Article

Defending Longboard Champ Boycotts World Title Events

ASP Set to Debut First-Ever Sanctioned Surf Contest in China Amid Controversy

| posted on March 03, 2011

Women's World Longboarding Champion Cori Schumacher refuses to compete in Chinese waters. Photo: Cazenave

Competitive professional surfing is set to hit a milestone later this year when the ASP holds its first official event on China’s Hainan Island in late October. According to the ASP, the Women’s Longboard Tour will decide a world champion between October 26 – 30 during the first-ever ASP sanctioned contest in the Middle Kingdom. Although many will see the announcement as a positive move for surfing, for Cori Schumacher, last year’s Women’s Longboard Tour winner, the prospect of competing in China has proven to be too much to stomach for the Californian as she has opted to boycott the event.

“I have deep political and personal reservations with being a part of any sort of benefit to a country that actively engages in human rights violations,” Schumacher said.

The current schedule for the Women’s Longboard Tour includes two stops, one in France and the other in China. Schumacher has stated that she will not surf in either event.

In a statement to SURFER regarding Schumacher’s decision to boycott the contest, the ASP said that “[We] would like to see Cori compete in the event as the defending ASP Women’s World Longboard Champion, but we respect her personal decision in choosing to withdraw from the contest.” They went on to add that “The action sports scene is growing in China and a women’s World Longboard Tour event is a great opportunity integrate surfing into the world of Chinese action sports.”

This is not the first time a professional surfer has opted to withdraw from a competition due to political reservations. In 1985, Martin Potter, Tom Carroll, and Tom Curren all refused to compete in South Africa citing their opposition to the apartheid system.

When it was announced that China would host the 2008 Olympics, there existed some debate over boycotting the games, but ultimately no country went on to support the boycott.

In contrast to Schumacher’s opposition, Mary Osborne, a one-time professional surfer who made headlines in September of last year when she and others surfed the Qiantang tidal bore in China, is optimistic about making inroads into the country and views the event as an opportunity to be a positive ambassador for the sport.

“I had one of the best experiences I have ever had [surfing the tidal bore] at an event. It was a bigger event than any women’s surf contest here in California I have been involved with. Overall, it is a great place with lots of potential,” said Osborne. “We were treated with the highest respect from the organizers, government officials, press, and spectators. It was one experience I will never forget in my career as a professional surfer. I honestly can’t wait to go back and hope I get invited this upcoming year…If China is offering to host an event, we should be honored and take advantage of this opportunity.”

  • Brett

    is she a fool?!?! does she really think that our very own United States does not violate human rights!?!?! get a grip woman, i understand being principled but seriously.

    • Ameilia

      China’s human rights violations are deplorable. Comparing China to the USA is rediculous. Cori should be commended for her courage. Why would the ASP not see the damage they are causing?

  • A-Train

    Bravo Cori Schumacher. I am a fan of your actions.

  • Brett needs to read history

    Brett-
    The United States has never killed tens of millions of it’s own people or used anti-aircraft guns against them because they we’re peacefully protesting for democracy.

    Ruminate on that and the learn about Tibet.

  • zombie*surf

    good to stand up for your beliefs, but at what cost? professional women’s longboarding isn’t on anyone’s radar, but i will proudly profess my crush on kassia meador. big props for the Schumacher part of this. how could this not be approached as a positive inroad to build upon?

  • Jeremy Scathes

    Yeah, staying home and refusing to go there makes a much bigger impact than showing up and introducing surfing to the Chinese. You’re an incredible role model Cori. What a ridiculous thing to be opposed to. No wonder no one gives two shits about longboarding.

    • Lngbrdr

      Y’r a dick head lad!

  • Mikey G

    So…every other sport, including the Olympics, is allowed to have events in China, but not surfing? NBA, PGA, MLB, FIFA, Olympics, etc., but not surfing. And people wonder why surfing goes nowhere.

  • Tanner Henderson

    Cori Schumacher is the same one who posted this on her facebook page and ranted and raved against the evils of the surf industry alongside her anti-corporate sentiments. She championed the concept that surfing is a spiritual exercise and we’re all part of a tribe…Ummm…why are you competing then? It certainly isn’t because you’re taking a stand, otherwise you would go to China and be a role model. It’s just a bizarre paradox you’ve created.

  • Lucy Chevas

    Just seems a bit hypocritical that she bars China and doesn’t blink about living in the US or traveling to other countries where human rights violations are rampant as well. Can’t imagine she’s speaking for everyone either.

  • Mary O

    I’ve been longboarding my whole life and it seems silly to boycott an event in China on these grounds. Perhaps the Chinese would benefit from being introduced to surfing. Boycotting and hiding at home seems cowardly and close-minded. You cannot effect positive change from inside your own bubble.

  • http://snp5000.com snp5k

    bravo Cori,using your liberties to help those without such liberties.hopefully,my comment wont be logged by the 30000+chinese ‘officials’ spying on free speech and forced into re-education upon entry to china.or burma,for that matter,too.
    BTW,has anyone seen or heard from Tank man lately?

  • charliep

    congratulations to a smart pro surfer!

    these pro surfer morons need to start questioning there ricky bobby style promotion of exploited chinese labor and shitty sports drinks

    thanks cori schumacher

    you are my favorite pro surfer and the only one with any backbone

    i hope others soon follow

  • Maggie

    Cori Schumacher does NOT speak for all longboarders here. I’m not a fan of Chinese policies nor their historical actions. However, if we’re going to effect positive change, we have to be willing to go to the source and be good influences and role models. Cori is free to her opinions, but does not speak for me.

  • Mateo

    Ignorance of Human Rights violations is a global atrocity, and exemplifies the “dumbing-up” of American citizens like Jeremy Scathes. Jeremy
    Mark Twain once said that, “It is far better to keep your mouth shut, and seem a fool, than it is to open it, and remove all doubt.
    Never underestimate the will of a single human being.
    In response to Mary O: Integrity has been lost on far too many people these days, much to the detriment of civilization. Mary O you are in fact closed minded. For it is an informed Cori Scumacher, who is the open minded person courageously harnessing her human right to free speech to defend those whose speech has never been free, and never will. Cowardly are those that, much like yourself, seek to “profit” by validating the largest, most oppressive and tortuous totalitarian government on earth.

  • jeff

    think surfing with brazilians is bad…..wait till the chinese start surfing…just what we need..several billion more people in the water…should be great

  • Cori S

    My choice not to participate is a choice not to engage in a Potemkin Village, of sorts, where there is this beautiful façade where the tourists are treated like queens and kings, all the while, horrors take place beneath the surface.

    I have worked with humanitarian organizations, participated in civil rights marches and organizations in my hometown, been an activist with women’s rights issues, opposed my own government’s choices from 2001 forward and tried to bring some of what is going on in my “own backyard” to a greater audience. The problem I have found is that unless you have a platform, and a salient issue, you are rarely heard. Even given this small platform here, the only quote taken from me is vague and did not give one specific issues I brought up with regard to China.

    To name a few…

    China’s institutionalized “One Child Policy”, a policy sanctioned by the Chinese government that is implicated in female gendercide, sexual slavery, forced sterilization and forced abortions. (http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=congressional); Child labour issues; China’s civil liberties issues, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of movement…; China’s massive issues as a world polluter as well as the brutal punishment of those citizens who raise concerns about current and past policies as with the ‘barefoot lawyer” and others within China.

    none of these are “silly” reasons, in my mind, for an action of dissent.

    After consideration, I came to the decision that the strongest voice I had was to boycott. I understand that many will disagree with this choice, but I am hoping it will get a dialogue going. Why China? We all do the best we can, given what we know. I am not saying I am perfect, but I don’t feel that, for me, I can be an ambassador in this situation.

  • dennis

    Mr. “Brett needs to read a history book” also needs some history himself. Sure the United States hasn’t “used anti aircraft guns on their own people” but our country has also engaged in many human rights violations itself, mainly slavery, the internment of thousands of Japanese American citizens, and the rape of Native American homelands. I’m not trying to defend China’s actions, but I don’t think Schumacher has the right to pass judgment. People just need to take politics out of sports, especially something as pure as surfing. And the fact she is ignoring all the other wonderful things China offers makes her a little bit ignorant.

  • Cori S

    As businesses, I understand the ASP and the surf industry, are just as much in peril of economic disruption as the rest of us. We are all struggling to make our bills, pay our rent and feed our families. But if it is at the cost of someone else’s human rights, I would rather go without.

    Ultimately, I, as a consumer, must address the ASP and those surf companies who engage economically with China, the way I would any other business:

    “You are trying to produce a product in such a way that you will make your business profitable while bringing your consumers affordable pleasure. In hard times, you will make hard business choices. You will try to find creative solutions to real issues of cost and production. But if, as with any business, I, as a conscientious consumer, do not align with your business practices, I will not buy what you sell. Regardless of how you package it, I know the true cost of what you are advertising.”

    I’m not buying it.

  • nick

    perhaps the chinese would benifit from surfing? if i had to guess the last thing on a impoverished child’s mind who drinks from a dirty stream of water is how she could benifit from surfing. What if cori had never voiced her opinions? it would have never been brought to the eyes of other competitors, it is now a part of this entire operation. Kudos Cori, Everyone has their own reasons for competing. Boycotting is not hiding if anything she is in the public eye especially now, not in a bubble like you, ignoring these issues is worse but ignorance is bliss or so i hear

  • Fabri

    oh yeah jeff… so many chinese will afford traveling to your stupid local ass. how old are you, 12? go and have a look there, check out how they live and then get you fat ass back to the waves and enjoy your morning burger meanwhile they are starving.

    fuck, once surfing was making men better… now it doesn’t anymore apparently

    • jeff

      Fabri…..will you do us a favor….bring all the Brazos monkeys home….and take their passports…so we dont have to deal you anymore…haha….the surfing world doesnt have enough room for another brazil like tribe…..how do you know so much about china and how they live?…ever been there?..surfing makes me better….but definately not you and all the brazo kooks in the worlds….stay in brazil…and we will send all chinese surfers to your country kook!!!….meanwhile i will be eating a cheeseburger

  • Terrence the Destroyer

    Not that I would ever spend my time watching a women’s longboard event, but just in terms of principle, it seems a bit unfair to lash out against the ASP for running an event in China when virtually every other sport in the world already does. As Mikey G stated above, PGA, MLB, NBA, Nascar, FIFA, the Olympics, etc. already run events there. All we ever hear from surfers is how they bitch about the sport not being big enough, or enough prize money, or ra ra ra, but then the ASP (who, for the record, I have other issues with) try to expand into China, and this hypocrite launches a self-serving PR battle against it.

  • Devon T

    I guess I can get on board with boycotting the event, but then the event happens and then what? What is Cori’s plan for making a positive change? Staying a home doesn’t seem like it will accomplish anything at all.

  • ray

    why does anyone care about women’s longboarding?
    its one of the lowest forms of surfing there is.
    what is this?
    gidgitte leave los angeles for ninja training?
    the term womens’ … you are immediately bored
    and then the term longboarding and you’re like uh….yeah…..yawwn.

  • Jason B.

    Some in the U.S. have committed horrible actions in the past Dennis. The problem is that this could be said of any group of people when time is not considered. Cori is taking a stand on actions which are occurring NOW and I commend her for it.

  • Haley Alexander

    The biggest problem with affecting any sort of change – whether domestically or internationally – is that people lack conviction.

    They have always lacked conviction. Historically, the masses have worked very hard to keep oppressed people down…but when change IS affected, everyone wants to be on the “right side” of history.

    Also the rhetoric of “there are problems in the U.S. Who are you to judge?” is absolutely absurd and used as a way of discrediting someone’s sincere political or ethical stances. Acknowledging gross human rights violations in another country does not mean that Cori is giving the U.S. a free pass. She is able to acknowledge those violations and it does not belittle her involvement or awareness of U.S. issues.

    This is nothing more than a PR move by the Chinese Government in an attempt to assuage the guilt of US from participating in all their parlor games. The fact that someone is standing up to it and starting a dialog does far more than going over there and taking pictures with a bunch of abused and oppressed Chinese citizens smiling on surfboards.

    Cori, you should not feel the need to defend your choice against people who are using straw men arguments or are attempting to discredit you for having an ethical baseline.

  • Mateo

    All of the PGA, MLB, NBA, Nascar, FIFA, sports merchandising is made in China. In 1980 98% of the apparel sold in the United States was manufactured in the United States, today less than 5%. The reason you can buy a dress shirt for $4.99 at Walmart to look nice when your two cousins tie the knot, is exploitive child labor, in some cases by force.
    To suggest that profiteering from such abuses is somehow justified simply because there are so many doing it anyway, is just as asinine, as it is ignorant.
    How many surf industry jobs have been lost to China?

  • Joam

    lemme guess shoemaker or whatever is from Cardiff, where everyone thinks they’re “alternative”.

  • Anonymous

    Finally someone decided to support woman’s long-boarding, we should be grateful!!! Maybe China doesn’t have the best political background, but it isn’t going to hurt to travel there and do something that we love. I know if i won the world title, i would go to the end of the earth to defend it!!!

  • dude

    Cori Schumacher you are a hypocrite. You can now kiss all of your sponsors goodbye. That’s OK, i’m sure you have a trust-fund to get you to France and other perfectly Governed countries…

  • Whamo

    The United States has become an evil empire, killing of hundreds of thousands of people to control the oil market, and this chick boycotts China for violations of human rights?

    • haha

      whamo….you should change your name to whacko….everything you touch , own and or drive comes to you from some form of petroleum….including your ky jelly…so park your honda passport….put your longboard down , and try to live without oil for one hour

  • Human

    Present time 2011: Freedom of speech of one person brings dialogue in the Surfing world. Ignorance is not bliss and things get better in time by starting a sometimes difficult dialogue & stance. Mary O has a PR career as a model.

    Present Problem: ASP sold out to China. Why has America lost so many jobs? Everyones selling out, why stop now? Why didn’t the surfing Men get this huge opportunity? Who’s pockets would you be expanding as an Ambassador? Are there any waves in China? Why are their waters so polluted?Why work with the worst violators of Human Rights, child labor, Pollution & Freedom of Speech? Why not support an American/International company that has better Human Rights & Freedom of Speech?

    Solution: Start a dialogue. Vote with your dollar. ASP can give local companies a break with the fees they charge. Support American businesses that do not exploit. Start businesses with American vendors. Supply and demand local, humane, organic. Nobody is perfect, but every little thing helps. Be a conscientious shopper and/or business. Think outside the box and find better solutions. Have contests where there are actually waves. Try what my exploited indigenous family did & do, fair trade in times of need. Sorry you might have to sacrifice and wait for a few days for cheeseburgers here and there, but at least they will be made with real, organic grass fed beef fresh. Otherwise you can buy a 99¢ burger that taste like meat and may cause cancer in a few years.

    ASP could you live with less of a profit margin to save kids/people from being exploited?

    • back off girl

      “Human,” er, I mean Maria. You’re getting way off topic here. Burgers that cause cancer?

      BTW, Mary O is one of the most visible faces in women’s longboarding. She’s way more accomplished and well known than Cori. Cori has a rep as a whiner and hypocrite. Trying to belittle Mary is a funny way of “opening a dialogue.”

      Sound like somebody’s been eating too many organic peanut butter and jealous sandwiches.

  • Joe

    Cori-

    It seems your sponsors get their products made in China, I know your surfboard sponsor gets all their fins made there. Just seems kind of weird when you are saying you won’t buy anything from China, but I guess it’s ok to get stuff for free from those who sponsor you.

  • ray

    cori,
    please remove a fewnkey components from computer, home, and car.
    thanks for playing, hypocrite.

  • dennis

    China is the “largest, most oppressive and tortuous totalitarian government on earth.”??? Don’t you think you’re going a little too far there mateo. And jason I agree that there certainly are issues at hand but I think Cori would being making a larger difference by actually going there to affect positive change amongst the people rather than being all self righteous by staying home when the Chinese government really doesn’t care whether she competes or not.

    • Mateo

      Dennis,
      It’s amazing that in this day and age someone can make an ignorant comment, stand corrected and still stand by the ignorance of their statement. You must be related to Sarah Palin.

      Amnesty International has documented widespread human rights violations in China. An estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial, and millions are unable to access the legal system to seek redress for their grievances. Harassment, surveillance, house arrest, and imprisonment of human rights defenders are on the rise, and censorship of the Internet and other media has grown. Repression of minority groups, including Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongolians, and of Falun Gong practitioners and Christians who practice their religion outside state-sanctioned churches continues. While the recent reinstatement of Supreme People’s Court review of death penalty cases may result in lower numbers of executions, China remains the leading executioner in the world.

      Cori, you have succeeded; despite the limited disparaging remarks by some either out of ignorance or greed, you have accomplished the first task at hand. You’ve established a dialogue, the Surf community thanks you for enlisting your “Freedom of Speech” rights.

  • Cori S.

    I am fully willing to acknowledge that I have been a part of the problem, many of us have, but this does not preclude a capacity to call for dialogue around this issue, nor does it preclude a capacity to change myself. I have no sponsors other than the relationship I have with the board sponsor I have had since I was 10 years old. I work to travel… no trust fund either. This relationship and how their products are made are not being exempted from this conversation. Going to China with the liberal idea that one can enact change through individuals misunderstands the context of China and how surfing is being used as a “Face Job”, as it were, (http://www.cnn.com/2010/BUSINESS/06/29/china.rent.white.people/index.html) in my opinion, (with a different connotation because it’s not the employment of an individual, but rather the endorsement of an entire sport) to portray China as more “Western” without changing the policies that would authentically make it so. People in China who will experience surfing don’t have the ability to change their situation as do those in a democracy. The language of business speaks to the regime, which requires systemic change. A $6 billion industry has a respectable amount of leverage, my hope is that consumers will make choices that hold this industry accountable for where and how products are made. But first, consumers need to become aware of what they are actually buying and participating in.

    • Cori S.

      I should also mention before the sponsorship issue is turned into another distracting tangent, that I have no intention of engaging in any sponsorship-type relationships nor have I since 2001. I have also actively avoided photo shoots and filming endeavors. As Haley Alexander pointed out, these are straw man arguments that are distracting from the most important aspect of this dialogue.

      • O.K.

        I’m a little distracted by how you complain about contests but keep entering them. What about that Pipe contest? What about that contest in France that you were so actively boycotting before then ended up attending? Seem to be quite a lot of photos of you in jerseys from recently.

        I can’t figure out why you’re all over the place. Do you want women’s longboarding to progress and be taken seriously someday or not?

  • Cori S.

    “I have no intention of engaging in any sponsorship-type relationships nor have I since 2001.” Except for the boards already mentioned. This statement is meant to proactively denounce any attempt to call this some sort of PR stunt on my part to gain a sponsorship.
    “I have also actively avoided photo shoots and filming endeavors. ” (Within the last decade or so, for sponsors or potential sponsors, except for one small educational video on how to pick out a longboard in 2009)

  • scott

    Bottom Line is, those who stand up for their beliefs often strike fear and discomfort in those who are afraid to do so themselves. It is much easier to condemn someone for an act of conscious resistance than to take action. It seems as though there are many people on this site with integrity envy.

  • To High and Mighty Scott

    Scott, what makes me uncomfortable is people that believe American propaganda. “China is bad because they kill their own people. America is fine because we only kill lots of people from other countries. Oh, and a bunch of our people get killed doing that. But they don’t get killed by us directly so that’s okay.”

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  • http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/ WRWF

    Women’s Rights Without Frontiers issues the following statement:

    “To Ms. Schumacher: You are a woman of tremendous courage, conviction and backbone — a shining light not only to female athletes, but to all women who are struggling for basic human dignity, all over the world. Your decision to boycott the ASP 2011 World Tour comes at a price. Your sacrifice is a great inspiration to the women of China and has been publicized there widely. You embody the highest ideals of athleticism – not only outstanding achievement in your sport, but also a consummate moral vision that finds expression in courageous and self-sacrificing action. We salute you.

    “To the ASP: China’s One Child Policy is enforced through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. It is also a driving force behind gendercide, sexual slavery, and female suicide. It causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth and any other official policy in the history of the world. Why are you dignifying this brutality by holding your tournament in China? Read the Congressional Testimony of forced abortion victim Wujian and watch the four minute video, “Stop Forced Abortion in China!” Then do the right thing: move your tournament to the shores of a land whose waves are not awash in the blood of women.”