Sports in South Carolina
Although there are no major league professional franchises based in South Carolina, the state does have numerous minor league teams. Several "Carolina" major league pro teams representing both North Carolina and South Carolina are based in neighboring North Carolina. The Carolina Panthers, the professional American football team of the National Football League based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has training facilities in South Carolina. College teams also represent their particular South Carolina institution and the state is a prime destination for golf and water sports as well.
The following table shows the sports teams in South Carolina that average over 8,000 fans per game:
|South Carolina Gamecocks football||NCAA D1 - SEC||Columbia||Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)||82,401|
|Clemson Tigers football||NCAA D1 - ACC||Clemson||Memorial Stadium (81,475)||82,048|
|The Citadel Bulldogs football||NCAA D1 - SoCon||Charleston||Johnson Hagood Stadium (21,000)||13,155|
|S. Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball||NCAA D1 - SEC||Columbia||Colonial Life Arena (18,000)||8,603|
|Furman Paladins football||NCAA D1 - SoCon||Greenville||Paladin Stadium (16,000)||8,299|
College sports — particularly college football — are very big in South Carolina. The University of South Carolina's Gamecocks and Clemson University's Tigers regularly draw more than 80,000 spectators at the schools' home football games, placing them among the top twenty schools in average attendance. Clemson's Football team won the National Championship in 1981. Both South Carolina's and Clemson's baseball teams are consistently ranked. The Gamecocks won the national title in 2010 and 2011. The Southern Conference and Big South Conference each have 4 members in South Carolina.
South Carolina has no major professional franchise of the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, or MLB located in the state; however the NFL's Carolina Panthers (based in Charlotte, North Carolina), the NBA's Charlotte Hornets (based in Charlotte, North Carolina), and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes (based in Raleigh, North Carolina) represent both North and South Carolina. In addition, the Panthers played their first season in Clemson, and maintain training facilities at Wofford College in Spartanburg.
There are numerous minor league teams that are either based in the state, or play much of their schedule within its borders. The Charlotte Knights, an AAA minor league baseball team, played at a stadium in Fort Mill, South Carolina, just across the border from Charlotte until the team moved to a new ballpark in Charlotte in 2014. Currently, only Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston still boast any other level (in each case single-A) of professional baseball. Columbia, the state capitol, will field a Class A team with opening day scheduled for April 2016. The team will be a New York Mets-affiliate as the Savannah Sand Gnats announced May 21, 2015 their plans to move to Columbia.
For a state where natural ice is a rarity, professional ice hockey has been popular in a number of areas of the state since the 1990s. Though 4 teams competed at one time in South Carolina, the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) currently oversees operations of only three franchises, the Columbia Inferno, the Greenville Road Warriors and the South Carolina Stingrays. The Stingrays play in the North Charleston Coliseum, located in North Charleston. According to the league, however, Myrtle Beach is slated to receive a franchise when their new arena is completed in 2008/9. In 2010 the ECHL announced that Greenville had received a new hockey franchise, the team will play in the BI-LO center.
Another minor league franchise is the USL Division 1 Soccer team, the Charleston Battery. The team plays in the soccer-specific Blackbaud Stadium, located on Daniel Island in Charleston. The American Basketball Association currently oversees operations of only three semi-pro basketball franchises, the South Carolina Warriors which are based in Myrtle Beach, the Greenville Galaxy which are based in Greenville, and the Palmetto State Rizers which are based in Columbia.
NASCAR racing was born in the South, and South Carolina has in the past hosted some very important NASCAR races, at the Darlington Raceway. Darlington Raceway still has the one NASCAR weekend in April. The Whelen, Nationwide Cars, and Sprint Cup cars all race at Darlington.
South Carolina is a popular golf destination. With nearly one hundred golf courses, the Grand Strand region has more public golf courses per capita than any other place in the country. Some have hosted PGA and LGPA events in the past, but most have been designed for the casual golfer. Hilton Head Island & Kiawah Island have several very nice golf courses and host professional events every year. The upstate of South Carolina also has many nice golf courses, most of the nicer courses are private including the Cliff's courses and Cross Creek Plantation (the Cliff's courses host the annual BMW PRO/AM that brings many celebrities and professionals to South Carolina. Cross Creek Plantation located in Seneca, also private hosted a PGA Qualifier in the 90's). In 2007, "The Ocean Course" On Kiawah Island was ranked #1 in Golf Digest magazine's "America's 50 Toughest Golf Courses" and #38 on their "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses".
Water sports are also an extremely popular activity in South Carolina. With a long coast line, South Carolina has many different beach activities such as surfing, boogie boarding, deep sea fishing, and shrimping. The Pee Dee region of the state offers exceptional fishing. Some of the largest catfish ever caught were caught in the Santee Lakes. The Upstate of South Carolina also offers outstanding water activities, especially in Lakes Hartwell, Jocassee, and Keowee. The Midlands region also offers water-based recreation revolving around Lakes Marion and Murray and such rivers as the Congaree, Saluda, Broad, and Edisto.
Following the rebirth of roller derby in the early 2000s and the release of the movie Whip It, South Carolina has seen the rise over several roller derby leagues. As of 2014 there are four leagues sanctioned under WFTDA each of which are located in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville.
Spartanburg, South Carolina, is also the home of the national evangelical sports program Upward Sports.
- Sports in Columbia, South Carolina
- South Carolina Gamecocks (University of South Carolina teams)
- Clemson Tigers football
- South Carolina vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (2009)
- Sports in Sumter, South Carolina