Diggin’ The Archives: This piece ran in our readers' opinion page, Agree to Disagree in TSP92 and is strictly, of course, the opinion of the author, Franz Langer. If you disagree, you have every right to. And if you think he missed something, let us know so we can further this globally important discussion online.
Special days happen all the time in surfing. Do we really need a group hug? Photo: Chris Burkard
By Franz Langer
International Beer Day, International Phone Book Day, International Dog Day. Is it just me or is the concept of the World Day getting more and more absurd?
Originally a World Day was supposed to be a mass consciousness-raising exercise, a global reminder every year about different internationally-shared interests or concerns. That was the United Nations’ original plan in 1947, anyway.
Surfing is without doubt an international interest so it’s had its own ‘day’ for the last eight years. International Surfing Day (ISD) – which is today in case you didn’t notice the tsunami of social media posts – was initiated by the Surfrider Foundation, which as we all know, works to safeguard the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches. According to their website, ISD is about giving back to the oceans, the waves and the beaches, and to celebrate surfing.
But we aren’t the only ones. The skate industry seems to have appropriated midsummer’s day, June 21st, as World Go Skateboarding Day every year. This makes me wonder, considering Surfrider’s excellent motives for starting ISD: What are the skateboarders campaigning for? They don’t need beach clean-ups because, let’s face it, that’s the city’s job. Surfers take a stand for the protection of reefs and mangroves – the ecosystem on which their passion depends. Skateboarders get creative in their concrete environment, but they’re like urban nomads – they just travel on to the next oasis when a spot gets torn down.
In this regard ISD can be seen as a meaningful day that reminds us once a year how important it is for us surfers to protect our ocean and coastal environment. We can’t just keep moving on to the next spot like skaters. Ours is a diminishing resource.
However, the question remains, how do you actually celebrate an activity like surfing? By getting together? All at one spot in a giant over-crowded lineup? While there are some beach-clean events on ISD, there seem to be more ISD parties on the beaches every year. Surf parties are the only non-aquatic occasions that surfers – herd-like in the water but quite independent on land – turn into sheep. And at these events they regularly drink their own body weight in beer, leaving one to wonder: how exactly is this a celebration of surfing? Is there any difference at all between this and International Beer Day?
And by the way, ISD isn’t an official International Day. According to the UN, June 20th is actually World Refugee Day, which seems highly appropriate considering where I live, International Surfing Day means little more than overcrowded surf spots, drunk surfers and an urgent need to flee to somewhere less crowded.
So do we really need a day like this? In my opinion every surfer should give back to the ocean and celebrate surfing however he or she wants. But please, not at my beach all at once.