Sports are an important part of the culture of the United States. Four of the nation's five most popular team sports were developed in North America: American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey, whereas soccer was developed in England. The four Major leagues in the United States are the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL); all enjoy massive media exposure and are considered the preeminent competitions in their respective sports in the world. Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are among the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. The top professional soccer league in the United States, Major League Soccer, has not yet reached the popularity levels of the top four sports leagues, although average attendance has been increasing and in fact has matched or surpassed those of the NBA and the NHL.
Professional teams in all major sports operate as franchises within a league. All major sports leagues use the same type of schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends. In addition to the major league-level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues, active in smaller cities across the country.
The Tennessee Volunteers and Lady Volunteers are the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college sports teams at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. In September 2011 Dave Hart, formerly the assistant athletic director at the University of Alabama, was introduced as Tennessee's new athletic director. Hart became the school's first athletic director in Tennessee history to oversee both the women's and men's athletic departments as they merged in June 2012 after which Joan Cronan, the former women's athletics director became the senior adviser to Hart and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek.