Gatlinburg Sports Events

Two boys competing in a taekwondo tournament.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Taekwondo

Taekwondo is one of the most popular martial arts across the globe. Originating in South Korea, this fighting style is known for its head-height kicks and lightning fast moves. Here at Rocky Top Sports World, we love to host taekwondo tournaments at our 86,000 square foot indoor complex! To prepare for our latest taekwondo event, we have put together five interesting facts about the history of taekwondo: Read More

A beautiful winter photo of Gatlinburg covered in snow.

Winter Fun at Rocky Top Sports World and Gatlinburg, TN

Winter is one of the very best times to visit Gatlinburg, TN! During the holiday season and the first few months of the new year, our Smoky Mountain city is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with dazzling Christmas lights and (if we’re lucky) snowcapped peaks. Rocky Top Sports World is hosting some great tournaments this winter, so you can enjoy everything Gatlinburg has to offer while you’re in town for an athletic event. Read on for a quick look at all of the winter fun happening in the Smokies this year. Read More

Young women playing volleyball indoors.

Rocky Top Sports World to Host Gatlinburg Volleyball Play Day This Winter

Is your youth volleyball team looking for some additional practice this season? The Spike-O-Rama Volleyball Play Day is the perfect opportunity for some fun competition outside of your league’s schedule. Held at Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, TN, this one day event will bring together some of the best middle school age and high school age volleyball teams in the Southeast. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this highly anticipated play day in the Smokies. Read More

A Thanksgiving cornucopia with a football on the field.

Why Do We Play Football on Thanksgiving?

For many families, watching or playing football on Thanksgiving is as important a part of the holiday as turkey and stuffing! Have you ever wondered why Thanksgiving football became an American tradition? Rocky Top Sports World did a little research to bring you the answer to this question.

The Tradition Starts Earlier Than You Think

Thanksgiving’s love affair with football goes all the way back to the 19th century. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, and just a few years later, people started scheduling football games on Turkey Day. The first major Thanksgiving football game was the 1876 match between Yale and Princeton. During this time, football was in its infancy and the sport was still developing its distinct identity from rugby. The fourth thursday in November eventually became the usual date for the Intercollegiate Football Association championship game.

By the late 1890s, thousands of football games were occurring every Thanksgiving, at both the college and high school level. The University of Michigan and the University of Chicago developed a well known Thanksgiving rivalry, and the Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston have played a holiday game against each other every year since 1887!

(See Also: New Survey Shows That Football is the Fastest Growing Youth Sport in America)

The NFL Gets in on the Thanksgiving Football FunFord Field, home of the Detriot Lions.

The popularity of Thanksgiving football really took off when NFL teams started to participate in the tradition. In 1934, radio executive George A. Richards moved his Portsmouth Spartans to Detroit, where they became the Lions. Baseball dominated the news in Detroit, so Richards devised a scheme to steal the spotlight. He organized a game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears for Thanksgiving Day and used his contacts in the radio industry to make sure that the game was broadcast on 94 stations across the nation.

Although the Lions lost, Richards succeeded in drumming up publicity for the team, as 11,000 more fans than usual attended the game at University of Detroit Stadium. The Detroit Lions have played every Thanksgiving since the tradition began.

The Dallas Cowboys are the other NFL team to always play on Thanksgiving. While the Lions’ foray into Thanksgiving football was boosted by the radio, it was television that broadcast the Cowboys into the homes of millions of fans on Turkey Day. TV viewership was rising in the 60s, so the NFL decided to add an additional game to the Thanksgiving lineup.

Cowboys General Manager Tex Schramm thought that a holiday game would be a good marketing opportunity for his fledgling team, so the Cowboys took the open slot in 1966. This proved to be a great move, as the Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns and carried the momentum for 20 straight winning seasons.

Young boys playing football.Our Own Thanksgiving Football Tradition

Here in Gatlinburg, TN, we have our own holiday tradition: the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl. This extremely popular event has been taking place since 1972! To learn all about the tournament, read our blog about the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl.

Beautiful autumn leaves in the Smoky Mountains.

Come for a Tournament, Stay for the Leaves: Fall at Rocky Top Sports World

Here at Rocky Top Sports World, fall is one of our favorite times of the year! With cool, comfortable weather, the autumn climate in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains is ideal for outdoor activities. Of course, Gatlinburg is also famous for its beautiful fall foliage. With over 100 species of trees in the Smokies, the area offers some of the most spectacular red, orange, and yellow leaves in North America. Read More

A football and a helmet on a field at sunset.

A Turkey Day Tradition: The Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl at Rocky Top Sports World

Ever since the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day in 1934, football has been forever linked with the holiday. Here in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, we have our very own Turkey Day tradition: the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl. Established in 1972, this annual tournament is a hugely popular event with locals and visitors alike. Formerly held at Gatlinburg Pittman High School and later Mills Park, the Thanksgiving Bowl has been hosted by Rocky Top Sports World since 2014. Read on to learn everything you need to know about one of our favorite autumn tournaments. Read More

A youth soccer team holding their trophy in the air.

Enjoy Labor Day Weekend in the Smokies with This Gatlinburg Soccer Tournament

This Labor Day Weekend, Rocky Top Sports World will host one of our largest soccer tournaments to date! The Gatlinburg Labor Day Invitational is a two day competition open to youth soccer teams from across the United States. Catering to all levels of play, this exciting Gatlinburg soccer tournament is the perfect way to kick off a three day weekend in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains. Read on for everything you need to know about this eagerly anticipated event. Read More

A cheerleading squad.

Get Ready to Battle in Rocky Top: Cheer Competition in Gatlinburg TN Arrives This Fall

Does your cheer squad have what it takes to be #1? This November, cheerleading teams from around the nation will come to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the popular Battle in Rocky Top Cheer Competition. This excellent event is sponsored by the Battle in Rocky Top National Championship Youth Football Tournament, which will be held over the same weekend. Read on for everything you need to know about the premiere cheer competition in Gatlinburg TN. Read More