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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Surf’s Up for Big Bucks. Why?

Posted by admin | February 12th, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport


Sunday’s New York Times has a front-page article about the growing popularity of surfing and its transformation from an icon of the counterculture to moneyed mainstream legitimacy. The author, Matt Higgins, states, “it’s unclear why surfing has found a broader respectability.â€?

Good question. So I’m wondering, is it because:

- surfing is the ultimate experience of freedom?
- there is now big money in the sport?
- you can co-opt an image of coolness?
- it’s a cheap/expensive grab for status?

Is this Disneyfication of the waves a good thing? After all, more people are enjoying what the early tribe of surfers enjoyed. And maybe, just maybe, surfing going upscale will translate into better stewardship of our precious oceans. Your thoughts?

2 Responses to “Surf’s Up for Big Bucks. Why?”

  • February 18, 2007 at 7:32 pm | chris says

    This disneyfication that you talk about is surely happening. I see it even over here on the east coast. I’m not sure if it is a trend that is repeating itself like in the 60s-70s. Or because of the major surf clothing companies and ads in youth pop culture. But as surfing is becoming more popular, more competition of surfboard companies has impacted board shapers (who before this time had a strong foot in the surfing culture.) I guess I don’t have an exact answer for why this is happening. However, as the marine ecosystems are becoming more and more polluted (I even heard pH has lowered because of the large amount of CO2 in the atmosphere) it will be interesting to see how surfers and environmentalists respond. If growing amounts of people become concerned about the future of the seas then I think this disneyfication could be positive.

  • February 19, 2007 at 10:33 am | Rick says

    Hopefully when the surfing excecutive leaves the third world country he paid so much to enjoy, he thinks to leave something behind to protect its environment. It would be beneficial if some of these extravagant charters/live-in guides would attach an opportunity to contribute a donation to the regions they play in at the end of a trip.

    If by “Disneyfication” you mean building fences around spots and only making them available to the rich (as one could argue happened at Hollister Ranch), then I don’t think it is a good thing, even if it somehow ensures that the ecosystem improves. What I have noticed, though, is that major surf companies like OP and Volcom are startiing to market “green” clothing. Hopefully it’s more than just co-opting an image in the same way the industry has done with “punk” and “preppy,” etc. over the last few years.

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