It’s legendary among surfers, if I understand right.  There’s a line you wait in until it’s your turn, and if you’re new there in some way, you might get pushed back in line a bit.  There’s a code… an etiquette… to these things.

I haven’t experienced the surfer thing.  I wanted to.  I told my buddy Mike Ramirez, who had been a surfer before moving to Memphis, that when Hubris hit it big and got a high-money syndication deal, that we’d go to the beaches he frequented through college and he’d teach me to surf.  Gosh, that was a long time ago.

I have experienced it in whitewater kayaking.  At a play-wave, the downstream traffic has first call at the wave.  You get out of their way as they come through.  You find your place in line in the eddie at the river’s edge.  You see who was there before you, checking both sides of the river.  If there are two entry points to the play spot, you’ve got to watch and only get in when it’s Your Turn. There’s always going to be some jostling and some inexperienced boaters just aren’t going to be able to avoid jostling forward and back. Apologize.  And let the guy you’ve jostled past slip around you to claim his turn at the wave.

Mostly, you’re not going to be called out for jumping line the first or second or even the third time… Mostly, you’d better move your ass on down the river if you’ve jumped line without looking as though you’re really really sorry about it and not at all the self-important jerk you obviously are.  You hear stories about what happens to the cars and campsites of people who chronically and snottily jump line as a matter of course. DBAD, dude.

It happens at the skatepark, too, of course.  I usually like to go so early that no one else in his right mind is interested in being awake.  I’m not very good at scanning a crowd bunched up around the Serpentine or the Bowl and figuring out whose turn it is. Also, I’m not a very good skater and I feel like the little things I’m capable of are wasting other skaters’ time in there.  Other skaters are usually really cool about disabusing people of this notion- they know everyone has their skill level, and don’t mind you learning. You’re using YOUR time in the bowl, not theirs. They don’t mind waiting their turn.

Even when the little kids with their TarMart bikes come and ride through the Serpentine.  People watch and wait and, if the occasional kid seems to be slowly circling around at the end of the run over and over again, the kid doesn’t get an earful of expletive. There’s usually some teenager that’ll wander over and say, “Good run.  It’s time to come on out and let the next guy in, okay?” and the kid pushes his bike out of the run. The next skater typically does something so amazing you feel it was worth the wait.

So. No matter what your non-team sport might be…Play nice, right?