We are told all the time that – “Surfing is more than just a sport. It’s a lifestyle.” It’s usually said by someone trying to sell something. The idea is that because it’s a lifestyle you need to buy all the lifestyle stuff that goes with it. Jack Jonhson CD, check, Volcom jeans, check, Quiksilver tide time watch, check.
People also use it as a way of justifying to themselves a level of laziness when it comes to improving there own surfing. “I’m happy just cruising along in a straight line. I don’t need to do all those turns and stuff, after all, it’s about having fun.” Well after watching hundreds of surfers over the last 20 years I believe that the fun comes from working hard at surfing better. It’s like most things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out. Nothing is more motivating than seeing yourself improve at something you love doing. Buying the right clothes or talking the right way isn’t where the fun is.
The most stoked surfers i know don’t look or talk like “surfers.” They know that the real stoke comes from working at something that is difficult and achieving something which you thought you wouldn’t be able to do. That’s what sports, and a lot of other worth while activities, have in common. You keep working to get better over your entire life and the more you improve, the more joy to get out of it. I think surfing is special because the feeling of riding a good wave is often enough of a reward in itself, without necessarily having to have an external goal like beating an opponent but that’s true of many other sports too. Billabong would have you believe that playing your guitar, next to a smouldering beach fire as the sun goes down is more important than weekly swim training sessions to keep your paddle fitness up. So here’s my soundbite – “Surfing is more than just a lifestyle. It’s a sport.”