What’s in a Game?

For the better part of June and early July the world stops – for a game. The World Cup wrests the world from its wars, poverty, turmoil, and strife. A game saves us from ourselves, if only for a month. Can one game really change everything? Well, that all depends on the person, and on the game. 
Surfing is what it is. It doesn’t fit inside the traditional trappings of mainstream sports. It is, by its very nature and approach, different. In the context of sport, surfing is alternative. But its impact certainly isn’t moot, and should be regarded less as the alternative and more as the solution. 
Sport, rather uniquely, can move people to act – that’s the power of sport. But, again, surfing is different. I mean, who goes on “the search” for the perfect basketball court? We chase perfection. For some, theirs is a search limited to a twenty-minute drive up or down the coast. But for others, their chase for the perfect session spans oceans and places you need to sound out to pronounce. Travel is one of the tenants of our sport, and that is who we are -- a band of travelers, gypsies with surfboards. As the world has changed so too have we, from nomad, to traveler, now to the global citizen, the surfer has evolved. 
I don’t claim to have seen a lot in my time, more than most and less than some, and I don’t know much, but I am certain that experience dictates truth. As surfers, we are blessed that travel is a fundamental element of our sport, and arguably its beating heart. We travel in our pursuit – for the perfect wave, the deepest barrel, the endless summer – and as such, traveling becomes our means to an end. But it’s so much more. Travel, and in turn surfing, affords any of us the opportunity to cultivate a worldview by immersing ourselves in other cultures. It allows us to see, feel, experience cultural elements foreign to us, and if we take the time to breathe them in and let them marinate, they can change our perspective. This is where surfing as a sport exerts its power – surfing initiates change, but only if the surfer allows it, and commits to it.
Perspective is everything. Understanding different perspectives makes a world of difference. It may seem simple, not to mention a bit reductionist, to think that cultural awareness is the key to unlocking what so frequently divides us, and simpler still to think that surfing is the catalyst. But simplicity isn't a symptom of being wrong. Too often do we discount the validity of that which we term simple. We trivialize such things in conversation. "It's just a game," we say. So you tell me, can one game really change everything?

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