Stab Magazine | Did Zeke Go Too Far?
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Did Zeke Go Too Far?

In his Round 3 clash against John John Florence, Zeke Lau used every dirty (and legal) trick in the book to ensure victory. We’re asking our readers, were his action a little overboard, or all part of the game?

Words by stab

After our How To Beat John John Florence piece earned over 100 combative comments, and Zeke’s John-trolling Instagram post amassed over 300 fan’s opinions, it’s clear that the debate over “unsportsmanlike” behavior in surfing competitions is still alive and well.

And just to be clear, when we talk about “unsportsmanlike” behavior, we’re talking about Zeke physically blocking John from moving deeper in the lineup during a non-priority situation, and then sitting mere inches from John, and occasionally paddling tight circles around him/over his board, while the Champ was waiting for a wave. 

With the contest off today, I thought it might be fun to further discuss this hot-button issue. Rather than sharing my own (admittedly ambivalent) thoughts on the matter, I figured I’d let the surfing public explain whether or not Zeke’s antics were justified in the modern era of professional surfing.

Below are some of the more poignant cases against Zeke’s actions, via his own Instagram thread:

@barrellbob: I was a fan of your surfing , but that was really disappointing today . You didn’t just compete for priority , you were a thug and bully all heat and took advantage of your friendship with JJF . Cheap win

@azilhao: Good surfing, JJ lacked the competitive mind but your aggressive strategy was, in my humble and totally indifferent opinion, too much. You can be aggressive and competitive with style and education

@wicksy79: Used to have so much admiration and respect for you, you’re a brilliant surfer. Such a shame you had to play that way. And shame on you more if you’re actually proud of it.

@aaronkvillarreal: Being competitive shouldn’t be faulted, but acting like an asshole should be.

@worklurk: You could keep paddling over people like a dickhead in heats. Or you could actually work on surfing better than the guys you compete against. The latter is a lot more fun to watch. Way to make pro surfing a kookish jock sport again… thought that lame shit died off in the 90s.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lFyCZXbHXiE

Note: this clip shows the heat’s surfing, but not Zeke’s questionable behaviors.

And here are some of the most poignant counter-arguments, also from Zeke’s IG:

@roemama: It’s a competition! Do what it takes to win within the rules and get it done & that’s what he did!

@chad_n: it wasn’t unnecessary. If John would’ve got that first wave which is what Zeke was holdin him off of he would’ve never had that 7.0, the highest wave of the heat. So yeah it was a tactic that worked.

@cpmosher: Everyone complaining can go buy their ticket to the WSL Founders Cup now. Future “Arena” surfing will be a single surfer waiting for a single wave in a @kswaveco pool. But for now, we’re watching surfers compete in a real ocean without priority at the start of the heat. As @john_hook said, JJF got his 2 waves and ultimately it was Zekes 2 waves that were better. Plain and simple. Rooting for you Hawaiian! Go Zeke!!!

@georgeteidson: yessir! the world aint all sunshine and rainbows its a hard, brutal place. if you aint a hard, brutal competitor prepare to take your licks. some people gotta man up. go zeke

@h0lym0li: the only “bullshit” happening around here is coming from you “dickheads” and all you other haters out there. if you’re all just gonna cry and complain about zeke winning then tell your boy @john_john_florence to step it up next time and compete. real champions dont let the competition get in their head nor do they get intimidated. period. zeke’s scores were better in the end anyway

Having read both sides and considered their respective merits, it’s time for you to choose.

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