Sports League Season Years and Calendar Years

Definition of a League Season and Championship Year:

There can be some confusion defining what sports league season “year” is and how it relates to our standard twelve month calendar.

Some of the smaller sports leagues will have a season that runs a few months where the season start and championship finale take place within a single calendar year. The WNBA would be an example of this. Their year/season runs within the 12 month calendar year. Their 2006 season ran from May to August and can be easily identified as the “WNBA 2006 Season”. MLB has a longer season but it still begins begins and ends within the same calendar year.

Confusion can arise with those sports leagues that run from the fall, through the winter, into the spring like the NBA and NHL. The NBA and NHL both had games that started in the last quarter of 2005 and ran all the way into April of 2006. This is why they will hyphenate their seasons to be 2005-06.

Since we want to standardize what is an actual season between all of the various sports league. Does the 2005-2006 NBA season belong to the 2005 or 2006 calendar years? will be operating on the grounds that the calendar year in which a league plays most of its regular season belongs to that year and the championship is also named as that year. So the 2005-06 NBA season can be summarized as the “2006 NBA Season”. The 2010-11 NHL season will be identified as the “2011 NHL Season”.

The NFL plays 99%-100% of its regular season in the same calendar and the Super Bowl playoffs take place in the first two months of the new year’s calendar, it is the old year that we will be identified with. As the sole purpose of the regular season is to determine playoff qualifications and a run for the championship, the “2005 NFL Season” begins in 2005 and ends with the Super Bowl played in 2006.

Here is a the season/champion breakdown:

League Season Champion
MLB 2005 2005
NHL 2004-2005 2005
NFL 2005-2006 2005
NBA 2004-2005 2005

It seems to be a trivial point to get hung up on, but by clearly defining what a seasonal year is we will be able to track cities who win multiple cross-sport league championships.

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