“If you were given a blank piece of paper and told to go off and design pro surfing, what would you do?”
—Sean Doherty, SURFER Magazine, July 14, 2014
I've got two words for you Sean: Harlem Globetrotters.
Do Australians watch the Globetrotters? Can you, Sean, even whistle the tune to "Sweet Georgia Brown"? Nevermind. It's probably not important for this little thought experiment. Here's how it works: The Globetrotters are a supremely talented group of basketball players who travel around the U.S., playing exhibition games against less talented, but still really good basketball teams, usually the Washington Generals, but it's been years since I've watched a Globetrotters game, so I'm not even sure if the Generals still exist. Anyway, the Globetrotters nearly always win. They use incredible trick plays against their talented, but not as talented opponents, and they throw buckets of water on the ref, but sometimes the water bucket is actually just filled with confetti, and absolutely nothing is serious. But the audience sees some incredibly impressive basketball and everybody has fun. Something the WCT can always use more of.
I'm telling you Sean, the ASP could learn a whole lot from the Harlem Globetrotters. Here's how my WCT Globetrotters would work. First, pick the top 9 or so most exciting surfers on Tour, and cut everybody else loose. Then add Dane Reynolds, and you've got your traveling surf circus. Keep all the same events on the WCT schedule if you want, but throw in a few out-of-the-way Tour stops at thriving, but not exactly world-class surf scenes—places like Sebastian Inlet; maybe a break near Cornwall, England; and, I don't know, Chiba, Japan. Spots where people would be pumped to see WCT-class surfing, and where the local legends rip super hard. And then the WCT Globetrotters fly in on some kind of ridiculous team plane, maybe launching fireworks from the wings or something. The pros then deplane and head to the beach—all wearing matching Bronzed Aussie-style track suits—and then just stomp those local legends into dust. A show-up and blow-up kind of deal.
Put 'em all out there in four-man heats, two Globetrotters against two locals, and watch the Tour guys go nuts, showing the surf world how much better they are than the semi-pros who dominate our local peaks. During the inevitable lulls in set waves that suck all the energy out of the webcasts, the Globetrotters could throw buckets of confetti/water on the judging tower, grease the decks of the locals' boards, or whatever, just anything besides sit in the lineup and stare at the horizon.
Admittedly, crowning a World Champion is pretty much out the window in this scenario. But do we really need a World Champ? No. We don't. What we do need is to see is unknown rippers going toe-to-toe with Wilko, with fully televised coverage of the side-betting pool that Slater would undoubtedly organize. We need to see some otherworldly trick surfing, like Dane and Kelly getting barreled switch-stance on the same wave. Or Jordy and Kerrzy taking off on a closeout together and exchanging boards mid-Superman.
Is that even possible? Probably not. But watching them try would be infinitely better than sitting through another waveless no-loser round at Lowers, or in Brazil, or anywhere, really.
What, you got a better idea? Tell us in the comments.