How Do You Evaluate a Great Sports Town?


chicago skyline cubs

Who doesn’t love a good bar debate? You know, the classic questions like:

  • Who’s better, Jordan or LeBron?
  • Who is the best James Bond?
  • Is a hot dog a sandwich?
  • If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, did it make a sound?

And while these are all good options if you’re looking for something to discuss, there’s another one that gets sports fans all over the country riled up. We’re talking about the debate over which sports town is the best.

Is it Boston? What about New York, Los Angeles, or Houston? Could you throw tiny Green Bay into the mix? 

It’s an interesting question for sure…but before you can prepare to make the case for your town, you have to get clear on what exactly is being discussed. We’re not talking about the best city – we’re talking about the best sports town. And in this article, we’re going to do our best to get to the core of what this means. 

What is a Sports Town?

A sports town is, in the simplest terms, a town with a collection of sports teams and fans who care about them. (That’s the bare-boned explanation.)


A good sports town is typically also a good city (independent of sports), but not all good cities are good sports towns. Here are a couple of examples to prove this point:

  • Boston: Great sports town and great city (lots of history, good food, etc.)
  • Charlotte: Great city, but historically terribly sports teams.

There are a lot of good sports towns, but there are only a handful of great ones. And in this article, we’re going to discuss the factors that set the cities in the upper echelon apart from the rest.

4 Factors That Make a Great Sports Town

Any good argument must have a clear foundation upon which to stand. In other words, you and the person you’re debating with need to agree upon the criteria. So for the purposes of this discussion, here are five factors to weigh into your debate:

  • Sports Teams

Let’s start with sports teams. You typically need more than one sports team to be considered a great sports town. (Green Bay, Wisconsin – home of the Packers – is one of the few exceptions.) And while quality is certainly more important than quantity, it helps to have three or four major professional teams and/or high-level college athletic programs.

  • Championships

Secondly, have these teams won any championships? If so, how many? And if you want to get really specific, how many championships have they won in the last couple of decades?

This is the meat of the argument. Some believe that you need to have won multiple championships across multiple teams/sports, while others believe one team can carry a city, so long as there are a couple of other competitive options.


  • Fan Loyalty

A competitive, championship-caliber sports team is always a plus, but do the fans show out even when the team is losing? 

Fan loyalty, in good times and bad, is the marker of a good sports town. Take Cleveland Browns fans, for example. While they finally have a decent football team, their franchise was awful for decades. And yet despite the terrible product on the field, “The Dawg Pound” still showed up in full force every single Sunday.

  • Big Picture

Remember, a good sports town also has to be a great city. So in addition to sports, there have to be other factors that make people want to live in the area. For example, there should be a strong housing market with real estate investment opportunities. There needs to be good food, attractions, and community events. The weather should be nice – at least part of the year. When you combine these factors with the sports elements, that’s when you get a great sports town. 

chicago cubs world series

Adding it All Up

What do you think? Did we miss any factors that are important in evaluating whether a good city is a great sports town?

Furthermore, based on the criteria outlined, what do you consider to be the best sports town? It’s a question with no clear answer – but one that’s absolutely guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment at your local watering hole. 

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