Does anyone remember the 1999 Gotcha Pro at Huntington Beach? Watching the BMX geeks jump dirt was more intriguing than the chaotic flailing taking place in the slop. The waves were horrible; the surfing correspondingly weak. The whole affair was, at least from this journalist's viewpoint, quite sad. Neco Padaratz won the event and was draped in his national flag by rabid Brazilian fans. The sideshows had taken over.
Since 1999, along with massive amounts of industry support, the ASP has created a tour with the world's best surfers, surfing at the globe's best surf spots. The ASP webcasts have created a lot of buzz, have brought more exposure to the tour than ever before, and have caused corporate I.T. departments world-wide to upgrade their firewalls. The ASP coup has also included a blanket WCT sponsorship from Fosters. Even when controversy popped its head out of the sand, such as after September 11, or during the X-Games, the ASP delicately walked the tight rope of spin and reality with measured aplomb. The ASP is doing a great job. Rabbit Bartholomew and the rest of the ASP principals deserve a round of applause.
So, since they've done all the hard work, now would be good time for me to step in. If I may, please let me take on the roll of Vice President of Tour Development, if only for a few moments.
As a fan of the tour, and as a member of the media, it seems apparent that the time is right to stoke the fires of nationalism. Therefore, at the top of my priority list as VP of Tour Development is the creation of a team event based on nationalism. Tennis has its Davis cup. Golf, a better example, has its Ryder Cup. Hell, a few years ago those golfers almost went to blows– in dress pants and all. Good stuff.
This is exactly what the ASP will develop under my leadership – we'll call it the Duke trophy, or the Kahanamoku Cup. It is an international team event, perhaps based on Brad Gerlach's 'The Game' format, in which national teams from Brazil, USA, Australia, South Africa, Tahiti, Canada, France and so on and so forth compete for pride and country. We will hold the event every two years, perhaps in February, a few weeks before the tour starts up.
"Don't Want to be an American Idiot!"
National team events are crucial when broadening the fan base for individual sports such as surfing. The core fan will always be there. But you see, we will tap into the vast reservoir of the unenthused and apathetic. And we will turn them on!
It's hard for your average 30-year-old fun-board riding recreational surfer to get excited about Timmy Reyes or Bobby Martinez or even, believe it or not, Kelly Slater. But, wave the American flag a little and watch the apathetic raise an eyebrow. Watch the unenthused stand up and take notice. Don't mess with the USA (or Brazil, or France, or Australia — just ask Hedgy)!
And when Timmy Reyes catches the winning wave for Team USA in the 'Kahanamoku Cup' all of the sudden the 30-year-old fun-board riding recreational surfer is a fan of Timmy Reyes' for life. And, by association, 30-year-old fun-board riding recreational surfer is now a fan of the ASP tour for life. He wants to see how his boy Reyes will do at JBay. National teams turn the uninspired into emotive, knowledgeable, die-hard fans.
The phrase "Team USA" arouses emotion. Why do we care about the sport of curling in the Olympics? Team USA. Why do we care about the Olympics? Team USA.
"Don't Want to be an American Idiot!" This was a chorus being bellowed this week from the Aussie contingent while Slater schooled their lad Taj at the Quiksilver Pro in Australia: Pretty obvious stuff this 'nationalism.' It makes my first task as Tour Development VP fairly easy. Fans are begging to wave the team flag–just ask Neco.