Why Surfing Really Isn’t an Olympic Sport

22 02 2010

The 2010 Winter Olympics began last Friday in Vancouver, BC, Canada. For two weeks billions of viewers will watch thousands of athletes compete for country, glory and medals. I’m one of them. I admit it. I’ve bought in. I have Olympic fever even if Bob Costas makes me want to kill myself with and SUP paddle. Costas makes the impossible possible. He makes surfing announcers almost tolerable.

I think I’ve completely lost my marbles. On Saturday I was simultaneously watching the WQS 4-star event at Burleigh on my laptop and Olympic curling on television. I hate to admit it but the curling won the majority of my attention. I’m now a verified curling enthusiast. Hell, I might just scrap this site for a curling blog.

Another person with Olympic fever is Reef co-founder and International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerra. The Argentine has been trying to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to add surfing to the Olympics for more than a decade. In two years London will host the Summer Olympics and surfing will miss the cut again. But it appears few people care—other than Aguerra and those that see dollar signs with its inclusion. No one is more passionate than Aguerra about the subject. You have to give him credit for his persistence. Last year he even got a little face time with IOC President Jacques Rogge. What came out of the meeting was the IOC would consider surfing if artificial waves or wave pools were utilized. With that ludicrous idea they completely lost me.

Proponents of getting surfing into the Olympics have a fairly valid case. Duke Kahanamoku, perhaps the most famous surfer of all time, was a five-time Olympic swimming medalist, including three gold medals. Surfing’s man-against-man-against-nature element seems like a perfect sport for the Games. And snowboarding, a sport that evolved directly from surfing, was included recently. But for non-surfers surfing really isn’t that exciting to watch. Don’t believe me? If you ever need some alone time and you want the wife or girlfriend to leave the room, pop in a surf video. She’ll leave the room faster than greased gorilla sliding down a bobsled track.

Right now Shaun White is possibly the most recognizable and marketable Winter Olympic athlete. He’s everywhere. His burnt sienna locks are searing retinas all over the world. He’s had so much face time on NBC I’m concerned his Geico caveman mug might become permanently burned into my TV screen. But when the IOC included snowboarding in 1998 it wasn’t exactly embraced by snowboarding’s elite with open arms. Arguably the most respected and best snowboarder at the time, Terje Håkonsen, basically told the IOC to go fuck themselves. He wanted no part of it. I suspect surfers have the same attitude. The ASP, which is nearly 30 years old, isn’t exactly a perfect system. Imagine how bad outsiders would screw it up. Wave pools would be just the beginning.

If surfing didn’t gain inclusion during the Sydney Games in 2000 why should we think surfing will ever become an Olympic sport? That was its best shot. It’s like the prom queen was in the limo drunk on cheap champagne, naked and horny and they still couldn’t close the deal. Like they say, he who procrastinates masturbates. And Aguerra has had Olympic blue balls for more than a decade.

Unfortunately it’s all politics theses days. Think about it. The most popular and most televised sports involve teenage or 20-something females in skimpy, tight-fitting outfits. Think about it. Gymnastics. Check. Ice skating. Check. Swimming. Check. I can picture some hick in middle America on his sofa drinking a Budweiser. “God damn,” he would say while polishing his shotgun with his free hand. “I sure do love it when that Dominique girl does the splits.”

If Aguerra and the ISA are truly serious about getting surfing in the Games, I suggest a fresher, bolder approach—one that would guarantee a slot in the Games and massive amounts of network television coverage. Let’s introduce the IOC and the boys at NBC to Alana Blanchard and Bruna Schmitz. Then surfing would be on primetime in no time. Besides, Michael Phelps probably needs a new weed connection, and I’m sure there are a few surfers out there that could hook him up. 

 

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