In an effort to keep the trend of increased fan interest going the ASP recently announced a significant addition to their scoring system by adopting the use of instant replay during their 2007 season. The goal, according to ASP President Rabbit Bartholomew, is to give judges the luxury of hindsight in weighing their scoring decisions.
Fans of surfers alike are applauding the new layer being added, especially since the subjective scoring is undoubtedly swayed by emotion at times. The strongest cases dating back to 2005, when perfect ten point rides were being thrown around gratuitously at Teahupoo, and two very close last second calls, both involving Kelly Slater in separate events, ultimately had world title implications. The first was at Jeffrey's Bay, where Kelly was awarded a nine point plus ride in the waning seconds to overtake Andy Irons, despite having fallen. The other was Kelly Slater's last second ride during the Boost Mobile Pro at Lower Trestles, which gave him a victory over Phil MacDonald in the final. Critics argued Slater's nine-point ride didn't even come close to the level of his previous rides, which were scored lower. Had that call gone the other way, the world title would have been decided once again in Hawaii in 2005, at Pipeline, which Irons won.
Luckily, the 2006 season was void of similar controversy. That said, there are many fans and surfers in the Top 44 who can point to significant bad calls. While judging will undoubtedly remain a thankless job, and judges will always be despised, the use of instant replay should make their jobs easier.
Still, many SURFER readers contend the ASP isn't going far enough to draw fans in, and here at SURFER headquarters, we're being bombarded with wanna-be tour directors who say they have the magic cure. Their ideas range from pretty cool to down right insane, but we figured we'd spell them out for you and let you decide. Vote for your favorite.
1. Nielson Rating Judges:
Borrowing from the television industry, the ASP let's a small portion of their web audience (say 200 individuals) score the contest from home online. The average score of this group would then replace one of the 5 ASP judges, which in effect, would save the ASP money too.
2. Introduce the Gong Show:
How many times have you watched a heat and determined neither contestant deserves to advance. They're both pulling back at Teahupoo or digging rails at Trestles, and it's essentially a battle for last. Why not end their agony and their run in the contest. They both lose. The Gong would save time and money. Ringing honors would go to the judges.
3. Supply Fans With Water Balloons:
Hey surfing is about balance right? Well, why not let local fans in attendance add a little excitement to the mix by trying to knock off surfers with some harmless water launching of their own. Imagine the flak exploding near riders. Talk about fun.
4. Add Sharks to the Equation:
Face it, those 15 minute lulls are incredibly boring, and a total waste of bandwidth unless there's some new risk put into the equation. They don't have to be man-eaters, and if a surfer takes a bump or a hit they get extra points.
5. Russian Roulette Quiver:
To spice up the Round Two loser round, contestants must draw from a hat to determine what board design they will both ride. Rest assured it won't be their standard ones. It could range anywhere from a 7'0" Brewer gun, a 5'6" Lis fish, or even a stand-up-paddle board, but it would undoubtedly reveal the depth, or lack thereof, of their talents.