It's about life - not "lifestyle
The San Diego Union Tribune ran an article about bodyboarding recently (April 11, 2003). Terry Rodgers called the piece "Missing The Wave", as it examined how bodyboarding is in decline in the U.S. even as standup surfing is enjoying, if that's the correct term, a boom the likes of which surfing never saw in either the Gidget or Beach Boys eras.

I happened to have been interviewed for the article, and the e-mail box is already clogging up with a variety of feedback, some of which take me to task for my comment that bodyboards are really revolutionary. The upshot among many readers is that my comment was off-base at best, and lying at worst.

I'm nothing if not broad-minded, so I've been thinking about that phrase.

Are bodyboards revolutionary? Once upon a time that was absolute fact, but perhaps that is no longer so. Bodyboards and bodyboarding
was revolutionary, but it seems, perhaps,  a lack of publicity is killing it.

I've gone on at great length about how the "bodyboarding media" at least in the U.S. hasn't recently done anything remotely like an effective job in portraying bodyboarding as something with lasting impact. Overall these magazines were under some control by standup surfers and their staffs seemed to have put out a product from a standup pro surfer mentality - and with no real money in pro bodyboarding it just didn't ring true. A simple viewing of a photo of one California bodyboarding contest showed more people in the judge/competitor tent than watching the event. If the average weekend kiddie soccer game can draw more spectators, then obviously something was wrong. Of course, you can't have pros if there are no contests...the whole "scene", should you want to call it that, seemed artifical and desperate, as if the entire point of bodyboarding is about money instead of fun.

The U.S. bodyboarding media seemed forced to try to pound round bodyboarding through a square hole - like trying to force it to conform to standup surfing rigidity. Crudely catering to a perceived teen mentality further alienated the older or occasional bodyboarder/

And the magazine died.

New magazines have recently sprung up, and hopefully they will build upon earlier experiences and make a product built to last. As I've written before, perhaps the demise of especially BodyBoarding here in the U.S. is much like shedding a skin, and a new one will take it's place.


Part of my interview with Terry Rodgers which didn't make it to the article had to do with my theory that another major factor hurting bodyboarding right now is an "end of teens" thing. What happens when a guy turns 19, is off in college or working or whatever, and meets a girl...who standup surfs? As of this writing in 2003 the bulk of women surfers have only a few years of experience at best, and most of it very recent - during the explosive growth of longboarding, surf schools, and the "Blue Crush". For their entire surfing lives bodyboards are "sponges" and bodyboarders are "speedbumps". If a surfer girl is into it, the bodyboarder is dead in the's only human.

This just carves in stone the notion that eventually bodyboarders have to stand up, or quit. Cultural pressures now mandate that bodyboards are simply training wheels for the Real Thing. If that's the case, then why bother at all? Just go straight to surf school and stand up with the other 4 million radical individuals.

Copyright (C) 2003.  All rights reserved.