Professional sports

Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance. Professional athleticism has come to the fore through a combination of developments. Mass media and increased leisure have brought larger audiences, so that sports organizations or teams can command large incomes.[1] As a result, more sportspeople can afford to make athleticism their primary career, devoting the training time necessary to increase skills, physical condition, and experience to modern levels of achievement.[1] This proficiency has also helped boost the popularity of sports.[1]

Most sports played professionally also have amateur players far outnumbering the professionals.

History

Baseball

Baseball originated before the American Civil War (1861–1865).First played on sandlots in particular, scoring and record-keeping gave baseball gravity. "Today," notes John Thorn in The Baseball Encyclopedia, "baseball without records is inconceivable."

In 1871 the first professional baseball league was created.[2] By the beginning of the 20th century, most large cities in the eastern United States had a professional baseball team. After sethe players' union and the owners have at times halted baseball for months at a time.[2]

Japan has also seen a prominent professional baseball circuit develop known as Nippon Professional Baseball, which was founded in 1934 and emerged as an international force after World War II. NPB is considered to be the highest caliber of baseball outside the U.S. major leagues, and the best Japanese talent can emigrate to the U.S. by way of the posting system. Other prominent countries to play the game include South Korea (where their uiytutuyt6uytt yu yj has its own posting system with Major League Baseball), Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean states.

American football

Football (commonly known as American football in Europe and Australia) was professionalized in the 1890s as a slow, and initially covert, process; William Heffelfinger and Ben "Sport" Donnelly were the first to secretly accept payment for playing the game in 1892. Regional leagues in Chicago, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York had coalesced in the 1900s and 1910s, most of which gave way to the first truly national football league, the American Professional Football Association, in 1920. By 1920, pro football remained overshadowed by the college game. The first game involving an APFA team took place on September 26, 1920, at Douglas Park in Rock Island, Illinois, as the hometown Independents flattened the St. Paul Ideals 48-0. The first head-to-head battles in the league occurred one week later as Dayton topped Columbus 14-0 and Rock Island pasted Muncie 45-0.

Forward passes were rare, coaching from the sidelines was prohibited and players competed on both offense and defense. Money was so tight that Hals carried equipment, wrote press releases, sold tickets, taped ankles, played and coached for the Decatur club. As opposed to today’s standard 16-game schedule, clubs in 1920 scheduled their own opponents and could play non league and even college squads that counted toward their records. With no established guidelines, the number of games played—and the quality of opponents scheduled—by APFA teams varied, and the league did not maintain official standings.[3]

The Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles and Detroit Heralds joined the league before the end of the season, raising the total number of teams to 14, but the inaugural season was a struggle. Games received little attention from the fans—and even less from the press. According to Robert W. Peterson’s book "Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football," APFA games averaged crowds of 4,241. The association bylaws called for teams to pay a $100 entry fee, but no one ever did. Muncie played only one game before dropping out before the end of the season, which concluded on December 19.

At the conclusion of the season there were no playoffs (that innovation, although New York's regional league had used it, would not arrive until 1933) and it took more than four months before the league even bothered to crown a champion. Much as college football did for decades, the APFA determined its victor by ballot. On April 30, 1921, team representatives voted the Akron Pros, who completed the season undefeated with eight wins and three ties while yielding only a total of seven points, the champion in spite of protests by the one-loss teams in Decatur and Buffalo, who each had tied Akron and had more wins. The victors received a silver loving cup donated by sporting goods company Brunswick-Balke-Collender. While players were not given diamond-encrusted rings, they did receive golden fobs in the shape of a football inscribed with the words "World Champions."

Forgotten in the collective sports memory that the league’s official record books listed the 1920 championship as undecided until the 2013. The whereabouts of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Cup, only given out that one time, are unknown. The legacy of two APFA franchises continues on, however. The Racine Cardinals now play in Arizona, and the Decatur Staleys moved to Chicago in 1921 and changed their name to the Bears the following year. Ten APFA players along with Carr are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which opened its doors in 1963 not far from the Canton automobile dealership that gave birth to the NFL in 1920.[4]

The APFA, by 1922 known as the National Football League, has remained the predominant professional football league in the United States, and, effectively, the entire world. The evolution from a haphazard collection of teams in big and small cities to the much more rigid structure it is in the present was gradual; the smaller markets were squeezed out in the late 1920s and early 1930s, a championship game was established in 1933, a draft was established in 1936, and schedules were standardized in the 1930s. A competing league has historically arisen to attempt to challenge the NFL's dominance every 10 to 15 years, but none managed to maintain long-term operations independent of the NFL and only two—the All-America Football Conference of the late 1940s and the American Football League of the 1960s—were strong enough to successfully compete against the league before the NFL subsumed their operations. Minor league football, although their leagues' memberships were unstable, began to arise in the late 1930s and remained viable as a business model up into the 1970s.

A major factor in the NFL's rise to dominance was its embrace of television early in the sport's history. As college football heavily restricted the rights of its teams to broadcast games (a policy eventually ruled to be illegal in 1984), the NFL instead allowed games to be televised nationwide, except in a team's home city; the restriction was softened in the early 1970s, by which point the NFL had secured broadcast deals with all of the major television networks, another major factor in the inability of any competing league to gain traction since then.

The related sport of Canadian football was eventually professionalized by the 1950s, which saw the evolution of the Canadian Football League. The CFL, despite losing all games in a series of contests against the NFL, was considered to be at least comparable in talent to the American leagues of the 1960s (its lone game against an AFL squad was a victory). Because Canada has a tenth of the population of the United States, the ability to make money from television was much lower, and although some of the cities of Canada were comparable to the major markets of the U.S., teams in places such as Saskatchewan and Hamilton were in markets quite small compared to even the small markets of the NFL, thus the CFL now pays noticeably less than other major professional leagues, but still more than enough to be considered fully professional.

The rise of indoor American football beginning in the late 1980s has allowed for smaller-scale professional football to be viable.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey was first professionalized in Pittsburgh in the early 1900s (decade). As Canadians made up the vast majority of hockey players, early American professional leagues imported almost all of their talent before Canadian leagues began to form in the wake of a mining boom, depriving the U.S. leagues and teams of talent. Two distinct circuits formed: the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in western Canada and the northwestern U.S., and the National Hockey Association of central Canada, both of which competed for the then-independent Stanley Cup. The NHA's teams reorganized as the National Hockey League in 1917, and the West Coast circuit died out by the mid-1920s.

By 1926, the NHL expanded to 10 teams in Canada, and in the northeastern and midwestern United States. However, the onset of the Great Depression in 1930s, combined with Canada's entry into World War II (which greatly reduced the league's player pool), led to the league’s retrenchment to six markets: Boston, New York City, Chicago and Detroit in the U.S., and Toronto and Montreal in Canada. These Original Six cities would be the only cities with NHL franchises from 1935 to 1967. During this time, the NHL was both stagnant and restrictive in its policies, giving teams territorial advantages, having teams with multiple owners in the same family (thus allowing the best players to be stacked onto certain teams), and restricting its players' salaries through reserve clauses. This stagnation allowed other leagues to arise: the Western Hockey League soon became the de facto major league of the western states and provinces, and the second-tier American Hockey League emerged in a number of midwestern markets the NHL had neglected, in addition to a handful of small towns.

Amid pressure from television networks that were threatening to offer the WHL a contract, the NHL doubled in size in 1967, beginning a period of expansion that lasted through much of the 1970s. The last major challenger to the NHL's dominance was the World Hockey Association, which successfully broke the NHL's reserve clause in court, drove up professional hockey salaries, and continued to pressure the older league into expansion. The WHA merged four of its remaining teams into the NHL in 1979, but had to give up most of its players, as they were still under NHL contract and had to return to their original teams. The NHL made its last pronounced realignment in the 1990s, moving most of the WHA teams out of their markets and establishing a number of new teams in the southern United States.

In Europe, the introduction of professionalism varied widely, and the highest-caliber league on the continent, the Soviet Championship League (proven to be at least equal to or better than the NHL in the 1970s), was officially composed of semi-professional works teams paid for their association with industries or government agencies (the Red Army squad employed members of the armed forces, and the Soviet Union often drafted the best hockey players in the country to serve on the squad). The modern-day descendant of the Soviet league, the Kontinental Hockey League, is fully professional and has a number of teams outside Russia, to the point where it has the resources to sign NHL veterans. Other European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, and Austria also have prominent professional leagues.

Basketball

Basketball was invented in 1891 and the first professional leagues emerged in the 1920s. The Basketball Association of America was established in 1946 and three years later became the modern National Basketball Association. The NBA was slower to establish dominance of the sport than other sports in the United States, as it would not do so until 1976, when it absorbed four teams from the American Basketball Association.

Professional basketball has the advantages of much smaller rosters than other professional sports, allowing the sport to be viable in smaller cities than other sports. Professional basketball leagues of varying caliber can be found around the world, especially in Europe and South America.

Resistance to professionalism

Professional athleticism is seen as a contradiction of the central ethos of sport, competition performed for its own sake and pure enjoyment, rather than as a means of earning a living.[1] Consequently, many organisations and commentators have resisted the growth of professional athleticism, saying that it was so incredible that it has impeded the development of sport. For example, rugby union was for many years a part-time sport engaged in by amateurs, and English cricket has allegedly suffered in quality because of a "non-professional" approach.[1] An important reason why professional sports has been resisted in history was that organisations for professional sports usually did not submit to the international sports federations, and could have their own rules. For example, the National Basketball Association was formerly not a member of the FIBA.

On the other hand, amateur rules heavily favour those countries where all elite players are de facto professionals but are able to retain their amateur status by earning allowances instead of salaries.[5] For example, all Eastern bloc countries were populated with amateur players who were actually full-time athletes hired as regular workers of a company (aircraft industry, food workers, tractor industry) or organization (KGB, Red Army, Soviet Air Force) that sponsored what would be presented as an after-hours social sports society team for their workers.[6][7]

Sports salaries

Men involved in professional sports can earn a great deal of money at the highest levels. For instance, the highest-paid team in professional baseball is New York Yankees.[8] Tiger Woods is the highest-paid athlete, totaling $127,902,706, including his endorsement income,[9] which massively exceeds what he earns from tournament golf. Woods recently became the world's first athlete to earn a billion dollars from prize money and endorsements.[10] It would have taken the salary of two thousand 1980s professional golfers each making $58,500 to match up with Tiger Woods’ current salary. Samuel Eto'o is the world's second highest-earning athlete and the highest-paid footballer in the world, raking in £35.7 million (over $54 million) a year excluding off-field earnings.[11] The top ten tennis players make about $3 million a year on average. Much of the growth in income for sports and athletes has come from broadcasting rights; for example, the most recent television contract for the NFL is valued at nearly US$5 billion per year.[12] Women in the U.S., on the other hand, make much less, for example as of 2014, the WNBA enforced a maximum salary of US$107,000 for star players (coaches could earn double that).[13] This is largely driven by the fact that the American viewing audience has far less interest in women's professional sport compared to men's; average in-person attendance and television viewership are both far higher for the NBA compared to the WNBA. According to investopedia.com, a male star like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James can individually earn a salary larger than every player in the WNBA combined.[14]

Outside the highest leagues, however, the money professional athletes can earn drops dramatically, as fan bases are generally smaller and television revenues are nonexistent. For instance, while the National Football League's teams can afford to pay their players millions of dollars each year and still maintain a significant profit, the second-highest American football league in the United States, the United Football League, consistently struggled to pay its bills and has continually lost money despite allotting its players only US$20,000 a year, and television networks made the league pay for television airtime instead of paying the league, making the league's business model unworkable.[15][16][17] In the United States and Canada, most lower-end professional leagues run themselves as affiliated farm teams, effectively agreeing to develop younger players for eventual play in the major leagues in exchange for subsidizing those players' salaries; this is known as the minor league system and is most prevalent in professional baseball and professional ice hockey. Otherwise, the league may be required to classify itself as semi-professional, in other words, able to pay their players a small sum, but not enough to cover the player's basic costs of living.

Many professional athletes experience financial difficulties soon after retiring, due to a combination of bad investments, careless spending, and a lack of non-athletic skills. The wear and tear of a career in professional sport, can cause physical and mental side effects (such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition that has seen a massive rise in public awareness in the 2010s) that can harm a former professional athlete's employability. In the United States, some of these problems are mitigated by the fact that the college sports system ensures most professional athletes receive a college education with no student debt, a legacy that provides them with a career path after their sports career ends.

American football

In the NFL average annual salaries by position in 2009 were:[18]

Association football

Chinese Super League

The average salary of a player in the Chinese Super League was about ¥10.7 million (£1 million) for the 2011 season, up from ¥600,000 in the 2010 season. The highest-paid player for the 2011 Chinese Super League season was Dario Conca of Guangzhou Evergrande who received an annual salary of ¥67.4 million ($10.5 million) after income tax, putting him among the highest-paid players in the world.[20]

Russian Premier League

The highest-paid player for the 2011–2012 Russian Premier League season was Samuel Eto'o of Anzhi Makhachkala, who at the end of the 2011–12 season was expected to receive a total salary of RUB 900.2 million (£35.7 million) after income tax, making Eto'o the second highest-earning athlete in the world and the highest-paid footballer in the world followed by Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimović.[11][21][22]

Bundesliga

The average salary of a player in the German Bundesliga was about €3.3 million (£2.5 million) for the 2010–11 season, up from €2.5 million in the 2009–2010 Bundesliga season.[23] The highest-paid player for the 2010–11 Bundesliga season was Franck Ribéry of Bayern Munich who received a salary of €6.3 million after income tax.[24]

Serie A

In the Italian top league, Serie A, the average salary was about €5 million for the 2010–2011 Serie A season, up from €1 million in the 2005–2006 Serie A season.[25] The highest-paid player for the 2010–2011 Serie A season was Zlatan Ibrahimović of A.C. Milan who received a salary of €25.9 million after income tax and which also includes Ibrahimović's bonuses and endorsements.[26]

La Liga

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona is the world's second highest-paid player receiving a salary of £29.6 million (over US$45 million) a year after income taxation and which also includes the incomes of Messi's bonuses and endorsements.[27] In the Spanish La Liga, the average salary for the players of Lionel Messi's club FC Barcelona was €6.5 million for the 2010–2011 La Liga season, up from €5.5 million for the 2009–2010 La Liga season.[27]

Premier League

Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard
Liverpool Footballer Steven Gerrard preparing to strike the ball, 2005

The average salary of a player in the English Premier League was about £2.6 million in the 2017–18 season,[28] compared with about £1.2 million in 2007–08 and £676,000 in 2006–07. Even as early as 2010–11, top players such as John Terry and Steven Gerrard could make up to £7 million per year with the players of Premier League club Manchester City F.C. receiving an average salary of £2 million in that season.[29][30] Premier League salaries have boomed in more recent years thanks to massive television deals and wealthy new investors in clubs.[28] Terry's and Gerrard's 2010–11 salaries would not have placed them among the top 25 earners in 2017–18. In that season, more than 20 players earned more than £10 million, led by Alexis Sánchez (£21.5 million) and Mesut Özil (£20.9 million).[31] The Premier League's two Manchester clubs had the highest average salaries in 2017–18, with players for both Manchester United and Manchester City averaging over £5.2 million.[28]

Players in lower divisions make significantly less money. In 2006–07 the average salary of a player in the Championship (the second tier of the English football pyramid) made £195,750 while the average salary for League One and League Two (tiers 3 and 4) combined were £49,600.[29]

Major League Soccer

The highest salary in Major League Soccer in 2018 is the $7.1 million paid to Italian international Sebastian Giovinco, who plays for Toronto FC.[32] Giovinco was signed as a beneficiary of MLS' Designated Player Rule, which was instituted in 2007 for the express purpose of attracting international stars. Now-retired English star David Beckham was the first player signed under its provisions.[33] When the rule was instituted, each team had one "Designated Player" slot with a salary cap charge of $400,000, but no limit on actual salary paid.[33] Since then, the number of Designated Players per team has increased to three, with each counting for $504,375 of cap room in 2018.[34] The league's average salary was about $283,000 per year in 2015, but the median salary was then closer to $110,000.[35] MLS' minimum player salary in 2018 is $67,500 for most players, and for players on the reserve roster (slots #25-28) the minimum salary is $54,500.[34]

Baseball

In 1970, the average salary in Major League Baseball in the U.S. and Canada was $20,000 ($129,032 inflation-adjusted). By 2005, the average salary had increased to $2,632,655 ($3,377,281 inflation-adjusted) and the minimum salary was $316,000 (adjusted: $405,378).[36] In 2012 the average MLB salary was $3,440,000, the median salary was $1,075,000, and the minimum salary had grown to four times the inflation-adjusted average salary in 1970 ($480,000).[37]

See also

Lists of professional sports

References

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  2. ^ a b "Baseball in America: A History". The U.S. Department of State via factmonster.com. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  3. ^ "The Birth of the National Football League." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 14 December 2014. Web. December 15, 2014. <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)>.
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  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  7. ^ Coffey, p. 59
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  14. ^ "Who is the highest paid WNBA player?". Reference.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Agent: Three UFL players haven't been paid yet," Archived 29 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine from The Virginian-Pilot, 10 March 2012
  16. ^ Davidson, Joe (10 October 2012). Unpaid player salaries add to uncertainty for Mountain Lions, UFL Archived 13 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  17. ^ La Canfora, Jason (30 December 2010). Checks on the way, UFL commissioner tells unpaid players Archived 2 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. NFL.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
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  22. ^ "Russian club close the deal to sign Samuel Eto'o". BBC Sport. 23 August 2011. Archived from the original on 17 December 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
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  27. ^ a b Davey Becks no longer the worlds best paid footballer Archived 15 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine. sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  28. ^ a b c "Premier League average weekly wage passes £50,000, says new study". BBC Sport. 27 November 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
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External links

Alliance of American Football

The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is a professional American football league, founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. It began play on February 9, 2019, six days after the National Football League's (NFL) Super Bowl LIII championship game. The AAF consists of eight centrally owned and operated teams. All teams except Salt Lake and Memphis are located in cities on or south of the 35th parallel and all teams except Birmingham are located in metropolitan areas that have at least one major professional sports franchise. Of the eight teams in the league, all but Arizona and Atlanta are located in markets lacking an NFL team.

Colorado

Colorado ( (listen), other variants) is a state of the Western United States encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 8th most extensive and 21st most populous U.S. state. The estimated population of Colorado was 5,695,564 on July 1, 2018, an increase of 13.25% since the 2010 United States Census.The state was named for the Colorado River, which early Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the ruddy silt the river carried from the mountains. The Territory of Colorado was organized on February 28, 1861, and on August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed Proclamation 230 admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it became a state one century after the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Colorado is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, Utah to the west, and touches Arizona to the southwest at the Four Corners. Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, mesas, canyons, plateaus, rivers and desert lands. Colorado is part of the western and southwestern United States, and is one of the Mountain States.

Denver is the capital and most populous city of Colorado. Residents of the state are known as Coloradans, although the antiquated term "Coloradoan" is occasionally used.

Freedom Football League

The Freedom Football League (FFL) is a planned professional spring-summer American football league.

List of American and Canadian cities by number of major professional sports franchises

This is a list of metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada categorized by the number of major professional sports franchises in their metropolitan areas.

List of professional sports leagues

This is a list of professional sports leagues.

A sports league is a professional body that governs the competition of its teams. They make the rules for competition and behavior and disciplines its members as necessary. This is done through a structure that varies by league. Some are made up of a board of governors that have a commissioner or president, while others are single entity organizations where the league owns the franchises and therefore does not have a board of governors.This list attempts to show those sports leagues for which all players and teams are paid to play. In other words, these players can be considered to play their chosen sport as their profession. Some leagues don't pay well enough to allow players to use them as their primary or only source of income, but because the players are paid, it's still considered professional, or semi-professional. As such, some leagues listed here may not be fully professional.

List of professional sports teams in Illinois

The following is a list of current and former professional sports teams in Illinois.

Major League Baseball

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.

Baseball's first openly all-professional team was founded in Cincinnati in 1869. (There had been teams in the past that paid some players, and some that had paid all players but under the table.) The first few decades of professional baseball were characterized by rivalries between leagues and by players who often jumped from one team or league to another.

The period before 1920 in baseball was known as the dead-ball era; players rarely hit home runs during this time. Baseball survived a conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series, which came to be known as the Black Sox Scandal. The sport rose in popularity in the 1920s, and survived potential downturns during the Great Depression and World War II. Shortly after the war, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.

The 1950s and 1960s were a time of expansion for the AL and NL, then new stadiums and artificial turf surfaces began to change the game in the 1970s and 1980s. Home runs dominated the game during the 1990s, and media reports began to discuss the use of anabolic steroids among Major League players in the mid-2000s. In 2006, an investigation produced the Mitchell Report, which implicated many players in the use of performance-enhancing substances, including at least one player from each team.

Today, MLB is composed of 30 teams: 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada. Teams play 162 games each season and five teams in each league advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the World Series, a best-of-seven championship series between the two league champions that dates to 1903. Baseball broadcasts are aired on television, radio, and the Internet throughout North America and in several other countries throughout the world. MLB has the highest season attendance of any sports league in the world with more than 73 million spectators in 2015.

Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada

The major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions of team sports in those countries. The four leagues universally included in the definition are Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and National Hockey League (NHL). Other prominent leagues include Major League Soccer (MLS) and Canadian Football League (CFL).

MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL are commonly referred to as the "Big Four." Each of these is the wealthiest professional club competition in its sport worldwide, and along with the English Premier League they make up the top five sports leagues by revenue in the world. In addition, the sports of these four leagues were all developed in their modern forms in North America, and all except American football have become popular internationally. Because the leagues enjoy a significant place in popular culture in the U.S. and Canada, the best players from these leagues often become cultural icons in both countries. Each Big Four league, as well as Major League Soccer and Canadian Football League, averages at least 15,000 fans in attendance per game as of 2018.

The Big Four leagues currently have 30–32 teams each, most of which are concentrated in the most populous metropolitan areas of the United States and Canada. Unlike the promotion and relegation systems used in sports leagues in various other regions around the world, North American sports leagues maintain the same teams from season-to-season. Expansion of the league usually occurs by adding newly formed teams, though mergers with competing leagues have also occurred. Teams do not leave the league unless they are disbanded (which has not happened since 1954) or merged with another team (which has not happened since 1978). Relocation can change the name of a team, but it is generally still considered to be the same entity.

Baseball, American football, and ice hockey have had professional leagues continuously for over 100 years; early leagues such as the National Association, Ohio League, and National Hockey Association formed the basis of the modern MLB, NFL, and NHL, respectively. Basketball was invented in 1891 and its first professional league formed in the 1920s. The Basketball Association of America formed the basis of the NBA.

Soccer was first professionalized in 1894, but leagues suffered greatly from lack of sustainability and seldom lasted more than a decade. Soccer's greatest successes were in the form of the American Soccer League (1921–1933), the original North American Soccer League (1968–84), and, currently, Major League Soccer (1996–present).

The term "major league" is usually limited to professional team sports. Individual professional sports competitions such as PGA Tour golf and NASCAR Cup Series auto racing are also very popular and serve as those sports' most prominent competitions with levels of media coverage, competition, and fan following comparable to the major professional team sports. Amateur competitions such as college football and college basketball, at the upper echelons, also enjoy strong media coverage and fan followings but are generally recognized as inferior to the major professional leagues in level of play because of the inherent limits of the amateur sports system.

National Basketball Association

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men's professional basketball league in North America; composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada). 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 (also known as the International Basketball Federation) 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 league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the competing National Basketball League (NBL). The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.

National Football League

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference (four division winners and two wild card teams) advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

The NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) before renaming itself the National Football League for the 1922 season. The NFL agreed to merge with the American Football League (AFL) in 1966, and the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that season; the merger was completed in 1970. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most watched television programs in American history, all occupying the Nielsen's Top 5 tally of the all-time most watched U.S. television broadcasts by 2015. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league. The players in the league belong to the National Football League Players Association.

The team with the most NFL championships is the Green Bay Packers with thirteen (nine NFL titles before the Super Bowl era, and four Super Bowl championships afterwards); the teams with the most Super Bowl championships are the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, each with six. The current NFL champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII for their sixth Super Bowl championship.

National Hockey League

The National Hockey League (NHL; French: Ligue nationale de hockey—LNH) is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of league mergers and folds left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926.

At its inception, the NHL had four teams—all in Canada, thus the adjective "National" in the league's name. The league expanded to the United States in 1924, when the Boston Bruins joined, and has since consisted of American and Canadian teams. From 1942 to 1967, the league had only six teams, collectively (if not contemporaneously) nicknamed the "Original Six". The NHL added six new teams to double its size at the 1967 NHL expansion. The league then increased to 18 teams by 1974 and 21 teams in 1979. Between 1991 and 2000, the NHL further expanded to 30 teams. It added its 31st team in 2017 and has approved the addition of a 32nd team in 2021.

The league's headquarters have been in New York City since 1989 when the head office moved there from Montreal.After a labour-management dispute that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, the league resumed play in 2005–06 under a new collective agreement that included a salary cap. In 2009, the NHL enjoyed record highs in terms of sponsorships, attendance, and television audiences.The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) considers the Stanley Cup to be one of the "most important championships available to the sport". The NHL draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from approximately 20 countries. Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the league, with an increasing percentage of American and European players in recent seasons.

The current NHL Champions are the Washington Capitals, who defeated the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.

Professional baseball

Professional baseball is played in leagues throughout the world. In these leagues and associated farm teams, baseball players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.

Professional sports league organization

Professional sports leagues are organized in numerous ways. The two most significant types are one that developed in Europe, characterised by a tiered structure using promotion and relegation to determine participation in a hierarchy of leagues or divisions, and a North American originated model characterized by its use of "franchises," closed memberships, and minor leagues. Both these systems remain most common in their area of origin, although both systems are used worldwide.

Semi-professional sports

Semi-professional sports are sports in which athletes for whom sport is not a full-time occupation. Semi-professionals are not amateur because they receive regular payment from their team (company), but at a much lower rate than a full-time professional athlete. As a result, players may have (or seek) a second full-time job. A semipro player/team could also be one that represents a place of employment that only the employees are allowed to play on. In this case, it is considered semipro because their employer pays them, but for their regular job, not for playing on the company's team.

When applied to vocational tools and equipment, it refers to products that lie between the amateur and professional levels in both quality and cost, though nowadays the term prosumer is often used instead.

Sports in Colorado

Sports in Colorado include professional teams, college sports, and individual sports.

Sports teams in Virginia

Sports teams in Virginia include several professional teams, but no professional major-league teams. Virginia is by far the most populous U.S. state without a major professional sports league franchise playing within its borders, although two of the major-league teams representing Washington, D.C.—the NFL's Washington Redskins and NHL's Washington Capitals—have their practice facilities and operational headquarters in Northern Virginia.

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