Who Will Right Pro Surfing’s Ship?

You can’t do it all, can you? Photo: ASP/Kirstin

Recently, Men’s Journal published a piece about the problems–past, present and future–that plague our beloved sport and culture. Among the hangups were the Huntington Beach riots that followed the US Open of Surfing, the ASP’s goals to appeal to a broader audience, physical altercations involving athletes, drug-related issues as well as the image of surfing perceived by those on the inside and the outside.

Colleen Curry, author of the piece, claims Kelly Slater to be pro surfing’s best shot at success. While he has had plenty of personal success and possibly turned more people on to surfing than anyone else, I’m not sure I agree with Curry’s assertion that it’s up to him. It’s broader than just one person.

Regardless of his involvement with ZoSea and the ASP, you’d have to be wearing blinders to believe it’s Kelly Slater who makes pro surfing a success and not recognize the group dynamic. While his influence is undeniably huge, there are other factors at play. What about the ISA and their push for Olympic surfing? What about Paul Speaker, the new-look ASP and the changes that will unfold in 2014, ostensibly while Kelly is still surfing on Tour? I would argue they are, currently, pro surfing’s best shots at success.

If I am wrong and Kelly is, in fact, pro surfing’s Godsend, the one who can propel surfing into never-before-seen success, then I implore him to finally reveal his true identity as Clark Kent’s alter ego. It’s been the root of much awe and speculation and, personally, I’m tired of hearing things like, “How’d he do that?” and “Only Slater…” and “He makes the impossible possible,” despite the enjoyment I get from watching it. However, it seems silly to think that one man could create a new and brighter future for an entire sport and the industry that backs it but, hell, I could be wrong. If his prowess and achievements on a board are any indication, Kelly might just help right the ship. Pro surfing is ready for that.

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