80’s Dutch footie legend Marco Van Basten, now a Fifa consultant recently made a suite of shocking suggestions to improve the beautiful game… including reducing teams to ten men, and doing away with offside, etc, etc.
Some scoffed, some politely nodded, some merely went misty eyed at that goal vs Russia in ’88. (Some, of course, went Mark who?)
But it’s not just association football that incurs the scrutiny, and the two penneth of ex-pros, current ams and all manner of keyboard savants.
Pretty much anyone who’s ever successfully performed a duckdive has felt they’ve earned the right to suggest improvements to elite professional surfing competition.
Because when it comes to the WCT, opinions are like assholes – everybody got one.
Do Away With Seeding. Bring on the Bloodbath.
The seeding idea works great in tennis for example, where, ideally, the world no.1 and 2 will meet in the final, on a Sunday, early afternoon local time, in front of a full house and a massive live global audience.
The trouble with seeding in surfing is that a) that it very rarely happens anyway that the world no.1 and 2 make the final and b) the final might not be the best day of waves.
Let’s open it up, have a little fun! Medina vs John on the very first day, perhaps in the best waves of the whole event and one of em’s going home… yikes!
Even the making of the draw itself could be fun to watch, with boxing weigh in style pre-heat interviews, as opposed your standard post-heat platitudes, “That was a super tricky heat, I’m super stoked…” etc.
Now, I know the idea has been to keep the biggest names in longer, but I’m thinking let’s get away from draggin’ it out, instead having two awesome days instead of a half dozen of mixed virtue.
The 2016 Quik Pro France Final, if we’re being brutally honest, had an air of anticlimax in terms of waves and action. And we waited a while for it, too.
2. No WQS qualifying in the same season
For a sport that prides itself on being radical, progressive and a breeding ground of exciting prodigious youth talent, the system can seem a touch conservative, with the odds stacked heavily in favour of established talent.
It does seem pretty wacky that you can stink out the CT all year, as in literally get last every event, and yet requalify by making a few heats at the big QS events, in no small part by seeded straight in to Rd3!
Surely the Qualifying Series is for qualifiers? Not an insurance policy for out of form CT-ers?
Now I’m a reasonable reformer, I’m prepared to be more John Potter than Martin Luther. I’m willing to let the CT big dogs have a crack at Haleiwa and Sunset, but only for Triple Crown points, mind.
Jordy, as with all of his Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour brethren, should still be able to win Sunset. But they shouldn’t be able to take points/spots off qualifiers.
3. Cut the Field Down
There are way too many heats that don’t matter in a CT season. If the waves happen to be kinda average (as they often are, hence the term) some heats / entire rounds can have an air of what’s the point? ‘If he gets that six in the dying minutes of this heat and makes it through, he’ll move up from 27th to 23rd!… At least!’ said no one, ever.
The other issue is that there are too many heats to run to make good use of a single swell, and once you throw in unhelpful tides, howling afternoon onshores, etc, it can seem to take longer than perhaps necessary to whittle the field down.
Why not twenty Tour surfers plus four wildcards, giving 24 surfers, thus eight 3 man heats, where first and second advance, third goes home. Then eight man on man heats, quarters, semis, final, meaning the whole thing can be run in under two days.
Furthermore, both surfing and tennis suffer from format issues in terms of heats and waves, and points and games, that don’t count.
The format is why darts is awesome as entertainment, everything counts. It’s not feasible to make every wave count, so let’s at least make every heat count. i.e. If you lose, you’re out.
4. Less NFL, more TMS
Make no mistake about it, the WSL’s live broadcasts are mighty impressive. The resources and production expertise is mind-blowing, better than any comparable (‘action’) sport, easily.
But if it were down to me, I’d have them take their cue from Test cricket, which has much more in common with a multiple day event, and indeed with the intermittent ebb and flow of actual sporting action than an NFL game, which is ideal for the live action/instant replay analysis format.
Even a heat itself is essentially 60 seconds of actual surfing action, crammed into half an hour. Hence why surfing, just like test cricket, makes for amazing background entertainment that you can jump to at key moments. So too should the broadcast should match — think along the lines of a festival of entertainment, info, inside opinion and great characters, over multiple awesome days, only occasionally (rudely) interrupted by action.
I’ve seen the future, and it looks like… ties and blazers
5. Make the Points Sensible
What happened to the points anyway? Was it like 1920’s Germany, were the post-war reparation payments too punitive, leading to unchecked inflation? How come they’re in multiples of a thousand? 10,000? What about 10? Bit easier to get a handle on perhaps?
‘No way! He’s two thousand three hundred and fifty ahead! Wait… is that a lot?’
Formu… sorry ‘F1’ does this pretty well. Win 25 points, 18 for second, etc.
Why add two decimal places to those numbers for no apparent reason?
6. Throw in a Big Wave Venue
Is it just me or does the idea of ‘world’s best surfers’ ideally mean best all round surfers? Because we know it’ll be 2-3ft on the Goldie, for defs. So we have small definitely covered.
We know it’ll also probably be head-ish high in Brazil, Trestles and very likely elsewhere too. Guaranteed. But will it be 12ft plus anywhere? Maybe at Pipe, just maybe. Maybe Cloudbreak, or Chopes, but maybe not too, going on empirical evidence.
So how about having an event in Puerto/Nazaré/anywhere from the big wave world tour? Who wouldn’t mind seeing genuine sphincter-tightening fear in the eyes of some, and hell-ish madman relish in others?
To win a surfing world title, you should have had to, in the throes of competition, ride a wave at least as tall as the contest scaffold.
“Coming up in the next heat here at 40ft Nazaré, it’s Kanoa Igarashi vs Felipe Toledo…” Yes please!