Depending on which state you are living or visiting in the US, the most popular sport among the population will differ. However, a recent study completed in 2020 shows that American Football is the most popular sport in 19 of the 50 states, with the NFL dominating. However, that is not the case in Tennessee and the most popular sport as voted in the study done by Myprotein is College Football.
The Tennessee Volunteers are the biggest college football team in Tennessee. They represent the University of Tennessee and participate in the Southeastern Conference as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. If you need convincing as to exactly how popular the Tennessee Volunteers are in the state, you need just one glance at their stadium and fans on a game to understand. The Neyland Stadium has a capacity of over 100,000 people and is an awesome sight when it is full of fans dressed in orange and white on a game day. Neyland Stadium is the fifth largest stadium in the United States and the seventh largest stadium in the world.
The average attendance for Tennessee Volunteers games at the Neyland Stadium since 1946 is 68,925 fans per game. You must only go back to September 2004 to find the record attendance at the venue for a Tennessee Volunteers game and that was 109,061 when Tennessee defeated Florida. So, based on the incredible attendance figures alone, it is easy to conclude that College Football is one of the most popular sports in Tennessee.
The good news is that it is now possible to have a wager on the Tennessee Volunteers throughout the football season. There are many fantastic online sportsbooks operating in the state, including William Hill, with the app available to download in Tennessee. William Hill is one of the biggest names in sports betting across the globe and you will find a huge range of sports and betting markets available on a daily basis, including football, basketball, and ice hockey.
Interestingly, ice hockey is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in Tennessee. The Nashville Predators are one the favorite teams to follow among Tennessee’s professional sports franchises. A survey conducted by the Middle Tennessee State University in 2017 showed the Predators enjoyed a significant chunk of the fanbase. However, it is worth noting the Predators had a successful 2016/17 season, during which they reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in their history, so that achievement may have skewed the figures somewhat.
Another of the most popular sports in Tennessee is basketball and the Memphis Grizzlies represent the state in the National Basketball Association. During the course of a NBA season, over 600,000 fans will attend games at the FedExForum and in 2018/19, the average attendance per game was 15,578. Clearly this figure only shows the number of people inside the venue and they are thousands of basketball fans in Tennessee who are watching games in bars and homes.
In addition to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball are extremely popular and soccer has also started to gain a good fanbase, thanks to the introduction of Nashville SC. The team play in Major League Soccer at the Nissan Stadium, having been founded in 2017.
Why USL2 is the Coolest Soccer League in the USA
Soccer continues to grow in popularity in the USA. The most obvious signs of this are in the MLS (Major League Soccer), which has expanded to 28 teams, with two more franchises scheduled to join by 2023. New teams such as LAFC, Austin FC, and Charlotte FC, who broke the MLS attendance record in their first game, have been well received by their local communities. In addition, they have helped to raise the profile of the sport with some clever branding and community engagement.
The MLS has also picked up many new fans from abroad. The creation of fan groups, inspired by European “Ultras”, has resulted in a unique atmosphere. At first, this seemed manufactured, but it has taken on a life of its own. Many MLS teams are adopted by the local Hispanic communities, but they have also gained popularity amongst the LGBT communities, with rainbow pride flags now a regular feature in stadiums across the country.
However, it’s not just the Major League that has developed a cult following. In the lower leagues, there are some incredible soccer communities developing. The USL2 (United Soccer League Two) is a hotbed of cult teams, cool branding, and community spirit.
One such team is the Minneapolis City Soccer Club. The club is known as the Crows, and this is reflected in their logo, which was on a shortlist of five in a vote for the best crest in the league. Their Citizens support group are among the most loyal in the division and their groundbreaking soccer shirts are sought by collectors across the globe. The community-run club previously competed in the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League), winning the North Conference in 2018, 2019, and 2021. They stepped up to the USL2 in 2022.
A new look for West Virginia
Another new name to appear in 2021 was West Virginia United, which reached the conference playoffs. West Virginia has always lacked any major league sports teams but has a thriving college sports scene. It is also becoming a major destination for sports and casino gambling in the east of the country thanks to its five West Virginia online casinos, which offer online sports wagering. This growth in the gambling sector is expected to have a knock-on effect on the sports scene as more revenue is generated in the region. Like Minneapolis, West Virginia has also nailed their branding with a super cool logo that pays pay homage to the blue ridge mountains. The rebranding coincided with a kit deal with major sports brand Puma.
The ink has yet to dry but we are incredibly excited about this one! We have penned our new apparel partnership with @PUMA !! We couldn’t have imagined a better partner to display our badge and colors #WVUTD 🟢🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/MiBWqsvUVx
— West Virginia United (@wvutd) May 7, 2021
The team began life as West Virginia Chaos in 2003 before merging with the youth teams of Charleston FC and Fury Soccer Club to form West Virginia Alliance FC in 2018. They joined USL2 in 2019 and it is hoped that the latest change of name will be permanent as the club looks to provide a stable first-team environment in the fourth tier of the US soccer, as well as a development team in the USL Academy system.
Surprisingly, West Virginia United did not make the final shortlist for the best new crest in the USL2 poll. Nonetheless, they were up against some stiff competition, most notably, winners One Knoxville SC who made a brilliant video to show how their crest was designed.
Magic behind the crest! pic.twitter.com/7nnZNadUOF
— One Knoxville SC (@OneKnoxSC) August 19, 2021
Other teams featured in the vote were Louisiana-based Blue Goose SC, Ballard FC of Washington, and Vermont Green FC, but these teams are about more than just branding.
In the tier above (USL1), there are also some cult clubs including Forward Madison FC, the self-styled “world’s second favorite team.” They made an instant impact after launching in 2019 thanks to their smart social media work and colorful kit designs, but it is USL2 that is leading the way in the fast-growing world of cult community soccer clubs.
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