Olympic Surfing Is An Example Of U.S. Imperialism, Says Academic - Stab Mag
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Olympic Surfing Is An Example Of U.S. Imperialism, Says Academic

The hottest thing since Critical Race Theory.

elsewhere // Aug 2, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thomas Blake Earle, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Last week he wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post attributing surfing’s Olympic debut to the legacy of U.S. imperialism. 

His claim is that when White America discovered the commercial viability of Hawaii’s climate for agribusiness, they began to plot ways of increasing American travel to the Pacific Islands to secure it as an imperial outpost. One of the main allures was the chance to ride waves, a “supreme pleasure” whereby one could be driven “so fast and so smoothly by the sea” in the words of Captain James Cook. 

The ability to sell surf-culture to white Americans was the key to enhancing imperial power abroad, but it became so popular that it was exported globally over subsequent decades by missionaries and militaries who couldn’t stop themselves from hanging ten.

Thomas Blake Earle – Surf history expert, as manifest by his barrelling hairline.

During World War II and the Cold War, when the U.S. military fanned out across the globe, they brought their surfboards with them, infecting one coastal village after another with the ‘surf bug’. This, he argues, is the connection between what we saw at the Olympics and U.S. imperialism. 

“Surfing, much like the Olympics itself, would not exist as it does independent of how nations use sports as a tool of international relations.”

Hmm. I’m not sure if conflating surf travel and US imperialism is exactly parsimonious, but hey, what the fuck would I know. I’m a mere ignorant pawn on the chessboard of international diplomacy, dividing and conquering one warung at a time with post surf me goreng’s. Thomas, on the other hand, clear surf expert with academic clout to his name. 


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