California — which, for all intents and purposes, is a separate nation-state, like Texas or the NCAA — is in the process of declaring surfing its official state sport.
These are heady times for surfing — it will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo — but as a quarter-century California resident, at this very moment I am perched on the Exit 49B southbound ramp of the 405, just a scant 5.9 miles from the Pacific Ocean, to shout out, “If you want to hang ten, do it on your own time and not on the state dime!”
I must align with Visalia state Assemblyman Devon Mathis, who voted against the bill, saying, “I’ve got to stand in opposition as a proud inland skateboarder. The true heritage of our state is skateboarding.”
Correction: The true heritage of our state is the nail salon/minimart/Thai carryout/laundromat strip mall.
But, indeed, skateboarding originated in California, and far more Californians skateboard than surf.
(Full disclosure: I neither surf nor skateboard; I slouch. I wouldn’t even video-game surf.)
Skateboarding is more geographically accessible than surfing, more economically accessible and more logistically accessible.
You ever try to take a surfboard onto a city bus?
Sure, California hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame is in Huntington Beach and the state has 1,100 miles of coastline.
It also has 394,000 miles of roadway, so why isn’t NASCAR the official state sport?
Besides, for all of California’s surfing credentials, Hawaii is the real deal. Surfing is already the official state sport there, and with good reason — Hawaiians were surfing before the Beach Boys rode their first wave.
Frankly, California has had a spotty record designating anything its “official state [fillintheblank].”
The state freshwater fish is the golden trout. Really? The yellow perch is more personable.
The state tree, predictably, is the redwood. Really? I would’ve gone with the 3-wood.
The state animal is the grizzly bear. Really? The red fox is livelier — and funnier.
(My favorite red fox observation: “Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.”)
Incidentally, we invented the wet suit; well, a Cal-Berkeley physicist by the name of Hugh Bradner came up with it in 1952. How come the wet suit isn’t the official state insulator?
By the way, are you folks familiar with “The Endless Summer”?
I used to co-host “Reel Classics,” ESPN Classic’s weekly sports-movie presentation, with fabulously funny comedian Jeff Cesario. Just when Jeff and I thought we ran out of sports films, we discovered “The Endless Summer,” a 1966 documentary on surfing.
Who wants to sit and watch 90 straight minutes of surfing? I mean, I guess it beats watching 90 straight minutes of Rob Schneider in “Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo,” but, man oh man, freebasing Orville Redenbacher and Jack Daniel’s couldn’t save this baby for me.
(In fairness, I should note that “The Endless Summer” was critically acclaimed. Naturally, there was a sequel, “The Endless Summer II,” in 1994. And, naturally, it felt twice as long and half as good.)
In conclusion — and I say “in conclusion” because this appears to be the end of the column — frankly, surfing is not even a sport.
And, heck, if it is, then poker should be California’s official state sport.
Ask The Slouch
Q. You have been paying contributors to this column at the rate of $1.25 per submission since at least Dec. 8, 2003. $1.25 in 2003 dollars adjusts to $2.04 in 2018 dollars, yet Ask The Slouch continues to compensate writing partners at the 2003 rate. I am willing to split the difference and accept $1.645 as payment in full if we can dispense with the question mark. (Larry Berg; Olympia, Wash.)
A. Shirley, please ban this man from future column access ASAP.
Q. With her extra free time, should Roseanne Barr hire herself out to sing the national anthem at sporting events? (Ned Corrigan; Vienna, Va.)
A. Actually, the last time Roseanne sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” — at a 1990 Reds-Padres game in San Diego — she brought the entire crowd to its knees.
Q. Cut through all the rhetoric for us — what will be the No. 1 ripple effect of legalized sports betting in America? (Brian Hudson; Phoenix)
A. Church bingo will take a hit.
Q. When you first wake up in the morning, do you stare into the mirror and say, “I’m going to be more wrong today than I was yesterday?” (J. Sanders; San Antonio)
A. I don’t have a mirror.
Q. Should LeBron James win an Emmy for his leading male role in the dramatic TV miniseries, “The NBA Finals”? (Walt De Bell; Troy, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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