Alaska has dog-mushing. Delaware has bicycling. Maryland: jousting and lacrosse. Colarado: something called pack burro racing. And if two California politicians have their way, The Golden State will count surfing as its official state sport.
Earlier this month, California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Assembly majority leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), submitted AB 1782 to make surfing the official sport of their state. The bill’s co-sponsors, who are surfers themselves, claim the sport not only encapsulates the spirit of California, but also generates over $6 billion in annual retail sales.
In a press release, the politicians called surfing “an iconic California sport that brings in significant economic activity to the state each year” and cited the state’s hosting of “several surfing museums, including the Surfers’ Hall of Fame,” to help make the case for their bill.
“Nothing represents the California Dream better than surfing — riding the waves and living in harmony with the beautiful beaches and ocean of our Golden State,” Muratsuchi said.
“Growing up surfing not only had a significant impact on who I am as a person, but also taught me at a young age to appreciate and cherish our beautiful coastline that we are so fortunate to have here in California,” Calderon added.
The introduction of AB 1782 (and this whole state sport thing) left us with many questions:
-What does such a designation mean for a state’s economy?
-At approximately what RPM is Miki Dora currently rolling over in his grave?
-What is pack burro racing?
-Really, Maryland? Jousting?
-What should Florida’s official state sport be?
Florida does not, yet, have an official state sport (some say football, but that information is not included in the official list of official state sports), and there are many very appropriate choices. Golf comes to mind — as the Sunshine State plays host to the PGA headquarters, the most golf courses of any state (more than 1,200), and according to a 2013 study, the sport is responsible for an estimated 8.2 billion dollar economic impact and employs 132,000 people across the state.
Being that our long, zoomorphic turtlehead of a state is surrounded and intersected by salt water and dotted with fresh water lakes, fishing is also worthy of consideration — as are other numerous aquatic-based activities (How about kayaking? Jet-skiing? Maybe we throw a bone to our unfortunate, wave-starved Gulf Coast allies and name skim-boarding our official state sport?).
But Florida is sexy, no? What with our gorgeous, warm weather, exotic, (mostly) white sand beaches and lack of state income tax (economic policy, so hot right now). And we need an official state sport with corresponding sex appeal, which neither golf nor fishing have that certain je ne sais quoi (and certainly skim-boarding does not).
Surfing, meanwhile, is the sexiest sport of all. Young, svelte, bronzed, half-naked men and women playing in the warm Atlantic Ocean — there’s nothing more appealing. But there are many, more rational reasons to make surfing our official state sport. Florida is home to the East Coast’s unofficial “Surf City” (Cocoa Beach). We’ve a rich surf history dating back at least five-decades that sparkles with eclectic and talented surfing characters from pioneers like Jack “Murf the Surf” Murphy and Dick Catri to rivals Gary Propper and Claude Codgen to Matt Kechele to four-time Women’s World Champion Frieda Zamba, four-time Women’s World Champion Lisa Anderson and 11-time Men’s World Champion and GOAT Kelly Slater. We’ve got the perennially fun-though-less-than-photogenic Typhoon Lagoon wave pool in Orlando, and Slater’s wave is on its way to Palm Beach in 2019.
Just as it’s hard to calculate the net benefit, say, Colorado has enjoyed since establishing pack burro racing as its official state sport, it remains to be seen what such a designation for surfing would mean for the state of Florida. Of course, Hawaii’s official state sport is already surfing, and California may very well beat us to the punch.
But what say you, Void faithful? Should surfing be the sport of the Sunshine State? Shall we make it known that we are home to “Surf City,” wave pools and Kelly Slater? Should we be sexy? Or should we let the whackers of little white balls in goofy pants be our image to the world?