Nike’s withdrawal from surf was announced to the athletes yesterday on the North Shore. Apparently Julian Wilson, pictured here in Reunion Island, was the most upset of the team members. Photo: Ryan Miller
On January 4, 2011 I welcomed Nike to our surf world with a warm embrace. I was excited to see them drop the very misguided 6.0 moniker and become what they always should have been. Nike Surf. A titan of our industry. I felt that Nike’s inclusion would diversify our market, forcing innovation all over the place. I felt that their non-core principles would be a breath of fresh air. I felt that massive influxes of dollar bills are never bad. I am, after all, as unapologetically capitalistic as I am unapologetically journalistic. A very fine mélange.
And Nike hit the ground running, crafting an amazing surf team including beautiful Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Michel Bourez, Koa Smith, Laura Enever. They title sponsored The U.S. Open of Surfing and it was the most randy, wild contest week ever. They created surf ads that ran during the Super Bowl. It was all happening. They were fulfilling my dreams.
But today, less than two years after entering, Nike is bidding adieu. There is no more Nike Surf. It is finished and only a cloud of uncertainty remains. They still own Hurley and that will be the face of Nike in the water but there will be no more swoosh. No more “just do it.”
Why? Nike is being tight-lipped, even to me, the unapologetic journalist, but I would have to guess that the powers that be looked at the bottom line and thought, “It costs very much to be part of this surf world and we get very little in return.” They are correct. Our surf world is a hard hard nut, but, really, the powers that be should have produced a decent boardshort. Theirs were too long and the colors were all wrong. They should have produced a “dawn patrol sweatsuit” taking their existing black, trim jogging suit and adding a layer of cashmere inside to protect against the biting cold California fog. They should have produced a boat-necked t-shirt that hung a bit long, striped blue and white with a tag reading, “il suffit de faire” inside. They should have actually taken their beautiful team, randy contest, big-budgeted ad campaign and used it to move the best product our surf world had ever seen. But alas, they did not. And now they are finished.
Many will dance upon Nike’s grave and laugh but not me. I weep. I weep whilst laying a bouquet of white roses near their headstone. I weep whilst reading them a love poem. Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet princess and flights of angels sing thee to rest.