Water Sports

Nicó Morales on surfing, sport, and penguins

Why I decided to read this as 2am is beyond me but I guess that’s testament to Nicó Morales’s writing.

In his latest essay, the wordsmith examined the sport of surfing and its fraught relationship with modernisation and trappings that come with it, sandwiched between two Surf’s Up references.

Surfing, unlike many sports, doesn’t have an immediately discernible path to success. Sure, you can stick your kid in some competitions and hope they do well enough to attract sponsors, but it’s far from a codified process of linear progression. Even with the proliferation of the World Surf League, modern surfing sits on an ever-widening fissure.

On one side, you’ll find a contingent of bright-eyed athletes whose salty, sun-kissed smiles do well to push sports drinks to unassuming admirers. On the other, a motley band of misfits that flick off waves as much as they do cameras. Both ends are sustained by differing ends of an advertising machine, each looking to speak to demographics that resonate with seemingly incongruous ideas.

Nicó then brings the conversation towards the wider subject of sport:

The on-going pandemic has brought forth a number of revelations for almost everyone. Even now, as a group of manipulative financial analysts rails against being manipulated, people have been confronted with functions underpinning our modern state of being. Football, basketball, and several other sports have been jolted back into their cycles of perpetual motion for the sake of ‘necessity’ as TV contracts dared to go unfulfilled- leaving sticks of deodorant and shitty beer slightly less sold than at this point a year ago. If that’s what sports are about in today’s day and age, it’s worth asking why we started doing any of this in the first place.

Read the full essay, “Surfing and the problem with modern sports.“, on Substack.

See also: Surfing with goats at the San Clemente Pier and a surfing duck… named Duck.

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