After being at the X-Games and US Open Surf Contest this past week, I got a bit tired and irritated at the various announcers' comments how this athlete is "The Best Ever Surfer", "The Best Ever Skater", or "The Best Ever Rally Racer". Why did it bother me so much? Well, the analogies of these announcers, who aren't even experts at any of the sports, are more hype and opinion than fact or knowledge. Every year we are told so and so is the greatest or best ever, and it changes depending who's the most popular at a given time. The Baseball Hall of Fame, Football Hall of Fame and other types of Halls of Fame are guilty of this. The current year's Hall of Fame inductee is always labelled The Best Ever... despite the same statements made of previous inductees.

Example: Before the surf contest (U.S. Open - Huntington Beach, CA) every year there is a ceremony where selected surfers are entered into the Surf Museum Hall of Fame. The honoree is inducted into the Hall of Fame and gets a plaque built into the cement of the City's Main Street located across from the Peer in "Surf City" Huntington Beach. Kind of like Hollywood Blvd's "Walk of Fame" where Actors and Musicians get their name put on a star on the sidewalk of Hollywood's famous street. Every year the inductees are praised for their accomplishments and the crowd hears the proverbial "He was the Best" or "He is the Best Ever'.

Well, I was in front of a coffee shop across the way listening to the speech of the moderator as he praised the newest inductee. As the announcer stated "Kelly Slater has revolutionized surfing and is the Best Surfer...", Tom Curren walked by with his family, nodded and smiled as we exchanged "hey long time" and then sat nearby. Tom Curren, whom I met as a teen in the '80s as he competed in the pro circuit while I was on the school's NSSA team. Tom Curren, who helped bring in the new Thruster Tri-fin surf boards after years of longer, single fin boards. Tom Curren, who won nearly every contest in the '80s and was all over the pages of Surfer magazine. Tom Curren, a California native, and his counterpart Tom Carroll (Aus) competed together riding insane waves with a style and grace that brought surfing out of the long board age into the shorter board, quick ripping, smooth yet powerful modern age. While the contests are based on points and judges, the competitions were intense, but surfers like Curren, Carroll and the like aren't show offs or bad attitude athletes, rather they are cool, keep to themselves guys that surf because they genuinely love surfing. Guys that have to be in or near the water all their life. They don't brag or care who's the "Best". Sure they surfed and competed against each other, but they would also seek out great waves and surf with each other in between competitions as well. They marvel at each other's riding a big wave, shooting the barrel or ripping a rooster tail back turn. They also paved the way for younger surfers like Mark "Occi" Occhilupo, Derek Ho, Kelly Slater, big wave rider Laird Hamilton and the incredible Christian Fletcher. I say incredible because Christian brought in surfing moves like aerial re-entrees, floating the lip, and 360's that were so extreme they were outlawed from certain competitions. These guys helped to form and shape the surfing culture into a international sport and industry.

Despite all this, I wouldn't call Curren "The Best Ever' because that would degrade all the other great surfers who surfed. The magazines and museums are full of awesome surfers, and there are surfers who aren't famous that ride great waves around the world. So when I heard "Kelly Slater is the Best Surfer..." I was taken back, looking over at Tom who just sat silent, sipping some coffee, and thought to myself "What about Tommy Curren?", "What about Tom Carrol, Occi, Hamilton and Fletcher?". How can this speaker claim Kelly Slater to be the "Best Ever" with so many other great surfers around? I felt bad and irritated at the same time during this ceremony.

If a speaker wants to praise an athlete or celebrity, let him stick to the facts, like winner of the 2010 title, lists their accomplishments and good deeds. Give the audience something genuine to cheer and remember the honoree without the label of "The Best...".