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October 12, 2013

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

(Continued)

Ohio

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: cornhole

Also considered: soap box derby, high school football

A controversial selection but one that's backed by unimpeachable logic. Ohio has one of the nation's finest high school football traditions, and everyone should please let me know as soon as that tradition is highlighted in a hit book, movie, and TV show in which everyone is always saying "Ohio forever." Cornhole, by contrast, is ascendant. The beanbag-tossing game, which some believe arced into existence in Cincinnati, has softly descended into bars, frat houses, picnic areas, tailgates, and backyards nationwide. The Ohio-based American Cornhole Organization holds an annual world championship, which drew players from around the country to the greater Cincinnati area this July. In 10 years, I'd guess, cornhole will be a multibillion dollar industry, and Ohio's beanbag-based economy will lead an American industrial resurgence.

Oklahoma

Official state sport(s): none

Our choice: gymnastics

Also considered: noodling, wrestling

Noodling_also known as hillbilly handfishing, cat-daddling, tickling_is a thing that some Oklahomans do. To learn more about the people who like to grab enormous fish with their bare hands, check out the documentary Okie Noodling. But there's more to the Sooner State than catfisting. (That's another, grosser name for noodling. Other names for the sport include grabbling, hogging . . .) Oklahoma also happens to be, as Sports Illustrated has pointed out, a gymnastics stronghold. The University of Oklahoma men's team has won eight national titles, and two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller grew up and trained in Edmond. The magazine International Gymnast is also published here, and its offices are located on a street named after 1984 gold medalist Bart Conner. Conner has a gymnastics academy in Norman, where he lives with his wife Nadia Comaneci, the first woman to score a perfect 10 in the Olympics. The importation of Romania's best vaults gymnastics to the top. Sorry, catfisting.

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