Rock Hill, sports city

Most residents already know that Rock Hill is a sports city. But it's nice to be recognized as such by The Sporting News.

The magazine, which is based in Charlotte, recently placed Rock Hill at No. 149 out of 400 on its annual list of Best Sports Cities. This isn't the first time the city has made the list or even its highest ranking; it ranked 148 in 2005.

Nonetheless, it's a feather in the city's cap to make the list, which is dominated at the top by big cities such as Boston (No. 1) and Chicago (No. 9). Charlotte ranks 35th.

The primary, if not the only, reason Rock Hill makes the list so consistently is Winthrop University's basketball program. Bill Hille, chief of correspondents for the magazine and a recent transplant to Rock Hill, said the success of Winthrop's men's and women's basketball teams last season and the strength of the Big South Conference landed the city a spot on the list.

Few would argue that Winthrop basketball has succeeded in developing a passionate fan base and becoming a program to reckon with nationally. But some might wonder about other big local sporting events.

Apparently, they don't count in the rankings. To qualify for the list, a city must have at least a Division I basketball team or be a training site for a major professional sports league. A city can earn points for hosting events such as the PGA tournament or a Triple Crown horse race, but, says Hille, the magazine emphasizes "quality over quantity."

Well, OK, it's their magazine. Nonetheless, we think they might take notice of the fact that Rock Hill is the disc golf center of the universe.

The city also boasts Cherry Park, a first-class softball complex that annually plays host to the National Softball Association Class B Girls Fastpitch World Series. Rock Hill also has the Manchester Meadows soccer complex, which has been the site for a number of high school, college and club tournaments, and has seating for hundreds of fans.

Rock Hill also has a new tennis complex, a new aquatics center and youth baseball diamonds throughout the city. Bicycle enthusiasts also have been lobbying for a velodrome in the city that could be the site of races, attracting cyclists and fans from around the world.

So, while we love the Winthrop Eagles and we're flattered to be on the list of Best Sports Cities, we think the sporting opportunities offered in Rock Hill are more diverse than that list reflects. Come on, disc golf should count!


Rock Hill has many reasons to call itself one of nation's top sports cities.