As I watched the snowboarding elite struggle to show their stuff on a jimmy-janked halfpipe in Sochi, I scratched my head trying to find a reason to want surfing to become part of the Olympic circus, aside from the obvious humor in seeing which team rocks the dorkiest sweatsuits.
Then, I got it. The soonest that Olympic surfing could happen is well into the next decade, so there you have Kelly Slater’s motivation to stay on top into his fifties. Wouldn’t it be great to see a geriatric Slater claim one for the U.S. while sporting a pair of trunks from Depends? Grab the gold and drop the brown simultaneously.
Aside from that intriguing spectacle, I’m stumped. I don’t see what surfing could gain alongside the likes of badminton, trampolining, and synchronized swimming. Turn on the TV, an you’re bound to catch a commercial that uses surfing to sell products. Last I checked, there was no such thing as a badminton lifestyle that people wanted a part of. And let’s be honest, who among us wouldn’t totally upchuck when we hear Bob Costas say, “Cowabunga dude, next up, we hang ten with the surfing event?”
Advocates for surfing in the Olympics point to the 1920 plea from the “moke” who put surfing on the map, gold medal swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. I applaud Duke’s achievements as loudly as anybody, but no one ever accused this human fish of being a rocket scientist. After all, his post-swimming career peaked as Hawaii’s official greeter. He had a heckuva handshake, but he may not have known what was best for the sport.
For surfing to be a part of the games, an artificial wave is a must. Then, what we’re left with isn’t really surfing. Maybe Pool Boarding? Faux Wave Skating? Or my fave, Chlorinated Curl Dancing.
So much for the spontaneity bred from dealing with the whims of nature. Runs will be predetermined and robotic, and therefore dominated by a crew of pint-sized punters.
The Olympic games would undoubtedly put surfing on a larger stage. Shoot, I’m watching the games right now, probably because there’s nothing else on and I’m still going through football withdrawals. A lot of other people are watching, too. Eyeballs, ultimately, equate to money.
And there you have the reason some are fighting to see surfing join the party. The surf industry’s velcro pockets would fill, but is that helping surfing?