What do you call the rubber-soled shoes that people wear during athletic activities?
A New York Times questionnaire revealed that most Americans call them TENNIS SHOES.
People in the Northeast USA (along with South Florida, which may be “snowbirds” from the Northeast USA) identify them as SNEAKERS. The term sneakers comes from the ability of the wearer to "sneak" around since these rubber-soled shoes are virtually noiseless.
Interestingly, the term GYM SHOES is popular in Chicago and Cincinnati.