Sports are typically governed by some kind of unwritten code or unwritten rules, that ensure fair play, and ensure consistent adjudication of the outcome. In most organized sports, records of past performances are kept, and for many popular sports, this data can be widely reported or announced in sports news. However, in other sports, such as American football, rugby, lacrosse and soccer, the integrity of the game is often dependent on the integrity of the individual players. In these other sports, especially when players are concerned about their place in the team, they can deliberately try to under-perform, or intentionally try to injure another team player in order to get a spot on the team. This type of behavior is often illegal and reflects the ever-changing nature of sports competition. But sports competition is rarely as cut and dried as is the case with the fiercely competitive world of American football.
Today’s sports news media is constantly looking for new ways to classify sports competition. A new ‘system’ is often brought out every few weeks, claiming to be the latest and greatest way to score at football, lacrosse, rugby, baseball and the rest. All of these new ‘systems’ attempt to quantify competitive physical activity through metrics, statistics and computer algorithms. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect sports game, there are always going to be challenges, nuances and particularities within any sport, and trying to use metrics and computers to create a master-level game is simply not possible.
There are of course many governing bodies of various sports around the world. Most of them have developed official protocols, rules and regulations for participating in the sporting events, with varying levels of severity for penalties and discipline. Some of these governing bodies have also developed a reputation for enforcing discipline against those who fail to adhere to these rules and regulations, either through the employment of disciplinary hearings and tribunals or through the establishment of sanctions for unsportsmanlike behavior and physical injury. It should be noted that while most of these governing bodies are directly responsible for managing most of the sports competitions and leagues that they manage, sports competitions are largely a voluntary and contracted agreement between the participating teams and the governing body.
As with any voluntary agreement, sportsmen and sportswomen must agree to play a certain level of competitive skill and physical dexterity to be accepted into a league club. This means that most sports competitions and leagues have age restrictions and physical ability limitations for players, with officials checking physical agility and skill before granting any player a try. Many countries also have national level athletic associations that define specific sports competition and qualification criteria. Some of these national level athletic associations have further developed and sanctioned specific sports competitions, including soccer, hockey, baseball, basketball and softball. The United States has no formalized national league or competition of sports, although the United States Olympic Committee does reserve the right to regulate its own athletes.
Most people in the United States are familiar with organized sports such as American football, ice hockey, basketball and baseball, although surfing and snowboarding have only been growing in popularity over the past decade or so. Professional sports leagues include major league baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are fully controlled by major league sports leagues, which run them like businesses from a business standpoint. Professional sports leagues also regulate several other minor league sports activities, such as lacrosse and soccer. The National Lacrosse Association and National Soccer League are two of the most powerful and profitable minor league sports in the United States. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association both govern football in the United States, while the National Hockey League has only developed slightly less popular but well-loved teams in the U.S. and Canada.
In Canada, the Canadian Football League, commonly referred to as the CFL, governs soccer, ice hockey, and curling. The NCAA is the governing body for athletic competition in the United States, which consists of six different conferences including the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Central Division of the Western Conference. College football in the United States is governed largely by the universities and colleges, which themselves are governed by professional sports organizations. There are a few independent governing bodies in college sports, including the United States Department of Education, which oversees athletic programs in colleges and university sports.