Late Spring 2002
I feel any KneeBoarding Knews publication is a good thing. It gives rays of hope in a long darkened room for those involving themselves with any KB organization in search of filling their competition needs. I do find the sportcaster style and content of most Knews publication's to be overoriented towards "competition"; it gives many the impression that it is the majority who share this interest, and the PR push is extremely biased towards contests as the crowning social function for all KneeRiders. It's a bit confusing. The enthusiasm of finally having an uncensored medium is somewhat responsible for the misleading interpretation that this direction is the common global KneeRiding objective. Although competition is a strong voice on the wind, it is unwise to assume this focus represents the collective position of the KneeRiding community as a whole. It isn't. It is merely the most vocal.
It is well known that I am not an advocate for having a competition driven platform as a primary purpose for any KneeRiding organization. Yet I have always acknowledged valid concerns that there is a need to incorporate a very limited schedule of competition to meet the needs of those who truely enjoy those things. It's all fine from my position as long as that need is met, but never at the sacrifice of, or the upstaging of the first and secondary objectives of having fun and casual social interaction. Under any standard this is by far an agreeable compromise from which issues can negotiate around.
Many out there may not understand why I am adamant on this position, but that KSA fiasco, whatever it may be, is a good example of the rat f..king nature of the ISA, the other International Surfing organizations which pay homage to them, including our own governing National organization, and the ugly hostile infighting which came to light within the KSA itself. Obvioulsy the ISA and Surfing AUS had one primary concern and motivational involvment with this last World KB contest..... money. Nothing more.
I also do not concern myself at all with what transpires overseas. However I will say that when I read about the ISA sanctioning, and the fees they demanded, I had mixed reactions to that news. One being "great, the event is finally recognized as a legit function by the "GODS of surfing", immediately countered by, "oh no, here comes the chaos of deciet and corruption." I feel we have enough to do here at home with our own set of logistics to overcome and build upon than to get intangled in this tired political fray. I advocate that KneeBoarders must emerge from hibernation as the standard bearers of a new era in KneeBoarding, both here in the USA, and Internationally. Now after following the KSA/ISA scandlal and seeing the now exposed, shaky organizational framework of the KSA, it seems quite obvious those of us in the USA must take the initiative and set ourselves a new course into uncharted waters. Too bad really, I've always had the impression that this Australian organization was rock steady. Fortunately they have provided a rudimentary road map which could be concieved as a starting point.
A brief note about this Gaz kid and his old man. Same old comp BS. The Little League Syndrome, actually The Little David Eggers Syndrome is more like it. It's the unfortunate by product of competiton bringing out the worst in human nature, as there are always more sore losers, than happy winners. A very bad ratio in group dynamics. In my book no one really wins when these attitudes become rampantly out of focus like this. I'd send the kid and his old man packing for home telling them to come back when they've cooled their jets, afterall it's only a stupid contest. I did that to Egger's old man on a few occasions and after all his threats and bellowing ..they always came back. Talk about misplaced priorities and the damge it did to the poor kid. Look what happened to David. Unexcusable.
So I do agree that we shouldn't pass around this KSA dirty laundry. I really don't care about it, but I do see the point of how it would be making a bad situation worse by sowing the seeds of discord; which of course will come back and bite us on the ass. Any inhouse fighting now will only detract and sour what we've accomplished thus far. All this international intrigue and concern ends here for me. It is wise to watch from the sidelines as not to make similar mistakes, but keep to the no involvement from our edge of the pond. We want to keep as far away from identification with those problems as we possibly can. It's very apparent that we must have a method and a solution of containing all that negative energy when it comes here in 4 years. Just do the necessary ground work in obscurity. The less who know, the better our odds of success. I know where I'm going and I know what it takes to reach that objective.
In my own dealings with the ISA
I found them to be very two faced and concered strictly with granting "THEIR"
permission to hold a recognized event for a very FAT fee, with a long
string of baggage tied to it. I hung up the phone with the ISA corporate office
in La Jolla shortly before Surfer Bowl XVI in Dec. 2001, vowing to never pay
homage to that pompous structure, or any of their affiliates ever again, unless
the terms of our involvement are the ones we, as unified KneeRiders, dictate
In late Spring of 2002 I disclosed to a few administrators of the new KSUSA my attempted efforts of trying to negotiate with the ISA regarding the AKC objectives and how I was getting the stonewall treatment from them. When I finaly got the discussion down to the bare bones earlier in the year, it was only the dollar figure the ISA wanted to see. Maybe not directly to them by way of granting me an independant entity, freely recognized bythe ISA and unfettered by the USSF, but it was more than apparent that the only way it could happen is to go through the USSF itself for their blessing. I then knew I was going down a dead end alley. Unfortunately these cautions were selectively tuned out and electively censored by the publisher as it didn't fit the"'positive" or "progressive" criteria for his internet Kneelo Knews publication, which was the forerunner of the KSUSA. ??? So much for representing all the different opinions involved whether you agree or not. Here was the first strong warning sign of an underlying agenda already in motion.
I made a visit to Joe Ewing
shortly after Surfer Bowl XVI. Some of you may remember Joe, he used to run
all the amatuer competion for the WSA, the NSSA, and whatever all those Pro
standup things are called. He still does them whenever the big boys come to
town as he is still actively involved. During the friendly visit I told him
how far along the AKC club concept had developed. Joe has always been a strong
supporter of KneeBoarders creating their own organization. He was behind Hoppy
Swarts, helping him support our efforts when my brother and I first began politicking
the long defunct California KneeRiding Association ages ago to the WSA and the
USSF. I mentioned the plans of a tenative world title event coming here and
he said he would be more than willing to run the contest if someone else did
all the organizational and paperwork. So in short, with his services, this event
could have had the trained staffers necessary to make it a quality
run contest for all....run exclusively by KneeBoarders with NO ties to any organizational
entity but our own.
I do not speculate much more
beyond this as it is a long way off and there is much that must be done before
even contemplating a hosting commitment by any US organization. That is the
reality of the thing. I'm all for the fellowship of the brotherhood and stuff,
but not a contest format under the guidelines and the rules dictated to us by
the powers that be in both the International and our own National organizations.
They have proven over and over again that their self serving priorities, along
with their narrowminded vision of the surfing community, really doesn't include
nor benefit KneeRiding on any level. My position on this issue is one from being
a competitive KneeRider and that as a former administrator. The bottom line
is that we must not concede nor negotiate away our position under any terms,
accepting no terms other than those we lay out which beneift our philosophy
and our method of surfing.
Interestingly, the USSF "graciously" give a very small group of KB competitors 16 slots at the annual US Championships as an exhibition event. This was rather surprising, considering the ESA had finally dropped their KneeBoard Division just that year after holding on to it for ten years longer than their fellow associate members. But true to USSF tradition, the bottom line saw that it was once again handled as a sideshow act. The performance came complete with really bitchin' imported wooden trophies and a $10 shirt. Don't take this wrong, it was cool and all, but it was merely a ploy by the governing body to get some extra cash; $900 to be exact. It was also a clear example about the naiveté of the KB organizers who solicited the inclusion, and importantly their unfamiliarity with the politics involved behind their incorporation.
I used to be active in those
yearly meetings and the boardroom conversations long before the CKA separation
as a WSA Director. I know how they work, and importantly, I know how they think.
It wasn't much of a surprise for me to watch them pull off the "ol' bait'n
switch" routine with the prelim heats; moving them away from center
stage as they had initially promised. They collected the money and then resorted
to the same old policy of sticking the lesser events in the least favorable
conditions so their big corporate sponsers would be kept happy having their
highly profiled darlings getting the prime time, front and center attention.
So for 50 bucks, 16 guys got to compete not only against themselves down the
beach at a crummy sandbar, they also had to contend with the local traffic in
the water on top of that. What a deal!
I don't care what the excuse
was for the abrupt change, it was still a crock of crapola, especially after
first promising the Kneeboard Exhibition would be front row center stage as
a highlight to the overall event. Face it guys, the routine is still the same,
just the faces have changed. Perhaps this isn't offensive to you, but it has
always been intolerable from my position. This subterfuge only reinforces that
the fact that nothing has progressed much during our abscence. These organizations
are concerend first and foremost on what is best for them...not you. The truth
is KneeBoards represented quick money, and that is their bottom line. They couldn't
give a crap about anything else KneeBoarders in general are trying to accomplish.
It was good to have a contest, sure, but you guys lost all your clout by acepting
the degradation of once again being pushed off to the side to accomodate the
event organizers needs. Think about it, all that great energy was wasted the
moment KneeBoard representative accepted this alienated status of surfing down
the beach as imposed upon the group by the great and benevolent USSF. All that
was reinforced and proven was that KneeBoarders will accept anything to be included.
Damn that's a disgusting end result for a celebrated coming out party. Too bad.
Early in the summer of 2001 I met and discused with the USSF West Coast Director, Mary Lou Drummy, an old friend, about what procedure to take to become an affiliate/associate member of the USSF for KneeBoarding only. I was given all the paperwork which I filled out, informed of the dollar figure which wasn't that outrageous, and told it would have to be voted on at the yearly national contest....but do be aware that if it was voted against, the money would not be returned to me. What the f.....!!!!! The alarm bells went off and I decided then that the only terms I would accept under either of these two structures would be those I dictated to them for the benefit and protection of KneeBoarders.
These huge structures do not care about KneeRiding nor it's future. The USSF has only seen money slipping away from their coffers, and now we KneeBoarders are again viewed as dollar signs of quick revenue to an already financially strapped organization. Every US KneeRider who at one time or another participated within the USSF structure should know better than to involve themselves in this quagmire of instability. Why these competitors chose to ignore the unforgivable chain of events leadiing to the great KneeBoard Exclusion nearly 15 years ago defies logic. To knock on that door once again begging for inclusion only furthers the negative perceptions this organization continually generates towards KneeBoarding. Essentially this new improved board of directors has already demonstrated it's true nature and any involvement with them does not constitute progress regardless of all the handgrabbing that has taken place.
Most of the competitors at this
contest saw me talking with the USSF President that afternoon. I pinned him
down hard on all these issues. He kept trying to fall back on the USSF being
the protector and benevolent guardians of all forms of surfing in the US of
A. I called BS and reminded him of the fact that most every surfing Association
had dropped our division and had abandoned our interests more than 13 years
ago with the final burial coming with the closing down of the ESA's events last
year after it held out for so long against and in spite of an overwhelming lack
of interest by everyone involved.....competitors included. That took all his
wind away where he really couldn't continue on with any more patronizing clichés
of true concern.
I conceded there had been a breif
window of rekindled interest in running our division by these same organizations,
but that was specifically linked to the fact that our independent events were
drawing 40 to 60 entrants and they wanted that cash cow back in their pasture.
He said money wasn't the issue but rather they didn't want to have a rival organization
competing /luring/stealing away their entrants. I laughed at him and flatly
said what would we be stealing from them that they don't even have, or have
not even promoted in over ten years. Well that was the end right there. He was
pinned down hard by his own flatulant rhetoric; the same BS that wants to have
the controlling strings to all contest plans. I'll not support KneeRiding in
that environment for any reason. For now it may be best if those who wish to
compete do so on their own thru the USSF until a better structure is capable
of running an independant limited schedule of events free from the clutches
of the USSF and the ISA. That is the best and only win/win solution for any
KneeBoard contest...anywhere, anytime.
Or how about the foreign national
who was refused entry to this USSF KneeBoard Expression Session. That was how
it they billed it correct? Expression Session, a demonstration of KneeBoarding
to showcase to the public. Well seems the USSF decided it was a contest instead
without telling anyone else and snubbed him when he tried to enter. Wow! How
two faced is that.? Yeah get some KBers to enter and we'll showcase you guys
... except that one. There was no reason for that. It was never billed as part
of the official US contest, it was included as a show, a carnival act for 50
bucks a head. Always with the forked tongue from those guys. What's it gonna
take for the competive Americans to get it through their heads they will never
rate higher than a dollar sign to these organizations?
My brother and I were involved in the political
jousting that went on between the CKA, the WSA, and the USSF back then. We had
initiated many of the changes towards KneeBoarding getting fair status within
both the District,Regional, and National venues after much headbutting in the
USSF and WSA boardrooms. Hoppy Swartz kept the rat pack leaders of all those
organizations in line, and if some of you recall, when he passed on, all holy
hell broke loose among the different surf associations in the big war to get
his power. Kinda amazing now that no one really was and hasn't been capable
of such a feat as it is still a conniving mess. My point being.... that old
man was tough. He always said KneeBoarders need to get out on their own as independents
and should not be in affiliation with any of those groups..... for any reason
other than at the year end Nationals.
His strongest words of caution were never, ever,
reveal the number of people involved to any representatives of these groups.
That information, in the wrong hands, will create a political dogfight to see
who gets to cash in on this new market. We really don't need to allow ourselves
to be pawns in their game again at all costs. I've always stated that KneeBoarders
must build their own organizational structure, making their own rules....and
not simply mirroring the standup creedo or the trappings of established KneeBoard
Associations internationally. If we can do this from the ground up then nothing
these bloated Governing Organizations do or say can affect us; and they will
when someone starts adding up the numbers. If the American competitors build
their platform correctly, by the time this scheduled world is ready to come
to town, then just maybe the KneeBoarding community will be strong enough to
run a worthy event and to tell the detractors, along with those leaching parasites,
to take a flying leap and go get f....ed....real hard. That's how I see it.
We dont' need them, but we do need to be structured in a way such as to accomodate and meet the needs of all the different motivational reasons we all have for being KneeBoarders. This is where I stand on the comp issues and why I may seem so antagonistically opposed to incorporating it into this Club structure. It could be our organizational downfall if all the other foundational aspects of a Club are not in place and strengthened far in advance of going in a competitive direction. We've put the cart before the horse three times already and it hasn't worked. I hope this is clear enough to comprehend as my position is unwavering.
The ambitious group of competitors who were disatisfied with the Club mission finally moved on to form their own organization where they will attempt to induce funding for their World Contests ambitions. This is a good thing and precisely what is needed to fill their specific needs.
Late Feb and early March saw the very first KneeBoard entourage exploring the North Shore of Oahu. It was an moment of clarity for this international contingent. It will happen again, and hopefully more of the new era poster boys will make the effort to join this second round of action. It is well worth the time, the price, and the challenge. Check in regularly at Bud's site for further announcements.
Back at home little else transpired as the surf and weather conditions deteriorated with the onslaught of the usual wind patterns for this time of year.
Again the USSF make inclusions for KneeBoarding competition complete with a nice list of event hosted goodies. Promises of a large canopy/tent for the Kneeboard competitors to hang out under,TV coverage, and front row stageing... unlike last year, were added to this year's paper bag of promises. Opening day however was disorganized chaos. Heat sheets were not made out and all were left in limbo while the competitors stood around scratching their heads in dismay.
When it did finally start, half of the competition area was overrun with free surfers hasseling for waves along with the four kneeboarders in the each of the respective first two heats of the day. No effort to clear the water was made. Nor were any officials at beach level for accessibility. Instead they were perched up on the scaffold behind all their sponser banners with only their feet and toes being visible. At the start of the third heat one of the officials actually grabbed a board and paddled directly out into the comp zone in front of the judging stand where he then proceeded to pick off three of the best waves in this heat, whereupon he then sprinted back up the beach and up the scaffold. WTF???
I mentioned to EQ that nothing would be done about this until it was time for the standups to begin the "real" event. Sure enough, after the start of the third an official paddled out with a marker bouy to secure the area, soon followed by loud and very authoritative orders for the non competitors to clear the area at the five minute warning. So the last heat actually got to use the entire zone for their 15 minute allotment. Again equality does not apply to KneeBoarders in the standup domain; and how about a level plyaing field for all competitors.... three of the four prelim heats didn't get a fair deal even even amongst themselves. Too much.
It's not amazing how things have yet to change, but what is dumbfounding is how lethargic the KB organizers were about demanding that they be given what they paid for like everyone else in the event. More astounding is that they have yet to realize how meaningless their entire "performance " is to this governing body outside of a dollar count. I'll not go on as the message the USSF is repetitiously sending is extremely clear on where they still ridgidly stand behind their broken eulogy of promisies, along with their serpentine forked tounges.
Get a grip competitors, all that is being done with your efforts is the placing of fresh flowers before a unkept monolithic tombstone. Talk about negative imagery to all those supporters out there. Sad really that the KB organizers were too busy preparing for their individual performances rather than insuring that all the agreed upon negotiations were upheld. I passed on returning for the finals a week later. I cannot accept nor overlook the humiliation of yet another faux paus by the USSF. Once again, for being a US Championship, the playing field was not equal for all participants...until after the KneeBoards as usual..... it sucked then, it sucks now.
Some are willing to endure in this environment for the ego stroke of an ornamental title.....and there's the source of the real stagnation underlying KneeBoard competition in the USA.
Pretty bleak summer thus far for quality surf, maybe later in the season the southern storm track will pick up.
September will be the start of the final phase of a long term documentary project I've been working on for a number of years. This is slated to run through May 2004. Participation is incouraged. Details soon......
I didn't start the AKC to win any popularity
or personality contests. You want entertainment, go visit a bb forum. I'm concerned
with giving KneeBoarding a new image, that's my objective, and I am well prepared
to defend this position, and this organization. US KneeBoarders are
in a unique position to again be the forerunners, the pioneers in a new erea of Kneeriding. My intuition says we can do this together as we know
where other organizations have made their errors. American KneeBoarders need to quit looking over their shoulders accross the sea and stop looking up to the standup community for acceptance within their structures . It just ain't gonna happen. Not now. Not ever. It's time to be inspirational once again, through leading....not following.