The Woz Suspends World Champ Joel Tudor
On Wednesday, The Woz released a statement that Joel Tudor, their 2021 Longboarding World Champ, has been suspended. The statement reads:
Joel Tudor has been suspended following conduct detrimental to the integrity of the WSL per the WSL Rule Book, which includes the violation of the following provisions: sportsmanlike conduct (14.02), damage to surfing's image (14.04), and verbal assault (14.08). The duration of the suspension is currently under review.
Tudor and the WSL have had a running battle over the state of professional longboarding. It was only so many years ago that the Woz ran with the tagline: 'It takes a tour to make a title', neatly side-stepping the fact they were crowning longboard champs with just one contest on the 'tour'.
Then in 2019, the Woz hired Devon Howard and promised a revamped tour, one with with multiple stops. Last year, Tudor was crowned World Longboarding Champ - at 45, the oldest world champ - on the back of three events.
However, pre-empting talk of a contraction in the tour from three events back to one, Tudor put diplomacy on ice. In three Instagram missives, all now removed, Tudor hit out at Erik Logan and Jessi Miley Dyer about why the WSL is "planning on canceling the longboard tour to a one event stop".
A fair question, even if based on rumour, yet Tudor went further accusing the Woz of underpaying longboarders and playing on diversity and wokeness. The last two charges a little hard to follow amongst all the gun smoke.
Much scuttlebutt followed. Tudor's outburst was openly dissected on websites and podcasts.
And now the suspension of their World Champ. The length of the penalty still unknown.
Suspensions aren't unknown in pro surfing. There's been many over the years: Neco Padaratz in 2006 for using steroids; Jeremy Flores in 2014 for abusing the judges; and Filipe Toledo in 2017 also for abusing the judges. Perhaps the best known of all is Bobby Martinez who was suspended for six events after his live outburst - the infamous 'tennis tour' interview - in 2011. Though that suspension meant little as the interview was also Martinez' retirement announcement.
Tudor's suspension is arguably more awkward for the Woz as, firstly, Tudor is one of their World Champs, a person they could usually rely on to say nice things about the organisation, secondly, he's criticised their business model, making them choose between a potential difficult explanation or a silent vacuum that can only be filled by more rumour, and thirdly, Tudor isn't showing any contrition. Every other time a surfer has faced the judiciary they've apologised and asked for mercy.
The same can't be said of Tudor, who's doubling, even tripling down, and is well on his way to becoming a martyr for the cause. A lightning rod for all Woz haters in the same way Noa Deane was after his "Fuck the WSL" mic drop in 2014.
At 45-years old, Tudor knows the Woz ain't his future. He also knows enough about history to appreciate how this benefits him. Like Miki Dora who both profited from and rejected Hollywood, turning that stance into a badge of honour, the same can be said of Tudor dicking with the straights at the Woz.
Though suspended, it's a win/win.