Surfing in the Olympics

The Olympics are fast approaching, should surfing be part of the Games?

What surfing in the Olympics could look like, for better or worse. Photo: WebberWavePools.com

Editors Note: In My Opinion is an occasional op-ed where surfers, writers, and editors share their viewpoints on topical issues in surfing. Join the conversation by commenting below.

Should surfing being an Olympic sport?

Taylor Knox, Veteran World Tour Surfer:
Surfing should be an Olympic Sport for sure. We surf against the best surfers from countries around the world on the ASP. It would be unreal competing alongside Kelly Slater against friends like Mick Fanning, while representing the U.S.A. Now more then ever there are many countries with talented surfers. Signs point to continuing in this direction. It would be hard to have the event when the hosting city is land locked, but with the way technology is going it seems we will be able to bring world class waves and surfing anywhere.

Sean Dougherty, SURFER Senior Writer:
No, no and err…no. Olympic sports are all anchored around fairness and level playing fields, but the ocean doesn’t offer that. The only way surfing would ever be considered an Olympic sport is if it was held in wave pools, and if it was held in wave pools then I wouldn’t consider it surfing. The fact that no two waves are ever the same is what makes surfing, surfing. It’s not designed to be fair. The ocean isn’t fair, and unless you’re Kelly the ocean really doesn’t give a shit about you.

Fernando Aguerre, ISA President:
If surfing were to be included in the Olympics, I don't think it would change the sport at all. Look at snowboarding for a future view of what surfing could look like if it were a part of the Olympics. I don't believe surfing needs to change anything to become part of the Games. I believe it's just a matter of time until it happens. We're very close. The Duke asked for surfing's inclusion in the Olympics as early as 1920, but the biggest drawback is the fact that waves don't exist in many of the Games' host cities. Hence, manmade waves will be needed. The IOC wants to see solid world-class waves, so surfing's future in the Olympic Games could be assured. I believe this technology will be available at a reasonable cost in the very near future.

Taylor Clark, current USA Surf Team Member:
I think it would be sick, because surfing is a sport and they pretty much have every sport in the Olympics. But it all depends on what happens in the water, so I think it would be a gamble to put it in the Olympics, because who knows what could happen with the waves—just like any other contest. But they don't have anything like surfing in the Olympics, so I think it would be sick.

Matt Warshaw, SURFER Senior Writter:
Thought I was done being pissed off over the 100-year mainstreaming of this wonderful sport. Thought I was old enough, and far away enough from Orange County, to not much care. But the thought of surfing in the Olympics brings a familiar dab of bile to my throat. Can we just all agree to pretend, for a little while longer, that surfing is a unique thing to do? That this difference has in fact always been it's strength?

Gabriel Medina, currently No.5 on the One World Rankings:
Yes, I think surfing should be included, and I would absolutely love to surf in the Olympics. It would be such a great honor to represent my country. Plus, it would be a sick competition with the Brazilians teaming together against the other counties. And of course we would win. Haha! Hopefully it will happen.

Steve Hawk, Former SURFER Editor:
This came up during the Atlanta Olympics in '96 when I was working at SURFER. I wrote a piece about how if they’d held a live surfing event during the games that summer, the best wave they would have found within striking distance would have been the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool in Orlando. Is that the face of surfing we want to show to the world? I’m not down on contests. Competitive surfing has had many transcendent moments. Take what just happened in Fiji or Teahupoo or some of those legendary Pipe Masters events. If they can arrange it so that it's at a world-class venue with a live webcast, that might not be so terrible. But the idea of packaging it under all the pomp of the Olympics makes me cringe. Surfing is at its worst when people are trying to exploit it, and this push for the Olympics feels like it’s being driven by the exploiters. And I fear we’ll all end up being embarrassed if it happens. If it were up to a vote, I’d say no for sure.

Rainos Hayes, Hawaii Surf Team Coach:
I would love to see surfing included in the Olympics. The athletic skill required to compete at that level should qualify surfing. I hope that when we make it to the Olympics, Hawaii can continue to compete independently, as we're the birthplace of surfing. It would be a huge honor to coach at an event of that magnitude.

Dave Prodan, ASP International Media Manager:
Personally, I’m a big fan of the Olympics and enjoy any activity that pits nations against one another in friendly competition. However, I am torn on whether or not surfing is an appropriate fit for it. I absolutely think the athleticism performed by surfers qualifies it as a worthy activity, but the lack of a static playing field would be a challenge to hosting a worthy event in some nations and a virtual impossibility in others.

Damien Hobgood, Veteran World Tour Surfer:
This may sound like a selfish or a bad thing, but I've never really been that into seeing surfing in the Olympics. I love the Olympics, but for some reason seeing surfing as part of that hasn't ever really been something that I've felt very strongly about. I'm sure that there are a lot of kids out there who dream about surfing in the Olympics, and I think that's great, but it's not something I'm particularly passionate about. I love the idea of representing my country, but I feel like I do that anyway right now.