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Would they back an environmental protest against bulldozing floodprone wetlands to develop canal estates and power-hungry wavepools? What about Brother if he wanted to wear a MAGA hat in a heat?

Surfing has had a reactionary edge to it, at least in popular culture, since Day Dot.

The Hawaiians were hierarchical to the core, Kilgore’s napalm-loving Colonel loved dealing death cards before go-outs, Puberty Blues was full of blokes munching on chiko rolls and telling shielas they should stay on the sand.

Matt Branson used to bash queers before realising he was gay himself, never coming out as a pro.

Point Break’s Bodhi was a quasi-fascist spiritual criminal. The one truly progressive act surfing, especially pro surfing can claim is the boycott of South African apartheid by Tom’s Carroll, Curren and Cheyne Horan in ’85.

Which makes Tyler Wright’s 439 second knee and raised fist in support of BLM the most noteworthy thing by a country mile on the opening day of the Tweed Coast Pro held in head-high, join-the-dots gurgle.

It marks a complete transformation of the Sport from reactionary backwater to woke darling.

Worth counting the ways, I think, for the historical record.

Pro surfing has long been considered famously homophobic. Gay surfers, especially women, dare not come out without risking sponno dollars. Long-board World Champion Cori Schumacher claimed her achievements were silenced and erased due to her being openly gay.

Keala Kennely claimed sponsors deserted her after she came out.

The reaction to Tyler Wright coming out last year?

Silence.

Absolutely nothing.

Not a word written, no nasty internet comments, no censure whatsoever – not that anything overt would happen – from sponsors. Total support from WSL.

This, of course, after raising the pay of women pros to equal the men, despite a smaller field with less heats to surf.

In one fell swoop, pro surfing went from the back to the front of the pack, if you dig equality.

The BLM embrace seems a slightly more dangerous pose, with much greater chance for blowback. Not so much in Australia, where the push for indigenous recognition is not tainted by the screaming images of cities burning nor the Marxist undertones of the American movement.

How far the WSL’s support for other political statements which make claims on the humanity of the athlete, as Wright suggested, is up for debate. Would they back an environmental protest against bulldozing floodprone wetlands to develop canal estates and power hungry wavepools? What about Brother if he wanted to wear a MAGA hat in a heat?

But in America, the home of the WSL, the pushback against BLM, is real.

Andrew Stark was all over the media this morning, giving interviews where he expressed the WSL’s “total support” for Wright’s gesture which Bede Durbidge claimed was “totally remarkable”.

How far the WSL’s support for other political statements which make claims on the humanity of the athlete, as Wright suggested, is up for debate. Would they back an environmental protest against bulldozing floodprone wetlands to develop canal estates and power-hungry wavepools? What about Brother if he wanted to wear a MAGA hat in a heat?

As for the statement itself, I guess we have to take it at face value. No doubt the blackfella in Australia has been subject to terrible program of racism.

But it’s not racism that keeps black kids out of the water.

Racism is not the sin to blame when it comes time to ask why the WSL has barely featured indigenous surfers. Black kids barely surf because they can’t afford to live near the ocean. Rich whities have bought up all the coastal real estate and flipped houses and turned them into Air BnB’s.

Would Tyler look at her own real estate portfolio?

Would WSL consider letting black kids use wavepools for free, like basketball courts and truly “democratize” surfing, as Kelly promised.

If they intend to honour Tyler’s wish that “surfing is for all” then you can’t have a sich where only rich white kids can get near it.

How’s it sitting with you?

I want to honour the intent but the corporate embrace of woke culture makes me deeply queasy. Another commodified product for the corpos to package up and sell in the guise of moral purity.

It feels hard not to gag on the hypocrisy.

It obviously did Tyler no harm, not only did she suck all the oxygen out of the WSL’s return to competition, she won the event as well.

Who’ll be the first male surfer to take the knee?

I’d love to say Kelly.



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