Members of the South Bay surf community gather in Hermosa Beach to introduce a Bill that would make surfing the official state sport of California.

The Inertia

This past Saturday, a flock of politicians sporting Hawaiian shirts and Birdwell jackets gathered in the seminal little surf town of Hermosa Beach alongside its famous Tim Kelly statue. They were fenced by piles of surfboards with a crowd of people standing by, man of them sweating in their 4/3 fullsuits.

The occasion? State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon had called for a press conference about their co-authored AB 1782, which, if passed, will cement surfing as the state sport of California.

Muratsuchi and Calderon are avid surfers. Calderon was a strong competitor in the NSSA and Muratsuchi is frequently seen on South Bay beaches. Both have felt and witnessed the sport’s impact personally and are now working to bring recognition to the path California has paved for advancements and popularization of surfing. For the sake of surf speak, these dudes are stoked.

Currently, 12 states have adopted official sports (South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming all share rodeo, and Hawaii adopted outrigger canoeing as the State Team Sport in 1986; surfing becoming the State Individual Sport in 1998). When visualizing California, one likely doesn’t consider taking up dog-mushing on any given day (Alaska’s official sport). If there’s is going to be an official sport in the Golden State, it seems that surfing would be common sense.

Awash in the lineup to throw support was Hurley founder Bob Hurley, Spyder Surf founder Dennis Jarvis, Surfrider’s Craig Cadwallader, filmmaker Aaron Lieber, and an array of beach cities mayors, all speaking to surfing’s history here and its impact on both them and their communities (I was also mega-super-honored to be asked to throw a few cents into the mix). The messages were powerful and clear: in California, people really, REALLY like surfing.

Since its inception here by George Freeth, “The Man Who Walks on Water,” surfing has led to a coast-wide mobilization. It has dictated how we all work and play, been an innovator in fashion, and instilled in many of us a sense of exploration and wonder. The 1,100 miles of diverse California coast serve as a wave-riddled evocation for some serious liquid escape. Surf culture reveals itself in every nook and cranny of California beaches; there’s no escape.

I’d be guessing, but would strongly bet that never before has a press conference ended with, “Alright everybody, let’s go surfing!” We all took to the sea, celebrating this iconic moment. That was quite rad.

Bill Language:

AB 1782:
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Surfing is an iconic California sport, and is home to a number of world-famous surf breaks like Malibu, Trestles, Mavericks, Rincon, Steamer Lane, and Huntington, which are destinations for both domestic and international surfers.
(b) Every year, California surf breaks host numerous domestic and international surf events, including the International Surf Festival in the Cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance, the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, and Mavericks Big Wave Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay.
(c) California is home to the Surfers’ Hall of Fame, the International Surfing Museum, and the California Surf Museum.
(d) California’s coastline spans 1,100 miles and its beaches and coastal areas generate $1.15 trillion in economic activity annually.
SEC. 2.
 Section 424.7 is added to the Government Code, to read:
 Surfing is the official state sport.


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