Sports in California
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International sports events
California has hosted the Olympic Games three times. Los Angeles, the largest city in the state, hosted both the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics. Squaw Valley, California hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Los Angeles and San Francisco were in the race for the United States Olympic Committee nomination to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but eventually lost to Chicago.
Besides the Olympics, California has also hosted several major international soccer events:
- Two of the venues for the 1994 FIFA World Cup were in the state—Stanford Stadium at Stanford University, with San Francisco serving as the official host city, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, with Los Angeles as the host city. The Rose Bowl hosted the final, won by Brazil in a penalty shootout with Italy.
- Both stadiums were also used for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, along with Spartan Stadium in San Jose. The Rose Bowl again hosted the final, in which a crowd of over 90,000—the largest ever to witness a women's sporting event to this day—saw the USA defeat China in another penalty shootout, capped off by Brandi Chastain's famous shirt-stripping moment.
- The 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup used one California venue, The Home Depot Center in Carson. It hosted the final of that competition, won by Germany over Sweden.
California has over twenty major professional sports franchises, far more than any other US state. The San Francisco Bay Area has nine major-league teams spread amongst three cities: San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. Although it is home to ten major-league franchises, the Greater Los Angeles Area is the largest metropolitan area without a team in the National Football League. San Diego has two major-league teams, and Sacramento has one.
- National Basketball Association
- National Football League
- National Hockey League
- Major League Soccer
- Women's National Basketball Association
Home to some of most prominent universities in the United States, California has long had many respected collegiate sports programs. In particular, the athletic programs of the University of Southern California, University of California, Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford University (all of which are members of the Pacific-12 Conference) are often nationally-ranked in the various sports and dominate media coverage of college sports in the state. In addition, those Universities boast the highest academic standards (on average) of all major college (NCAA Div I) programs. All 4 schools are ranked, academically, in the top 30 nationally with Cal (specifically) ranked as the #1 public university in the country (usually about #15 overall) and Stanford is the highest academically ranked Division 1A university in the country (usually #5 overall). California is also home to the oldest college bowl game, the annual Rose Bowl (Pasadena), as well as the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (San Diego), the Emerald Bowl (San Francisco), and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego).
The Great Heisman State
California has produced the most Heisman Trophy winners. Thirteen winners were both born and played high school football in the Golden State. Six played collegiately at USC and one each at UCLA, Stanford, Army, Texas, Colorado, Notre Dame, and Miami.
- 1946 Glenn Davis from Bonita High School in La Verne
- 1964 John Huarte from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana
- 1965 Mike Garrett from Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles
- 1967 Gary Beban from Sequoia High School in Redwood City
- 1968 O.J. Simpson from Galileo High School in San Francisco
- 1970 Jim Plunkett from William C. Overfelt High School, then James Lick High School, in East San Jose
- 1979 Charles White from San Fernando High School in San Fernando
- 1981 Marcus Allen from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Diego
- 1992 Gino Torretta from Pinole Valley High School in Pinole
- 1994 Rashaan Salaam from La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla
- 1998 Ricky Williams from Patrick Henry High School in San Diego
- 2002 Carson Palmer from Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita
- 2004 Matt Leinart from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana
- 2005 (vacated in 2010) Reggie Bush from Helix High School in La Mesa
Most city municipals house a variety of sports activities. The available sports are typically listed on their city websites. Additionally, there are a variety of California Sports activities listed on FindSportsNow's California database.
The California State Games, a state-wide Olympics-like sport event, take place in California every year. The United States Olympic Committee governs this event. Many of California's high school teams are often nationally-ranked. The NASCAR Sprint Cup series holds 3 races in California, two at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and one at Infineon Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway. The IRL Indycar series competes every April in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, through the streets of downtown Long Beach. The IRL also holds an event at Infineon. The NHRA Drag Racing Series holds three national events in California, as well; two at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (formerly Pomona Raceway) and at the aforementioned Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. The AMA Supercross Series holds several events in the state in cities such as Anaheim, San Francisco, and San Diego.
Skateboarding is a sport heavily associated with California as it is the place where the sport started. Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk was born in Carlsbad, California in 1968 and was involved in many bowlriding and vert competitions there.
Northern California – Southern California rivalry