I’ve heard it said that scuba diving is just a sport. Several veteran divers I’ve recently spoken with understand that local/inland diving is a very important part of the dive industry, but also went on to comment that “diving is really more about socializing around hotdogs and hamburgers than just getting wet.”
The social aspects of diving are obviously important. However, social opportunities are numerous and plentiful, and most require very little commitment in terms of physical risks and financial resources. After all, it’s a lot safer and cheaper to go on a picnic or a hike, bowling or to the movies, and enjoy hotdogs and hamburgers there!
For the future health and vigor of the scuba diving industry, I am firmly convinced that the diving community and the world at large must understand that diving is SO MUCH MORE than social interaction and a sporting activity.
Tennis is a sport, as are football, basketball, soccer, golf, etc. But have you ever noticed that those activities don’t usually involve much else other than those activities? They don’t usually and directly impact biological environments and habitats. They don’t typically discover new disciplines, or raise awareness about conservation and land/sea/air technologies and environmental impact studies. Search and rescue, archeological discovery, and scientific research are rarely, if ever, associated with them.
Scuba diving is quite unique in that regard. It is one of the few “sports” that has the potential of touching many different categories of human life and endeavor.
As mentioned before, diving is both physically risky and financially restrictive in terms of the equipment and accoutrements needed to participate in it. Scuba is a very practical and purposeful discipline, and the reasons for involving ourselves in it must go way beyond “hamburgers and hotdogs” if the diving industry is to survive and thrive in the future.
If local/inland diving is the heart of the industry, then we must strive to make it “heart healthy” by providing a vision for the main purpose of diving: to EDUCATE while we RECREATE; to LEARN while we enjoy; to become and stay involved in this wonderful and unique activity as a way through which we can obtain recreation/socialization while seeking to positively and directly impact underwater life and environments, and find out how these interact with, and impact upon, our land and air environments, through continual marine fauna and flora education.