I know I’m not exactly a regular contributor to the board here, but I emailed some pics from the surfing competition to Anthony, and he suggested I write a post to accompany them. With his permission, I’d like to offer my perspective on the event. Hopefully it adds something to the discourse around here. Feel free, tireless readers, to comment at your pleasure. So without further ado, here goes:
For what’s it’s worth the event was amazing. I saw Friday’s action only, but that one day blew my mind. Since I’m not really a surf enthusiast, I didn’t initially understand why I liked it so much. Then as I was sitting there, practicing some freelance philosophy, trying to figure out why the event was cool, it came to me.
The event was the opposite of everything we’re accustomed to on Long Island. Your average sporting event these days is priced outside of the range of your average fan and too distant to ever feel like you’re really a part of the game. In stark contrast, the surfing competition was free to all (more or less) and was set up to encourage spectators, not treat them as potential terrorists (i.e. no bag check, pat down, etc).
For example, let’s briefly examine a day at Citi (shitty?) Field or (the new) Yankee Stadium. That’s x amount of dollars for the ticket, parking, food, etc. Then when you get there you have to go through security, make sure you are sitting in the right seat (lest you suffer the harassment of an usher), and prey you get a view of the players (odds are you are so far away you cant even tell which player is which).
The surf competition was the antithesis of that: I parked for free, walked ten minutes on the beautiful LB boardwalk, sauntered right onto the beach (no fee for weekday in September), and perched myself at a nice spot right on the jetty. Oh and then surf legend, Kelly Slater walked right past me on his way to the waves. No hassle, no usher, no bullshit. And from there I witnessed the best surfers in the world ride the waves on arguably the best beach in Long Island.
In a world and age where everything we admire is more and more distant and detached from our reality, this was a truly democratic, populist event and it was totally badass. If only there were more events like this. Because lets face it- we don’t go to concerts, games, and matches just to pay through the nose and save the ticket stub. We go to feel like we are participating in the action; like we are living vicariously through the people who entertain us.
Look, most of us will never play in the majors or throw a pass in the NFL. And these days, when going to the games is more out of reach than ever before, it’s become that much more difficult to feel like you are part of the game. But the surfing competition gave anyone interested that chance. Just walk right up and enjoy. You are welcome to feel the salt spray in your face and the wind at your back. And the grand total cost for that privilege: a big fat zero dollars and zero cents.
Alas, the way the world is going, I suspect there will be less, not more of these types of events. Like my dad says, the train is leaving the station and it will get to its destination with or without you-so get on board and figure it out when you get there. But at least we can say we had this great event right here in Long Beach and it kicked ass.