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October 10, 2013

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

(Continued)

Oregon

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: track and field

Also considered: pro soccer, pro basketball

Portland calls itself "Soccer City USA," and the Trail Blazers sold out every game from 1977 to 1995, the second-longest streak in major North American pro sports. But Oregon does not belong to MLS or the NBA. Steve Prefontaine was born here and ran at Hayward Field, far and away the best venue for track and field in the United States. The shaggy-haired hero helped popularize the running shoes made by Nike, the local footwear concern founded by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and a one-time Oregon runner named Phil Knight. More recently, ex-Duck Ashton Eaton was propelled by the Hayward crowd to set a decathlon world record. "This is a magical place," he said afterward. Nike is now trying to bottle that magic with its Oregon Project, a push to return the United States to distance running preeminence.

Pennsylvania

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: field hockey

Also considered: Little League baseball

An upset victory for a sport that nobody in America plays after high school. There are more high school field hockey players in the Keystone State than anywhere else, and 12 of the top 25 teams in the 2012 high school rankings were Pennsylvania schools. At the senior level — yes, there is a senior level — 14 of the 30 women on the U.S. national team hail from Pennsylvania. If you're a woman and you want to run all hunched over while carrying a stick, it's clear which state is right for you.

Rhode Island

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: sailing

Also considered: tennis

This adorable little state is the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which is odd considering that nobody in Rhode Island cares about tennis. People come here to sail, and Newport hosts a whole bunch of races if you're into that sort of thing. The Laser New England Masters sounds amazing. Actually, never mind — it's that other kind of Laser.

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