Collegiate Surfing: Not an oxymoron.

posted by / Stuart / December 27, 2008

Mitch Varnes has helped mastermind a number of innovations in surfing, such as:

  • The O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro
  • Board Sports Management, Inc.
  • Camp Hobgood (had it lasted, I’m convinced this could have been a decent reality show)
Now Varnes is ready to spring the Collegiate Surfing Association on the world. He aims to eventually make surfing an NCAA sport, thereby legitimizing college surfers and giving the children pause to consider school over the traditionally worn path to a) Professional stardom (that’s you, slugger) or b) Shattered dreams and no marketable skills (everybody else, not you).
Right now college surfing is a lot like your company softball team: there could well be a former AAA shortstop playing with an IT geek and a soccer mom. Surf talent in college is a similarly mixed bag. The students that actually rip are presumably those who wandered onto campus one day and couldn’t find their way out. After all, no kid with an inkling of pro potential would choose dorm food over the cash and travel and waves doled out by Orange County marketing budgets. You’d have to be crazy. Or like I said, lost. The Collegiate Surfing Association could change that.
But luring real surfers into higher education isn’t only about sucking the fun out of youth (though that is very satisfying) – it’s also good for the industry. Five seconds at Surfer Poll, ASR, a ‘QS event – anywhere beach heathens congregate – and you begin to suspect surf companies don’t get the pick of the litter. In fact, some watchdogs would complain that friendships and personal connections matter more in the surf business than do skills and qualifications (sounds to me like sour grapes from unemployed design students and communications majors, but there you go). Getting standout amateurs into lecture halls means a hatchery for surf industry talent a few years down the line, ergo better-run surf companies, ergo superior products to play with. I’ve always wanted a traction pad that gets NPR.
What on earth is a decent a reality show?

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