Now that the 2022 WSL World Championship season is over it is probably an appropriate time to revisit a story published by Chas Smith in online journal BeachGrit a few years back. One would think that, after his scathing critique of this ludicrous practice, that winners of surfing contests would have put their feet down by now and refused to be made to look like a staggering punter on the Cony Island turkey trot at the moment of their triumph… at the very moment when they should be looking like gods. But no. The evil practice continues.
I’ve personally wondered why those professional athletes who play team sports like Rugby League and Australian Rules Football (I mean the ones who are of good taste and sound mind) when gathered together in the change rooms after a victory don’t refuse to stand in a circle and boisterously boom out the team’s cheer song. It is another example of an idiotic ritual that is foisted on sportspeople where the poor athlete has neither the good sense nor the courage to simply refuse to participate in the embarrassing spectacle. Oh well. There you have it. Our heroes are not perfect. We want them to be… but they never will be. So over to Chas to describe to you this abominable practice and why it should be banned. My thanks to Chas for having the sense to call it out!
There are few guarantees in life, fewer in surfing, but you can rest assured that if a man or woman wins a surf contest, two friends, acquaintances, countrymen or sponsors will be there to chair him or her up the beach. In theory it is wonderful. There she is (in the case of a women), held above the adoring masses who cheer her accomplishment. She floats through them, like royalty, carried by overwhelming support until finally reaching the stage. A frenzy of applause as she takes her trophy and blows kisses. She is queen of the world!
“Does he have scoliosis?”
In practice it is awkward. Maybe once a year, maybe once every other, at one professional surfing contest is the crowd actually thick enough to extend from beach to stage, you see. Thus when his two friends (in the case of a man), acquaintances, countrymen, sponsors arrive at water’s edge they are alone with maybe a cameraman standing nearby. They lift him up, not gracefully, placing one buttock on each of their shoulders. Often the hoisters are not the same height leading to severe bending of the spine. Onlookers, standing many yards away, wonder, “Does he have scoliosis?” No he does not. He is merely getting chaired up the beach. The walk-through empty patches of sand is arduous. It is difficult to walk gracefully though sand under any circumstance but having one buttock on a shoulder makes it completely impossible.
“Does he have Tourette’s?”
And so the trio stumbles, victor shouting loudly because he must because the onlookers are standing many yards away wondering, “Does he have Tourette’s?” No he does not. He is merely getting chaired up the beach. The trip takes far too long, bumbling along, onlookers giving even more room than usual because the scene has a messy quality. And when the victor takes the stage his legs are often asleep leading to more bumbling. Onlookers, fleeing, wonder, “What evil has descended to the beach this day?”
Yes, chairing a man or woman up the beach is evil and it should be stopped.
Chas Smith – BeachGrit
Thanks again to Chas Smith for this illuminating opinion piece. I would like to add an extra thought. While the chairing up the beach ritual is clearly silly and embarrassing I would add that the add-on ritual of a third team member holding the victorious surfboard erect and aloft behind the victorious surfer on their parade up the beach is equally as nauseating. What the hell is going on with this bit of silliness. Perhaps the idea is that the surfboard deserves a pat on the back too. Or perhaps it is about giving due recognition to the board shaper and board manufacturer after a contest victory. I don’t know. All I can see is a staggering, embarrassed, athlete being stalked by an unsteady tomb stone on their victory march to the podium. That too, has to stop.
Story first published in www.BeachGrit.com October 2015. Republished with permission.