Action sport athletes get political

Shea Lopez implores the action sports community to vote the environment on November 6.

Tuesday, November 6 is election day in the United States. This year, action sports figures are getting vocal in getting out the vote. Protect Our Winters and the Surfrider Foundation, leading environmental groups based in boardsports, have released web videos featuring key athletes espousing the importance of voting in this year's election.

The athletes were asked to record the short PSA-style videos on their own and submit them to the two groups. Eleven athletes recorded videos, including surfers Nick Rozsa, Torey Meister, and Shea Lopez, as well as snowboarders Travis Rice and Gretchen Bleiler. The first was released on October 23 and they will run through election day.

The theme of the videos is voting for the environment, a subject that has taken a backseat in this election cycle to the economy, healthcare and foreign affairs.

"This is a critical election for the environment. It's just so important that everyone who can vote, takes a few minutes to do it. We spend the entire year fighting for key issues and this is our opportunity to be active participants to create the change we're seeking. And we know that having pro athletes deliver that message can be really impactful," says Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director for Protect Our Winters.

People influence pushing the younger demographic to get out and vote is nothing new. Twenty years ago, Eddie Vedder, Chris Rock, R.E.M. and Queen Latifah were doing public service announcements on TV. In 1996, Rock the Vote developed the first version of online voter registration, while Chuck D of Public Enemy led first timers to the polls. In 2000, Rock the Vote and MTV recorded phone messages by Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind and Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys, among others, that were sent to younger voters. 2004 saw and a huge movement by Russell Simmons. The 2008 presidental election of McCain vs. Obama, featured everyone from Harrison Ford and Will Smith to Scarlet Johansson, Orlando Bloom, and Cameron Diaz speak out about the importance of participating in the democratic process.


Shea Lopez, getting loose at home in Florida.

Florida's Shea Lopez, a former World Tour surfer-turned-pundit who is still celebrated for his surfing skills, became vocal after being deeply affected by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and has become more politically active in recent years. He emplores waveriders to show their love for surfing and the environment by voting.

"Over my lifetime, I have become increasingly more aware of the politics behind a number of issues adversely effecting the environment. With young children of my own now, I routinely flash back to a childhood spent playing in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This exposure early in life taught me of the many wonders to be found in nature all around me -- my favorite, feasting on fresh seafood nightly after days spent harvesting with friends," says Lopez.

"When the Deepwater Horizon blanketed the Northern Gulf with oil, and then clean up efforts threw millions of gallons of dispersants on top of the oil, causing the harmful mix to sink and blanket a previously healthy, live bottom, I cried. And then I woke up in the middle of the night crying again as I had become haunted by visions of the various marine life fighting for their lives covered in toxic sludge. Recently, after watching the presidential debates, I hardly noticed a mention of environmental issues that face all of us. That it is why this election it is more important than ever. For the future of our environment, we need to make our voice heard loud and clear through the power of our votes."

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