15 October, 2015 15 October, 2015

Are Surfers Selfish People? – by Joseph Krone

It’s a question he often asks himself; not only because of what he sees in the lineup, but also because of his own actions. ‘Are Surfers Selfish People?’ is Joseph Krone’s entry into Write To Surf – Zag’s surf journo competition with epic prizes by Billabong up for grabs (see details below).


ARE SURFERS SELFISH PEOPLE? (The Ugly Side of Surfing) – by: Joseph Krone


This is a very good question and one that to me is of the utmost importance. I grew up in a surfing family. My dad surfs and he taught my brother and I at a young age. My brother was 4 years-old and I was five. Other moms reading this might be able to relate to the complaints my mother had; “All you guys want to do is just surf! What am I supposed to do on the beach while you guys surf? Just sit there?!”

Yes, I was so in love with surfing that I could not handle the thought of going inland, away from the sea and the waves for just one weekend. My mom, who had other interests – among them archaeology and ancient civilisations – could not get us to go away on a trip to some mountain range in the Cederberg for just a couple of days.

Everyone is selfish to some degree. I myself am a selfish person. So this article is looking at the relationship between selfishness and surfing, and it is largely an attempt to justify my own selfishness through surfing. Saying surfing is the reason I am selfish is probably quite unfair on surfing, though. Cake is not in itself bad, but too much of it will probably make your teeth fall out. Surfing is not the culprit. A knife is not a bad thing, but it can be used to inflict pain on another – the act of which is bad and wrong. So it can facilitate selfishness, but more importantly could it promote selfishness due to its addictive nature? If I am naturally a very selfish person, then I would like to become aware of how surfing has effected my selfishness (or humility).


It is an attempt to reconcile selfishness with surfing. But as something greater than myself, I would like it to create awareness in other surfers’ minds. If reading this makes you think about it, then the main purpose has been achieved. Selfishness is of the ego. The ego is the concept of self. War, struggles for power and global warming are also of the ego, which means a selfish surfer is not so far off from the evils in society that he loves to hate. He in fact becomes a hypocrite. He loves to complain about corporate giants taking over the world, yet it is these very characteristics that he shares, causing him to act like a pig in the water. He likes to campaign against environmental destruction. He will even passionately campaign to prevent a nuclear power plant springing up at his local break. But how passionate would he be if there were no waves to protect? Is he not a part of the same human race that lusts after power, wealth and dominion?

The first time that I heard that surfers were selfish people, it was a bit of a shock. It was a completely new concept to me. I was 15 years-old on the Gold Coast of Australia and surfing very late. I was there and being taken care of by a friend of my father. The waves were good and I surfed into the dark, as I often do. I thought nothing of it at the time, but my dad’s friend was waiting on the beach for me to come out, so we could go together to the place we were staying – which he had the key for. I eventually got a wave out, and in the dark decided it would be better to just go straight back to the place we were staying. I thought he would probably be there waiting for me, but this and the time I often surf to should have been arranged with him prior. So I got to the flat and he wasn’t there. I waited quite a while for him. When he got there, he was not happy. He told me that he had been searching up and down the beach in the dark for me. He was fearing that something bad had happened to me, and, as he explained, that he was responsible for me. And that was the first time I heard the words, “Surfers are the most selfish people I know!”


Surfing is regarded as a ‘lifestyle’ sport. So for something that becomes a way of living, it is particularly important to observe the effects it has on your life. Then to what degree does surfing influence your character, and (if at all) make you a selfish person?

The nature of it, is that it tends to attract individualist type of people, who you could argue are closer to selfishness. Surfing itself is a unique ‘sensual’ phenomenon, releasing a huge amount of ‘feel good’ endorphins, the result of which is a highly addictive type of activity that easily grabs people, and they don’t let go quickly. That addictiveness is probably the main factor of the “Shellfish Nurser”

So are Surfers selfish people? You can’t just generalise and say they are (that’s like saying all rugby players like to fight). For me, unfortunately, the scale tips towards the selfish. This obviously is my subjective opinion, based on my own life. It’s also based mainly on the way surfers behave in the water. There can be a difference to how surfers are on land and how they are in the water. Although what happens in the water, you will inevitably take with you onto the land.


There are many positives which far out-weigh the negatives. Surfing is not bad and the people who surf are not selfish because of it, but I do feel that it can bring it out of a person and be a vehicle that promotes selfishness. But if we are aware of this, we can change it or guard against it.

So a big question is how does surfing affect our characters? Again, I’m just shining a light on what I feel is a very important and relevant question.

Opinions expressed in ‘Write To Surf’ entries are not necessarily those of Zigzag.
Click here to check out all the published stories from our Write To Surf competition.


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. At the end of the year, we will select and send one aspirant journalist from the competition on an all expenses paid assignment for a major feature in Zigzag. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa.

The Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Hoodie; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 2 x Da Kine traction pads.

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