SPORTS AND RECREATION IN SOUTH DAKOTA

Organized sports

Because of its low population, South Dakota does not host any major league professional sports franchises. The state does have a number of minor league teams, all of which play in either Sioux Falls or Rapid City. Sioux Falls is currently home to four teams: the Sioux Falls Canaries (baseball), the Sioux Falls Skyforce (basketball), the Sioux Falls Stampede (hockey), and the Sioux Falls Storm (arena football). The Canaries play at Sioux Falls Stadium, while the others play at the Sioux Falls Arena. Rapid City has a hockey team named the Rapid City Rush. The Rush recently began their inaugural season at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Universities in South Dakota host a variety of sports programs. For many years, South Dakota was one of the only states in the country without a NCAA Division I football or basketball team. However, several years ago SDSU decided to move their teams from Division II to Division I, a move that has since been followed by the University of South Dakota. Other universities in the state compete at the NCAA's Division II or III levels, or in the NAIA.

Famous South Dakota athletes include Billy Mills, Mike Miller, Mark Ellis, Becky Hammon, Brock Lesnar, and Adam Vinatieri. Mills is from the town of Pine Ridge and competed at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, becoming the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000 meter event. Mike Miller of Mitchell played at the University of Florida, leading them to the 2000 NCAA Championship game his sophomore year and won the 2001 NBA rookie of the year award. Mark Ellis of Rapid City played for the University of Florida and is currently a second baseman for the Oakland Athletics. Becky Hammon of Rapid City plays for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars. Lesner, of Webster, wrestled at the University of Minnesota and had a 106-5 career record; he is also the current heavy-weight champion in the UFC. Vinatieri is an NFL placekicker who grew up in Rapid City and attended SDSU.

Recreation
Fishing and hunting are both popular outdoor activities in South Dakota. Fishing contributes over $170 million to South Dakota's economy, and hunting contributes over $190 million. In 2007, over 275,000 hunting licences and 175,000 fishing licences were sold in the state; around half of the hunting licences and over two-thirds of the fishing licences were purchased by South Dakotans. Popular species of game include pheasants, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and turkeys, as well as waterfowl such as Canada geese, snow geese, and mallards. Targets of anglers include walleye in the eastern glacial lakes and Missouri River reservoirs, chinook salmon in Lake Oahe, and trout in the Black Hills.

Other sports, such as cycling and running, are also popular in the state. In 1991, the state opened the George S. Mickelson Trail, a 114 mile (183 km) rail trail in the Black Hills. Besides being popular with cyclists, the trail is also the site of a portion of the annual Mount Rushmore marathon; all of the marathon's course is at an elevation of over 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Other events in the state include the Tour de Kota, a 438 mile (704 km), six-day cycling event that covers much of eastern and central South Dakota, and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws thousands of participants from around the United States.

Luciano Mende

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