The United States loves sports. The most popular sport is American football, followed by baseball, basketball and ice hockey. These sports are commonly known around the country, but what is not as commonly known is the specific sports of the states.
Every single one of the 50 states has its own flag, symbols, state flower or state bird, but what not everyone knows is that some of them have their own state sport.
The exact sport of each state is sometimes vague, and not every state has an official sport. These sports are specific to each state’s traditions and history; some make sense and some make you scratch your head.
Many of the states have commonly known sports, such as basketball, football and tennis as their official state sports. I would like to touch on the states that have uncommon sports, for a sport can be anything that is plausibly a sport.
Let’s start with Alaska. The official state sport of Alaska is dog mushing, as declared in 1972.
This may not seem like a surprise, as Alaskans have used dogs to pull sleds for centuries, and a hero of Alaska is Balto, the sled dog. Still, this is not a common sport, and is specific to Alaska and its history.
Colorado has another unique sport, pack burro racing. This is labeled as Colorado’s “summer heritage sport,” and it was made official in 2012.
The history of this event is the story of two gold miners, who after both finding gold in the same location, raced each other back to town to stake their claim. This racing is the first of its kind in the world and thousands of visitors come to witness the pack burros race each year.
Maryland might have the coolest sport of the states, as they declared jousting their official state sport in 1962.
Of course, the sport has evolved, so that the object is no longer to knock their opponent off their horse, but to “spear” rings as they ride through an obstacle course. It is a family sport, so that the skills are frequently passed on generation to generation.
New Mexico inhabitants have been pushing for hot air ballooning to become the new state sport. The hot air balloon is the state’s official aircraft, and it is home to the world’s largest hot air balloon festival.
Hawaii’s state sport is not a surprise. Surfing was declared Hawaii’s official sport in 1998, as surfing is a big part of the state’s history and a staple of the Hawaiin culture.
North Carolina’s official state sport is stock car racing, declared in 2011. It is the home of the stock car racing NASCAR Hall of Fame and the NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway, located in Concord, North Carolina, hosts three stock car races annually in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, drawing more than 1 million visitors annually. It is no shock that this state has it as their official sport.
There is a rule that says that no two states can have the same sport, but they can be atomized. There are three states that have “rodeo” as their state sports. They are South Dakota, Wyoming and, to no surprise, Texas. Texas was the first to declare rodeo as their official state sport in 1997, and South Dakota and Wyoming followed suit in 2003.
Wyoming can boast of hosting the world’s largest outdoor rodeo since 1897, South Dakota can boast of hosting multiple rodeos and Texas can boast of … being Texas.
All official state sports are honored if possible and have the ability to bring residents of a state together, unlike a state flower can. They unify and celebrate each state. What is your state sport?