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OPINION: Surfing isn’t an Olympic sport for a reason

Let’s get ready for the inevitable disaster that will be Olympic surfing

Surfing is set to make it’s debut as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Tokyo summer games. Many are excited, but what I’m anticipating is a failure that compares to past Olympic blunders like Tug Of War (1900-1920) and Hot Air Ballooning (1900). Why, you ask? Because surfing is a hobby. Not a sport, and certainly not an Olympic sport.

In Sep. 2015 the IOC (International Olympic Committee) received a proposal to add a number of events, including surfing to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A year later during the 129th session of the IOC a unanimous decision was reached to include surfing. With four years to spare the IOC was confident. Now, with a year remaining and the format still not finalized, it shows only surfers should hold surfing competitions.

I present one question to the 90 IOC members. Have you ever watched a surfing competition? Because if one of the IOC members had, they’d know that surfing is one of, if not the most boring sport to watch live. Twenty minute videos of epic, mesmerizing surfing is filmed over months and doesn’t show the thousands of other waves surfed. That surfing can’t, and won’t be produced in Tokyo because the geniuses at the IOC are expecting video worthy, once in a lifetime waves to be produced twice in a matter of 25 minutes. Absurd.

The event will include just 20 men, and 20 women competing respectively. Begging the question, who from the 32 men and 22 women on World Surf League (WSL) will be selected? Well, the all-respected IOC has decided to cherry pick the top 10 men, and top eight women at the end of the 2019 season and gift them a spot in Tokyo. Guess what IOC, all you’re doing is helping out America, Australia and Brazil. If 2019 is like 2018, those will be the only countries represented.

HSU junior and surfer Aaron Friedley plans on watching the 2020 Olympics.

“[I’m] excited to watch surfing in the Olympics, but if some countries aren’t represented that’s not fair,” Friedley said.

Here’s a solution, just hold a competition between those three countries and call it a day. The final 20 Olympians will be decided in sub-par surf at the Pan-Am Surfing games, and at two ISA Surfing events this year to decide who will compete against the top ten men, top eight women and two Japanese representatives.

The two day Olympic competition has been given a 16-day window to wait for the best surf, but what if good surf never comes?

HSU senior and Surfrider Club president, Jeff Knapp also confirmed that surfing competitions are almost always held at crappy beach breaks.

“You can’t rely on the ocean for good conditions,” Knapp said.

This forces surfers to paddle for every wave, and surf like they’re stomping out a fire. The competition format has never represented true surfing, showing that it’s a hobby. To enforce this, the Olympic competition will be held at Shidashita Beach because of its “consistent summer trend.” Keyword trend, because it’s impossible to predict surf four years in the future. Shidashita, located 40 miles outside of Tokyo, is a shifty sand bottom beach break. Shifty because sand moves into unpredictable bars. These bars, when organized, produce great surf, but when unorganized are board-breaking machines. Go Shidashita!!!

The IOC began disaster preparation in 2016 when partnering with the WSL and Kelly Slater to create a wave pool in Japan. This precautionary pool has remained a secret, will be done by 2020, and is supposedly not seeing any Olympic surfing. Side note, the cost of constructing a wave pool is upward of $30 million dollars, a pricey precaution for an event based off an ocean that’s free.

HSU graduate student Taylor Team addressed wave pools, said that surfing isn’t for controlled environments.

“You need to be at the mercy of the elements, not a pool,” Team said.

But I’ll spare you the wave pool rant, because it requires elaboration and critical focus to see past the roller coaster bullshit. Bottom line is the IOC has no idea what they are doing when it comes to surfing.

For consideration: I surf, and I believe that surfing is a hobby. There are numerous types of surfboards that all pertain to different wave shapes and speeds. To say you can only be judged if you ride one type of surfboard, on one type of wave, in one style, doesn’t make any sense. The IOC is putting surfing in a box by promoting an inaccurate representation of surfing that only a handful of people can do, and don’t realize that surfing can’t be judged over 25 minutes.

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