ASP lays out new rules for qualification

Announced today, the ASP Board of Directors has voted to "expand upon the December 2011 decision to suspend the midyear rotation for 2012, due to schedule constraints, and continue to provide a clear pathway towards ASP Top 34 Qualification."

Translation: Ummm.

Welcome to ASP 2.0, where the Board of Directors rewrites the rules of pro surfing on the fly. Essentially what the latest "breaking news" from the ASP is telling us is that they've tried to narrow the disparity between the points accrued at World Tour events and what's available to competitors hoping to qualify through the second-tier Prime series.

Another critical part of their announcement: "ASP Top 34 surfers will only be allowed to count their best three results in ASP World Title events on their respective ASP World Rankings."

Ultimately, the Board of Directors is looking to effect how 2012's yearend rankings shake out, stating that the 2013 season will include the top 22 from the 2012 ASP World Title rankings, the top 10 from the 2012 ASP World rankings, and two ASP wildcards.

It's been less than one month since Brodie Carr served his last day as ASP CEO, and since then the Board -- motivated primarily by the vocal contingent of surfers -- has eliminated the "mid-year rotation" that saw a shift in the surfers that were on tour halfway through the season. Unpopular from the start, it was only in effect in 2011. They have also instituted a new WADA-approved drug testing policy, a move that's been interpreted in a variety of ways given the sports longtime affiliation with the counter culture.

On the current incarnation of the ASP Board of Directors sits seven people: Chairman Richard Grellman is currently acting as the Executive Director, and under him are two independent members in Kathy Kendrick and Angus Murray (non surfers). All three of them are permanent fixtures. The event board rotates between Triple Crown director Randy Rarick, Hurley's Pat O'Connell, Rip Curl's Neil Ridgeway, Quiksilver's Rod Brooks and Billabong's Graham Stapelburg. Kieren Perrow and Jessi Miley-Dyer are the two surfer reps, although it is unknown if Miley-Dyer will resign after accepting a role as the women's tour manager.

According to sources close to the ASP, the pursuit of a new CEO has not even begun yet and a hiring may not come until year's end.

So what does all of this bureaucratic nonsense mean? It means the ASP should have hired a PR firm the minute Bobby Martinez opened his mouth in New York last August. It's been nothing but a downward spiral for the embattled governing body of pro surfing since. The counting snafu with Kelly Slater's world title in San Francisco, the subsequent "resignation" of Carr, a leak to the media about the drug-testing talks,and Dane Reynolds walking away -- all headlines that certainly did not help but could have been averted. Maybe a PR firm would have advised them to simply say, "we're undergoing a period of restructuring," instead of them let them continually punch themselves in the face and release confusing statements about "our commitment to make the most exciting, successful and relevant tour."

Enough. For all the technical changes that they've made, at this point the ASP doesn't have as big an issue with structure as it does with credibility, and that will be a lot harder for the Board of Directors to fix.