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Left or right? Is COVID-19 tearing apart surfing?

05.04.20 – TAGS: ,

A few days ago we posted a photo on our Insta that depicted what appeared to be a crowded beach scene in Newport Beach, of which was reported by the source as from April 25th. Normally, a crowded beach in Newport is a very common occurrence as we approach summer, however, as we know, things are far from normal right now.

Some objected to what they felt was a purposeful effort on our part to take a side on the issue – which really wasn’t the case BTW – and then exploit that position to make a political statement. Yes, we were upset that the Newport Beach City Council had inadvertently created a situation of which we felt was unnecessary and eventually led to the Governor of California, Gavin Newsome, to single out Newps as a horrible example of what not to do.

In response, he closed the beaches in Southern California.

For us, it wasn’t right or left politically, just asking for some common fucking sense.

It also seemed reasonable to us that beach use by those who had local access should be able to exercise at those locations as long as they were within their immediate neighborhood. After all, the general guidance we all have been following was to stay at home, or at least close to it. If you live in Newport, jog, bike, or even surf, in Newport, HB, San Clemente, etc., but don’t drive to Mammoth and expect to go snowboarding.

Seems to be working on the Gold Coast, but to say some disagreed would be an understatement.

What is actually quite fascinating is just how divided surfers are on the socio/ political spectrum. As clear as day it is to some that putting non-essential individual needs aside for the common community good is the right thing to do, it’s equally clear to others that it isn’t the government’s job to tell us what we can and can’t do.

Obviously, these individual and conflicting sentiments are long seated and the current crisis has simply brought that pent up frustration to the surface, but try to keep in mind, good ‘ol Gavin didn’t make you a libertarian, nor did he make you a socialist.

Those types of thoughts do usually run a bit deeper.

When combing through the comments on our IG feed, a very clear narrative came to light: People feel very differently about the role of their government and via the vast supply of information on the Internet one can now find a litany of back up arguments to make almost any theory stick.

Bil Gates

Chinese labratory

Karl Marx

Dr. Fauci

Oh, it’s rich this one.

But as that relates to surfing, some interesting battle lines were drawn with some very unlikely combatants. Surfrider, for one, took an early position of supporting the government stay-home guidelines and they got pilloried for it. Yes, the same Surfrider who fights day and night for beach access was suddenly enemy #1 to anyone who felt that unfettered beach access was and is a permanent and undeniable right. It’s as if every bit of good Surfrider has accomplished, every beach saved, every bit of trash removed, etc., was now out the window because they dared to take a stand on something they felt was important.

Which makes this point: We as surfers are all over the place politically and we have no problem bringing those leanings into any argument if it suits us. It would actually seem a bit insane for us to argue with each other on so many points of which would seem unifying to surfers.

Clean water.


Responsible manufacturing of our equipment.

Among others.

However, there are people among us in the lineup every day who feel that the current government regulations regarding clean water initiatives are not enough, and an equal number who don’t think it’s enough.

There are people who are fighting today over the concept of beach access and freedom of movement, yet are some of the very same people who are most likely to kick you off their “private” beach.

And there are people among us who protest excessive foreign influence on American affairs and commerce, yet are riding equipment made in South East Asia.

Who’s right and who’s wrong?

World politics have become so charged and so personal that we often lose sight of the common things we do share.

Like a wave.

Or a beer.

Or a wave, then a beer!

In all seriousness, it’s rather sad to see surfers take on other surfers with so little common decency for an opposing point of view. It’s a sign of the times we suppose but at the end of the day surfing is no better off with us attacking each other.

What Youth

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