Surfing Just Became The Official Sport Of California
Surfing, California’s favorite pastime, just became the official sport of the Golden State.
It was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday, and both surfers and politicians have been celebrating by doing exactly what you would expect - spending time out on the water.
“I am stoked that surfing is now California’s official sport,” said Al Muratsuchi, state Assemblyman of Torrance, California, a surfer himself.
We’re stoked too, Al. Surfing has always been the unofficial sport of California since it made it's way to the Golden State from across the Pacific. Throughout the 20th century, the identity and perception of California has been massively shaped by surf culture. The sport and state have a long history together, beaten out only by Hawaii where surfing was born (and has been the official sport since 1998).
But can both states claim surfing as their own? According to surfers, the real experts on the matter, the answer is along the lines of “Yeah dude, why not?” Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, but California’s contribution to the sport - technologically and culturally - is a huge part of what modern surfing is today.
Famous spots along the California coast like Monterey, Manhattan, Malibu, and Huntington - beyond being recognizable in the Beach Boys hugely famous song Surfin’ USA - are credited as the origin of modern surfing. It was at these famous beaches the sport received some seriously gnarly upgrades: boards were shaped to become lighter, more hydrodynamic, easier to use, and eventually equipped with fins.
Of course, California’s always been proud of it’s entrepreneurship, so it seems appropriate for Californians to embrace a sport they were a big part of improving as their own.
And the fun doesn't stop at fins. Recently, advancements in surfing have largely involved bringing the sport to places it’s never been before, even *gasp* outside of the ocean. Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch is the latest and greatest of this ocean-less wave technology, allowing beautifully sculpted waves to be built outside a large body of water. That being said, it’s perhaps fitting (although slightly ironic) that the surf ranch, the first artificial surf spot of this scale, is in California, not even 3 hours from the coast.
But that’s why it’s our official sport, right? California has and will always been enamored with surfing, and that's just the way we like it.
Leo Braudy, a cultural historian at the University of Southern California, sums up this relationship between state and sport well: "It's part of the California mythology. The idea of someone becoming Californianized, and if you become Californianized then surfing is part of the deal."
I bet your Assemblyman doesn't use the word 'stoked'
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