California has long been known as a surfing state, however, now that designation has become official. Gov. Jerry Brown has just signed a bill into law today making surfing the state sport after the Assembly passed a measure with the proposal earlier this month.
Several states have official sports, including Alaska, which has dog-mushing, Minnesota, which has hockey, and Maryland, which has jousting.
“We heard some healthy floor debate from some of the skateboarder, baseball fans, basketball fans, others,” said the bill’s author, Asm. Al Muratsuchi (D-Manhattan Beach). “But I think surfing really stands apart not only for being an iconic part of California culture but also for the environmental message of respecting and protecting our ocean and our environment.”
According to Muratsuchi, surfing generates more than $6 billion for the state’s economy each year.
The bill’s co-author, Ian Calderon, is a former SoCal surfer who worked at Hurley in retail marketing before running for office. He’s been Majority Leader of the California State Assembly since 2016. “We wanted to designate surfing as the state sport because of its economic and cultural impact on the state of California. Surfing has been such a big part of his life and the culture of California, and we felt that it needed to be properly recognized,” he said.
The bill was widely supported after numerous debates last month among senators about which district could lay claim to the sport.
“Santa Cruz, sometimes referred to as the surfing capital of the world,” said Sen. Bill Monning (D-Santa Cruz) to his colleagues' disapproval. “You may have the best beach, the best surfing spot, but the best competition of all is the Mavericks, in Half Moon Bay,” answered Sen. Jerry Hill (D-Half Moon Bay).
“You don’t need a beach to catch a great wave,” added Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford).
In recent years, California has claimed several official state symbols, such as the official state amphibian, the California red-legged frog, the official state dinosaur, Augustynolophus morrisi, the official state fabric, denim, and the official state nuts, the almond, walnut, pistachio, and pecan.
California, however, has been beaten by Hawaii, which claimed surfing as its state sport in 1998. A San Francisco Chronicle writer disagreed with the designation in California, stating that the state’s true sport is skateboarding.
Former skateboarder and surfer, Stacy Peralta, told the Chronicle: “The great irony of this is that there’s no other sport that represents the spirit of California as well as this one. If you think about the California ethos — going it alone, making it happen yourself — that’s what skateboarding is all about.” Interestingly, though, he could be talking about surfing as well.