This piece appeared online after we posted an Agree to Disagree column from TSP Issue 94 called ’10 Reasons Surfing ‘Sucks’ by Raph Anemolius. Find out what could possibly be bad about surfing here.
In the interest of balance, we printed the response below from the guys at ThreadsandFins.com in TSP Issue 95, which is out now. And in case anyone missed it, here’s what they had to say:
1. There is a difference between being interested in one thing and being interested in one thing more than other things. Let us speak for ourselves: we are interested in surfing, in travel, in good food, in music, in art, in literature, in design, in dogs, in photography, in adventure, in camping, etc., etc., etc. I could go on, but I want you to read the rest.
2. If everyone were selfish and did what made them happy on most days, the world would be a better place. Less killing, less crime, fewer depressed suburbanites.
3. Maybe “dude,” “going off,” “sick,” “stoked,” et al. are on their way to being among the more respected words of the English language. Shakespeare used words like “betwixt” and “forsooth” and no one said a damn thing about it.
4. We point to www.wavesforwater.org as proof of surfers using surfing to make a difference in myriad impactful ways. In one example, “Waves 4 Water has teamed up with surf company Hurley International to develop a DIY volunteer program called Clean Water Couriers, in which surfers searching for waves in third-world countries carry filters with them in their luggage.” This goes for No. 8, too, in which Mr. Anemolius writes, “You are a colonialist.” Viva Jon Rose!
5. The risk of surfing makes it all the more fun. I’d rather die being torn to pieces by a great white doing what I love to do than suffer through old age. If that’s a controversial stance to take, then consider the health benefits of surfing: you get daily exercise, commune with nature, and a steady stream of Vitamin D shining down on you. On surf trips there is fresh fish to eat, rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
6. How is the expenditure of time, fuel, and money scouting surf spots a waste if the yield is an experience we consider absolutely worth it? The allusion to addiction you make is well taken. But as far as addictions go, there are far worse alternatives. And our carbon footprint? Let’s just say that if we weren’t surfers, we’d be eating steak dinners and commuting in the SUVs we could afford to buy because of our 9-5 jobs, amounting, in the end, to a much larger hole in the ozone layer.
7. Dave Rastavich, a professional surfer, fully embodies the ‘close to nature’ vibe you speak of. His nonprofit organization Surfers for Cetaceans rescues whales and dolphins from harassment and killings (which, by the way, are probably not happening because of surfers). His group calls “ocean-minded people” to action. I’m sure many other surfers fall into that category.
8. See No. 4. Kyle Thiermann is another perfect example of a surfer who listens and responds to natives in developing countries. Watch his TED Talk: TEDxSantaCruz: Surfing for Change. There’s also Lee Ann Curren’s documentary, Titan Kids, about how surfing has helped children escape from poverty and drugs in the favela Titanzinho, in Brazil, where they live.
9. Respect on water and respect on land are two completely different things. Don’t assume that all surfers can’t tell the difference. Besides, how much can you drink if you’re waking up at 5a.m. for a surf?
10. Actually, every culture – not just surf culture – has a commercial side that can lean toward the despicable. A surfer has to eat, after all, and just because somebody figured out a way to make that happen doesn’t make the industry the sole source of evil in the universe. Not to mention that some people obviously see surfing well as a marketable skill – in other words, one that not just anybody can pull off.
P.S. We thoroughly loved your article, by the way; we just thought we’d rile up some conversation. It’s kind of like that Abraham Lincoln quote: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Us surfers and our lifestyles may have their fair share of thorns, but we’d have it no other way!