In an organized sports league, a typical season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session: for example, in Major League Baseball the season lasts approximately from April to October.In other team sports, like association football or basketball, it is generally from August or September to May although in some countries - such as Northern Europe or East Asia - the season starts in the spring and finishes in autumn, mainly due to weather conditions encountered during the winter.
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.
A year is the orbital period of the Earth moving in its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the course of a year sees the passing of the seasons, marked by change in weather, the hours of daylight, and, consequently, vegetation and soil fertility. The current year is 2019.
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.
A year can often be broken up into several distinct sections (sometimes themselves called seasons). These are: a preseason, a series of exhibition games played for training purposes; a regular season, the main period of the league's competition; the postseason, a playoff tournament played against the league's top teams to determine the league's champion; and the offseason, the time when there is no official competition.
In sport, the term "regular season" or "home and away season"refers to the sport's league competition. The regular season is usually similar to a group tournament format: teams are divided into groups, conferences and/or divisions, and each club plays a set number of games against a set number of opponents. In most countries the league is played in a double round-robin format, where every team plays every other team twice, once at their home venue, and once away at the oppositions venue as visitors. The results over all games are accumulated and when every team has completed its full schedule of games, a winner is declared.
In North America, the scheduling is different. Rather than every team playing all others twice, teams usually play more games against local rivals than teams in other parts of the country. For example, the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers will play the Los Angeles Clippers (a team within their division, a subdivision of the conference) four times in a regular season, while both will only play the Boston Celtics, who are in the opposite Eastern Conference, twice. Part of this is due to the vast geographic distances between some teams in North America—measured in a straight line, Los Angeles is 2,606 miles (4,194 kilometers) from Boston, for instance—and a desire to limit travel expenses. In the scheduling system used in the NFL, it is possible for two teams to only meet every four years, and to only have 2 common opponents in a season. Major League Baseball has the most uneven schedules of all the four major North American sports. In MLB the conferences are called leagues instead, but have exactly the same effect as conferences (as with all North American major leagues, leagues, conferences and division are not based on skill, but instead geography, history and rivalries). Teams play 19 games against each of teams in their own division each year but will only play 20 games total against all of the teams in the other league. Because each of the interleague matchups is part of a 3-game series or a 2-game series, teams will play no games at all against most teams from the other league. They play 6 of the 15 teams in the other league, a historically high number (until 1997, interleague play was limited to exhibition matches and the postseason World Series, and thus MLB teams did not play the other league's teams at all).
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men's professional basketball league in North America; composed of 30 teams. It is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world. The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by FIBA as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Lakers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the league's Western Conference in the Pacific Division. The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, an arena shared with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League. The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA, and have won 16 NBA championships, the second-most behind the Boston Celtics.
The Los Angeles Clippers, abbreviated by the team as the LA Clippers, are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Clippers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of Pacific Division of the league's Western Conference. The Clippers play their home games at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, an arena shared with fellow NBA team the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL).
In Australia, the two largest football leagues, the AFL (Australian rules football) and NRL (rugby league), both grew out of competitions held within a single city (respectively Melbourne and Sydney) and only began expanding to the rest of the country when inexpensive air travel made a national league possible. These leagues use a single table instead of being split into divisions. The term "home and away season" is sometimes used instead of regular season.
The Australian Football League (AFL) is the pre-eminent professional competition of Australian rules football in Australia. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the laws of the game. The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) as a breakaway from the previous Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing in 1897. Originally comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after expanding to other states throughout the 1980s.
Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, or simply called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts or between behind posts.
The National Rugby League (NRL) is a league of professional men's rugby league teams in Australia. Run by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the NRL's main competition is known as the Telstra Premiership due to sponsorship from Telstra Corporation and is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia with one based in New Zealand. It is the most viewed and attended rugby league club competition in the world.
Many football leagues in Latin America have a very different system. Because most Latin American countries never had a football cup competition, they instead split their season into two parts, typically known as the Apertura and Clausura (Spanish for "opening" and "closing"). Most countries that use this system, Argentina being one notable example, crown separate league champions for each part of the season, using only league play. A few others, such as Uruguay, crown one champion at the end of a playoff involving top teams from each half of the season. Mexico operates its Apertura and Clausura as separate competitions that both end in playoffs. Brazil has a different system, the season starts with the state championships in January (every Brazilian state have his own championship), these state championships ends in April. The Campeonato Brasileiro Série A itself starts in May and ends in early December, and is played in a double round-robin format in the same way as the European championships.
The Apertura[apeɾˈtuɾa] and Clausura[klawˈsuɾa] tournaments is a split season format for sports leagues. It is a relatively recent innovation for many Latin American football leagues in which the traditional association football season from August to May is divided in two sections per season, each with its own champion. Apertura and Clausura are the Spanish words for "opening" and "closing". In French-speaking Haiti, these are known as the Ouverture and the Fermeture, while in English-speaking Belize, they are respectively the Opening and Closing seasons. The North American Soccer League (NASL) adopted a split season in 2013; the season is divided into a Spring Championship and Fall Championship.
Spanish or Castilian, is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
The Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, commonly referred as Brasileirão, is a Brazilian professional league for men's football clubs. At the top of the Brazilian football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B.
A system similar to the Apertura and Clausura developed independently in Philippine professional basketball, with formerly two, now three tournaments (called "conferences") in one season, with each conference divided into an "elimination round" (the regular season) and the playoffs in the North American sense. Winning the playoffs is the ultimate goal of every team for every conference; while there is no season championship, winning all conferences within a single season is rare and has only happened five times since 1975, with the two most recent examples occurring in 1996 and 2013–14. The elimination round and playoffs setup has permeated down to the local level and in most team sports, although seasons are not divided into conferences.
Many sports leagues have playoffs or "finals" that occur after the regular season is complete. A subset of the teams enter into a playoff tournament, usually a knockout tournament, generally a pre-determined number with better overall records (more wins, fewer losses) during the regular season. There are many variations used to determine the champion, the league's top prize. In many of these leagues, winning the league's top prize at the conclusion of the postseason is more important than winning the regular season. This includes the five major U.S. sports leagues (Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals, World Series and MLS Cup), the major Australian sports (NBL Grand Final, A-League Grand Final, AFL Grand Final and NRL Grand Final) and the CFL's Grey Cup.
European leagues have also started holding playoffs after a double round-robin "regular season". The Football League started its promotion playoffs in 1987, with the third up to the sixth-ranked teams participating for the final promotion berth (the two top teams are automatically promoted). Elsewhere, relegation playoffs are also held to determine which teams would be relegated to the lower leagues. One prominent top-level football league, the Eredivisie of the Netherlands, uses two different playoffs—one for relegation purposes, and the other to determine one of the league's entrants in the following season's UEFA Europa League. In Superleague Greece, which currently has two places in the UEFA Champions League and three in the Europa League, the teams that finish second through fifth in the regular season enter a home-and-away "playoff" mini-league. Since one Europa League place is reserved for the country's cup winner, only three of the four teams are guaranteed a place in the next season's European competitions (unless both the cup winner and runner-up are already qualified for Europe by other means). The playoff determines the country's second Champions League participant, and the points at which the two or three Europa League entrants join that competition. Conversely, some leagues like the Premier League do not hold a postseason, and therefore these leagues' champions and relegation are instead based on the regular season records.
Although rugby union did not become professional until 1995, that sport has a long history of playoffs, primarily in France and the Southern Hemisphere. The French national championship, now known as Top 14, staged a championship final in its first season of 1892, first used more than one round of playoffs in 1893, and has continuously operated a playoff system (except during the two World Wars) since 1899. South Africa's Currie Cup has determined its champions by playoffs since 1968, and New Zealand's National Provincial Championship, the top level of which is now known as the Mitre 10 Cup, has used playoffs since its creation in 1976. Argentina's Nacional de Clubes has determined its champion by playoffs since its inception in 1993. Currently, two separate competitions feed into the Nacional, the Torneo de la URBA (for Buenos Aires clubs, held since 1899) and Torneo del Interior (for the rest of the country); both use playoffs to determine their champions. Super Rugby, involving regional franchises from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and national franchises in Argentina and Japan, has used playoffs to determine its champions since its creation as Super 12 in 1996.
By contrast, other European countries were slow to adopt playoffs in rugby union. The English Premiership only began playoffs in 1999–2000, and did not use them to determine the league champion until 2002-03. The Celtic League, now known as Pro14, resisted a playoff system even longer; its champions were determined solely by league play from its inception in 2001–02 until playoffs began in 2009–10.
When the UEFA Champions League reformatted in 1993, it added a "knockout stage" involving four teams that finished at the top two places in their respective groups. Like North American sports leagues, this setup prevented some participants from facing each other, necessitating a two-round knockout stage to determine the champions. It has since been expanded to the 4-round knockout stage today. The Copa Libertadores has applied a knockout stage since the 1988 tournament, expanding to the current four-round format next season. All intercontinental club football competitions now feature a knockout stage.
The off-season, vacation time, or close season is the time of year when there is no official competition. Although upper management continues to work, the athletes will take much vacation time off. Also, various events such as drafts, transfers and important off-season free agent signings occur. Generally, most athletes stay in shape during the off-season in preparation for the next season. Certain new rules in the league may be made during this time, and will become enforced during the next regular season.
As most countries which have a league in a particular sport will operate their regular season at roughly the same time as the others, international tournaments may be arranged during the off season.
For example, most European football league club competitions run from July or August to May, subsequently major international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Football Championship are organised to occur in June and July.
The table represents typical seasons for some leagues by month. Blank or white denotes off-season and pre-season months and solid colors mark the rest of the year. Leagues in the same sport use the same color.
|AFC Champions League||Association football||Asia||Q||S||P||P||F|
|AAF||American football||S||P F|
|AFL||Arena Football||S||P F|
|AFL||Australian rules football||S||P F|
|AIHL||Ice hockey||S||P F|
|ATP World Tour||Tennis||Worldwide||S||F|
|ANZ Premiership||Netball||S||P F|
|AUDL||Ultimate Frisbee||S||P F|
|Asia Series||Baseball||Asia||P F|
|Bangladesh Premier League||Cricket||S||P F|
|Basketbol Süper Ligi||Basketball||P||P F||S|
|Big Bash League||Cricket||P F||S|
|CAF Champions League||Association football||Africa||Q||Q S||P||F|
|Campeonato Brasileiro Série A||Association football||S|
|CFL||Canadian football||E||S||P F|
|Caribbean Premier League||Cricket||S||P F|
|Chinese Super League||Association football||S|
|CEV Champions League||Volleyball||Europe||P||P||P F||Q||Q S|
|CONCACAF Champions League||Association football||North America||P||P||P F|
|CONCACAF League||Association football||North America||P||P||P F|
|Copa Libertadores||Association football||South America||S||P||P||F|
|Copa Sudamericana||Association football||South America||S||P||P||F|
|Euro Beach Soccer League||Beach soccer||Europe||S||PF|
|European Rugby Champions Cup||Rugby union||Europe||P||F||S|
|Gallagher Premiership||Rugby union||P F||S|
|Greek Basket League||Basketball||P||P F||S|
|Guinness Pro14||Rugby union||P F||S|
|HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series||Rugby sevens (union)||Worldwide||S|
|Indian Premier League||Cricket||S||P||F|
|J1 League||Association football||S|
|KHL||Ice hockey||P||P F||S|
|La Liga||Association football||S|
|Lega Basket Serie A||Basketball||P||P F||S|
|Liga MX||Association football||S||P F||S||P||P F|
|Ligue 1||Association football||S|
|MLS||Association football||S||P||P F|
|Grand Prix motorcycle racing||Motorsport||Worldwide||S|
|NASCAR||Motorsport||E S||P||P||P F|
|NBA||Basketball||P||P||P F||E||E S|
|NHL||Ice hockey||P||P||P F||E||S|
|NHRA||Drag racing||S||P||P||P F|
|NCAA basketball||Basketball||P||P F||S|
|NCAA football||American football||P F||S||P||P F|
|NWSL||Association football||S||P F|
|PGA Tour||Golf||P||P F||S|
|PBA||Basketball||P||P F S||P F||F||S||P F||S|
|Premier League||Association football||S|
|Premier Soccer League||Association football||S|
|Primera División (Argentina)||Association football||S|
|Serie A||Association football||S|
|Serie del Caribe||Baseball||Caribbean||PF|
|Serie Nacional de Béisbol||Baseball||PF||S|
|Suncorp Super Netball||Netball||S||P F|
|Super League||Rugby league||S||P||P F|
|Superleague Greece||Association football||P||P||F||S|
|Süper Lig||Association football||S|
|Super Rugby||Rugby union||S||P||P F||P F|
|Top 14||Rugby union||P||F||S|
|Turkish Airlines EuroLeague||Basketball||Europe||P||P||P||P||F||Q||Q S|
|UEFA Champions League||Association football||Europe||P||P||P||F||Q||Q||S|
|UEFA Women's Champions League||Association football||Europe||P||P||P||P||F||Q S||P||P||P||P|
|UEFA Europa League||Association football||Europe||P||P||P||F||Q||Q||S|
|XFL||American football||S||P F|
|American football||Originally football was played only in the fall, but for many years the season has extended from late summer through early to mid-winter. |
|Association football||Usually August to May in the Northern Hemisphere, and February to November in the Southern Hemisphere. Exceptions are generally for one of two reasons: |
(See Domestic association football season for details.)
|Australian rules football||March to late August, with finals series extending up to late September or early October.|
|Baseball||April to early October, with playoffs extending up to early November. The Australian Baseball League runs from November to early February, with playoffs extending up to late February.|
|Basketball||In most countries, late October to mid-April, with playoffs extending up to mid-June. The three major exceptions to this rule are: |
|Canadian football||July to late October, with playoffs extending into November.|
|Cricket||Year-round. Domestic seasons typically held in the driest period of the year—summer in temperate climates, dry season in tropical climates.|
|Ice hockey||Early October to mid-April, with playoffs extending up to early June. The three major exceptions to this rule are: |
|Motor racing||Year-round, but generally concentrated from March to October. NASCAR runs from mid-February to late September, with playoffs extending up to late November.|
|Rugby league||Late February to October in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.|
|Rugby union||September to late May, sometimes the first weekend in June, in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, Super Rugby starts in February and ends in early July in World Cup years and mid-August in other years. Domestic competitions in New Zealand and South Africa overlap slightly with the Super Rugby season, starting in July and ending in October or November. In Australia, the domestic competition does not overlap at all with Super Rugby, instead beginning in August and ending in early November.|
The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, floorball and korfball to decide the winner of a match in which scores are equal at the end of normal time. It is a type of sudden death. Under this rule, the game will end when a goal or point is scored; the team that scores that goal or point during extra time will be the winner. Introduced formally in 1992, though with some history before that, the rule ceased to apply to most FIFA-authorized football games in 2004. The similar silver goal supplemented the golden goal between 2002 and 2004.
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.
A tournament is a competition involving a relatively large number of competitors, all participating in a sport or game. More specifically, the term may be used in either of two overlapping senses:
The Virginia High School League (VHSL) is the principal sanctioning organization for interscholastic athletic competition among public high schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VHSL first sponsored debate and also continues to sponsor state championships in several academic activities.
The Belgian First Division A is the top league competition for association football clubs in Belgium. Following the 2015–16 season it was renamed from the Belgian Pro League (officially known as Jupiler Pro League. Contested by 16 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Belgian First Division B. Seasons run from late July to early May, with teams playing 30 matches each in the regular season, and then entering play-offs 1 or play-offs 2 according to their position in the regular season. Play-offs 1 are contested by the top 6 clubs in the regular season, with each club playing each other twice. Play-offs 2 are contested by teams ranked 7 to 15 in the regular season, divided in two groups of 6 teams playing each other twice. The team finishing in 16th place is relegated. As of 2014 the league was sponsored by AB InBev, brewers of Jupiler beer, and officially known as Jupiler Pro League.
A grand final is a game that decides a sports league's championship winning team, i.e. the conclusive game of a finals series. Synonymous with a championship game in North American sports, grand finals have become a significant part of Australian culture. The earliest competitions to feature a grand final were Australia's AFL and NRL. They influenced other competitions such as soccer's A-League, the National Basketball League, netball's Suncorp Super Netball and European rugby league's Super League to adopt grand finals as well. Most grand finals involve a prestigious award for the player voted best on field.
The New Zealand Football Championship is a professional men's association football league at the top of the New Zealand league system. Founded in 2004, the New Zealand Football Championship was the successor to a myriad of short-lived football leagues in the country, including the National Soccer League, the National Summer Soccer League and the New Zealand Superclub League. The league is currently contested by ten teams in a franchise system. For sponsorship reasons, the competition is known as the ISPS Handa Premiership.
There are a number of formats used in various levels of competition in sports and games to determine an overall champion. Some of the most common are the single elimination, the best-of- series, the total points series more commonly known as on aggregate, and the round-robin tournament.
A wild card is a tournament or playoff berth awarded to an individual or team that fails to qualify in the normal way, for example by having a high ranking or winning a qualifying stage. In some events, wild cards are chosen freely by the organizers. Other events have fixed rules. Some North American professional sports leagues compare the records of teams which did not qualify directly by winning a division or conference.
In sport, a championship is a competition in which the aim is to decide which individual or team is the champion.
In sports, a two-legged tie is a contest between two teams which comprises two matches or "legs", with each team as the home team in one leg. The winning team is usually determined by aggregate score, the sum of the scores of the two legs. For example, if the scores of the two legs are:
A one-game playoff, sometimes known as a pennant playoff, tiebreaker game or knockout game, is a tiebreaker in certain sports—usually but not always professional—to determine which of two teams, tied in the final standings, will qualify for a post-season tournament. Such a playoff is either a single game or a short series of games.
EuroCup Basketball, commonly known as the EuroCup and currently called 7DAYS EuroCup for sponsorship reasons, is an annual professional basketball club competition that has been organized by Euroleague Basketball since 2002. Along with the rival Basketball Champions League (BCL) competition, it is the second tier level of cross-border European competition, behind the EuroLeague.
The Stanley Cup playoffs is an elimination tournament in the National Hockey League consisting of four rounds of best-of-seven series. Eight teams from each of the two conferences qualify for the playoffs based on regular season points totals. The final round is commonly known as the Stanley Cup Final, which sees the two conference champions play for the Stanley Cup.
The MLS Cup Playoffs is the annual postseason elimination tournament of Major League Soccer. The final match of the tournament is the MLS Cup, the league's championship game. Under the current format adopted in 2019, 14 teams qualify for the tournament based on regular-season point totals—the seven highest-placed teams from both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Audi is the title sponsor of this tournament.
The CONCACAF Champions League is an annual continental club football competition organized by CONCACAF for the top football clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League automatically qualifies for the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. The tournament is officially known as the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, since February 2015, due to sponsorship by Scotiabank. The competition has been completed 52 times through the 2016–17 event, with 54 champions due to a three-way shared title in the 1978 competition.
In a sports league, the ranking of a team is the place where it is within the division. Generally, ranking is based on won-lost record of games, with the team with the best record at the top, and the worst record at the bottom. Another common method is a points-based ranking system, where a team is awarded a certain number of points per win, fewer points per tie, and none for a loss.
The Shaughnessy playoff system is a method of determining the champion of a sports league that is not in a divisional alignment. This format is also known as the Argus finals system. It involves the participation of the top four teams in the league standings in a single elimination tournament. While the first round of the playoffs involve the pairing of the first- and fourth-place teams in one contest and the second- and third-place teams in the other, a variant of the Shaughnessy playoffs would pair the first- and third-place teams in one semifinal round and the second- and fourth-place teams in the other. In either variant, the winners of the first two games would then compete for the league championship. Some lower-level leagues use a Shaughnessy playoff for purposes of promotion to the next-higher league.
The 2012 PGA Tour, the 45th season since the Tour became independent from the PGA of America, consisted of a total of 45 official money events running from early January to mid November. The schedule, announced on October 19, 2011, has four phases: