Predictably, the masses have spoken, and they’re not exactly tripping over themselves in a rush to embrace the ASP’s name change to the WSL. This was expected by the ASP brass. It’s why they made their big announcement at 4 p.m. on a Friday—the time slot typically reserved for the news dump. If you’re going to broadcast some unpleasantness, you want to send it out into a world that’s already bellying up to a happy hour bar somewhere, not quite energetic enough to thumb off endless foul-mouthed rants into the Twitterverse. Then you want to sprint to the nearest bar yourself.
Although is this news really worth getting worked up about? You think so? Why? Sure, when I first heard “World Surf League” I wasn’t thrilled either. There were some “What the fucks?” thrown around and lots of eye-rolling. League? It didn’t ring. Didn’t conjure the same images of pro surf history and classic competitions that “ASP” does. I could probably come up with 20 things I’d change about the ASP before I even started sniffing around at the possibility of a name switch.
But really, that’s because the name is essentially meaningless to surf fans. And, it’s not like the ASP is a sacrosanct term anyway. I’m sure people scoffed at that too when it replaced the International Professional Surfers (IPS) tour. To surfers, it shouldn’t really matter what the pro tour is called.
If you’re a fan of pro surfing, you’re a fan of the competition, the drama, maybe even the pageantry, and definitely the world-class surfing at world-class breaks. You probably weren’t attracted to webcasts because of the letters A-S-P. If you hate pro surfing, you likely despise the commercialism, the repetitive surfing, and the jockish nature of the whole enterprise. Whatever the reason, your ire’s probably not reserved for what the tour is called. Love pro surfing or hate it, the name of the organization putting on the show should probably be the furthest thing from your mind.
Plus, there’s zero chance that changing the tour’s name from the ASP to WSL will negatively change pro surfing. Zero. It may even help. Like pro surfing, but not a fan of the ASP? You want new announcers? That costs money. Better graphics? They ain’t free. Smoother webcasts? Really expensive. I have no idea if it’s true that sponsors didn’t want to shower with ASP with money because nobody knew what an Association of Surfing Professionals actually was, but it couldn’t help that it sounds like a trade union. In a boardroom meeting, the World Surf League probably is easier to pitch to sponsors than the ASP. If you want to change pro surfing, you’ve got to roll with the punches.
Is it a hokey name? Sure. To me anyway. But I’m not in charge of funding the tour. If the white-collar mercenaries brought in to pump more cash into the tour think the World Surf League sells more sponsorships, they’re probably right. That’s why the ASP formed in the first place. To drum up more cash for pro surfing. That’s it. That’s all. It is the sole reason for the ASP’s existence and for its structure. The pros surf, and the executives executive. We should probably let them.