Why Does Surfing Attract So Much Bullshit?


What the hell is it anyway, with surfing?

Is there any other endeavor on this planet that draws a greater percentage of phonies, self-promoters, and delusional wannabees than surfing?

I find myself racking my brains for something, anything, that might compete with surfing as a magnet for fakes and self-important idiots, but I’m unable to think of anything at all that might qualify.

Surfing, when stripped down to the bare essentials, consists in nothing more than riding a wave.


Which, on the surface of things, seems simple enough, right?

Wrong, apparently.

The ride is the thing, but clearly, the ride is not the thing.

If you’re not riding a wave, then reason would seem to indicate that you’re not surfing.

But if that’s the case, then where the hell did all the ukuleles, cringe-worthy music, stickers, cars, clothing, gear, affected behaviors and speech, and all the rest of that crap come from?

Somewhere, I’m pretty sure that Hollywood is at the root of it, but they are far from being alone in this thing. They needed help, and got themselves a whole ocean of it, when it came to creating and spreading the enormous cloud of bullshit that surrounds surfing.

Somewhere along the line, somebody decided that surfing was “cool” and once that fateful decision was taken, an alarming number of gullible idiots promptly fell into lockstep with them, and the whole crazed Carnival of Stupidity has been lurching madly forward ever since, without so much as a single backward glance over its shoulder at the actual waves in the ocean that started the whole bizarre enterprise in the first place.


Surfing is a rinky-dink two-bit “sport” engaged in by a miniscule fraction of the general populace, and yet somehow far too many idiots take it into their heads that surfing is somehow the be-all and end-all of their lives, and that they’d better damn well look and act the part if they expect to get any credibility out on the street (please note here, that the street is not where one goes to find and ride waves).

And then all the greedmeisters and trend-setters come swooping down out of the sky with their aloha shirts, double-concave signature models, and teen-approved fashion statements to be gobbled up by the hoard, pontificating gravely as they do so about some dopey high-school surf contest they won back when they still had pimples, or constantly dropping names about the legends they hang with, or both.

What. The. Fuck?

This, although laughable in the extreme, probably wouldn’t elicit the first batted eye from anyone who actually knows how to operate the equipment. I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next guy, and the sight of some idiot who decided that it would be a good idea to play dress-up and attempt to pawn themselves off as something they are not, amuses me just as much as it amuses anyone else who can see right through this shit.

The problems occur when these idiots decide to paddle out into the lineup.

That’s when things start to go downhill for real.

Surfing, in case you didn’t know it, is, at its heart, a meritocracy.

As in: To the extent that someone merits any given wave, they shall be given that wave.

And merit is based almost entirely upon skill, with a very small admixture of Respect for That Which Has Gone Before, and nothing else.

The more skill one possesses in riding a wave, the more merit one possesses toward taking the next one. An extremely small number of people also merit waves as a mark of respect for their past achievements, but in the main it’s skill level that determines the outcome.

Merely having survived for forty years in the same place without ever having actually done anything in the lineup worth mentioning will not cut it.

To take it to the extreme, a first-year beginner does not enter the water at Pipeline on a rental softboard and expect to be given a place in the rotation for the next set wave.

Nevermind the health hazard implicit in the above, I’m merely talking about the business of getting an opportunity to even paddle for the sonofabitch.

No skill, no opportunity. Period.

And this is how it should be. Period.

Everything else is bullshit, and it’s bullshit produced and put out there by people who are attempting to jump their place in line, and grab something they do not merit.

Skill or GTFO.

Crooked people know in their hearts that the above is true, and since they’re crooked, everything they do from that point on is devoted toward grabbing waves they do not merit.

Oftentimes the crookedness will manifest itself in the form of a mutual-admiration society wherein each member praises the “skill” of the other members as highly as possible, in return for similar treatment toward themselves.

So the whole deluded bunch of them goes around telling each other how much they’re “ripping,” and since they’re “ripping” they feel perfectly justified in paddling out where decent waves are being ridden by decent surfers, jumping the line, and grabbing that which does not belong to them.

It’s bullshit, and everybody knows it’s bullshit, but for whatever selfish reasons, they persist in this behavior until they are called down by someone who does not care to endure any more bullshit.

At which point much unnecessary unhappiness ensues, which can end in any number of ways with the sole exception being the bullshitter(s) ever taking proper responsibility for their actions.

Knock it the fuck off, losers!

You can’t surf for shit.

You are unable to properly utilize a Good Wave in the first place, so get the hell out of here and let those who can, do so.

Your skill level is such that you will actually do better down the beach somewhere, out of everybody’s way.

But of course, that can never happen, right?

The business of being cool, is very serious business indeed.

And the coolest surfers ride the coolest waves.

Which means we’re going to have to keep putting up with your bullshit for the foreseeable future, right?

So ok. So you’re not going away.


But just don’t think you’re going to somehow avoid getting called down when you insert your worthless ass into lineups you have no business floating around in, ok?

Ain’t gonna happen.

Now run along and go buy yourself another one of them swell shirts from your local purveyor of coolness, along with a pair of matching flipflops.


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With a tip of the hat to Newt Broome,
for getting me started on this one.