Most Popular Sports Teams in Tennessee

Most Popular Sports Teams in Tennessee

Tennessee is known for country music, whiskey, and passionate sports fans. Since it’s located in the southern portion of the United States, football is “king.” Saturdays are spent cheering on college teams like Tennessee and Vanderbilt, while Sundays are filled with screaming fans rooting on the Tennessee Titans. The people of Tennessee know how to tailgate, which is one of the reasons fans are so rowdy in the stands.

Football isn’t the only sport that fans live and die by, though. Basketball has quickly become popular amongst fans. The basketball mecca in Tennessee is Memphis. The Memphis Grizzlies, one of the high-octane teams in the NBA, call it home. The Memphis Tigers of the American Athletic Conference also play their games in the city. The team has gained a recent following thanks to the hire of Penny Hardaway. The former Tiger has brought the swag and fun back to the program. It’s not just the fact that the Tigers are full of confidence, their play on the court backs them up.

The NHL also made its way to Nashville, giving the city the Predators. While it might not be a traditional hockey market, the fans have certainly come to love the team and all they offer the city. These are just some of the most popular teams in Tennessee. For more Tennessee coverage, click here for the 10 biggest musicians from the state.

To gather the list of most popular teams in Tennessee, 24/7 Tempo consulted sports-centered sources. These include ESPN, NFL.com, and NBA.com.

Tennessee Titans

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Chris Johnson broke NFL records with the Titans.

The Tennessee Titans are remembered for two of the most iconic plays in NFL history. The happier of the two for Titans fans is the “Music City Miracle.” In a playoff game in 1999 against the Buffalo Bills, the Titans needed a miracle to win. During the kickoff, while down one point, Frank Wycheck got the ball. He immediately passed it backwards to Kevin Dyson, who ran it all the way in for the game winning touchdown.

Titans fans went from the high of a lifetime to ultimate sadness. They witnessed the worst way to lose a Super Bowl a few short weeks later. Down seven at the end of the game, Kevin Dyson caught a pass from Steve McNair. Dyson ran towards the end zone, but was tackled one yard short as time expired. If Dyson had scored, the Titans could have either kicked an extra point to tie the game, or gone for two in order to win it. The Titans are actively working toward another trip back to the Super Bowl.

Memphis Grizzlies

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Ja Morant is one of the most explosive players in the NBA.

Basketball has shot up in popularity in Tennessee, thanks in large part to the recent success of the Grizzlies. In the mid 2010s, the Grizzlies were known for intense defense and slow play. This formula worked well enough for the team to almost make the NBA Finals multiple years, but wasn’t ever enough.

After a couple of years rebuilding, the Grizzlies have become a team known for their fast pace of play and fun cast of characters. Ja Morant, the point guard of the team, is one of the noteworthy faces of the NBA. His supreme athleticism helps him create for his teammates. The Grizzlies have their eyes set on their first NBA Finals run and championship as a team in the upcoming years.

Nashville Predators

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The Predators come to play every game.

One of the best videos to come from the NHL playoffs was watching the Tennessee Titans offensive line drinking beer that ran down a fish. Predators fans have been excited about the team, even though they had a crushing loss in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nashville has become quite the hockey town, and has even hosted the draft and All-Star game recently. Putting a hockey team in the middle of a football town was risky, but the business move paid off. Today, the Predators are trying to work with what they can to compete for their first championship in history.

Nashville SC

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - AUGUST 30: Luke Haakenson #26 of Nashville SC goes up for the ball against Jordi Alba #18 of Inter Miami CF in the second half during a match between Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium on August 30, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Nashville SC’s first MLS season was in 2020.

Soccer has exploded in popularity in the United States. This sudden increase in following is due to new teams like Nashville SC. Even though the team hasn’t been around for too long, they’ve garnered quite the fan base. Since 2020, Nashville SC has had players like Walker Zimmerman, who plays a huge role on the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Nashville SC is looking to make a big splash come playoff time, but they will have to go through teams like Inter Miami and the Columbus Crew. Fans of the MLS are excited to see what cities are next when it comes to expansion. The league is trending upwards, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Tennessee Volunteers Football

South Carolina Gamecocks v Tennessee Volunteers
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Peyton Manning played his college football at Tennessee.

No matter what, football will always be beloved in the south. Teams like the Tennessee Volunteers are part of the reason why. Peyton Manning’s former team has won six National Championships, with the most recent being in 1998. They’re still looking for their first trip to the College Football Playoff.

Playing in the SEC makes this hard, as teams like Alabama, Georgia, and Ole Miss stand in their way every year. The Volunteers routinely finish near the top-10. With the expansion of the playoff, the Volunteers will have more of a chance at getting in and making some noise. For SEC teams, it’s championship or bust seemingly ever year.

Tennessee Volunteers Basketball

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COLUMBIA, MISSOURI - FEBRUARY 20: Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers talks with teammates during a timeout against the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Mizzou Arena on February 20, 2024 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Dalton Knecht has turned into one of Tennessee’s best players.

Memphis isn’t the only place in Tennessee where basketball has completely taken off. Over the past five years, the Volunteers have shown themselves to be one of the premier teams in the nation. 2024 is no different, thanks to Dalton Knecht, a transfer from Northern Colorado. He’s one of the best scorers and playmakers in all of college basketball.

As of February 2024, the Volunteers are deemed one of the top seven betting favorites to cut down the nets at the end of the season. While there’s still a long way to go and lots can change in the tournament, Volunteer fans should be excited about where the team appears to be going.

Tennessee Lady Volunteers Basketball

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CLEVELAND - APRIL 03: Head coach Pat Summitt of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers celebrates after cutting down the net after Tennessees 59-46 win against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to win the 2007 NCAA Womens Basketball Championship Game at Quicken Loans Arena on April 3, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Pat Summitt turned the Volunteers around.

You can’t talk about women’s college basketball without mentioning the Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball team. Pat Summitt brought the team to new heights when she took over in 1974. Prior to this, the team had never won a national championship. Summitt showed and showed out when it comes to women’s basketball.

During Summit’s 38 year career as head coach, the team won eight national championships, 16 SEC tournaments, and was runner-up in the tournament five different times. Kellie Harper is in her fifth season as the coach of the Lady Vols, and has the team on the right track. They’ve been to the Sweet-16 the last two seasons, with the goal of going further in the 2024 tournament.

Vanderbilt Commodores Football

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KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 25: Justin Ball #84 of the Vanderbilt Commodores hurdles Andre Turrentine #17 of the Tennessee Volunteers in the fourth quarter at Neyland Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt players always give full effort.

One in-state rival the Tennessee Volunteers get to play in the SEC also is the Vanderbilt Commodores. However, unlike the Vols, the Commodores are looking to create a dynasty. The team has long-suffered living in the shadow of a team like Tennessee. In-state recruits prefer the big name school in Knoxville. This hasn’t shaken the fan base in the slightest, though.

Going through trials and tribulations make winning that much sweeter. When you’ve been around during your teams losing streaks and tough times, it can feel never ending. However, there are countless stories of programs turning it around quicker than expected. All it takes is one right move to change the trajectory of the team, which the Commodores look to do each season.

Vanderbilt Commodores Basketball


KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 17: Ezra Manjon #5 of the Vanderbilt Commodores drives to the basket against Jordan Gainey #2 and Tobe Awaka #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers in the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 17, 2024 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt basketball and Tennessee have an intense rivalry.

Seeing an NBA legend on the bench inspires confidence in fans and players that he knows what he’s doing. That’s just what Vanderbilt fans have when it comes to Jerry Stackhouse. Before taking over the Commodores program, he was an NBA player for 18 years. He then took over the Raptors 905 team after a brief stint as an assistant coach.

Stackhouse led this team to a D-League championship. However, Stackhouse hasn’t been able to get the Commodores to where he wants them to be. The team hasn’t gotten to the tournament under his leadership yet, but all it takes is one run in the SEC tournament and they’re in. Basketball tournaments are special because they come down to one game where the winner takes all.

Memphis Tigers Football

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Memphis has some of the best uniforms in college football.

One of the better mid-major football teams in college is the Memphis Tigers. While they don’t play in the SEC, they’re routinely ranked among the better teams in the country. The team is dedicated to scoring points and having a powerful offense. However, this strategy usually makes the defense tired. When your offense is only on the field for a short amount of time, it doesn’t give your defense the time necessary to fully recover.

Plenty of fans believe it will be interesting to watch the Memphis Tigers athletic program when it comes to conference re-alignment. It feels like every couple of years, new teams are added to the major college conferences. Being part of a big market means bigger television deals, so it’s high time to look out for the Memphis Tigers joining a bigger conference soon.

Memphis Tigers Basketball

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Derrick Rose played his college basketball at Memphis.

One of the main reasons the Tigers could join a new conference soon is the incredible basketball team. Every year, the Tigers are touted as one of the best teams in the nation. Having a coach like Penny Hardaway makes it easy to recruit the best players. He knows what it takes to make it as a successful NBA player, while also being able to relate to his players and what they want.

Hardaway has been in charge of the Tigers basketball program for six seasons, during which he’s made the tournament in back to back years. The Tigers have a strong basketball tradition, and could even have a national championship if Mario Chalmers didn’t hit a three pointer for Kansas.

Belmont Bruins Basketball


JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MARCH 21: Dylan Windler #3 of the Belmont Bruins reacts after missing the final shot of the game for a 79-77 loss against the Maryland Terrapins during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament at VyStar Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Belmont is looking to get back to the NCAA tournament.

Mid-Major teams are what make the NCAA Tournament fun. No matter who you are, it’s impossible to figure out what’s going to happen in every game. Teams like the Belmont Bruins are unpredictable. However, over the last decade, Belmont has shown a sneaky trend of playing tight games in the tournament. If it weren’t for Covid canceling the 2020 tournament, Belmont might have won a game or two.

The team was on fire when they finished the regular season. Casey Alexander is the current coach for the Bruins, and has made sure the team is constantly in the running for winning their conference tournament. For the 2024 season, Belmont is regarded as an above average team. Once conference tournament time starts, be on the lookout for the Bruins making noise.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Football

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LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 06: Desmond Gee #2 of Middle Tennessee runs with the ball against Louisville during the game on September 6, 2007 at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium in Louisville , Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Middle Tennessee State has been running around on the field for a long time.

Sometimes, a fresh start for a program is just what they need. That’s just what the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders decided on after the 2023 season finished. They went out and hired Derek Mason, best known for his time as the Vanderbilt Commodores coach from 2014 to 2020. He took the team to two bowl games during his time in charge.

Middle Tennessee plays in Conference USA. The College Football Playoff recently announced they were expanding to include 12 teams now, with one of the automatic bids being the best Mid-Major school to win their conference. This helps give teams like Middle Tennessee a sense of what’s worth playing for. Prior to this, only four schools were chosen. It was rare for one of them to miss out o becoming a Power-5 school. Fans are excited to see what Mason will ultimately do with the program.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Basketball

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Making the tournament is the goal for Middle Tennessee State.

Being a Mid-Major that puts fear into the bigger schools eyes is something Middle Tennessee did in the mid 2010s. During that time, the team went to the tournament three times, winning a game in 2016 and 2017. Having the confidence and swag to go up against the big teams as a college kid can be hard. However, the Blue Raiders made it happen.

Unfortunately for them and their fans, the team hasn’t seen the NCAA tournament since 2017. Coach Nick McDevitt has shown the ability to take smaller schools to the tournament, as he did with UNC Asheville prior to coming to Middle Tennessee. Many fans are hopeful the turnaround is near.

Tennessee State Tigers Football

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Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones played at Tennessee State back in the day.

Having a former NFL Pro-Bowler like Eddie George at the front of your program is a great place to be for Tennessee State Tiger fans. The running-back-turned-coach has been able to recruit players with the understanding of how special it is to play for an HBCU. During his time as coach, he’s amassed a 15-15 record.

However, the Tigers are still looking for their first playoff win under George. They play in the FCS, which is slightly different than the FBS. The FCS is one tier lower than the FBS, and they have their own playoff system. Rather than only taking some conference winners and some random teams, the FCS takes the best overall teams and puts them into a bracket. From there, it’s “win it all” or go home.

Tennessee State Tigers Basketball

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Tennessee State’s goal is to make as many baskets as they can.

Before becoming a Division One program, the Tennessee State Tigers were one of the best teams in Division Two. They were twice the runner up in the 1970s, and made four Final Fours during that same decade. The team now competes at the Division One level, where they’re searching for their first tournament appearance since 1994.

Coach Brian Collins has turned the program around, brining what appears to be his third winning season in his sixth year of coaching the program. Building teams that aren’t Power-5 is impressive, due to all that has to take place. These coaches aren’t recruiting players who are one-and-done. Instead, they’re creating a team that gels together. This requires knowing different personalities and how they’ll mesh together.

Nashville Sounds


NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31: A general view of the Nashville Sounds Baseball signage on March 09, 2013 in Nashville TN. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The Sounds have been in Nashville for a long time.

Minor league baseball is one of the most important facets of a team. Being able to develop younger talent before they reach the big league level is how you know who’s part of the cream of the crop. The Nashville Sounds are the Triple-A team that’s connected to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Over the last couple of years, one of the most consistently good teams in all of Major League Baseball has been the Brewers. One reason for this? The Sounds always make sure the top talent is ready to go. The Sounds became affiliated with the Brewers in 2021. Players like Robert Gasser, who won the International League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2023 are preparing for a big 2024 with the team.

Memphis Redbirds

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Albert Pujols was once a Memphis Redbird.

Another one of the most consistent teams over the last two decades is the St. Louis Cardinals. During this time, the team has been to three World Series matchups, winning two of them. This is partly because of how the Memphis Redbirds made sure the talent was ready to go.

Players like Albert Pujols and Adam Wainright (who are going to most likely be in the Hall-of-Fame) played part of their career for the Redbirds. Thanks to their ability to develop prospects, the Redbirds won the 2018 championship. The Cardinals are one of baseball’s pillar franchises – and that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

Memphis 901 FC

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Memphis 901 FC hopes for a chance to play in MLS.

European soccer offers one of the most fascinating ways to ensure that professional teams don’t tank. The worst teams in the league get relegated to the tier below. When this occurs, the top teams can be elevated to the tier above. Memphis 901 FC is part of the USL, which is the league right below the MLS.

With the growth of soccer’s popularity happening so rapidly in the United States, soccer fans are curious to see if the sport will adopt this rule. For now, Memphis 901 FC has made the playoffs the past three seasons. For now, they’re looking to continue that exciting trend. For more sports related content, click here to uncover the most iconic sports moments of the past decade.

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