I’m all about competition. I don’t think I would have been interested in sports at such a young age and written about them for this long if I didn’t believe that competition was inherently good. I can’t stand the whole phenomenon of older generations calling the younger ones “snowflakes” or mocking the concept of participation trophies, but I do think that allowing people and kids to compete in things they enjoy does a lot more good than harm in the long run.
That being said — Jordy Smith, stay home next time.
For the second time, Smith took the title at the Ballito Pro in his home nation of South Africa. He earned a nice $40,000 check and 10,000 Qualifying Series points as he made his way through the field of 112 competitors.
But Smith has no reason to enter this contest, other than the additional publicity he brings to the event as a native South African. It’s not unusual for Championship Tour surfers to enter and help promote events close to home, but this is a QS 10,000 contest. It’s the first one of the 2017 season and it carries the most weight in terms of qualifying for the world tour.
Qualifying for the world tour is not a concern for Smith, who is in the midst of a heated world title race. He’ll head into Jeffreys Bay this week just 600 points behind current points leader Matt Wilkinson.
But dozens of other surfers would kill to have the opportunity that Smith already enjoys and many of them were also in the field at the Ballito Pro. Let’s say that Josh Moniz, who just moved up to 19th in the QS rankings, winds up just a few hundred points from qualifying for the CT. His loss to Smith in the fifth round at Ballito will have been the difference. Now, we could say that if he had just won that heat, it would be a moot point. But should he have been in that position in the first place?
They say that to be the best, you have to beat the best. I agree with that. But should a guy like Smith really feel the need to get in the way of other hopefuls who are just trying to arrive on the same level playing field? What if the winning team in the NCAA Tournament got to move up to the NBA the following season, but the San Antonio Spurs were always in the bracket as a No. 1 seed? It’s like, stay in your lane, Spurs. Give Bucknell an opportunity for once.
It was a really tough field and Smith earned his win, but it just feels hollow to see the first 10,000 point result of the year awarded to someone who has no need for it.
In terms of local talent, Moniz and Keanu Asing had the best Hawaii results with fifth-round exits. Asing is doing his part to get back on the CT as he sits in sixth place for the season on the QS.
Koa Smith lost his second-round heat that also featured Jordy Smith. Koa drops to 32nd for the year on the QS but he still has a lot of room for improvement.
Brazil’s Jesse Mendes reached the quarterfinals and has all but locked up a CT qualification spot already. With a pair of QS 6,000 wins under his belt, Mendes has more than 22,000 rankings points for the year. Willian Cardoso is second with just over 12,000. Mendes will easily remain in the top 10 even if he were to take the rest of the year off, so congratulations to him and good luck with the dream tour next season.
Coming up Wednesday is the J-Bay Corona Open, where Jordy will be taking on the rest of the CT field for the year’s sixth contest. Five surfers remain within just 600 points of one another atop the leaderboard so every heat is of the utmost significance.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.