What is a Major Sports League?

There are hundreds of sports leagues in operation across North America, but the main focus of this website is the four of them that are considered to be a Major Sports League. Here are a list of definitions to help understand how the different leagues relate to each other.

Major Sports League – There are four major sports leagues in North America. These include baseball via Major League Baseball, hockey via the National Hockey League, football via the National Football League, and basketball via the National Basketball Association. These four leagues represent the largest and richest professional sporting teams.

Farm Leagues – These also known as Minor or Development Leagues and are established to develop players to play in the Major Sports Leagues. Teams may be owned by a Major Sports League team or by the league itself but all will have a contract with a Major Sports League team to develop players. The level of play is considered sub-par to what is available in Major Sports Leagues and this will be reflected in the amount of money a player will make and the attendance a teams will attract.

Independent Leagues – These are leagues that have the caliber of a Farm League but do not have a formal contract to develop players for another league. The players will be those that have been dismissed or missed by a Major or Farm League. These leagues will service a market that a Major and Farm League is not involved with.

Competitive Leagues – These are leagues that have the hubris to challenge one of the Major Sports Leagues and either win this challenge by amalgamating with them or lose it by going out of business. Unlike the Independent Leagues which operates in markets that will not offend the Majors, these leagues have a competitive and/or confrontational relationship with a Major Sports League and will directly compete with them for the same markets.

Alternative Sports Leagues – These are the sports leagues that is not one of the big four sports:  baseball, hockey, football, or basketball These leagues will provide a sporting experience that possesses some kind of novelty such as being played by women or will represent the highest level of professionalism of that particular sport. For various reasons these leagues have not reached the level of popularity shared by the four Major Sports Leagues. In the past decade we are seeing Soccer moving from closer to being a Major Sports League from an Alternative Sports League. Its the first time ever that an Alternative Sports Leagues may grow big enough to join the Majors.


Statistics and information pertaining to all of the other non-Major Sports Leagues, aka Minor Sports Leagues can be found at minor-leagues.com.

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