Published on October 2nd, 2015 | by pacificmedia0
Petition: End WSL judging “corruption”!
Petition: End WSL judging “corruption”!
By Derek Rielly
It used to be tough to be an activist. You’d helicopter yourself into Newfoundland or wherever, string yourself up next to a Russian ice-breaker as it attempted to collect the pelts of clubbed baby seals or you’d pilot your zodiac between harpoon and sperm whale. Watch activists in action here! It’s different now that most of us are affixed to little computers or telephones with dazzling high-resolution screens. With a tap or a click we can announce to the world that we care about the wretched hordes climbing over Europe, that we, too, demonise the racist pigs with the black man in their sights or, in the case of this online petition, demand the WSL “end the corruption” of their judges. Noa Aikau has lodged an online petition (click here) that seeks one thousand pointless clicks. Let’s examine, for a moment. “Demand the World Surf League “WSL” to show transparency & consistency in their judging criteria! Recently the WSL judging system or ‘criteria’ has been put under serious scrutiny do to the lack of consistency in judging and lack of transparency, heat arrangements, long delays in the delivery of some crucial score results and favoritism or bias judging. These corruption problems have been part of the organization for decades when it was still called the “ASP”. Surf historians, retired judges, sports analysts and tour athletes have all come in defense of surfing and have pointed out the organizations lack of transparency in their judging criteria. Since the Association of Pro Surfers “ASP”, auto-transission themselves by changing their name to World Surf League “WSL” there has been an increase in sponsorship but also an outrageous amount of questionable and doubtful critical calls from the judges.” All of it springs from, I’m guessing, the four-and-a-bit Kelly Slater was thrown for his unmade air at Trestles. What does Noa want? A tour of throwaway airs? Here are the demands. 1. Make the judges panel internationally even. Ex. 1 Australian, 1 American, 1 Brazilian, 1 South African, 1 Pacific Islander, 1 European 2. Disclose the name of the Judges and where they are from before every transmission. 3. Have the Judges deliver the score within 15-20 seconds from the finish of the ride. Unless a replay is required. 4. Judges don’t get to know other judges scores, nor the score result needed for a surfer to get the lead on a heat or pass to next round. 5. End the corruption. Anyway, I tossed ’em at the WSL’s Dave Prodan, the media guy, for responses. 1. Make the judges panel internationally even. Ex. 1 Australian, 1 American, 1 Brazilian, 1 South African, 1 Pacific Islander, 1 European Fair point and an essential part of removing (even the perception of) bias on the judging panel. Fortunately, this has been a part of the formulation of the ASP-now-WSL judging panels for years – every men’s and women’s CT event has judges from North America, South America, South Africa, Europe, Australasia and Hawaii as do major QS events. 2. Disclose the name of the Judges and where they are from before every transmission. All judges are logged into the scoring system with their respective IDs so athletes or the Commissioner’s Office can go back and discuss scores with individuals if needed. If I’m not mistaken, the judging panel is something that is often outlined during both the broadcast and beach commentary (I know Dave Stanfield is a big fan of that particular role call) so there’s certainly no effort made to hide who the judges are. They’re the best in the world, and they’re frequent subjects of discussion and the WSL is fortunate to have such a committed and talented group of individuals in this arena. 3. Have the Judges deliver the score within 15-20 seconds from the finish of the ride. Unless a replay is required. That’s certainly the goal and it happens the majority of the time. However, the petition’s author is correct – occasionally, replays are required to ensure the score is accurate and within the scale of the current heat. Additionally, there are a number of extenuating circumstances that may delay a score from dropping – multiple surfers up at the same time is a frequent one. However, to track back to the initial point, the judges endeavor to deliver the most accurate score in the fastest way possible on every ride – it’s not only essential to the viewers at home but also to the athletes in the water. 4. Judges don’t get to know other judges scores, nor the score result needed for a surfer to get the lead on a heat or pass to next round. Fair points points and discretion and objectivity have been foundational elements of the ASP/WSL. Judges are not permitted to review one another’s scores before logging them into the system. What a surfer needs, in terms of advancing through a heat, is not a factor when scoring a wave. 5. End the corruption. I’m willing to put dimes to dollars that, in terms of international sports, the WSL judges are some of the most honorable and respectable officials on the planet. Surfing’s a subjective sport and fans are very passionate. I’m a fan and I’m passionate and I don’t always agree with every score, but I do acknowledge that I’m not a judge. The panels that score the world’s best surfing are made up of committed, talented individuals who are not only damn good surfers themselves, but have unique and unparalleled abilities in terms of breaking down surfing performance as well as memory retention for scaling throughout any given day. They’ve cut their teeth offiating amateur events, then shadowing WSL pro junior event judges, then cycling in, working up through QS events and onto CT panels. They have no regard for where someone is from, the stickers they have on their board or what the pundits are going to say when their favorite surfer gets beaten fair and square by a lesser-heralded individual. All they care about is the best surfing on the planet and, as intimated previously, the WSL is exceedingly fortunate that we have them at the helm. So far the petition has 86 clicks from countries including the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. The majority it seems, are from Brazil. Which seems odd to me, considering the current world champion is a Brazilian and three of the top seven surfers on the WSL are Brazilian. Will you sign?
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