Surfing NEWS, Surfing Industry
ESPN’s Rebel Tour, Who Killed It?
It is OFF. ESPN’s Rebel Tour was pronounced dead last month. No one really knows who the coroner was. We think the funeral took place in the ASP European offices. The casket was empty.
After a self-proclaimed breakthrough ASP Board Meeting in Europe, an ASP press release was sent out to the world pronouncing some tactical changes regarding the Board of Directors, prize money increases, and a new streamlined world ranking system. More than anything though the press release was a statement of unification and solidarity from, and for, all involved parties: surfers, sponsors, tour management. It was their “We Are The World” moment, sans Michael Jackson (RIP).
Sing along if you’d like.
“On behalf of the Association of Surfing Professionals, I am pleased to reaffirm the commitment from both our surfers and events in progressing the sport in a unified and collaborative effort,” Brodie Carr, ASP International CEO, trumpeted from the mountain top.
Is that a Volcom tee?
The one thing that didn’t follow this press release was a verifying REBEL Tour press release confirming that, “yeah, we give up.” So then, what do we read into this silence?
A lot. I have no idea if the REBEL Tour is on or off. I do know that the silence is deafening. By the way, REBEL Tour is a great brand name, not that it matters, because it’s not going to, ahem… happen.
One industry insider told me, “they (REBEL Tour) have no endemic sponsors, without the core companies behind them, it will not happen. It’s dead.”
Industry insider is assuming the REBEL Tour needs endemic sponsors. TV does not require endemic and quite frankly the REBEL Tour would be better off without the meddling ‘brand message’ paranoia that endemic marketing managers carry with them in their golf bags.
Even if the tour needed endemic sponsors, NIKE could step up. Ooops, sorry, I thought NIKE was endemic. Look, I know times are tough and marketing budgets are tight, but Nike’s not broke. Volcom could step up. Neither company is involved in the ASP World Tour as a WCT event licensee.
The word ‘Rebel’ and VOLCOM are borderline synonymous. Bruce Irons, he’s a rebel. Kala. Pipeline. James Dean would wear Volcom. He’s Volcom. Bruce Irons would be at the top of the short list of surfers the engaged surfing public would want to watch fly through the air on the REBEL Tour. I’ll tell you who else they would want to see: Wardo, Marzo, JamieO, Kerrzo, and KellyO. I’m pretty sure none of these guys attended the ASP Board meeting. Rebels.
Another guy that could be on REBEL Tour is underground shaper/surfer Daniel Thompson. This guy rips as hard as all of above-mentioned surfers. But, as important, Tomo is shaping the most advanced surfboards in the world. The ASP will never again have a tour competitor that shapes his own boards. The ASP Tour paradigm is too confined, too rigid, too formulaic.
What a fantastic story line for the REBEL Tour, a competitor that shapes his own boards. Tomo’s rebellion doesn’t involve assault on a stewardess or a DUI – what a concept. Tomo’s surfing is fast, fluid and all of it laid out on cutting edge, state-of-the-art equipment. Google his website. I dare you. Brings one back to the halcyon days of the ASP (IPS). Major equipment and design shifts, although not the norm, when they happened, they rocked the scene; think Reno, MR, Cheyne & Simon. Back when the world tour had rebels. Tomo’s a retro rebel.
This is the type of interesting, entertaining, insightful concepts the REBEL Tour could drape itself with — if it wasn’t dead, the REBEL tour that is. I’d also suggest online scoring so we can all take some ownership. While I’m at it, may I also suggest a ‘Salty’ button on the live feed player, whereby any one of us could become instant commentators simply by pushing the button. Sick of hearing under-paid over-worked marketing directors dissect turns? Push the button and chime in.
If the REBEL Tour wasn’t dead, I’d suggest four events and a finale. They could have an event in France, one at Sebastian Inlet, in Costa Rica and Australia. The REBEL Championship would be held in September, in the Mentawais at Macaronis. The REBELS ride in on their Harleys in May and ride off in September — if the REBEL Tour wasn’t…ahem, (cough, cough) dead.