Samsung has only recently bought in to surf culture via the WSL and its oh-so-cute commercials of dad’s filming daughters learning to surf with their waterproof phones; but meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific, at the southern tip of South Korea, Samsung, contracted by the US Navy, has been quietly destroying a UNESCO world heritage site, what was once the largest soft coral reef forest in the world, to build a new naval base.
Despite English being his second language, Medina was keenly aware that the live event webcast has a global audience, and rather than accept the judges’ decision (right or wrong is not the issue, although they got it right) and move on, he made the decision to call out Commissioner KP, who did the absolute best possible with the conditions at hand, and go on to drop an F-bomb on air. I’m not a softy.
As a professional World Tour surfer and the defending world champion, Gabriel Medina has a contractual obligation to represent the sport of surfing with dignity at all times, especially during contests.
Being that Medina is the only surfer sponsored by Samsung, the marquee sponsor of the entire professional surf tour, even the maximum fine would be a drop in the bucket to what he is currently raking in via endorsements alone.
The fine won’t hurt him, but an event suspension while he’s defending his title will put him on his heels for the remainder of the season (coupled with his Round 3 exit at Snapper, Medina will have no more throw-away finishes if he is to have any hope of a repeat title), and it will definitely teach him a lasting lesson about humility and how a little class can go a long way.
Medina’s post-heat interview with Peter Mel, following the controversial interference call that cost him his Round 3 heat against Glen Hall, made the Internet rounds, and comment sections of every article show how deep nationalistic feelings about Brazil’s first world champion (and Brazilian surfers in general) still run.
The language doesn’t bother me, and surf scribe Ted Endo has actually argued for the merits of this type of passion from Medina in the past (“Gabriel Medina and the Importance of Bad Sportsmanship”), but if the WSL wants to continue to garner non-endemic sponsorship dollars and an ever-larger audience, then they need to take the incident with the gravity it deserves.
But despite Medina’s proven mental dexterity as a championship competitor, his behavior at the Snapper contest was far from indicative of his position as world champ and WSL poster boy for the burgeoning surf markets of Latin America.
Although Hawaiians/Americans, Aussies, and Zaffas have traditionally dominated the competitive surf world, Medina’s dominance and grace under pressure at the end of the 2014 season – making the finals at Pipe with Fanning and KS nipping at his heels – earned him and his countrymen well deserved respect.
For no matter how adamant the WSL is about doing what’s best for the future of surfing (and if that future looks like tennis, then Bobby Martinez has already said it best), if we as surfers continue to complicity condone the destruction of the ocean, then we’re going to have bigger problems than athletes mouthing off on the webcast.
As the tour, surf media, and fans all shift their focus, I can’t help but notice that it feels like something remains unsaid by the WSL in terms of Medina and his behavior at Snapper.
Read more here: The Inertia