Masters Theses

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Derek H. Alderman

Committee Members

I. Solange Muñoz, Ronald V. Kalafsky


The idea of the Southeastern United States as a region has long infatuated the popular American imagination. While it is a site of historic and present trauma for some, collective Southern regional identity is constructed as a geographic imagined community of belonging. This place-based identity is expressed in many ways, one of which is through college football fandom. Southeastern Conference (SEC) football has long been associated with the presumed region of the South, and a popular expression of both SEC football fandom and southeastern regional identity is the tourism act of attending college football games. This thesis is a critical environmental investigation into that tourism.The global tourism industry contributes to global anthropogenic climate change through the emission of greenhouse gasses. As such, carbon footprinting can help quantify the sustainability of individual tourism events in terms of emissions. This case study seeks to assess the carbon footprint of six seasons of University of Tennessee college football, an SEC institution with one of the largest football stadiums in the United States. Using an extensive geographic sample of ticketing data from Tennessee’s home games during the 2014-2019 seasons, a total carbon footprint was estimated to be 232,864,549 kg CO2eq.This study presents both a methodology for studying spectator sporting events in sport tourism and evidence for the need for tourism organizations and governments to account for and reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. It also demonstrates grounded consequences for the often trivialized ideas of fandom and place-based identity in a fresh way by examining an environmental impact of an identity expression. This thesis highlights the paradox that Tennessee football fandom, an expression of place-based identity, is simultaneously an agent in social placemaking and environmental place-destroying.


This thesis is presented to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the “Use of Journal Articles in Thesis” format. The article in question, “Making orange green? A critical carbon footprinting of Tennessee football gameday tourism” was published online in the Journal of Sport & Tourism on 14 February 2020. I am the sole author of this paper and have compiled, processed, and analyzed the data and completed all the writing myself. The paper as seen in Chapter 2 of this thesis is not a carbon copy of the journal article. It is in fact a bit longer than the manuscript submitted for publication as it develops the idea of sustainable tourism more fully and presents more expanded results. This expansion represents a substantial difference from and improvement to the original article. The dataset analyzed was increased from 4 to 6 years with the addition of 2014 and 2019 ticketing data after my submission to the journal but before the defense of the thesis. Chapters 1 and 3 were not a part of the journal submission and serve here to further contextualize and demonstrate the full implications of the piece.

Available for download on Sunday, May 15, 2022

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