Stab Magazine | Heat Analyzer Is Back, But The WSL's Structural Issues Remain
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Heat Analyzer Is Back, But The WSL’s Structural Issues Remain

A different take on Facebook-gate.

news // Jul 4, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the course of my surf writing “career” I try not to take things too personally. It’s just a job, it’s not usually too difficult, and Stab is kind enough to keep me on retainer and pump some dough into my account each month whether I perform well or not.

Sure, the mean comments occasionally hurt my feelings. You vicious fuckers can be clever. And I sometimes wonder whether I’ve made a terrible mistake, need to phone up Doc Brown, carjack his ass,  hammer the gas pedal to 88 MPH, and enroll in dental school.

Surfing is a hobby, I write for a hobbyist publication, and in the grand scheme of things none of it matters at all. Surfing doesn’t touch my day-to-day outside of the water. None of my friends on-island give two shits about the sport. They just know I scammed my way into a relatively easy job and, every once in a while, I miss spearfishing trips because of it.

That said, I absolutely loathe being misled. Everyone has an agenda, it’s rare that I have a conversation in the course of writing an article when I’m not forced to wade through self-interested half truths and the odd outright lie in my search for something half-resembling subjective honesty.

Most times it’s just decent people trying to do their jobs. I understand that, but I don’t like it. It chafes my ass raw when someone attempts to employ me as an unwitting mouthpiece.

A case in point took place five months ago, when Ashton asked me to write a short piece about the coming transition to Facebook. I reached out to the WSL and received a terse response. Enough to pull a quote for the article, which is all I really wanted.

“… we’re not migrating off platform until the viewing experience is as good if not better than it currently is.”

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No matter the digital platform, Owen Wright always looks good. Photo: WSL

I’ll give the drops a pass. Whatever caused the outages during the webcast, there’s no way they were intentional. Maybe the local ISP went out. Maybe a drunk smashed his car into a power pole somewhere nearby. Maybe a lion was involved.  I don’t know and I don’t care.

But cutting the ability to pause and rewind the live stream? Eliminating the display of previous heat scores while the current ones are running? A total lack of any information beyond “here’s what’s going on this instant”?

That’s hardly “as good if not better.”  It’s objectively worse.

Fortunately, my experience was improved by the constant stream of criticisms scrolling up my laptop screen. It was fun to watch, amusing to take part in. But I got bored around 10PM and went to bed early. Saturday was spent diving in a heavy current for eight hours and my body is absolutely shot. 

I saw Filipe’s heat before drifting off. He surfed real good. I looked forward to clicking through the heat analyzer upon waking. After all, I was told that the “Heat Analyzer remains on WorldSurfLeague.com and the app” by a human I trusted to know the truth.

Shock and dismay greeted my pre-caffeinated mind when I plopped in front of my laptop and called up the page.

It was gone, as though it never existed. Nothing but poorly cut highlight clips and hours-long content dumps.

I can’t fathom what they’re thinking. If a plan exists it makes no sense to me.

I reached out the WSL for some clarity and was greeted with silence. Calls went straight to voicemail. It’s not a new development. I’ve become persona non grata since covering the permitting debacle.

It sucks. All of it. The way it was rolled out, how it was presented. The total inability to recognize and embrace those things their fans enjoy.

And now it’s back, without a word.

Many of our fans have asked about Heat Analyzer, which is also now up and running …”

No explanation, no attempt at clarity. Gone one day, back the next. What the fuck is going on?

Screen Shot 2018 07 03 at 4.34.41 PM

It’s true, you can now watch Kolohe Andino sob On Demand. (In all serious, shouts out to Brother for sending it today. We appreciate the return to your progressive roots, even when you lose.) Frame: WSL

I understand what the WSL is trying to do. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Play the sanctioning body while earning as a media outlet. Conflicts be damned, there’s gotta be a buck to be made! Somehow, somewhere. Stumbling blindly while making changes willy-nilly. No method to the madness.

Their post today is laughable. Passive aggressive self defense, justification of poorly wrought decisions, and retreat. A total refusal to address problems they, themselves, created.

“Our switch to Facebook was to enable the entirety of our audience to continue to view each event for free, and also to further expand our fanbase throughout the world.”

We know you don’t like it, but it’s FREE!

“We are now offering the live stream on our desktop site – with adjacent round information and heat scores — without having to login to Facebook. “

Oh shit, were we supposed to make sure it worked before we rolled it out?

“In short, what you’re seeing is a much lower number of people viewing than actually are.”

Dude, we’re totally hella popular! (That’s how surfers talk, right?) Don’t believe your lyin’ eyes. Sooooo many people are watching. Like, tons.  

“Facebook is a major platform for media and entertainment, similar to linear cable and satellite providers.

“They offer a variety of live and original sports programming – from PGA events to Tom vs Time – and require minimal user data to access their content offering.”

We think you’re too stupid to follow current events.

My spirits are buoyed by a simple fact. Surfing doesn’t need the WSL. If anything, the end of competitive importance could lead to a Renaissance within the sport. Focus on clips, fuck the podium. Follow a skateboard model wherein the best surfers seek to impress fans, rather than judges.

In that vein- the first episode of the new season of King of the Road is on youtube. Give it a watch when you’re sick of what the WSL has decided to force feed us.

 

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