Special Report

Most Popular Sports Teams in Kansas

Chris Covatta / Getty Images

The man who invented basketball is a coach who came straight from the state of Kansas. Dr. James Naismith coached at the University of Kansas, and ironically enough, he’s the only coach in program history with a losing record. Because of his willingness to be so creative in the athletic realm, basketball is the most popular sport in the state. It also helps that the program is one of the most successful in the nation.

However, they’ve had to go up against their biggest rival (Kansas State) every year. The Wildcats have one of the most consistent athletic programs in the nation. It feels as though they’re always in the thick of it, while still looking to get over every hump. Along with Central Florida and West Virginia, the Wildcats don’t have a championship in any sport to their credit. Their constant dominance and quality play make these truths hard to believe.

These two teams aren’t from the only powerful programs in Kansas, by the way. Back in 2013, the Shockers announced their presence in the world of college basketball by advancing to the Final Four. While they lost to Louisville by four points, they showed the nation they were serious about returning to relevancy.

Another sport that’s taken off in popularity in the Sunflower State is soccer. Sporting Kansas City is the only professional team to play their home games in Kansas, which means fans across the state show up for them. The Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals play in Missouri, but there are rumblings of the Royals relocating to Kansas in the future. For coverage on talented individuals born in Kansas, click here to read about the 10 biggest movie stars from the state.

To gather this list of most popular teams in Kansas, 24/7 Tempo consulted sports-centered websites. These include MLS.com, ESPN and FOX Sports.

 Kansas Jayhawks Basketball

Source: Andy Lyons / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
The Jayhawks are always one of the best basketball teams in the nation.

Few teams have had the same dominance level in sports as the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team. In fact, the team won or tied for winning the Big 12 Conference fourteen years in a row between 2005 to 2018. They’ve won six national championships and they’ve been the runner-up six additional times.

Legendary players like Wilt Chamberlain and Joel Embiid honed their skills at the college level in Kansas before moving on to the NBA. When it comes to college basketball, few teams have the same respect next to their name like Kansas. Every year, the team and its fans expect to win the championship, which Bill Self intends on doing for the rest of his career. 

Kansas Jayhawks Football

Source: Chris Coduto/Getty Images
The Kansas Jayhawks beat the UNLV Rebels in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

Up until 2022, the Jayhawks football team was an after-thought. They struggled to place a competitive team on the field for years. In fact, between 2010 and 2021, the Jayhawks won a total of 23 games. That’s an average of about two games per season. However, Lance Leipold turned the program around with the help of players like Jalon Daniels.

In just three seasons, Leipold brought the team back to its first bowl game in a while, a victory against UNLV. He’s also talked about how much it means to him to build his own program, not inherit one. Jayhawks fans should be happy and excited for what the future has in store for the team. 

Kansas Jayhawks Women’s Basketball

Source: Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Kansas and Kansas State have an intense rivalry in both men’s and women’s basketball.

Women’s basketball has taken off in popularity over the last couple of years. Talent like Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark helped propel the sport to new heights. While the Jayhawks women’s team hasn’t had the same level of success the men’s has, they’re certainly headed in the right direction.

While it isn’t the NCAA Tournament, coach Brandon Schneider guided the team to the women’s NIT championship in 2023. The NIT championship is still an impressive feat. Hall of fame player Lynette Woodward played her college basketball at Kansas back in the day. She once played for this incredible team. The Jayhawks have a plan to keep the success going, which should give fans confidence going forward. 

Kansas State Wildcats Basketball

Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
One of the best college basketball players in the 2000s was Michael Beasley, who played for Kansas State.

There’s nothing quite like college basketball rivalries. Unlike football, basketball fans are seated right next to the court and players. Basketball stars can easily hear what fans are screaming in their ears. The Kansas State Wildcats are the ultimate rival for the Kansas Jayhawks. Fans line up outside the building hours before tipoff, even in the freezing temperatures Kansas is known to have.

In his first season as coach in 2023, Jerome Tang helped the Wildcats get to the Elite Eight. That’s where they suffered a crushing loss to Florida Atlantic. However, Coach Tang has instilled work ethic and pride amongst his team fans have been wanting. The Wildcats are still looking for their first championship, and Coach Tang intends on delivering that sooner than later. 

Kansas State Wildcats Football

Source: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
One of the teams to play in the meme filled Pop-Tarts Bowl in 2023 was the Kansas State Wildcats.

Finding a good football coach is hard to do. Keeping them around is even more challenging. The Kansas State Wildcats are coached by Chris Klieman as if now. He had some of the biggest shoes in the world to fill after Bill Snyder retired. Coach Klieman won four national championships at North Dakota State, and has brought that same level of success to the Wildcats.

He’s already won a Big 12 title, but is still looking for his first playoff appearance. With the playoff expanding to 12 teams, the Wildcats will be one of the teams likely to make it. Once they’re in, all that matters is winning your next game. The playoff has been the best thing to happen to college football, and plenty of Wildcat fans are excited to see what comes from it. 

Kansas State Wildcats Women’s Basketball

Source: Peter Aiken/Getty Images
The Kansas State Wildcats are on the hunt in 2024, putting themselves high on the list of teams who could win it all.

The 2024 season has been special for the Kansas State Wildcats women’s basketball team. They’re going to make the tournament and have dominated the competition all season. Coach Jeff Mittie has the Wildcats looking right, after a few years of struggling to make a deep postseason run. This could be the season the team breaks past the Sweet Sixteen.

One of the best parts of college basketball (both men’s and women’s) is the tournament. While it’s easier to say who the dominant teams are on the women’s side, all it takes is one bad day for a team to win. The Wildcats are searching for their first title, and thanks to their ability to click on all cylinders, 2024 may very well be the year for it to happen. 

Wichita State Shockers Basketball

Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Wichita State has given Kansas a run for their money in multiple matchups since their Final Four run in 2013.

America loves an underdog story. That’s just what the Wichita State Shockers provided in their 2013 season. As the nine seed, they beat teams like Gonzaga to make it to the Final Four for the second time in school history. A crushing defeat to Louisville didn’t allow them to see their first title game, but it was still a wildly successful season overall.

The Shockers were able to build off that intense run. They turned it into quite the college program from there. Basketball is “king” throughout Kansas, so there’s no shortage of talent to scout locally. The Shockers want to get back to where Gregg Marshall had them in the 2010s. 

Wichita State Shockers Women’s Basketball

Source: Brocreative / Shutterstock
The Wichita State women’s basketball team is working hard to get to the pinnacle of college sports.

The Wichita State Shockers women’s team is looking to find the same fiery spark the men’s team did in 2013. Other than 2013, 2014, and 2015, the team hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament. It’s been difficult for the Shockers along the way. For a long time, they shared a conference with UConn. During that stretch, UConn was arguably the most dominant team in all of sports.

Getting an automatic bid is the easiest way to make the tournament, which is what Wichita State would have needed to do. However, the Shockers have been cycling through coaches like no other. This reality should give fans some sort of peace that the athletic department does want to see success. As of 2024, Terry Nooner is getting the program back on track and where it should be. 

Sporting Kansas City

Source: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
Sporting Kansas City takes pride in going into every game with the intention of winning.

The only professional sports team to play their home games in Kansas is Sporting Kansas City. Their stadium is constantly packed, thanks to how easy it is to get to for locals. Instead of being in a busy downtown district, they play near a mall in the suburbs. That’s what helped cultivate a massive soccer following in the city.

Another win is that Sporting Kansas City is one of the best teams in all of MLS. They’ve won two MLS Cups and four U.S. Open Cups. The soccer passion that runs through the state helped secure Kansas City as one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup when it comes to North America. 

Wichita Wind Surge

Source: David Lee / Shutterstock
The Wichita Wind Surge have only played two seasons, but have already made quite big waves.

One of the most important parts of any successful Major League Baseball team is how good their minor leagues are at developing talent. The Wichita Wind Surge are part of the Minnesota Twins organization. Over the last five years, the Twins have been a highly consistent team in the baseball world.

While the Wind Surge have only been associated with the team since 2021, they’ve helped the top talent in the Twins organization get ready to play ball at the next level. Ramon Borrego, the manager of the team, won Manager of the Year in 2022. His win goes to show how vital lower level teaching is. 

Kansas Speedway

Source: Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images
Drivers like Bubba Wallace race around the track at Kansas Speedway each year.

One of the biggest weekends in Kansas happens whenever NASCAR (or any other racing event) comes to town. This race, in particular, takes place at the Kansas Speedway. The 1.5 mile course provides unique turning angles and different circumstances than other tracks. Because of how hot and humid it is during the summers in Kansas, tires get worn down quicker.

Drivers have to be cautious and drink tons of water during the race in order to stay hydrated. These variables provide some of the most memorable moments in racing for fans. Over the years, Joey Logano has taken home the most victories of any driver at Kansas Speedway. Another perk to the track is the fact there’s a casino right next door. Since sports gambling is legal in Kansas, fans are welcome to place bets before heading over to the track to watch the events. 

Kansas Jayhawks Baseball

Source: theseanster93 / Flickr
The Kansas Jayhawks baseball team wants to have the same level of success as the basketball team.

College baseball provides a trusty place for players to prepare their skills for the next level. Baseball is one of the few sports athletes can get drafted in after high school. The Jayhawks baseball team is helping college students turn their dreams into a reality. The program’s best player in history was Bob Allison.

During his professional career, Allison won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1959 and enjoyed three All-Star appearances during his 12 year career. The Jayhawks are still in search of their first College World Series victory. It’s been a while since they last made it out of the regionals, but manager Dan Fitzgerald has his eyes set on the big picture. 

Kansas State Wildcats Baseball

Source: Janie Osborne / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
Fans pack stands like this during baseball season for the Kansas State Wildcats.

In his five years as manager, Pete Hughes has helped the Wildcats improve every season. The Wildcats are still looking for their first College World Series title as it stands today. They’re aiming to achieve that before the Jayhawks do, thanks to their fierce rivalry against each other. Playing in the Big 12 means they have to play powerhouse teams like West Virginia to come out on top.

Conference re-alignment is going to make things interesting this season and beyond. The Wildcats have shown that they can produce big league players over the last decade. Nick Martini, Jordan Wicks, and Will Brennan are all established players in the MLB who played their college ball at Kansas State. 

Wichita State Shockers Baseball

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images
Few names are engrained in every baseball fan’s mind like Joe Carter, who played for Wichita State in college.

The most successful college baseball team in Kansas is the Wichita State Shockers. They won the championship in 1989, with three appearances in the title game. However, this all took place in the 1980s and 1990s. The Shockers are looking to get back to their dominant ways in this modern era.

Joe Carter is a player who’s remembered for his walk-off homerun to win the 1993 World Series. Alec Bohm of the Philadelphia Phillies played college baseball at Wichita State as well. Brian Green is in his first year managing the Shockers, and fans are excited to see where the team can get to under his watch. For more sports related content, click here to read the 22 most famous baseball quotes.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.