It's about life - not "lifestyle"
Dear Editor,

I was on the, at the time very small, Surfing Magazine staff which originally launched BodyBoarding Magazine. I was fortunate to work on every issue published until a year ago, at which point I retired after 24 years with The Surfing Group. I left as Associate Publisher, Creative, responsible for the art direction and manufacturing of BodyBoarding mag as well as Surfing, Surfing Girl, Surf Guide, and the Surfing Calendar.

Since it's first issue, BodyBoarding really never stopped publishing until now. Even during the earlier hard economic times which forced BodyBoarding to merge into the back of Surfing Magazine, it's pages stayed alive. This was out of an effort of primarily standup surfers who ran the operation. We believed in the vision that riding a wave, prone or standing, on the same playing field was closer in spirit than most cared to admit. This (denial) was evident throughout the years by lack of support by the large American surf companies. It carries many of the same characteristics as basic racism.

It would have been easy for profit reasons to close the mag many times. This would have been the easy way out. As the sport of surfing becomes more and more accepted and established, bodyboarding managed to maintain the rebellious spirit which was at the very foundation of surfing in the first place. I always admired that aspect along with the fact bodyboarding was pushing manuevers far past what surfers dreamed of doing. After all, who couldn't honestly list Mike Stewart as one of the best watermen of all time? This while being the redheaded step son to it's richer, older brother.

Doing the BodyBoarding mag was always fun, without the big business pressures associated with Surfing Magazine. After all, from the very first issue in which then-editor Dave Gilovich issues the command that the mag should be about having fun, it never really changed in attitude. What changed was outside corporate ownership of the surf media. In the case of BodyBoarding, PRIMEDIA, a New York based publishing company focusing on special interest magazines. Of course, they know nothing about what it is to be core in our marketplace. Sure, they'll probably try and roll out a summer special issue to keep the title alive...but is this going to be a mag committed to the sport?

I feel very fortunate to be part of the surf media during the years when we truly had control of our own destiny.

Perhaps you could plant the seed in the notion of a question regarding...would BodyBoarding mag still be kept viable if it were not for corporate ownership?

Bottom line, I was always very proud that we started Bodyboarding Magazine in the first place and stuck with it during thick and thin. I have a tremendous respect for riders who have brought so much to their sport. They are truly individualists. Besides...some of my best friends are spongers (a tern now used freely amongst riders as originally coined by Bill Sharp of Surfing Magazine). You gotta love it! No mattter what one thought of BodyBoarding Magazine, the important aspect was that it was given an opportunity to survive as long as it did. Even the period in which the magazine ceased on its own, we had balls enough to put it within the pages of Surfing. This really didn't make surfers or bodyboarders happy. But we kept it alive to resurface again for many years afterwards.

Yes, it may be best to leave it alone for a while. Do bodyboarders need a mag? For collective communication...yes. To maintain their

Best Regards,

Barry Berg
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Words Copyright (C) Barry Berg.