Well, we’re three events in. After Snapper Rocks, Margaret River, and Bell Beach, few things are becoming (sometimes painfully) obvious. This year saw huge changes in the ASP – new formats, new webcast, new logo… it was pretty much a full body makeover. And now that the kinks are getting worked out, let’s do a summary of The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly.
The broadcast is professional. It’s not perfect, but gone are the days of no communication. The days when you had to conduct investigative journalism just to see what time the event was going to kick off.
Gone too are the dreadful streams where you learned to expect the picture to go black, audio to disappear, and a quality of video that made it difficult to work out who was on what wave and what they were doing. We now have a fantastic HD quality stream, multiple camera angles of the event, and excellent slow motion replays. We also know that the audio will be there throughout. However, this where the bad shows.
While it’s nice that we know the stream will always provide audio, it’s tragic that it’s filled with dull and uninteresting air filler. Most of the commentary crew seem to have a lack of personality and a fear of saying anything even approaching controversy. No doubt this is due to instruction rather than actually being boring people, but it needs to be looked at. We like to hear people have a laugh, banter a bit, be a person. Thank God they brought Occy in and have Rosy Hodge on the interviews. More of this please.
The other issue is that it has clearly been decided that they need to dumb down the commentating. Perhaps this is to attract the non-surfing market (good luck with that). It’d be interesting to see the numbers that show just how many viewers are surfers. I’d say they’d be pretty high, so for the most part, this kind of commentating is missing the mark.
Finally, it’s super frustrating for the commentators to be constantly commending safe surfing. “It’s great to see him surf at 70%,” they say. It’s not great. It’s boring and highlights a huge problem with the ASP scoring system.
The Downright Ugly
Scoring remains as the single biggest issue the ASP faces. It’s never going to be a perfect science and the occasional bad call is inevitable. However, as it stands, we are seeing bad calls almost every heat and sometimes calls that verge on match fixing.
The two worst calls of the Rip Curl Pro this year were Kelly Slater being over scored to give him the win over Kolohe Andino and Jacob Willcox being hideously underscored again Josh Kerr. Both occasions the scores came at the end of the heats and both times the scores didn’t reflect what had happened. They took ages deciding what the scores should be and both times the scores were almost exactly what the higher seeds needed in order to progress. It’s not a good look and again demonstrates how crucial it is for the judging system to be reviewed.