It's about life - not "lifestyle"
KNOW WHEN TO FOLD 'EM?
|Rumors began swirling throuighout the waveriding community by the end of October that the corporate owners of BODYBOARDING magazine here in the U.S. were going to pull the plug on the semi-venerable publication as soon as the December issue. As of this writing (Nov. 3) formal confirmation hasn't been issued.
If true, and all indications at this point seem to support the rumor, then this will be the second time BODYBOARDING has been forced to fold. The first time was in either the late 80's or around 1990 - blink your eyes and another decade passes, and after a while they all seem similar.
It is important for those who live and breathe bodyboarding to know that when the magazine died the first time, the state of the art didn't include a glimmer of what is now considered the performance level to merely "qualify" as world class. The U.S. media outlet for the sport vanished, but the sport remained. When the magazine returned the quality of the experience had been radically progressed.
Ah, but why the problems making a go of a magazine about bodyboarding, the hugely popular, international, affordable, safe, and photogenic activity enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people to one degree or another every year? Why the criticism by individuals and websites such as vagabondsurf.com?
Discounting all snotty comments negating the validity of bodyboarding just because the rider doesn't stand up, most of the shots at bodyboarding come because of the media coverage. The standup magazines treat bodyboarding like a brutally stupid and evil stepbrother, if they acknowledge it at all. The corporations which make products for bodyboarding don't seem to either see or value the fact that bodyboarding is a valid part of the surfing lineage. Somehow the corporate/media/retail world of bodyboarding doesn't seem to be able to fathom a participant age group beyond the teen years. Their refusal to show that side of the sport has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: as standup surfing has exploded in numbers, bodyboarding appears to have been in decline just because it hasn't been shown as something "hip"...and this at a time when the leading edge of bodyboarding performance manuevers has yet to be reached by standup surfers.
Perhaps going off radar for a while is going to be a good thing for bodyboarding. What is bodyboarding, anyway? I've assumed it meant riding a soft foam bodyboard, with the word "bodyboard" (which inventor Tom "Y" Morey doesn't like, still preferring his own moniker of "Boogieboard") having been created mostly for trademark/copyright reasons. Maybe next time the magazine can be called something like "Alternative Surfcraft" and can include bodysurfing, wooden paipos, air mats, surfoplanes, kneeboards, and bellyboards. People are out there in the wilderness making and riding all of these surfcraft, some for love and some for money, and virtually all of them share many of the same ancillary equipment needs like fins and wetsuits. The ad base is there, the money as well, and certainly the people are out there to support a publication at least once or twice a year, but only if they find the content to be something they can't do without.
Bodyboarding as a sport has been around just over 30 years. Riding boards in a prone position has been around probably longer than standup surfing. Having a magazine fold isn't going to destroy anything other than some short-term or part-time jobs for some world class athletes and some journalists. It's time for bodyboarders to get out in the water and mutate into something so wild and fun and free that the next time such a magazine gets a green light, it will once again be a portal into another world.
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