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Sample essay topic, essay writing: History Of Surfing - 1695 words
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.. would have beach parties every night, while dancing and frolicking in the sand with no worries at all. This image was extremely attractive to American's, especially to young people. The movie "Gidget" reshaped surfing's image into the glamorous, fun-loving culture that we see represented in the late fifties and early sixties. "Gidget" was the typical teenager living in California. She spent all of her time at the beach surfing and getting into trouble.
The movie (and equally popular TV series) connected with American teens, and made the beach the place to be, and surfing the thing to do (Kampton 25). Surfing and beach culture quickly became the "it" in California. Spurred on by countless movies, surfing had become bigger that "The Duke" himself could have ever imagined. Surfing, once enjoyed only by those who respected the waves and loved the ocean, had now been swallowed by American commercialism. As surfing grew larger in the early sixties, many Californian surfers who had surfed their whole lives felt a great deal of resentment towards the "Surf Explosion"
One such surfer, California resident Tome Wert explains, "Surfing is a life changing experience. It's not about the movies or the girls. It's about harnessing the power of nature, and respecting its grace and beauty. None of that ever occurred to these 'groms'* that were infesting our beaches." Wert goes on to say, "It was like this part of our lives that was sacred to us, was being taken away. They didn't want to be surfers like us, they all wanted to be Gidget and Moondoggey" (Wert, Personal Interview) Riding the coattails of Gidget's success, CBS broadcasting decided to televise the first actual surfing contest. Fifty surfers competed for a thousand-dollar prize, while the event was broadcast to 50,000,000 Americans nationwide.
The success of this event opened many eyes to the potential of surfing as a market in itself. Corporate sponsors flocked to hold their own surf contests, capitalizing on the power that surfing had quickly gained with the American population. With the entry of corporate sponsorship and a television audience, surfing became a product that could be marketed and consumed (Maurer 9) The commercialization of surfing and the market potential for this sub-culture created many debates among the surfing population. Was surfing really a competitive sport? Were "outsiders" exploiting the very soul of surfing? Was it acceptable for surfers to take advantage of the financial opportunities that came with being a "professional" surfer? Or should they refuse, and fight for the spirit of their beloved sport. Many surfers did give in to the financial temptations of the commercialized sport, but there was an equally strong backlash within the surfing community.
Many surfers dropped out of the competitive ranks and practiced the art of soul surfing. A term still used to describe many of the world's best surfers today. These "soul surfers" of the mid-early sixties took to the surfing that celebrated the pure, non-competitive nature of the sport: they simply surfed because they enjoyed the experience of riding waves (The Endless Summer II).Vietnam: During the mid-sixties, surfing hit a decline in American culture. The conflict in Vietnam forced the majority of the "new" surf culture to enter the draft, depleting the once thriving industry. But according to true surfers, this wasn't such a bad thing, "It freed up the beaches," says Tom Wert, a surfer during the era. "Most of the 'groms' who had been poisoning the soul of our sport were shipped off to Nam.
Most of us who truly loved to surf just stayed behind and did anything possible to avoid the draft" (Wert, Personal Interview) Surfing competitions still took place, though their emphasis and marketability were on the decline. It was during the era of the Vietnam conflict, that surfers were held under the stigma of beach bums, which refused to take part in mainstream society. Tom Wert remembers, "Surfers tried to do what people wanted them to, but we just didn't fit in. We didn't care about the money; it didn't cost money to live on the beach, but during the winter, when it was too cold to surf, we went and got jobs" This social expulsion of surfers was not only the result of their "lack of contribution to society" but maybe even more so the result of them not contributing to their country's cause. Many Americans noticed that surfers weren't too eager to go fight for our country (Wert, Personal Interview).
Certainly not all surfers were "draft dodgers" but there were instances of surfers avoiding the draft just as there were for any other social group. What separated the surf "draft dodgers" from the rest of America, was the fact that they got away with it without breaking any laws. When people surf for a good portion of their life, they start to develop calcium deposits on their feet and knees from the constant friction of skin, salt and the board. In many cases, these "surf bumps", can become so large that one cannot wear Shoes as Southern California surfer Ren Adam recalls, "Many of my buddies were rounded up by the FBI for dodging the draft, and sent to Arizona for a physical. I didn't have to go because I was enrolled at USC.
Since we had been surfing so much for the past five, six years, none of them could wear their boots with all the surf bumps on our feet. So they all came home about a week later."It was difficult for those who were shipped off to Vietnam, to leave knowing that the "surf bums" who hadn't worked a day in their lives, were allowed to stay home . It was common for people during this time to inaccurately attribute the motives of surfers' distaste for the war, to the Anti-War movement taking place in northern California in Berkley. This notion couldn't be further from the truth. Although surf culture was often confused with the counter-culture of the sixties, surfers in general had no political intentions behind their resistance.
Adam explains, "We really didn't care about the war, we just wanted to stay home and surf" (Adam, Personal Interview)Today: Surfing in it's Prime In the time since Vietnam, surfing has come back to mainstream America, but in a less fanatical way. Surfing is now a respected activity and even has an "aura" about it in society. One can still find surfers living on the beach unemployed (and proud of it) but the stigma of a "Beach Bum" has long since faded from the minds of Americans. Surfing has gone mainstream. Many will argue that commercialism is still depriving the sport of its true meaning, but in this day and age, everything is a product, so why not embrace it (Quicksilver Board Co.
has grown into a multi billion dollar company). Today, surf icons have even become household names. We now have surf heroes; surfers who are considered role models by children and parents alike. Not only has Surfing been accepted as a part of American (and especially Californian) culture, but many surfers have embraced the idea of competitive surfing. Surf superstars such as Kelly Slater, Rob Merchado and Tommy Curren (just to name a few) have made the professional surfing circuit a thriving success, by endorsing the true, non-competitive spirit of surfing within the competitive nature of surf contests, "We all just go out and have fun. It's not about the money anymore, it's gotten to the point where every surfer on the pro tour is financially stable from their sponsors. So there's no need to get bent about trying to top each other." Says six-time world champion Kelly Slater (Hansen, The Argus).Although competition has evolved and now embraces the true values of the surfing world, there are still many surf heroes who still stick with soul surfing.
Even though these surfers don't compete, they still earn money. Many of the best surfers in the world are "soul surfers' and are being paid to travel all over the world searching for the ultimate ride (Kampton 121).The art of surfing has come a long way since the ancient Polynesians first rode waves in their outrigger canoes. Surfing has gone through many phases, but still remains a sport which can be matched by no other. There is no substitute for the sensation one is hit with when they are propelled forward by forces seeming to rise from depths of the earth. Surfing is a way for us humans to return to our wild roots.
We did come from the wild, and surfing satisfies that craving to return to our origins. Surfers return to that wild environment when they feel the crushed sea shells beneath their feet, when the lip of a wave pours onto their head as they ride down its glassy slope or even when they get checked by mother nature and wipeout*. It seems that in an age of great technological advancement and progress, in an age of escalating tension and pressure to succeed, surfing has returned to its roots, riding waves because we love it.*Grom- Originally referred new surfers (usually in their late teens and early twenties) who were attracted to the surfing boom in the late fifties and early sixties. The word has since been used to describe neophyte surfers who aren't even good enough to get out of the way of the rest of us who are trying to surf.*Stoked- Excited, emotion felt after riding a wave.*Wipeout- to fall off your board, usually being engulfed by the wave afterward and thrown around the ocean floor by the swells.Adam, Ren. Personal Interview.
10 Feb. 2004.Endless Summer II, The. Dir. Brown, Bruce. Perf. Weaver, Robert. O'Connel, Pat.
New Line Productions. 1994.Hanson, Amelia. "Small Waves Can't Crash Party". The Argus. 2 Feb. 2004.Kampton, Drew.
The Way of the Surfer: Living it 1935 to Tomorrow. New York: Henry N. Adams Inc, 2003.Maurer, Tracy N. Radsports Guide to Surf Culture. Vero Beach, Florida: Rourke Publishing, 2003.Surfline.
Surf Culture. 1 March. 2004 Tracey, Terry. Personal Interview. 28 Feb.
2004.Tweedy, Brock. Personal Interview. 10 Feb. 2004Wardlaw, Lee. Cowabunga:The Complete Book of Surfing.
New York: Avon Books, 1992.Werner, Doug. Surfer's Start-Up. Chula Vista, California: Tracks Publishing, 1999.
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