Tom Sorensen

The 7 most popular sports in Charlotte, unofficially ranked by Tom Sorensen

The NFL is the most popular sport in the Charlotte area, and it’s not close.
The NFL is the most popular sport in the Charlotte area, and it’s not close.

I’ve looked at TV ratings and attendance, and recorded what readers read and react to. I’ve talked to people and eavesdropped on conversations. I’ve gone to races and I’ve gone to games. What follows is an unofficial poll. But it’s still accurate.

These are the seven most popular sports in Charlotte and the contiguous suburbs.

1. NFL (nothing else is close)

2. College football

3. College basketball

4. NBA

5. Golf

6. Major League Baseball


I’m not underestimating NASCAR’s impact on Charlotte’s economy. But to get to NASCAR country, you need to leave town.

Although the NFL’s TV ratings have taken a hit this season – hey, when does Wednesday Morning football come on? – professional football continues to rule. I would have ranked college hoops ahead of college football. But a bright marketing man showed me otherwise.

I would like to add boxing. I love the sport, as do the 199 other people I regularly see at local boxing cards. But boxing doesn’t make the top 10, doesn’t even threaten to.

Some people need others to like what they like – thus evangelists. But I’ve never understood why. It feels weak to me. As in: “I love hockey so if you don’t love hockey there’s something wrong with you.” Maybe I’d be a bigger hockey fan if I grew up in the north. But I grew up in southwest Minneapolis, which is in southern Minnesota.

I like Muhammad Ali (my younger son gave me a great Ali picture for Christmas), blues, wine, dogs and Led Zeppelin. If you do, welcome to the club. If not, there’s no problem. Can you imagine liking a thing because you think you’re supposed to?

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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