and harassment cases it has long been accused of turning a blind eye to.
Palos Verdes Estates leaders, who say the affluent community is under attack by overblown media hype, voted July 12 to tear down a stone patio illegally constructed by the surfers and used as a hangout spot.