I love wakeboarding. I do it everyday–I wakeboard too much.
Most days I am proud to be a wakeboarder. Last Saturday I was not. Last Saturday I saw a side of wakeboard culture that did not showcase the full potential of the beautiful young women in the contest.
Women who wakeboard.
These beautiful young women were given no forum for their skills in a tough action sport, but they were encouraged to define themselves according to the barest number of centimeters used to cover their rear ends.
All the women who made it past the first round were wearing a style of bikini which deliberately exposes the buttocks.
And after that I could not watch.
I would like to direct the rest of this letter to any action sport sponsors who marginalized women athletes:
Because I am deep in the sport, this hurts me. I know you. I own products you sell. I don’t want to associate your brand with the exploitation of women.
Wakeboarding is still a young sport. We still have time to change this.
Women can add so much to this sport–on the water, throwing spins, hitting rails, in the kind of clothes it actually takes to be brave.
I beg you to consider putting your sponsorship clout into women in wakeboarding, not women in sexually compromising positions.
This post had a first stronger iteration which I modified after the owners of the wake park told me that I would have to apologize to one of them in order to allow my family to enter Points Chase National Competition.
I apologized. They competed.
More bad stuff happened….and I no longer can say that I wakeboard almost every day with enthusiasm.
I am no longer able to separate the degradation and shame of what happened at the bikini contest with the lovely process of riding a sliver of wood and fiberglass at 19 miles an hour.
It takes hundreds, maybe thousands of people to look the other way (or in this case stare voraciously) as human beings are exposed and humiliated.
I am not proud of any of it
I am not proud of “us”
The wakeboarders who let it happen.