Surfing Prophecies for 2010

7 01 2010

Michel de Nostredame, also known as Nostradamus, was born in 1503 and was a French apothecary and reputed seer whose prophecies have been analysed and debated for centuries. Many give him credit for predicting the rise of Hitler and Napoleon, 9/11, both world wars, and the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Like most seers, Nostradamus was vague in his writings. His “success” was essentially based on misinterpretation and his reputation as a prophet is largely manufactured by modern-day supporters. Well, I don’t play that game. I’m a little more direct. I tell it like it is.

The Surfing Prophecies for 2010 are as follows:

-The Rebel Tour will not get off the ground in 2010. It will be shut down like Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg.

-CJ Hobgood will enroll in night school classes and learn to read and write. Sadly, all this new knowledge won’t make him any more interesting.

-The ASP will finally have a legitimate all-star event. Why not? Every major sport has one. And I’m not talking about a contest like the WPS All Stars held at Huntington during the U.S. Open. Half of the field consisted of Hurley surfers. That was a joke really. Do it right. Take the top 10 and have an online vote for an additional six surfers and send them to Tavarua or the Mentawais.

-Dane Reynolds will win his first WCT event in 2010 and finish in the top 5 in the final rankings. It might be at the Gold Coast or Bells, but it will most likely be at Trestles. He will also write a book titled “Playing the ASP Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit.”

-Kelly Slater will not win his 10th world title. In fact, he won’t compete full-time. I put the over/under on the number of WCT contests he surfs at 4.5.

 -Joel Parkinson will win the ASP World Championship. Mick Fanning will finish second and Bede Durbidge will drop out of the top 5 but stay in the top 10. After the one-year layoff, Andy Irons will struggle to stay in the top 32 but just make the cut. Owen Wright will not only win rookie of the year, but he’ll finish in the top 12. Out of the 15 WQS qualifiers only Dusty Payne, Brett Simpson and Wright will make the cut.

-Being conservative will be the norm rather than progression. With less spots on the CT (32 instead of 44) risk taking will take a back seat.

-A wetsuit manufacturer will finally realize it might be a good idea to make booties in half sizes.

– …Lost will sign Tiger Woods and the guy you buy weed from.

Surfer Magazine will only publish six stories about Miki Dora this year.

 -Vans will send out a press release to announce the first billion-dollar surf contest. Of course the “contest” will take place over the course of 20 North Shore winters.

 -The words El Nino will be written 1 billion times and hype about a “40-year swell” will hit in March. It will be slightly smaller than the February “40-year swell.”

 -Another major surf magazine’s parent company will file for bankruptcy. That same surf mag will contact Nugable about advertising opportunities.

-The yet-to-be-released 2011 Billabong team video Filthier Than Ever will win an AVN and the 2010 Surfer Poll’s best video award.

 -There will be more than 5 surfers in the top 32 without a major clothing sponsor by year’s end.

-ESPN’s surf blog will hire four additional writers. It will still suck.

 -And finally, Jamie O’Brien’s upcoming film Who is Job will change the way we look at surf films.

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ESPN Surfing Web Site Review Part II (Simple Jack Strikes Back)

21 08 2009

Simple Jake

Kirk Lazarus: Everybody knows you never go full retard.

Tugg Speedman: What do you mean?

Kirk Lazarus: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, ‘Rain Man,’ look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho’. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, ‘Forrest Gump.’ Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain’t retarded. Peter Sellers, “Being There.” Infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don’t buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, “I Am Sam.” Remember? Went full retard, went home empty handed…

“Never go full retard.”

I think someone forgot to give ESPN Surfing’s Jake Howard this nugget of advice. If they gave out an award for the best surfing web site, ESPN Surfing would certainly go home empty handed.

A little back story…

Two weeks ago I reviewed ESPN’s surfing blog. According to the official Nugable.com stats it was the second most-read post in this humble blog’s existence. In it I basically called Jake Howard the Caucasian version of Barry Bonds. I actually wrote “If Barry Bonds was sheet white and wore a corn husk toupe he would look just like Jake Howard.” This was the accompanying image.

barr_jake

Then something happened. Perhaps Mr. Howard reads Nugable. I don’t know. But sure as shit, he changed his mugshot photo on the blog.

Jake Howard

Now he looks like Simple Jack Jake from ‘Tropic Thunder” for chrissakes. This shit is just too good to be true.  And to top it off he fired back with this attempt at humor. In it Howard states “we here at ESPN take our surfing seriously.” I think that’s kind of special considering the surfing community doesn’t take ESPN seriously. As Bill Simmons would say; the unintentional comedy factor is off the charts.

It gets better. You know that pre-teen Vietnamese heroin kingpin who holds Simple Jack hostage “Tropic Thunder?” It looks like ESPN has hired him too.

Ito

Since then the ESPN Surfing crew has posted a month-old video of Kelly Slater on SportsCenter. Call me hard to please but one would think since ESPN owns the site they would have posted it a little sooner…like the day after the interview.  I think Transworld even scooped them on this a day before. When you have 5 dedicated writers and Transworld Surf scoops you, it’s time to reevaluate things.

Their latest post is about love-starved sharks that listen to Barry White. I’m not kidding. They also have mini-blog dedicated to a hurricane that should produce epic surf along the Eastern seaboard. Man those Right Coasters must be hurting for waves. Good for them. Then they posted a fantastic video of a surfing juggler they stole borrowed from the Hobgoods blog. And the kicker is a piece about a Disney-owned wave pool contest in Florida. Way to wave the Disney/ESPN rainbow flag guys. I can’t wait to see what ESPN has planned for professional surfing. It’s going to be “special.”





Fixing Professional Surfing from a Fan’s Perspective

12 08 2009
Is Fixing Pro Surfing that Hard? Pic: Myles McGuinness

Is Fixing Pro Surfing that Hard? Pic: Myles McGuinness

There has been a lot of speculation and talk about a new Rebel Tour taking the wind out of the sails of the current ASP system. The hype and stories are all over the Internet. Gra Murdoch of Australia’s Surfing Life even made a hilarious video on the subject.

My guess is Kelly Slater is leveraging the ASP to make the system better for the future generation of surfers. Rather than “Bustin’ Down the Door,” he’s going through an open window. The current ASP system may be broken in the eyes of the surfers and the fans. But I think it can be fixed and here are some ideas to make it better.

Endemic Sponsorship, Control and Money
Why do three or four surf companies basically control professional surfing? Every other major professional sport has no problem finding advertising dollars from the outside. Why doesn’t Louisville Slugger or Rawlings control professional baseball? Because it’s a ludicrous concept at best. Can you imagine if the NFL gave up all the control to Under Armor or Nike and let them market the events exclusively? The ASP needs to wake up. How freaking amateurish is that?

Having too much endemic sponsorship would go against the soulful dynamic of surfing, wouldn’t it? Well, I have news for you. These surf companies (Quiksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl and Hurley) are multi-million dollar corporations. They have stock holders and bottom lines. Just because they make boardshorts and wetsuits doesn’t automatically make them cool. At the very root, these surf companies have one interest at heart. To make money. To sell you products so they can profit and make more products to sell you. Where is the soul in that? Why does that make them different from Target or Microsoft or Budweiser? More endemic sponsorship may also increase the prize money. And really, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? 

Let’s face it. If you are a professional surfer you have already sold out to a certain extent. In reality, you’re just a whore. I’m not saying your pimps are bad, but there just might be better pimps out there willing to give you a larger cut of the money.

Marketing Wizards
The ASP has never marketed the sport well. For chrissakes, hire some marketing pros, not a former surfer with a marketing degree from San Diego State and a wicked cutback. The sport needs pit bulls who will market the brand ferociously. Is ASP CEO Brodie Carr that pit bull? Only time will tell.

If you want a laugh, take a look at www.aspworldtourshop.com. Really? It looks like a third-grader who bought “An Idiot’s Guide to Selling Product on E-bay” is running the site.

The Feeder Tour
The WQS surfers should compete in the trials of each event to vie for wildcard slots. Why even have separate events at all? Have the WQS events before the WCT events with fewer surfers. Sure this would take up a lot more time and it will piss off the locals, but the locals are pissed at the ASP circus when they come to town anyway.

Involve the Free Surfers
One aspect that makes surfing unique is the free surfer or video pro. Years ago I had a conversation with Brad Gerlach about the subject. Although his “Game” concept never really caught on and was niche idea at best, he was extremely articulate and passionate about the subject. He said surfing is different in that you don’t have to compete to become a pro surfer and that’s great. There should be an opportunity to do that. But Kobe Bryant doesn’t tell Nike “Yeah…I’m over the NBA. Just not feeling it anymore. I’m just going to shoot hoops at the local playground, maybe go to New York and play at Rucker Park a few times a year. But I’ll still wear your shoes and bring a cameraman.” Can you imagine trying to pull that off?

Some of these pro free surfers are considerably better than the guys on the WCT tour. And they are more exciting to watch in many cases. Fans should have the opportunity to see them surf in these events. Some may not want to, but if the money is right they will come.

Slater at Jeffreys Bay

Spokesmen
Kelly Slater is a rare example of a true spokesman for the sport who is also the best in the world. Surfers should be better spokesmen. Tony Hawk is a fantastic example of an individual who promoted his sport well. Tom Curren never had it in him to promote the sport. Neither does Andy Irons. Most of the top guys don’t. Someone should teach these guys how to be media savvy. Maybe the problem is most professional surfers drop out of high school or never go to college. I would probably do the same if I had the opportunity. But more often than not, those who don’t make it on the tour or have limited success end up being the team manager for a second-rate surf brand. If the NBA has mandatory seminars on how to avoid gold-digging groupies and how not to shoot yourself in the leg, the ASP can certainly have some sort of training in dealing with the media.

Mother Nature and Webcasting
Surfing is unlike any other sport. Mother Nature is a wildcard. Surf contests, if done correctly, can’t be on a set schedule. Waiting periods have become the norm and that’s a good thing. The Dream Tour has done a good job at having events at the best breaks in the world for the past several years. That is also a good thing. Part of the reason soccer has never caught on in America is because it’s one of the few popular sports that doesn’t cater to TV timeouts and commercials. Surfing is similar in that respect. To bring in revenue, the ASP should sell the television rights and webcasting rights to a media conglomerate with the tools and money to do it right. Don’t let Billabong or Quiksilver do it alone. This should be ESPN’s only involvement. Let them buy in just like they do with professional soccer, baseball and football. Give them too much control and those bastards in Bristol, Connecticut will eat you for breakfast.

Less is More
The so-called rebel tour is rumored to consist of just 16 surfers. This takes out the element of the Cinderella story. Forty-eight surfers might be a little too much. Perhaps 32 or 28 could be the magic number.

Subjective Old Guard Judges
How does one evaluate soul and style? What about progressive maneuvers? It’s difficult isn’t it? Well, not really. My understanding is the same 5-10 judges work each and every event. Why is that? Maybe they should mix it up a little more. Select the judges from a larger pool. And don’t tell me there’s a lack of individuals who can accurately judge the sport. That is a cop out. Judging surfing isn’t rocket science. It’s just surfing.





Website Review: ESPN Surfing

7 08 2009

espnsurf

First, let’s start with the navigation and esthetics of this ESPN website. The site is pleasing on the eyes in a feng shui on Ritalin sort of way. The navigation is fairly uncomplicated, that is if you don’t mind developing carpel tunnel syndrome after a few visits. The good news is after all those mouse clicks you’ll develop the speed, dexterity and hand-eye coordination to beat Billy the Kid in a gun fight.

Now let’s get to the writing and content. Keep in mind ESPN is the very website that pays Rick Reilly more than a million dollars a year to write in-depth columns about his dentist appointments. I’m not kidding. A Google search for “Rick Reilly dentist” produces 16,000 results. His columns are as painful and gruesome as passing a kidney stone in that very dentist’s office bathroom while waiting for a root canal.

I can’t be sure but I think the ESPN Surfing stylebook and libel manual mandates the words “X Games” and “ESPN Surfing exclusive” appear in every post. Who could forget the post about Jake Howard’s quiver? Or what about the stirring conversation piece about bringing surfing back to the X Games? Have you fallen asleep yet? Stay with me.

Let’s take a look at the ESPN surfing team.

Jake Howard
I was a little hard on Jake in Surfing’s Mitchell Report. I wrote “If Barry Bonds was sheet white and wore a corn husk toupe he would look just like Jake Howard.”  This time I provide photographic evidence.

barr_jake

Mr. Howard appears to be one of the best press release re-writers in the industry. He used to work for SURFER magazine. Good credentials. I know writing stimulating stories about the surf industry on a daily basis is a painful and difficult task. Trust me. I’ve done the research. He seems like a nice enough chap. What I’m saying is he could use a little more frosting on his donut. A little more pizzazz. You’re not writing obituaries and captions for grip-and-grin photos here buddy.

Jon Coen
He’s from the East Coast. New Jersey to be exact. Name two good things  from New Jersey? You can’t, because the Sopranos weren’t real and Bon Jovi sucks. (edit: a quick Wikipedia search reminded me that Frank Sinatra and Dean Randazzo grew up in Jerz, but you get my point.) I think it’s great ESPN recognizes the need for some talent from the Right Coast. When they hire someone with talent I’ll be the first to let you know.

Kimball Taylor
I actually have a lot of respect for Kimball Taylor and I’m surprised he supplements his income by contributing to this Disney-owned crash test vehicle. Come on Kimball. Get your soul back. Hemmingway didn’t go around submitting short stories to Wave Action to supplement his bullfighting habit.

Christina Scannapiego
She’s another New Jersey native. How many Jersey writers does a surfing web site need? Hell, I’ll bet ESM doesn’t even have one. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Christina. In fact, after scouring the site, I couldn’t find anything she’s written. Maybe she ghost writes Howard’s re-writes of press releases. Maybe she’s waiting for a hurricane swell to hit Ashbury Park? Maybe she’s working on the sequel to the “Sex and the City” movie. Who knows? But if you can get the four-letter network to pay you for doing nothing you’ve already made one fan.