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In
sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and Skill, skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectato ...

sport
s, a division is a group of teams who compete against each other for a championship.


League system

In sports using a
league system A league system is a hierarchy of sports league, 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 m ...
(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 In sports league A sports league is a group of sports team A sports team is a group of individuals who play sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve p ...
, 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.


Franchise system

In
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

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 Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball Professional baseball is organized baseball in which players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system. It is played in baseball league, leag ...
, both the
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
and
National League The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League (NL), is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball Professional baseball is o ...
s 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 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 The playoffs, play-offs, postseason or finals of a sports league A sports league is a group of sports team A sports team is a group of individuals who play sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activi ...
tournament that crowns the league champion, which heightens the rivalries between the teams in a division. Geographically-based divisions can become skewed if an
expansion team 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 ...
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 The Los Angeles Rams are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangu ...
of the
National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any s ...
(NFL) moved to
St. Louis, Missouri St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. With more than six million residents, it is the List of U.S. states and territor ...

St. Louis, Missouri
and became the St. Louis Rams. The team retained its place in the
NFC West The National Football Conference Western Division or NFC West is one of the four Division (sport), divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It currently has four members: the Arizona Cardinals, ...
division despite the fact that St. Louis is further east than
Dallas, Texas Dallas (), colloquially referred to as Big D, is a city in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United State ...

Dallas, Texas
, home of the
Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport p ...

Dallas Cowboys
. Although Dallas is located in the south-central United States, the Cowboys are a member of the
NFC East The National Football Conference – Eastern Division or NFC East is one of the four Division (sport), divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It currently has four members: the Dallas Cowboys ...
division due to their long-standing rivalries with the
New York Giants The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in the New York metropolitan area. The Giants compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) NFC East, East ...

New York Giants
,
Philadelphia Eagles The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a recta ...
, and
Washington Football Team The Washington Football Team is a professional American football team based in the Washington metropolitan area. Formerly known as the Washington Redskins, the team competes in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the NFC Ea ...
, all of whom are located on the Eastern seaboard.


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. The major governing bodies for college sports, the
NCAA The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and o ...
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 IDivision 1 and variants may refer to: Association football * Azadegan League, second tier of the men's senior football in Iran * Brisbane Premier League Division 1, second tier of the men's senior football in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia * Danis ...
, has more than 300 member schools. The vast majority of teams are members of
conferences A conference is a meeting A meeting is when two or more people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or sel ...
, 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 I – Usually the largest and most prominent schools, with the largest athletic budgets. All Division I member schools are allowed to award
athletic scholarship An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship A scholarship is an award of financial aid Student financial aid in the United States is funding that is available exclusively to students attending a Higher education in the United States, ...
s to students, although some schools and conferences voluntarily choose not to award athletic scholarships in some or all sports (most notably the
Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference An athletic conference is a collection of sports team A sports team is a group of individuals who play sport Sport pertains to any form ...
, which prohibits such scholarships in all sports). * Division II – Generally smaller schools that do not choose to take on the sometimes-massive expense of Division I athletics. The NCAA allows D-II schools to award scholarships, but places much more stringent limits on the amount of athletic aid awarded than at the D-I level. * Division III – Schools, usually but not always small institutions, at which intercollegiate sports is treated more as a regular student activity. In keeping with this philosophy, the NCAA prohibits Division III schools from awarding athletic scholarships.


"Division" within conferences

The term ''division'' is also used in US college sports to indicate the groupings of members of a given
conference A conference is a meeting A meeting is when two or more people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or sel ...
. 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 The Georgia Bulldogs are the athletic teams that represent the University of Georgia , mottoeng = To teach and to inquire into the nature of things. 'To serve' was later added to the motto without changing the seal, so the univer ...
are in Division I, but are also in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference.


See also

*
Athletic conference An athletic conference is a collection of sports team A sports team is a group of individuals who play sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical a ...
*
List of professional sports leagues This is a list of professional sport 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. ...
* Group tournaments {{DEFAULTSORT:Division (Sport) Sports terminology Sports leagues