Words by Mimi LaMontagne
Here’s something you haven’t already heard… Taj Burrow retired last week! Oh wait. You’ve not only heard that, but you’ve heard it a million times and then read it and then been force-fed Montaj clips. And you loved every second of it, because you love Taj Burrow. If you’ve been following the general sentiment of the interwebs, chances are he’s your favourite surfer.
But have you ever thought about why he’s your favourite surfer? If logic prevailed, everyone’s favourite surfer would be the best surfer in the world – the surfer who achieves and displays the highest level of talent. Right? Logically?
But that’s not the way our brains work, and that’s especially not the way surfing works, and it’s all due to a little thing called personality. Humans are attracted to other various humans because of their compatible personalities – there are qualities you see in someone that you want to see in yourself, or that you hold in high regard – and that’s the general basis of attraction.
SL thinks that surfing’s fascination with Taj comes from his cool. When we were discussing this article between ourselves, we all agreed that it seems a bit unfair. The other retirees from the past 12 month… CJ, the 9/11 World Champ, Freddy P, who was on tour for over a decade… they didn’t get any of the fanfare that Taj has gotten because they’re not the cool kids. Will the same thing happen to Kai Otton? Bede Durbidge? Adam Melling? Wiggolly Dantas?
No, the men above probably didn’t play as big a role in your surfing life as TB did. We know that. But we think that this obsession with “the cool kid” points to a problem.
What’s going to happen when your pimply next door neighbour who’s got enough talent to be a world champ, and enough drive to be a world champ (because let’s face it – pimples don’t get babes, world titles do), can’t get a sponsorship because he doesn’t fit the MO of surfing’s “cool”? He gives up on surfing and becomes the dude at the Apple shop selling a MacbookPro to a less-talented, blonde-haired, floppy-hat-wearing, party-boy shreddog, paid for by fucking SurfStitch. How would you feel then, huh!?
But seriously. It’s a tough gig trying to land a sponsorship, and we think that this unwarranted need for surfing to portray cool is robbing our sport of future talents. It’s already happened, and it will continue to happen, until we admit that surfing ain’t cool. We’re a bunch of dorks talking about fin size and dimples and the curvature of an environmentally deadly fibreglass plank. We wear tight neoprene for fun and prance around in the shallows hoping our friends are watching.
Let’s celebrate the dork next door who does better cutties. Let’s have a fucking party for Kai Otton. Let’s tell the big-wigs with the big bucks that we’re not sheeples of trend.
(Please note that we love Taj Burrow and we’re suckers for celebrations, so yes, we watched Montaj about 12 times this week)