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Let’s play ball: Sports seasons in America Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Culture

No matter what time of year it is, there are professional sports being played in the United States. These sport seasons are predictable and regular, just like the seasons of the year. Today I am going to introduce you to the seasons for five major sports leagues in the United States. I’ll also share some interesting information about each of these sports. First, let’s start out with a little overview of sports vocabulary, before we look at the American sports seasons for baseball, basketball, hockey, football and stock car racing.

Baseball pitch and sports seasons.

Image “The Closing pitch” by Gill E on Flickr.com.

A sports season is the portion of a year during which regulated games are played. The officials of each sport set the length of each season and the length of the season is usually similar each year. “Preseason” is a period of time before normal regulated play begins. This is when sports teams are allowed to practice together and hold practice games that do not count as part of their win-loss record for the year.  In most sports “regular season” refers to the sport’s normal game schedule in which teams are divided into groups, conferences, or divisions, and each team plays the same number of games against a set of other teams. In the United States sports teams usually play more games against local rivals than teams from far away cities. So not every team in a league will play all the other teams an equal number of times. Because the United States is so big, this is usually done for convenience and to save money and time on travel. After regular season play, most sports leagues have “playoffs” or “championship” games. During the playoffs the teams with the most wins from regular season play in a tournament to decide the ultimate champion for the season.

Now, let’s take a look at five major sports leagues in the United States, their playing season, and a few other fun facts.

The National Football League (NFL)
This is a league for “American Football,” not soccer. In the United States we just call this “football.” The NFL preseason begins in August. The regular season starts in September and ends in January. In February the NFL championship, which is called the Super Bowl, is played. There are 32 teams in the NFL. These teams are divided into two conferences; the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference.  The Green Bay Packers from the state of Wisconsin is the NFL team that has won more championships than any other team in the NFL. They have won 13 times since the league was founded in 1920.

The National Basketball Association (NBA)
This is America’s professional basketball league. The NBA has 30 different teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada), which play games from October to April every year. The championship game is held in early May most years. In 2014, the San Antonio Spurs (from Texas) won the championship, but the Boston Celtics (from Massachusetts) have won the most titles (titles = championships) in NBA history.

The National (ice) Hockey League (NHL)
The NHL has a similar season to the NBA. Regular season games in the NHL are played between October and April, with postseason games in May. The NHL has teams from both Canada and The United States. There are 30 teams in total, with 23 clubs in the United States and 7 in Canada. Not surprisingly the team with the most wins in the NHL is from a cold city; Montreal, Canada.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)
NASCAR is a sport that is a little different from the others I have already presented, and so is its season. This is a sport that starts regular season competitions in the spring, in February, and ends racing in the fall, in September or October. The postseason begins in November.  NASCAR, which was founded in 1948, is the largest association of stock car racers in the United States.

Major League Baseball (MLB)
MLB is the oldest professional sports league in the United States. It was founded in 1869.  The MLB season also begins in the spring, in March, and regular season games are played through August. Postseason games take place in September. MLB teams are divided into two groups; the American League and National League (similar to football).  There are 30 “major league” baseball teams (29 in the United States, 1 in Canada), but more than 200 “minor league” or affiliated teams in the league.  The minor league teams are where players train to be ready to play in the “major league.”  The famous New York Yankees is the MLB team with the most wins throughout the league’s history.

How do these sport seasons match up with the most popular sports in your country? Are they similar or different?

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Melissa Evans:

    Great job, putting your page forward on my page as a citation for my joke! I know jack about sports, so thanks for putting this out here.