Editor’s Note: We recently reached out to Ace for a piece we put together on the tension between college and professional surfing. His response was so amazing, we asked if we could publish it in its entirety. Below is his complete response.
[Education] is something I’m passionate about, but probably more on a high school level as opposed to college. I don’t think getting a college degree and making the tour is out of the question but I think asking all aspiring pros to have a college degree is unrealistic. Surfing doesn’t have a college feeder system like the NFL, NBA etc. It’s much more international than that but my concern is with the amount of kids who choose, or feel the need to choose to drop out of high school in order to chase their dream of becoming a pro surfer, and the number of parents that enable that decision.
I think the professional surf system has some questions to answer, because the majority of kids who drop out of school to chase that dream end up 5 years down the track disillusioned, unfulfilled, uneducated, unsponsored and working out in the mines or waiting tables. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t chase your dreams at all but I think there needs to be some sort of method and structure. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle because the more prodigies that leave school, the more that entices the next generation to do the same, and for sure the amount of time in the water these kids get can be a big positive if they use that time wisely. Maybe there needs to be some sort of minimum standard of education required to qualify for the tour of even the ‘QS.
Home school to me is a soft option. I’ve had plenty of friends take that path, and rarely do they or the parents have the time or resources to follow through. The social skills that you miss out on in those formative years at school are invaluable and many of the lessons in hard work and discipline I feel for me came from balancing my desire to become a professional surfer against the need for me to graduate high school and have a safety net if surfing didn’t work out. In my experience, balancing this definitely made me much hungrier and gave me that competitive edge against kids that had more spare time than they knew what to do with.
Surfing is so much younger as a professional sport than most but I think this is a problem that needs some real attention.