Sport most emblematic of each state?

After reading about the Iowa Hawkeyes’ recent Grapple on the Gridiron I thought it was awesome but pretty much could only happen like that in Iowa.

So I got to thinking…which sport is most emblematic of each of the US states?

I don’t mean “most popular” in each state, otherwise it would be a coast-to-coast map that said “football”. I mean the sport that sticks out as being unusually popular in that state.

All I know is my little corner of the country (Ohio) and my favorite niche sports (track and field, road running). Here’s my start to the list…

Iowa – wrestling (apparently it’s like religion there but more important)
Oregon – track & field (annually hosts the NCAA Championships and virtually always hosts the Olympic Trials)
Massachusetts – road running (they treat the Boston Marathon like no one else treats their big race)
Georgia – golf (The Masters)
Ohio – pro football
Texas – HS football

About those last two…I don’t know if levels of football are different enough to warran. t a distinction, but the sport is so all-encompassing that it probably needs to be split up. Ohio claims the pros since we basically invented it and millions of us still support that dumpster fire called the Cleveland Browns.

So what do the Teeming Millions say? Where are the hotbeds of rugby, hockey, or lawn darts?

Minnesota - ice fishing.
Wisconsin - drinking beer.
Washington DC - mud wrestling.


The official state sport of Maryland is jousting, for what it’s worth. Not that I’ve ever come across any pick-up jousting matches (which would be amazing, but alas…).

I’d argue that California claims baseball.

Granted, California is a very large state and can handle a large number of teams of any sport. But when you start breaking down attendance by sport, I think there’s a strong argument. Breaking it down by the major sports, we get the following:

[li]NFL - three teams in the state, ranked 13th, 22nd and 30th out of 32 total teams for attendance in 2014-2015.[/li][li]NHL - three teams in the state, ranked 11th, 15th and 20th out of 32 total teams[/li][li]NBA - four teams in the state, ranked 7th, 9th, 11th and 25th out of 32 teams[/li][li]MLB - five teams in the state, ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th, 17th and 27th out of 30 teams[/li][/ul]

So even though baseball is heavily skewed to the eastern side of the country, generally, California has three teams in the top five for attendance, all three pulling in over 3 million fans per season, with a fourth team in the middle of the road compared to the rest of the league. And the poor A’s — even though they are in the shadow of the Giants in almost every way AND they play in the worst shithole in professional sports — still manage to draw almost 2 million fans per season.

The fact that the state has such a glut of teams in a sport that has by far the longest season in professional sports suggests to me that Californians really and truly love their baseball.

In 49 other states, basketball is just a sport.

But this is INDIANA.

Specifically, I’d say Indiana’s sport is high school basketball.

Fun trivia question; what is the most-attended professional sports team in the entire history of the world? That is, what pro sports team, over the entirety of its existence, has drawn the most paying customers? It’s the Dodgers.

I don’t care how many baseball teams we have, the sport that is most emblematic of California is surfing.

Minnesota has produced the most NHL players with New York and Michigan not far behind. They also claim the moniker “State of Hockey”.

With KU and the Naismith connection, Kansas would be college basketball.

As a native of South Dakota, I am torn between high school basketball and rodeo.
Rodeo fits with the image more(West River anyway) but more people play and watch small town high school basketball.

It’s actually Ring Jousting, not that I’ve ever seen that either. I would say that for Maryland though it would be swimming, at least in Montgomery county and the Baltimore area. There are a lot of world class swimmers that have come from the area, and I know of few kids that haven’t at least done one season of swimming.

I imagine Kentucky would be horse racing, and Indiana would be auto racing.

Iditarod for Alaska, skiing for Vermont, Utah and Colorado.

It’s been 20+ years since I’ve lived in Maryland, so this could have changed since then, but I remember lacrosse being a hugely popular sport, and it’s certainly what I would have said at the time represents the state. But again, maybe that’s changed since then.

Lacrosse is the official team sport of Maryland, and it’s still huge. Maryland schools dominated the sport for a long time, and are all still fixtures in the NCAA tournaments each year.

Interesting. I only lived until Ohio until I was ten, but I would have said that it’s enthusiasm for college football that differentiates that state from the rest. Granted, most of the time I lived there was in Columbus.

You are certainly right that my real home state of Oregon (or at least Eugene) is crazy about track in a way nobody else is.

About my current home of Illinois, not sure. Northwestern dominates women’s college lacrosse, but I have never personally met anyone who cared.

North Dakota – curling.

(Obviously, hockey is very popular there as well, but I think curling sticks out more for the disparity between ND and the rest of the country.)

No, no, it’s drinking beer WHILE WATCHING THE PACKERS! The other 349 days of the year are just for training.

Seriously, although I would hesitate to call it a sport, Wisconsinites get awfully excited about deer hunting.

And drinking beer while deer hunting.

This is the exact kind of answer I’m looking for and why I asked.

Another way to look at this is to pick the sport first and ask which state it belongs to. So is surfing more unusually popular in California or Hawaii?

Texas, football

Oklahoma, football

Florida, football

Alabama, football

Louisiana, fishing. And football

Colorado, skiing

I’d think much more so in Hawaii than in California. I don’t think it’s the first thing folks would think of when it comes to California, but perhaps it would be in Hawaii.