"Box packers, the guys whose pro career never worked out and ended up packing boxes in the warehouse of some surf company."
That's how it was put to me by an Australian friend. We'd been talking about what life after pro surfing means, and "box packer" was his term for those who had obtained some kind of noteworthiness while in their prime, but whose fate eventuated in less than glorious fashion.
Pro surfing's a tricky game. At its best it can put somebody in front of a global audience, hoisting trophies, being sprayed with champagne in that most Spicollian of dreams. But at its worst it's a destructive force, capable of leaving wrecked youth in its wake. And today, as surf companies look to locked-down bright, marketable talent at ever younger ages, that line is razor thin.
The dilemma: do you finish high school, or do you jump on a few sponsor funded trips, get some "real world experience" and see where that takes you? Enabled by the dodge that is home schooling, no question, if done correctly some kids can flourish, but it should never be an excuse to skip out to Indo for a couple weeks. I've been on a couple boat trips where kids have asked me for help on their math homework, and trust me, you don't want me teaching your kid math.
Over the last couple of weeks a couple hundred of America's brightest young surf talents have filtered through Southern California, competing in the Surfing America USA Championships and the NSSA Nationals. Out of this herd, maybe one percent makes it on the world tour. Maybe less. There's only room on tour for 34 surfers, which means it's harder to get one of those top spots than it is to make it into the NBA or NFL ... there's always long snapping.
For the sake of argument, toss guys like Kelly Slater or Mark Occhilupo out of the conversation....
....Check out the whole story and video ESPN HERE