The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 10, 2013

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

(Continued)

Maine

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: biathlon

Also considered: college hockey, snowmobiling, kayaking

Maine would love to get college hockey, sure, but I'm going to go off the board here and honor a strange state initiative. As The New York Times noted in 2010, the nonprofit Maine Winter Sports Center is hoping to turn the state into a biathlon mecca. That's a weird thing to hope for, but cold weather makes you do weird things. Perhaps because there's not much competition to become America's cross-country-skiing-and-shooting hotbed, it seems to be working: Maine now hosts major international biathlon competitions and the majority of the 2010 Olympic team lived and trained in the state.

Maryland

Official state sport(s): lacrosse, jousting

Our choice: lacrosse

Also considered: jousting

An obvious choice made slightly more difficult by the fact that the Free State was the first in the nation to name an official sport, in 1962 — and it was jousting. (Lacrosse was named Maryland's official team sport in 2004.) Considering that the National Jousting Hall of Fame is in Virginia, it's only fair for the governors of those two states to joust for custody of jousting. In the meantime, Maryland can keep its other official sport. The Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum is in Baltimore, the NCAA championships are often held in the city's M&T Bank Stadium, and Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and Loyola University have won a combined 12 national titles since 1973.

Massachusetts

Official state sport(s): basketball

Our choice: marathon

Also considered: pro basketball, pro baseball

Massachusetts' official state sport is basketball, which makes some sense considering the game was invented here. The Boston Celtics are also pro basketball's greatest franchise, claiming the most championships in NBA history. James Naismith, though, was born in Canada and spent much of his life in Lawrence, Kan. — let's not give all of basketball to the Bay State just because some Canadian physical-education teacher happened to be at a YMCA in Springfield, Mass., when he hung up his peach baskets. And though the Celtics are a hot ticket, the Boston Red Sox are clearly a more significant cultural force: There is no Celtics Nation. With pro basketball and pro baseball canceling each other out, I choose to honor the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon. The Boston Marathon is New England's largest spectator sport, hosted the fastest marathon ever run, and has taken on even greater significance after 2013's terrorist attack. The marathon is our only choice.

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