Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl Returns to Rocky Top Sports World

A helmet, football, and fall leaves.

The Thanksgiving Bowl is one of Gatlinburg’s most treasured annual traditions! Now entering its 46th year, this popular football tournament is expecting a huge turnout for 2017. Rocky Top Sports World has put together a convenient guide to everything you need to know about the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl.

History of the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl

Gatlinburg hosted its first Thanksgiving Bowl way back in 1972. Over the years, the tournament gained a reputation for attracting some of the best youth football teams from all around the country. For its first few decades, the Thanksgiving Bowl was held at Gatlinburg Pittman High School, but in the 1990s, the growing games were moved to Mills Park.

In 2014, the tournament underwent a major upgrade when it was relocated to Rocky Top Sports World, our 80-acre athletic campus in Gatlinburg. With seven fields, bleacher seating for 1,500 spectators, and a press box, our sports complex was a natural fit for the Thanksgiving Bowl.

A handful of players who competed in the Thanksgiving Bowl as young athletes have gone on to join NFL teams! Famous alumni of the Thanksgiving Bowl include Mike Alstott (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Rob Ninkovich (New England Patriots), Eric Steinbach (Cleveland Browns), Steve Breaston (Kansas City Chiefs), Lousaka Polite (Miami Dolphins), Shawntae Spencer (San Francisco 49ers).

2017 Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl DetailsYoung athletes playing in the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl.

This year, the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl will be held on November 22 – 25, 2017. Weigh-ins will begin on Wednesday, and the actual tournament will run from Thanksgiving Day through Saturday. The Thanksgiving Bowl is open to youth football teams with players between the ages of 6 and 14. There will be multiple divisions based on age, skill, and size in order to ensure competitive gameplay.

The Thanksgiving Bowl is always a blast for players and their families! In years past, the tournament has drawn 40+ teams hailing from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

After the final game on Saturday, the winning team will be presented with the National Championship trophy. Rocky Top Sports World will also give out a special Sportsmanship Award to the team (players, coaches, and fans) who demonstrate the positive spirit and commitment to fair play we love to see at our games.

Register for the Thanksgiving Bowl

To register for the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl, visit our Tournaments & Events Calendar and scroll down to November 22. All teams must sign up by November 1st. When you register, be sure to check out our new lodging packages to see how much money you can save by staying with one of our partners. If you have any questions about the tournament, don’t hesitate to call Megan or Joe at 865-325-0044!

A field with views of the mountains at Rocky Top Sports World.About Rocky Top Sports World

Located 10 minutes away from all of the world-class attractions, restaurants, and shops in downtown Gatlinburg, Rocky Top Sports World is the best tournament destination in the Southeast! With seven fields, six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, team rooms, and an onsite grill, our complex has everything you need for an unforgettable sports event. To learn more about all of the amenities at Rocky Top Sports World, visit our Facilities page.