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October 10, 2013

The United Sports of America: What should your state's official sport be?

(Continued)

Also considered: golf

Is this choice lame? Possibly. Is it defensible? Absolutely. Arizona's Cactus League hosts 15 major-league teams each February and March, drawing a record 1.7 million fans in 2013. Spring training baseball is an ingrained part of the state's culture, with ballclubs coming to train in the desert since 1929. (You can learn more by taking a walk on the Cactus League legacy trail.) Though Florida's Grapefruit League has an even longer history, it doesn't make sense to grant spring training baseball to the Sunshine State. To build a sensible map, we need a comprehensive strategy. Florida, everyone would surely acknowledge, could reasonably be granted any number of sports, while the Grand Canyon State is relatively sports-poor. Spring training baseball needs Arizona, and Arizona surely needs spring training baseball.

Arkansas

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: duck hunting

Also considered: duck calling, trout fishing, deer hunting, greyhound racing

How do you solve a problem like Arkansas? The flagship university's football and men's basketball teams are the state's most popular athletic institutions, but Razorback fandom doesn't rate nationally. Arkansas is one of the few states where greyhound racing is still legal, but Southland Park's slot machines are far more popular than its canine athletes. Sports Illustrated's 50th anniversary sports across America project — an invaluable resource for this whole enterprise — notes that Stuttgart, Ark., hosts "the world's most resounding duck calling contest." After many minutes of deliberations, I concluded with some regret that duck calling is not a sport. But duck hunting? Sure. If there's any doubt, consider the existence of Greenhead, "the Arkansas duck hunting magazine." The Natural State has its pick.

California

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: skateboarding

Also considered: water polo, beach volleyball, surfing, swimming

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