By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
"The real power of the control of the surfing industry — I don't know if there's another way of putting it — but it will always rest in the hands of the manufacturers," says Jonathan Paskowitz.
Asked how pervasive is the influence of surf companies within the sport, Erik Joule, former vice president of merchandising and design at Quiksilver, who's now with Levi Strauss & Co., says simply: "Huge. They have the dollars."
These same firms pay for the World Tour and underwrite the talent.
Forget the four-tier model in U.S. major league sports, made up of an overseeing body, owners, players and outside sponsors who pay to advertise their brands. Contests that make up the World Tour are not financed by "owners" but by sponsors. In 2011, Billabong, Rip Curl, Volcom and Hurley ran events. The advertisers also directly influence the sport by sitting on ASP's board, as do the surfers.
The ASP is "not toothless," says Scott Hulet, who edits San Clemente–based The Surfer's Journal, which, as a heavily subscriber-based magazine, is not as affected by the advertisers as Surfer, Surfing and TransWorld Surf. "But the events themselves around the world are under the ownership and direction of the surf-clothing companies and wet suit manufacturers, who also sponsor the athletes in those events.
"I don't know if that's unique in the world of sports, but it's worth noting. That seems like a relationship fraught with hazard. By the same token, anything that allows a talented young world-class surfer the ability to fly around the world and basically play in the water is a win for that surfer."
Mark Richards, owner of San Fernando Valley's Val Surf shop, agrees. He gives "full credit" to the big five for growing the industry and putting money into the sport — versus the slew of corporations from telecom to fashion houses that appropriate surf culture and its imagery to sell products.
But surfing itself doesn't draw that huge, mainstream audience. The spots with the best waves, the ones that create a spectacle of danger, athleticism and grace, often are located far from the world's media capitals. The smaller waves near big cities rarely guarantee the same excitement or quality of surfing, so Quiksilver's Long Beach locale was designed to turn on thousands of new fans.
The One World Ranking and the new midyear tour rotation were intended to showcase younger surfers and bring more hype to an art that's about man-upon-wave, not the traditional sports conflict that the advertisers flock to, of man-versus-man. For many surfers, it's a deeply metaphysical act that connects man to water — not exactly a stadium sport.
"When you're dealing with a sport that just by its inherent nature is not telegenic," like the drama of football or basketball, Taylor says, "had it not been for these Orange County apparel companies, there really wouldn't be professional surfers. ... So it's kind of a Catch-22, maybe say, well, they own the tour, they rule it — on the other hand, if it wasn't for them, there would really be no tour."
But Garcia, the World Tour's mercurial 2000 champion, knows the danger of having surfers sit on a board across the table from the companies that sponsor them and pay their mortgages. Garcia was sponsored by Billabong when he was younger, but during his later tenure as a surfers' representative on the ASP board, he, like Martinez, did not have a big-five sponsor. Instead, No Fear, a company owned by his friends, sprang to back Garcia's name. Garcia thus was free to voice criticisms that others on the board were reluctant to express.
"At one time there was a lot of criticism of professional surfing," says Malibu local Evans, an art director who began his career with classic illustrations for Surfer and Surfing. But those days are gone. "Professional surfers are supposed to keep their mouths shut and be cool athletes."
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, on a San Francisco beach, the ASP crowned its 2011 champion: Kelly Slater.
Slater, 39, had accomplished a staggering feat for any sport, finishing at the top for 11 years. Slater's win was huge news. The press releases went out, Quiksilver ran its congratulatory ad for its No. 1 surfer, the blogosphere celebrated.
The thing was, Slater hadn't yet clinched it. The ASP had made a mistake. He needed to win one more heat.
It was "Mark" posting on Surfline.com who noticed the ASP had its calculations wrong. Slater did the math himself and passed the word along. Four days later, Slater won the heat he needed and was recrowned.
But the ASP's reputation took a serious ding. Professional surfer Jamie O'Brien, under the moniker "whoisjob," tweeted: "WHAT IS THE ASP???? It's a SANCTIONING body for a WORLD TITLE." Within two days, the organization announced it had accepted the resignation of CEO Brodie Carr.
The controversy wouldn't die. The ASP had screwed up its most basic mission just as its complex One World Ranking system was in its first full year.
"It's the first time in surfing history that [the ASP] ever fucked up on the points," Martinez says.
Bobby, if you are reading this I hope you understand that you have a Father in Heaven who loves you intensely. People may fail you but He won't. If you will pray sincerely you can truly be forgiven of all your sins and then you will feel His love. Once you do...... nothing will ever be the same.
The power of procreation is the most sacred power in all the universe, the means by which children are born, families are formed and worlds populated. Those who use the vulgar four-letter word to represent this sacred power are walking in darkness at noon day. Bobby not only offended many people with his words in New York as well as set a poor example for children who heard or read them, but more importantly he offended his Father in Heaven. The tatoos, the profane language, the love of violence are clear cut indicators that he is going in the wrong direction, away from the light and towards darkness..... where he will never find true happiness. I wish Ms. Rothman had told Bobby what he needed to hear instead of what she thought he, and her readers, wanted to hear.
I don't know why everyone always brings his cultural heritage into it. He's an American like you and I. I can see where the complexities of a new system mess with an individuals family life especially when it directly effects their paycheck. He's a professional surfer having to change the way he supports and takes care of his family. Sounds like he's just a man that takes that seriously and has been pushed to far. We've seen many professional athlete's inform the public they are not role models and performed much more egregious behavior than this. Is banning someone really appropriate or should we just boycott these company's until they bring this incredible surfer back. I say he deserves it. Guy that uses his talents to support his family and puts a great deal of importance on that and also stands on his principles. He sounds like a great roll model to me! I need to buy more Lightning Bolt gear and boycott all this "OC Corporate Goliath" crap!
I really could care less about this yic yak. Never heard of him. But surfing as a "sport" is a sad testament to what greed and commercialism does to a pure and free activity. This crap isn't surfing, it's merchandising. Yes I am an old guy. I started surfing when there were only longboards, and have been surfing for 45 years. I love it. The ocean is my home. But this commercial surfing nausea is not worthy of being talked about in the same serntence as free surfing. Sad, really. Sad that so many groms will never know. Sad that so many have been sucked in to this waste of time, and exploitation of the ocean. Surfing has....I kid you not....deteriorated over the last 25 years as a result of the influence of money, capitalism, and greed over this crackerjack conspiracy. The sport of kings has become the sport of dollar signs. Very sad. Auwe He'e Nalu. Ohana Kai forever. Dora lives!
It's fitting he goes by Bobby and not Robert. He acts/acted like a total child. I lost massive respect for the guy seeing watching him unload at the contest. Perspective man. We aren't talking civil rights, racsim, or oppressive injustice. We have a pro surfer littering his bs over surfing rules. In my opinion it's classless and made him look stupid regardless of what point he was trying to make. And in regards to the SF snafu. It was a screw up for sure, but big deal. To me it didnt reveal the ASP to be a poorly run thing nor did it validate Bobby's rant. It was a screw up. Bobby should be admired for his surfing. Nothing else. Doesn't take balls to act like a jackass. Stand up with class and then people listen.
When John Severson, owner of Surfer Magazine created the idea of the "Surfer Poll" in 1963, it was the beginning of the control of the "Surfer Celebrity". The magazine, as sponsor of the surf industry via advertising to sell their product, was the beginning of the end of the "Soul Surfer", as Surfer Magazine appointed the "Surfer's of the Year", elected by the readers. This became the message of SURF in the 1960s.
Before that, the 50s Surf Movie perpetuated the myth of SURF as a newsreel to the packed crowds of surfers who paid the ticket prices. Surfers of the longboard era were rebels and misfits, clustered around the beaches, coves and points of California and the world, as The Endless Summer proved in the media there was the Surf and Surfer around the world to wonder about.
In the 50s one could visit Malibu Beach as a forum of youth laid out on the beach, as Miki Dora became the spectacle - the dominant persona in SURF. He was the complete image to follow as a minor. Through magazines, photos and movies you could really understand his character and impact on his "AUDIENCE". He was "www.rogersandcowan.com" as his own PR agency. HE controlled HIS surf industry.
Later, from another point of view as graphic designer working for JIMMY'Z and GOTCHA, I was embedded as the image maker of The Endless Summer poster that had become an icon for SURF. I was consulting with the labels and they had to exploit surfing in it's industry of retail sales. The industry had to focus on young men to sell volumes of boardshorts and accessories. They had to appoint, also through Surfer Magazine, "Surfer Celebrities" to exploit, in order to tell the story of why the audience needed their product. To make the whole thing work, Surfer had to appear as a REBEL, like the original MIKI DORA. This legendary idea has made the SURF BUSINESS a worldwide industry and is the same media-mould we see today.
The World Tour of maintaining the pack of 150 REBELS sponsored by the surf industry is an empire with false REBEL GODS in the media, taking nothing away from their athletic prowess. It is a visual media with the mirror and audience as the tool that pays for the industry. Whether you are a surfer, a viewer or the merchandising buyer, it is a worldwide business - an artificial, contrived medium and message built around the above ideal.
So Bobby, as the last Soul Surfer, rebels against the industry feeling used by it all. But understand: Miki would get upset when he was not the user too.
John Van HamersveldSanta Monica
With all due respect to Mr. Martinez, your article illustrates him as someone who got a raw deal? Surfing as a sport is in dyer need of ambassadors like the current world champion Kelly Slater not someone losing their cool over a ASP company decision. Surfing, like any other sport, has it's rules of decorum, and his tirade should be considered unacceptable on every level! "Freedom Artists?" "Lightning Bolt" in Venice? Clearly, both using your publication to petal their wears? All that said, Mr. Martinez's surfing prowess certainly speaks for it's self. However, not unlike several older professionals surfing has eclipsed even the best of the 30 and over pros. Bobby, you rip, but get off the soap box, in the gym, and in the water. Love to see you win a title!
GREAT article. It is not surprising as it is a typical situation when dealing with profit-oriented entities that only care about taking credit or capitalizing on monopolies in a given industry. This is certainly a controversial subject, but I appreciate it as you don't see much of this anymore.
Hey, this is Tibby Rothman the writer of the L.A. Weekly's Bobby Martinez story. Thanks to everyone for dropping by with their comments--no matter what their POV is on the piece. Many of notes, ideas and perspectives are very interesting, and I'm super glad people have been posting up their thoughts. Have a great day, peeps.
I'm not sure why you would be surprised that the big surf companies dominate the tour?There is no TV money no big ticket gate so where does the money come from? They are basically like the NFL or NBA owners calling the shots in their league.
Australia is NOT California and vice versa, but the Aussie contingient was very successful in procreating the contest surf format on California soil during my youth surfing in the 1970's. What sells via surfing in Australia is of a different nature than what sells in California which happens to be mainstream media manipulations, while Aussies revere competition and sunshine and family by the ocean.Together, the California contingient and the Aussie influx has turned what goes down on the North Shore of Oahu into an industry, and it is a very tight knit club, and actually, not very representative of what goes on in any surfers life, away from the contest circuit.Forget about flying around the world on a sponsors dime- I did it on my own for thirty years, with VERY little cash. I surfed better than most, and was told I was as good as Michael Ho, and I had only been on the North Shore once before. So as far as ranking among the top around the world I learned the difference between a spotlight star and an outcast nobody, always comes down to one thing, who has wave rights, and position, and when you get to the surface after the wipeout, whether one or the other is charitable, or belligerant. Surfing pays peanuts and gets monkees. Slater was the King, and so let it go and move on. With billions in revenue siphoned off by the Big Five, it DOES seem a little like a circus trick, done in dishonor of the Sport of Kings. Bobby said his piece and it was the truth, but we now see what happens when one speaks truth to power. One would hope industry backbiters would champion strong voices and strong backs and souls, but in their corporate arena, they do not. Sad since surfing is one of the most exciting and cleanest sports I have ever encountered. Just remember this, surfing happens out in the water. Boardroom chumps will cut you off at any chance. Shoulder hopping for dollars as they steal your waves and your life in order to stroke their own egos. Bobby needs to come down to San Diego and look Zigz up and together we will start the counterboardroom culture at my secret Sunset Cliffs reef. Sponsors will jump on as we make waves, not friends.One thong is sure- this outspoken rant by Bobby is JUST what the doctor ordered, for a stagnant surf culture, which has been riding the same three fin potato chip for WAY TOO long..
Wow, Great, well- informed and comprehensive article. Bobby was well over it prior to using his heat win at the Quik NY Pro as a launching pad for his well-timed blast on the ASP, and may very well have single-handedly influenced the retraction of the Mid-year cut. The guy I think was 5th on the 2011 ratings with a true shot at the title, but was facing getting cut because his previous years results factored in. How can one focus on winning a tour with something like that hanging over him. I commend Bobby on speaking up, Sure it could have been done in a more diplomatic fashion, however, there's no way it would have been nearly as effective.
Yeah, so kudos to B.M. for speaking up and keeping to his moral compass. Even Slater and a number of others were critical of the the judging criteria back in the day. Perhaps the slew of f-bombs and the anger--i haven't seen the video--is what caused him to be condemned by the ASP. The article says that much.
The sport of surfing was lucky to has B.M. B.M. can do better things in his life than travel all year and surf in contests.
The world of surfwear marketing is bullshit in my opinion; their message, "hey kids, be cool, be rebellious, wear our clothing." Where is the honesty in that?
if bobby's bitchin so much about the tour... why doesn't he MAN UP AND QUIT, AND SURF FOR FUN or whatever you want to call it...instead of for the money. Like the rest of us suckers who handle a day job that isn't spectacular just to get some waves a couple times of week..
"Cry" is right. If Bobby doesn't like the tour why doesn't he stop talking about it already? His point about the mid year cutoff and ranking is ridiculous. In the old QS system, at years end, CT guys would be replaced by surfers from the QS. It's all the same, just done twice a year with the mid year method. No one told him to do 12 conservative turns to the beach. That was his poor decision. Kelly, Dane, Gabriel and others are getting through heast with one huge turn or air. Freesurfing in thier heats. I watch the freesurf videos and the WT contest. In my opinion the surfing in the contests, waves permitting, is equal too or better than the videos which take months to film, no less.
Good article accept for some grammatical errors and spelling errors. Kind of ironic, but whatever. I like how Bobby speaks the truth and at the same time doesn't want to become an authority. If Bobby wanted to become an authority in the surf industry he would speak in the 'C-SPAN' rhetoric that is political and snaky. Thats why Bobby is a leader.
Great article! The "Orange County Koolaid" has been flowing like cheap wine for decades. Just ask John Van Hamersveld about the early days of Surfer Mag. Dora is rolling in his grave!
Tibby, I think you'll find that the comment attributed to "Pseudonym" should actually be attributed to the previous commenter "Anonymous". Sorta reflects the less than diligent journalism skills evidenced throughout the rest of the article.
Surfing, professional as well as amature has been corrupted by the vile, the swine and greed just as much of America and the world has been by the corporations. Quik recently opened a store with the rest of the world in Venice, Ca. I have been holding a local surf contest for 20 years and asked Quik manager Kessler to sponsor the contest. The dude glad handed me like a politician, promised sponsorship and never returned an email or call. I even gave the lame a copy of my book. Full on creep. Dora called it decades ago. Martinez is a modern echo of past surfers sentiment. Quiksilver=Exxon
respect man. another tribe member that isn't afraid to tell it like it is and see's the vultures for what they are... surfing was invented as a recreational past time, but as usual someone figured how to turn a profit with it and then steered everything in their direction for commercial gain...
respect to the brands that still sponsor free surfers tho! the bong and everyone at rip curl gets my 2 thumbs up :)
Right on Bobby!!!!!!!!!!!And Tibby Rothman is great for telling it. In the L.A. weekly, no less."Bobby Martinez, a rare Latino surfing superstar from a working-class background, who had risen to the top tier of professional surfers on Earth, was too rebel for what had once been a rebel sport."
bobby is just telling it like it is! who else would know the faults of the tour than someone that's been on it for years
the ASP response sounds bitch! they're treating him like a misfit without even addressing the facts he raises (too close to home huh)
the tour went commercial and sold out years ago... so they have an agenda to uphold because of sponsors and the desperate need to be recongized as a legitimate sport. there are 2 sides to the story, and if Bobby is the only one saying it out loud I bet other blokes in the 44 are thinking the same thing
who cares in the end. just paddle out and this shit will fade away
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ASIANS CAN ACTUALLY READ MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!they can hear and see what your visually thinkingthis is the complete truth
The reason a lot of Asians have completely expressionless faces, only associate with Asians and don't associate with non Asians that much, and are very unfriendly in general is to avoid accidentally revealing that they can read minds. If all over a billion Asians where to show facial expressions all the time just as much as non Asians, associate with non Asians much more, and be much more friendly and talkative, then a lot of them might accidentally reveal that they can read minds by accidentally showing a facial expression or dirty look when someone thinks, or visually pictures something in their mind they don't like, find astonishing, or funny etc because those people might see that and and really wonder what that was that just happened there and see the connection, if they all associated with non Asians a lot more then there would be a lot more people around for them to accidentally show facial expressions when those people think things they don't like etc, so they only associate with Asians so there won't be anyone around for them to see that and have any accidents happen in the first place.
Think about it, it's not normal how a lot of them act, it's not normal human behavior! and the entire way they act is all to hid their mind reading abilities, it makes perfect sense to do all of that to hide that they can read minds, because all of that is the perfect way to do it!Every single Asian alive is hiding their mind reading abilities, they will always deny that they can read minds, they will lie about having mind reading abilities forever!!!Because they value hiding their mind reading abilities more then their own lives! That's why nobody knows about it!
Try thinking, best yet visually picturing in your mind something absolutely crazy as you possibly can when you are around Asians, and try looking for Asians who give people particular looks, especially dirty looks for what appears to be for completely no reason, that is them giving people looks when they hear and visually see someone thinking something they don't like, find astonishing, or funny etc.It still happens spite a large percentage of Asians having completely expressionless faces all the time, it would just happen a lot more if none of them had completely expressionless faces all the time, it's still not uncommon!
I know this sounds crazy, impossible and completely unbelievable, BUT IT ISN'T CRAZY WHEN ITS TRUE
The reason you think this truly is crazy, impossible, and unbelievable is because our society as propagandized us into believing that nothing extra ordinary is real, and that it is impossible that people can read minds, and that it is crazy to think that it's true that people can read minds, all just to cover up that Asians can read minds! who says that can't exist? the people who have mind reading abilities who are trying to cover it up!
You all have to spread the message!!!!!The world has to know about this!!!!!
Always liked him as a surfer. Have no idea what he became so embittered about in the last few years. Also, Bells has been the second event on tour forever and he's never won Bells. This inaccuracy - in addition to the one-sided sources (managers, sponsors, friends, etc.) - makes me not really believe everything in this article. Would have liked to have heard more from his past sponsors or maybe some surfers on tour right now.
Bobby is a terrible, uneducated and foul-mouthed example for the latino community. We finally get someone that our kids can look up to in the surfing world and he was an excellent role model in his earlier days. However, the past two years, he has turned into an angry, confused wannabe gang-banger. He should really have valued what he had: getting paid to go around the world and surf. Many of us are not so lucky.
I watching remember Bobby's rant in NY and wishing he was clearer about his point. Not so much his language, I personally don't mind that but I really was trying to understand his point. I get it now. He is a great surfer and will do fine. Really, for the average surfer, the tour is big enough, surfing is big enough and everything is great. It will never be the NFL, NBA or MLB and we actually love it that way. We are surfers and there are already too many of us in the water!