Division (sport)

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In sports, a division is a group of teams who compete against each other for a championship.

Sport forms of competitive activity, usually physical

Sport includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a "tie" or "draw", in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.

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League system

In sports using a league system (also known as a pyramid structure), a division consists of a group of teams who play a sport at a similar competitive level. Teams can move up to a higher division of play or drop down to a lower one via the process of promotion and relegation, based on their performance in the standings at the end of the season. The existence of divisions based on level of competition ensures that teams at one competitive level can play other teams at a similar competitive level, thus creating parity and more exciting matches.

A league system is a hierarchy of leagues in a sport. They are often called pyramids, due to their tendency to split into an increasing number of regional divisions further down the system. League systems of some sort are used in many sports in many countries.

Promotion and relegation sporting term

In sports leagues, promotion and relegation is a process where teams are transferred between multiple divisions based on their performance for the completed season. The best-ranked team(s) in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the next season, and the worst-ranked team(s) in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the next season. In some leagues, playoffs or qualifying rounds are also used to determine rankings. This process can continue through several levels of divisions, with teams being exchanged between levels 1 and 2, levels 2 and 3, levels 3 and 4, and so on. During the season, teams that are high enough in the league table that they would qualify for promotion are sometimes said to be in the promotion zone, and those at the bottom are in the relegation zone.

In sports, parity is when participating teams have roughly equivalent levels of talent. In such a league, the "best" team is not significantly better than the "worst" team. This leads to more competitive contests where the winner cannot be easily predicted in advance. The opposite condition, which could be considered "disparity" between teams, is a condition where the elite teams are so much more talented that the lesser teams are hopelessly outmatched.

Franchise system

In North America, where sports usually operate on a franchise system rather than a league system, a division is a group of teams within a league which is organized along geographical lines rather than competitive success. Teams based in cities that are in a particular region of the continent are grouped together in the same division. For instance, in Major League Baseball, both the American and National Leagues have East, Central, and West divisions; the teams in each division are mostly (but not always) located in the eastern, central, and western sections of North America respectively. In a franchise system, teams are not promoted or relegated as are teams in a league system. All teams in the league (and by extension, the divisions of the league) are at the same competitive level and remain so year after year.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

A sports league is a group of sports teams that compete against each other in a specific sport. At its simplest, it may be a local group of amateur athletes who form teams among themselves and compete on weekends; at its most complex, it can be an international professional league making large amounts of money and involving dozens of teams and thousands of players.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

North American professional sports leagues often construct their season schedules in a way such that teams in a division play matches against each other more often than other teams in the league. This not only has the effect of reducing travel costs, but also creates exciting rivalries between the teams in the division. Moreover, the top teams in a division qualify for the postseason playoff tournament that crowns the league champion, which heightens the rivalries between the teams in a division.

The playoffs, play-offs, postseason and/or finals of a sports league are a competition played after the regular season by the top competitors to determine the league champion or a similar accolade. Depending on the league, the playoffs may be either a single game, a series of games, or a tournament, and may use a single-elimination system or one of several other different playoff formats. Playoff, in regard to international fixtures, is to qualify or progress to the next round of a competition or tournament.

Geographically-based divisions can become skewed if an expansion team joins the league or if one of the franchises within a division moves to another city, necessitating a shuffling or realignment of the teams in a division. Furthermore, the results of the realignment may not always reflect geographical realities. For instance, in 1995, the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) moved to St Louis, Missouri and became the St Louis Rams. The team retained its place in the NFC West division despite the fact that St. Louis is further east than Dallas, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Although Dallas is located in the south-central United States, the Cowboys are a member of the NFC East division due to their long-standing rivalries with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, all of whom are located on the Eastern seaboard.

An expansion team is a new team in a sports league, usually from a city that has not hosted a team in that league before, formed with the intention of satisfying the demand for a local team from a population in a new area. Sporting leagues also hope that the expansion of their competition will grow the popularity of the sport generally. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues but is applied to sports leagues in other countries with a closed franchise system of league membership. The term comes from the expansion of the sport into new areas. That sometimes results in the payment of an expansion fee to the league by the new team and an expansion draft to populate the new roster.

In North American sports, realignment refers to a major change in the competitive structure of one or more existing leagues. The mechanics differ somewhat between amateur and professional sports.

History of the Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams are a professional American football team that play in the National Football League (NFL). The Rams franchise was founded in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams in the short-lived second American Football League before joining the NFL the next year. In 1946, the franchise moved to Los Angeles. The Rams franchise remained in the metro area until 1994, when they moved to St. Louis, and were known as the St. Louis Rams from 1995 to 2015. The Rams franchise returned to Los Angeles in 2016. This article chronicles the franchise's history during their time in Los Angeles, from playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum between 1946 and 1979, to playing at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim from 1980 to 1994, and its return to Southern California beginning with the 2016 season.

U.S. college sports

In U.S. college sports, a "division" has a meaning different from either sense listed above, although somewhat closer to that of the league system.

College athletics encompasses non-professional, collegiate and university-level competitive sports and games.

The major governing bodies for college sports, the NCAA and NAIA, divide their member schools into large competitive groups. These groups are much larger than divisions in either the league or franchise system—for example, the NCAA's highest competitive level, Division I, has more than 300 member schools. The vast majority of teams are members of conferences, smaller groupings that usually have between 6 and 14 members. Conference champions, plus selected other teams, compete in national championship tournaments (with the exception of schools in the highest level of NCAA (American) football, which have never had an NCAA-recognized national championship).

As an example, the NCAA is split into three divisions:

"Division" within conferences

The term division is also used in US college sports to indicate the groupings of members of a given conference. However, this usage is more recent. The first conference to divide its teams into divisions was the Southeastern Conference which, upon expanding to 12 members in 1992, divided into Eastern and Western divisions. Other conferences have undergone similar expansion and division. The usage in the section above is still maintained. For example, the Georgia Bulldogs are in Division I, but are also in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference.

See also

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