Various forms of competition can be referred to by the term championship.
The term championships (in the plural) is often used to refer to tournament competitions, either using a knockout format, such as at Wimbledon and other championships in tennis, or a mixed format with a group stage followed by knockout rounds, such as used in the European Football Championships.
A variation of the knockout format is the "best-of-X" or series format where two teams face other for a specified number of times until one team wins the majority of specified games, most of the time the remaining games are not played anymore; only then is the losing team eliminated from contention and the winning team advances to the next level. This format is predominant in American sports such as baseball, ice hockey and basketball, and on test cricket.
In many sport leagues, a playoff system is used to determine a championship winner. Teams compete in a regular season of varying formats and a limited number of teams qualify for playoffs. Although this system is mostly identified with the United States and Canada, it is frequently found in other North American countries, and is also standard in sports influenced by North America (e.g. basketball, baseball, ice hockey) as well as most football codes other than soccer. The playoffs (known in some countries, notably Australia, as the "finals series") are a tournament where teams play head-to-head in knockout competition. The championship is often considered the final of the playoffs (e.g., Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Final, NBA Finals, World Series, etc.). The playoff system can be seen as a hybrid between the league system and tournament system, where a league is used to determine qualifiers for the tournament.
In the NFL, the term "Championship game" is used to refer to the matches which decide the champions of each of the two conferences, the NFC and AFC. These games are effectively semi-finals as they determine the two competitors in the Super Bowl.
In English football, since the 2004-2005 season, The Championship has been used to refer to the second level of league football, properly called the Football League Championship. The Championship is one division below the FA Premier League and a division above Football League One. It had previously been known as the Football League First Division.
The championship may refer to :
- The Championship, an alternate name for the Football League Championship
- The Championship (TV series), a Football League highlights programme in the UK
- The Rugby Championship, the name for the Southern Hemisphere rugby union competition known as the Tri Nations before Argentina's entry in 2012
- The Rugby Football League Championship, England's pre-Super League competition
- The Rugby Football League Championships, an alternative name for the English Co-Operative Rugby League Championship and Co-Operative Rugby League Championship 1.
- The RFU Championship, the second tier of English rugby union, below the Aviva Premiership
- The Championships, Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world
- The Championship Course, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Thames course
- The Championships at the Palisades, an event in the Outback Champions Series for senior tennis players