Sports in Georgia (U.S. state)
Sports in Georgia include professional teams, Olympic Games contenders and medalists, collegiate teams in major and small-school conferences and associations, and active amateur teams and individual sports.
The Atlanta Braves are a Major League Baseball (MLB) team that moved to Atlanta in 1966 from Milwaukee where they were known as the Milwaukee Braves. The Braves play their home games at Truist Park in suburban Cobb County, which opened in 2017 as the replacement for Turner Field, which had been the team's home since the 1997 season. Before then, they played at Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium from 1966 to 1996. They won the World Series in 1914 (as the Boston Braves), 1957 (as the Milwaukee Braves), and 1995 (as the Atlanta Braves). Braves players in the Baseball Hall of Fame include Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Eddie Mathews, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, John Smoltz, Warren Spahn, Bruce Sutter and Hoyt Wilhelm. Two former Braves managers have been inducted to the Hall in that role, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, although Torre's induction was mainly for his accomplishments with the New York Yankees. Mathews also served as a Braves manager. Braves executive John Schuerholz will enter the Hall in July 2017 for his accomplishments in that role.
The AAA minor league baseball Gwinnett Stripers of the International League began play at Coolray Field in 2009. The Atlanta Crackers were the AAA affiliate of the Braves organization before the Braves moved to Atlanta.
The Rome Braves, previously known as the Macon Braves, are a Class-A minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. In 2003, the team moved from Macon to Rome. Their home games are played at State Mutual Stadium, which opened April 11, 2003. The stadium seats 5,105 and features a lawn seating area known as "Applebee's Home Run Hill." Former Atlanta Braves alumni include Brian McCann, who was a Rome Brave in 2003.
The Augusta GreenJackets have played in the Class A South Atlantic League since 1988, and have been affiliated with the San Francisco Giants since 2005; in 2018, the GreenJackets moved into a new ballpark across the Savannah River, SRP Park, in North Augusta, South Carolina. The Savannah Sand Gnats played in the same league from 1984 to 2015, most recently as affiliates of the New York Mets (2007–2015), but have since relocated to Columbia, South Carolina as the Columbia Fireflies.
The Atlanta Hawks are a National Basketball Association (NBA) team founded in 1949 and play their home games at Philips Arena since 1999; the Hawks previously played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum (now Hank McCamish Pavilion) from 1968 to 1972, the Omni Coliseum from 1972 to 1997, and the Georgia Dome from 1997 to 1999. The Hawks have won one Championship, four Conference titles and fourteen Division titles. Notable current and former Hawks include Walt Bellamy, Cliff Hagan, Connie Hawkins, Bob Houbregs, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Ed Macauley, Bob Pettit, Lenny Wilkens and Dominique Wilkins.
The American Basketball Association and the World Basketball Association are also represented in Georgia. In the case of the former, Georgia has three teams: the Atlanta Vision, the Rome Legions, and the Georgia Gwizzlies. The latter association teams are the Georgia Warriors, the Marietta Storm and the Rome Gladiators.
The Atlanta Falcons are a National Football League (NFL) team founded as an expansion team in 1966. They have played their home games at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta since 1992 and are scheduled to move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017; prior to playing at the Georgia Dome, they played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium from 1966 to 1991. The Falcons have won five Division Championships in 1980, 1998, 2004, 2010, and 2012 and two Conference Championships in 1998 and 2016. Notable current and former players include Eric Dickerson, Tommy McDonald, William Andrews, Jeff Van Note, Jessie Tuggle, Mike Kenn, Marion Campbell, Dan Reeves, Greg Brezina, Ray Buchanan, Buddy Curry, T. J. Duckett, Bill Fralic, Wallace Francis and the Bill Goldberg.
Georgia has also been home to several arena and indoor football teams. Two different teams known as the Georgia Force played in the Arena Football League (AFL). The original version arrived in Georgia after the 2001 season, having relocated from Nashville, Tennessee. This team initially played at Philips Arena, but later moved its home games to the suburb of Duluth. This version of the Force folded along with the league after the 2008 season. The AFL was relaunched in 2010, and a new version of the Force arrived in 2011 when the Alabama Vipers relocated from Huntsville. The new Force played the 2011 and 2012 seasons before folding. Georgia has also had various minor league indoor teams in the af2, National Indoor Football League (NIFL), Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL), American Indoor Football (AIF), World Indoor Football League (WIFL), American Arena League (AAL), and the National Arena League (NAL), with the Columbus Lions having lasted since 2007 and playing in over five different leagues.
Hockey's history in Georgia goes back to the 1970s with the Atlanta Flames, who played in the state until 1980 when they were relocated to Calgary. It was not until October 2, 1999 that hockey formally returned with the Atlanta Thrashers' first game against the New Jersey Devils. On May 31, 2011 the Thrashers were sold to True North Sports and Entertainment. It was announced the team would move to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg and return the Winnipeg Jets name to the NHL, resurrecting the name of the city's previous NHL team that departed for Phoenix in 1996. The Thrashers played their home games at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Thrashers did not appear in the Stanley Cup Finals. They only won one division title during the 2006–07 NHL season and were swept in the first round by the New York Rangers.
Currently, the ECHL has only one operating team in Georgia. The Atlanta Gladiators play all of their homes games at Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth. The team, formerly the Mobile Mysticks, moved to Gwinnett County and officially started play in 2003 as the Gwinnett Gladiators. The team changed their name to Atlanta Gladiators in 2015. The Augusta Lynx were first formed in 1998, but due to financial concerns were forced to cease operations halfway through the 2008 season. The Lynx played their home games at James Brown Arena.
The Macon Mayhem is currently the only team in Georgia that is part of the Southern Professional Hockey League. The Mayhem were founded in 2015 after the Augusta RiverHawks suspended operations for the 2013–14 season because of a failure of their home arena's ice system and subsequently relocated to Macon, Georgia, after going dormant for two seasons.
The Columbus Cottonmouths were a hockey team that played for 21 seasons over three separate leagues. The team was founded in 1996 as a member of the Central Hockey League. In 2001, the organization obtained a franchise in the East Coast Hockey League (later called just ECHL) before joining the Southern Professional Hockey League as one of its inaugural members. The organization suspended operations in 2017 when the owners could no longer fund the team and failed to find new owners. Columbus got another professional hockey team in 2019 as the Columbus River Dragons with different owners.
The Atlanta Silverbacks were a North American Soccer League team founded in 1999. The Silverbacks played at the Atlanta Silverbacks Park. The also had a women's team called Atlanta Silverbacks Women that played in the W-League. Both teams ceased operations after the 2015 season, the men's team due to a lack of ownership and the women's team due to the W-League ceasing operations.
Augusta FireBall United, also known as Augusta FireBall, was an American soccer team that was founded in 2005. The team was a member of the Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, until 2006, when the team left the league and the franchise was terminated. They played their home games at Patriots Park in Augusta, Georgia.
The Atlanta Beat was an American professional soccer club based in Atlanta, Georgia. The team joined Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) as an expansion team in 2010, and played its home games at Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium (now Fifth Third Bank Stadium), the result of a public-private partnership between the team and Kennesaw State University. The club succeeded the former Atlanta Beat of the defunct Women's United Soccer Association. The Beat folded along with WPS after the 2012 season, and the Atlanta area does not have a team in WPS' effective successor, the current National Women's Soccer League.
South Georgia Tormenta FC is based out of Statesboro, Georgia, and began play in 2016 in the amateur Premier Development League. The team moved up to the professional ranks as the first team to join the third tier USL League One, which began play in 2019. The team currently plays at Eagle Field on the Georgia Southern University campus but is constructing a soccer-specific stadium set to open in 2021.
The Masters Tournament, played in Augusta at Augusta National Golf Club in April is one of four major golf tournaments played in the United States. The tournament was created in 1931 by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, a financier from New York City. The course was designed by golf course architect Alister MacKenzie. Notable golfers from Georgia include Atlanta native Jones, noted as the greatest amateur golfer ever, Davis Love III of Sea Island and Tommy Aaron of Gainesville.
Table of professional teams
Georgia is home to approximately twenty-two race tracks and drag strips. Some of the twenty-two tracks in Georgia are the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Road Atlanta (where the Petit Le Mans is held), Atlanta Dragway, Dixie Speedway and Roebling Road Raceway. One of the most famous racers to come from Georgia is Bill Elliott.
Many observers consider Dawsonville one of the birthplaces of NASCAR because so many individuals involved in the sport were from that city. Notable racers from Dawsonville include Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott, Roy Hall and Lloyd Seay. Since 1951 Georgia tracks have hosted two to eight races in NASCAR's elite division. Dawsonville is home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
There are seven Division I institutions recognized by the NCAA.
- University of Georgia
- Georgia Southern University
- Georgia State University
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
The Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have a historical rivalry in college football known as Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.
The remaining three field football teams in the second-tier Division I FCS:
A total of 16 institutions are members of NCAA Division II.
- Albany State University
- Armstrong State University – will discontinue athletics after the 2016–17 school year once it merges into Georgia Southern University
- Augusta University
- Clark Atlanta University
- Clayton State University
- Columbus State University
- Emmanuel College (provisional member)
- Fort Valley State University
- Georgia College and State University
- Georgia Southwestern State University
- Morehouse College
- University of North Georgia
- Paine College
- Valdosta State University
- University of West Georgia
- Young Harris College
LaGrange College is in the NCAA Division III with 14 sports, and competes as a member of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The school's most successful athletic program is its men's golf team, which is perennially among the nation's best.
Georgia has seven other institutions in Division III. They are:
- Agnes Scott College
- Berry College
- Emory University
- LaGrange College
- Oglethorpe University
- Piedmont College
- Spelman College
- Wesleyan College
- Brenau University
- Brewton-Parker College
- College of Coastal Georgia
- Dalton State College
- Georgia Gwinnett College
- Life University
- Middle Georgia State University
- Point University
- Reinhardt University
- Savannah College of Art and Design
- SCAD Atlanta
- Thomas University
- Truett McConnell University
1996 Summer Olympics
Atlanta was the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 1996 Summer Paralympics. The Olympics were held from July 19 until August 4, 1996. It was during this time, on July 27, 1996, that a bombing took place in Centennial Park killing two and injuring 111 people. The Paralympics were held from August 15 to August 29, 2006.
Olympians from Georgia
Several people from Georgia, or from Georgia schools, have received gold medals at the Olympics over the years. Some of those gold medalists are:
- Brent B. Abernathy
- Alice Marie Coachman
- Teresa Edwards
- Debbie Ferguson
- Vern Fleming
- Katrina McClain
- Courtney Shealy
- Sheila Taormina
- Forrest Towns
- Braves Time line, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Hawks History, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Atlanta Vision, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Roman Legions, Accessed December 31, 2007
- , Accessed December 31, 2007
- WBA Team History, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Report: WNBA awards Atlanta franchise for '08 season, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Historical Moments, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Atlanta Xplosion, Accessed January 1, 2008
- History, Accessed December 31, 2007
- Columbus Cottonmouths Official Website, Accessed January 1, 2008
- "Cottonmouths to suspend operations for next season". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. May 3, 2017.
- Atlanta Silverbacks Official Site, accessed January 1, 2008
- Masters Tournament, Accessed January 2, 2008
- Bobby Jones, Accessed January 2, 2008
- Davis Love III, Accessed January 2, 2008
- Tommy Aaron, Accessed January 2, 2008
- Race Tracks in Georgia, Accessed January 1, 2008
- Bill Elliott, Accessed January 1, 2008
- NASCAR, Accessed January 2, 2008
- Olympic Games in 1996, Accessed January 5, 2008
- Centennial Olympic Park Bombing - Atlanta, Georgia, Accessed January 5, 2008
- Georgia Olympians, Accessed January 5, 2008[dead link]
- Olympians from GA Archived December 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Accessed January 5, 2008