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Blue states are where the action is!

Sports are integral to the American experience. Baseball is famously “America’s pastime” and the Super Bowl is the biggest game in the world. Basketball, though invented by a Canadian, is a quintessentially American game that is rapidly expanding across the globe. And as much as Canadians will tell you that hockey defines our national identity, there are far more NHL teams in the United States than in Canada, and they’ve had much more success than Canadian teams over the last twenty years.

Many pundits divide America into Red and Blue states, but if there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s their love of sports. It crosses all boundaries: class, race, geography. Or does it? It’s interesting to take a look at the distribution of major league sports teams in the United States, and what it may mean for the country.

The “Big Four” sports are generally agreed upon to be Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Hockey (even though college football or basketball are arguably bigger draws than hockey). These are the biggest professional leagues in America. There are 113 major league teams in the United States divided between these four sports, an average of more than two teams per state. But would it surprise you to know that all of these 113 teams are located in just 25 states, plus the District of Columbia? It’s true, which means fully half the states have no major sports team whatsoever. The concentration of teams in larger markets is well-known, but the fact that there aren’t more outliers dotted around the country in smaller population centres means that many Americans don’t have a local team to root for, in any sport. As a proud Montanan baseball fan, which team do you support? The closest teams are in Seattle, Colorado, or Minnesota, not even in neighbouring states. Here are the 25 states that have no major league sports teams:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Maine
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Vermont
  5. Alaska
  6. Hawaii
  7. Connecticut
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Delaware
  10. Virginia
  11. West Virginia
  12. South Carolina
  13. Kentucky
  14. Alabama
  15. Mississippi
  16. Nebraska
  17. Iowa
  18. Arkansas
  19. Kansas
  20. North Dakota
  21. South Dakota
  22. Wyoming
  23. Montana
  24. Idaho
  25. Nevada

You might say that the divide between have and have-not states looks fair, being split 50/50, but look even further. Of the 113 major league teams, fully 48 of them are based in just five states: New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, and Texas. But here’s where it gets interesting from a political perspective: only 36 teams reside in states that vote predominantly Republican. And of the 25 states that have no teams whatsoever, 15 of them–or 60%–are Republican strongholds. Just 15 states hold 77 of the nation’s major teams… and those states vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

So what do Republicans have against sports in America? Why have they left it to the Democrats and their Blue states to dominate sports?Are they too busy shooting guns, stopping a woman’s right to choose, and having tea parties to enjoy well-executed double-plays, fast breaks, Hail Mary passes, and goals in the five-hole? Why have the Republicans fallen down in providing a local sports experience for their hard-working, family-values constituents?

WHY DO THE REPUBLICANS HATE SPORTS?

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As reported in the Globe and Mail, National Post, and Toronto Star, a Toronto Public School has banned balls–with the exception of Nerf balls–from school property after some unfortunate injuries to students and a parent. I don’t really have a comment, I just wanted to thank the newspapers and the Internet for providing me with so many opportunities to giggle inappropriately and immaturely. I haven’t laughed this much since last year’s infamous “Public Works promises to fill up every hole and find every crack” campaign, not to mention 2004’s “What does the city propose to do about our nuts?” kerfuffle.

Citing safety, Toronto school takes brave stand against balls.

Balls have been removed from the playground at the Earl Beatty Public School in Toronto.

After several “serious incidents” where people were “almost struck” by flying balls, and one person was tragically bonked on the head, a Toronto elementary school has cracked down.

Students rebel against Toronto schoolyard ban on balls.

“It was total disregard for rules and total disrespect,” said Principal Alicia Fernandez, adding that parents, teachers and students have all been struck by rogue balls.

“We have very limited space in the playground, so it’s hard to monitor those balls as they’re flying around,” Ms. Fernandez said.

“I think they need these balls because they have a small schoolyard and that if they’re not going be able to play [with them] they might be picking up rocks, or the pinecones,” said Ms. White. “They need some kind of bouncy ball. Every kid does.”

Students at Earl Beatty Public School revolt: ‘We want our balls back.’

“We want our balls back! We want our balls back!” they chanted as supervisors in fluorescent vests shooed them away from the edge of the property and reporters gathered on the other side the fence.

“They’re indoor balls,” said 13-year-old Annabelle Grant, a Grade 8 student. “If we don’t have (real) balls we won’t be as active.”

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