PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

Florida is home to ten major professional sports franchises in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Football League and National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. Additionally, Florida is the home of 15 Major League Baseball teams who participate in the Florida Grapefruit League Spring Training, NASCAR, the Daytona 500 and the PGA Tour, LPGA and the PGA of America.

iconiconMajor League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization that is the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams now play in the American League(AL) and National League (NL), with 15 teams in each league. The organization also oversees minor league baseball leagues, which comprise about 240 teams affiliated with the major-league clubs. Baseball's first professional team was founded in Cincinnati in 1869. The first few decades of professional baseball were characterized by rivalries between leagues and by players who often jumped from one team or league to another. The period before 1920 in baseball was known as the dead-ball era; players rarely hit home runs during this time. Baseball survived a conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series, which came to be known as the Black Sox Scandal. The sport rose in popularity in the 1920s, and survived potential downturns during the Great Depression and World War II. Shortly after the war, baseball's color barrier was broken by Jackie Robinson. The 1950s and 1960s were a time of expansion for the AL and NL, then new stadiums and artificial turf surfaces began to change the game in the 1970s and 1980s. Home runs dominated the game during the 1990s, and media reports began to discuss the use of anabolic steroids among Major League players in the mid-2000s. In 2006, an investigation produced the Mitchell Report, which implicated many players in the use of performance-enhancing substances, including at least one player from each team. Today, MLB is composed of thirty teams: twenty-nine in the United States and one in Canada. Teams play 162 games each season and five teams in each league advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the World Series, a best-of-seven championship series between the two league champions that dates to 1903. Baseball broadcasts are aired throughout North America and in several other countries throughout the world. Games are aired on television, radio, and the Internet. MLB has the highest season attendance of any sports league in the world with more than 74 million spectators in 2013.
iconiconThe National Basketball Association (NBA) is the pre-eminent men's basketball league in North America, and is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world.The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with its rival National Basketball League (NBL).It has 30 franchised member clubs (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada, and is an active member of USA Basketball, which is recognized by FIBA (also known as the International Basketball Federation) as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues.
iconicon The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) before renaming itself the National Football League for the 1923 season. The NFL agreed to merge with the American Football League (AFL) in 1966, and the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that season; the merger was completed in 1970. The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from the week after Labor Day to the week after Christmas, with each team playing sixteen games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference (four division winners and two wild card teams) advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, played between the champions of the NFC and AFC. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most watched television programs in American history. The team with the most NFL championships is the Green Bay Packers with thirteen; the team with the most Super Bowl championships is the Pittsburgh Steelers with six.
icon iconThe National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league composed of 30 member clubs: 23 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec, after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of league mergers and folds left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926. The NHL started with four teams (all based in Canada) and, through a series of expansions, contractions and relocations, is now composed of 30 active franchises. The "nation" referred to by the league's name was Canada, although the league has now been binational since 1924 when its first team in the United States, the Boston Bruins, began play. The league draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from approximately 20 different countries. Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the league, with an increasing percentage of American and European players in recent seasons.
SuperStarTicketsMajor League Soccer (MLS) is a professional soccer league, sanctioned by U.S. Soccer, that represents the sport's highest level in both the United States and Canada. MLS constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada. The league is composed of 20 teams—17 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. The MLS regular season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games;the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters' Shield. The post season includes twelve teams competing in the MLS Cup Playoffs through November and December, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams also play in other domestic competitions against teams from other divisions in the U.S. Open Cup and in the Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League. Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The first season took place in 1996 with ten teams. MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years: The league lost millions of dollars, teams played in mostly empty American football stadiums, and two teams folded in 2002. Since then, MLS has expanded to 20 teams, owners built soccer-specific stadiums, average MLS attendance exceeds that of the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA), MLS secured national TV contracts, and the league is now profitable. Instead of operating as an association of independently owned teams, MLS is a single entity in which each team is owned and controlled by the league's investors. The investor-operators control their teams as owners control teams in other leagues, and are commonly (but inaccurately) referred to as the team's owners. The league has a fixed membership, like most sports leagues in the United States and Canada, which makes it one of the world's few soccer leagues that does not use promotion and relegation, a practice that is uncommon in the two countries.