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we must ABOLISH professional surfing

The glory of surfing prior to the European invasion of Hawai’i and in the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s could be found in the attitudes of the surfers of those eras, which were attitudes of daring, adventure and creation. The drabness and predictability (even at its most spectacular) of professional surfing today can be found in the attitude of today’s professional surfers, which can be summed up in one word – prosperity.

We suggest putting an end to the idolatry –

Today’s professional surfers are thoroughly prosperity-minded. The typical progression of a promising young competitive surfer illustrates this point. The grommet who once ripped and charged and cruised in the surf for the fun of it, by his mid-teens has been taught to consider his future, research offers of sponsorship, buy and invest wisely. He has learned to desire cars, jetskis, houses (never just a house to live in), home entertainment systems, fashion clothes and footwear, mobile phones, laptops, guitars and amplifiers – and these are now the primary reasons he rips and charges and cruises in the surf. Meanwhile, he is never reminded of or advised to reflect on the fact that his prosperity depends on the exploitation and oppression of his fellow humans and the disembowling, scorching and poisoning of the planet.

The prosperity-mindedness of today’s professional surfers (and it is also our prosperity-mindedness, for we live in a prosperity-minded age) produces in them greed, vanity, ignorance and cruelty, attributes which shape and which show in their surfing styles and actions and their overall speech and comportment. Only superficially do today’s professional surfers strive for perfect flow of motion. Their surfing is not the artistic expression of their own individual lives or of the lives of their communities or of their environments; their surfing is primarily a bearer of signs of prosperity.

We must abolish professional surfing, in order to give new life to surfing and to hasten the passing of our age.

The rejuvenation of surfing depends on a changing relation between competitive surfers and the life around them. They must become ordinary members of their communities and must surf for the fun of it (which does not mean that they will not surf seriously or strive to excel). The distinction between amateur and professional surfers must be abolished, along with the Association of Surfing Professionals, the World Championship Tour and the World Qualifying Series. If we could achieve this, then surfing competitions would be held only on weekends – Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Competitors would be compensated (financially or in kind) by the event, and would have outside jobs as well.

At a certain stage of its development, surfing required professionals to develop all its inherent possibilities. That stage is now past. Great surfers need to be returned to their communities. They must work with their fellows so that surfing, essentially an artistic expression of life, becomes an artistic expression of life, becomes an artistic expression of their own individual lives and of the lives of their communities and of their environments.

by  Alex Leonard, following C. L. R. James, Beyond a Boundary (London: Stanley Paul, 1963)

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Abolish professional surfing? Wot?!

    Some of us enjoy observing train wrecks. How dare you infringe on our rights to this seedy pastime, gotdammit!

    February 10, 2011
  2. Mr Wolf #

    What happens to those guys when they leave the circuit? They can’t all own surf shops

    February 10, 2011
  3. Kelly Slater #

    OK, I quit…

    Anyone know the number of a good community workshop? I think I’d like to samba.

    February 10, 2011
    • hey slats, we knew that you would see the nonsense my son and come to realise your true potential – give me a call 019 225 money

      we are a family here,

      February 10, 2011

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