WSL World Champion Lobs Grenade At Governing Body’s “Hypocritical” Equality Stance - Stab Mag

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Joel Tudor, 2021 World Champ, flexes his social capital. Photo: WSL/Gleeson

WSL World Champion Lobs Grenade At Governing Body’s “Hypocritical” Equality Stance

“Make some noise and make things right!”

news // Feb 10, 2022
Words by Ashton Goggans
Reading Time: 5 minutes

This week—surely still reeling from celebrations after the historic Billabong Pro Pipeline—the WSL found themselves on the pointy end of some very sharp criticism, from one of their very own current World Champions, Joel Tudor. 

“Yo @wsl @jessmileydyer @elo_eriklogan,” Joel wrote in his Ig caption. “Can y’all explain this kind of equality? Not very woke of you to treat the log gals with so much disrespect in regards to pay? It’s kinda clear on your own Instagram which style is more favored by your audience! Urging all log gals , parents & friends to write the @wsl asking why this is still happening….also they are planning on canceling the longboard tour to a one event stop! Hit em up , post about it & make some noise to make things right!! Awoooooooooo!”

During the BIllabong Pro Pipeline, Joel took offense to the relentless barrage of ads featuring women’s longboarding, during the broadcast of the first Women’s World Championship Tour event at Pipeline, with equal pay for both men and women.

“Watch the broadcast, every one of the major companies, all of their ads are longboard chicks—or, better yet, they make their best women’s shortboarders jump on something different, because it’s more appealing.”

The gripe? While the WSL proudly moves forward with their equality measures this year on the women’s World Championship Tour, the women of the World Longboard Tour will potentially see their tour cut to just one Championship event at Malibu. Meanwhile, women’s longboarding, as Joel points out in his post, often reaches a much broader audience than almost any other niche within surfing. 

Joel’s post—which compares social media engagement, winnings, etc. from the WSL’s own channels, and highlights the chasm between women’s longboarding and shortboarding—was met with a chorus of approval. 

Sean Tully: “Call a spade a spade. Poach log culture for those likes much @wsl? Good call Gramps!”

“I’m not making up these numbers, its from their own channels.” Joel says. “Women’s Longboarding gets more comments, more engagement, and in our age of Equality, Are they not equal? They’re obviously equal in how much imagery they use in marketing and branding to get eyeballs.”

Now, before this is taken as Joel simply poking the bear, it’s worth noting two things:
1. Joel is a 3x longboarding World Champ, most recently in 2021, so his opinion holds weight.
2. Since its very inception, Joel and Vans’ Duct Tape Invitationals have always offered equal money to men’s and womens (and actually beat the WSL to the punch paying men and women equal at the US Open in 2015). 

“The Duct Tape was the first time that women were paid equally on the grounds of an WSL event at the US Open,” says Joel. 

So what’s Joel’s ask? To invest in Women’s Longboarding, and the WSL Longboard tour as a whole, after the last few years’ success under the guidance of Commissioner Devon Howard. 

“The reason I’m making a stink is that I know they’re trying to just fuck off the whole tour, and do one big event at Malibu. And someone has to make some noise because it’s bullshit. Longboarders aren’t asking for much. We don’t need tents that disrupt neighborhoods, we don’t need big shit infrastructure. Save it for the the final event at Malibu, or crown a champ at Lowers with them rest of the WCT.

“The Log events can piggyback ‘CT or ‘QS events, or we can have a bunch of little ones. Honestly, we’ve run our own events for decades, we got this.”

As far as what the WSL’s response has been to their own World Champ’s pestering…well, there’s been no response. 

“It’s right in their face,” says Joel. “They know it’s as valuable, if not more valuable. And take me out of the equation, I’m done, I quit. I’m just trying to help women truly reach fairness, and to make sure Longboarders have a tour, because just like the Big Wave guys, they deserve it. When they came to take the Big Wave guy’s tour away, they raised hell. And guess what? They got their tour back.”

Following Joel’s finger-pointing, Log Raps’ Zack Raffin posted a thoroughly researched story to Blog Crap, parsing Joel’s criticisms.

“Before I dive in, it should be noted that on the WLT, Men and Women receive equal prize money. The same can be said of the shortboard tour. The WSL has taken a firm and progressive stance on this and that should be recognized, especially seeing that other leagues have done little to combat this. No example is starker than that NFL player Taysom Hill, who last year made more than the entire WNBA combined.” 

“Unfortunately, this isn’t football or basketball or hockey. This is surfing, and many on the WSL’s ‘main’ tour have struggled to make a living despite devoting their lives to competition, which in part the WSL uses as content to keep the ecosystem alive. Post-2008 recession some surfers had to rely on crowdsourced funding to even afford travel to the next contest. While this has improved for the shortboard tour, this has yet to trickle down to longboarding.”

“I’m not necessarily saying they should be making the SAME amount of money. But have a look at the below equation:

1st Place For Winning a WLT Contest: $10,000

Travel, entry fee, lodging (a generous estimate for domestic competitors for all 3 events): $5,000

Estimated net pay if one were to win all 3 events: $25,000

Average U.S. Median Income: $31,133

This means that if you are a woman at the absolute top of your sport, surfing a perfect year and beating all of your competition, you will not make a living wage in the United States under the WSL’s current pay structure.” 

“In terms of what the future holds, one train of thought that’s been circulating: the WSL scales back to one event, minimizing production cost and sinking that extra cheddar into increased prize money… The flip side of that coin? Less events = less exposure on the WSL’s social media accounts (IG 3.9 million) and potentially subdued sponsorship contracts for those surfers lucky enough to have them.”

“Again, I’m not saying I have the answers, but surely this could be improved upon.” 

“Thank you Joel for constantly pushing the boundaries of this pretty little thing called longboarding. Here’s to hoping we see some sort of substantive change in 2022.”

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