- Draft (sports)
A draft is a process used in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia and the Philippines to allocate certain players to sports teams. In a draft, teams take turns selecting from a pool of eligible players. When a team selects a player, the team receives exclusive rights to sign that player to a contract, and no other team in the league may sign the player.
The best-known type of draft is the entry draft, which is used to allocate players who have recently become eligible to play in a league. Depending on the sport, the players may come from college, high school or junior teams or teams in other countries.
An entry draft prevents expensive bidding wars for young talent and ensures that no one team can sign contracts with all of the best young players and make the league uncompetitive. To encourage parity, teams that do poorly in the previous season usually get to choose first in the postseason draft.
Other types of drafts include the expansion draft, in which a new team selects players from other teams in the league; and the dispersal draft, in which a league's surviving teams select players from the roster of a newly defunct franchise.
Drafts are permissible under anti-trust law because they are included in collective bargaining agreements between leagues and labor unions representing players. These agreements generally stipulate that after a certain number of seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes a free agent and can sign with any team. They also require minimum (and sometimes maximum) salaries for newly drafted rookies.
National Football League President Joseph Carr instituted a draft in 1935 as a way to restrain teams' payrolls and reduce the dominance of the league's perennial contenders. It was adopted by precursor of the National Basketball Association in 1947; by the National Hockey League in 1963; and by Major League Baseball in 1965, although draft systems had been used in baseball since the 19th century.
Drafts are uncommon in association football, where most professional clubs obtain young players through transfers or by developing youth players through their own academies. The youth system is operated directly by the teams themselves, who develop their players from childhood. Parity is maintained in association football by a promotion and relegation, which automatically expels the weakest teams into lower divisions and admits the strongest lower-division teams into the higher divisions.
Draft order in the NFL is determined in a reverse-record order (the previous season's worst team picking first, the Super Bowl winner picking last). There are seven rounds of the draft, so each team can have seven selections. But trading draft choices between teams is common practice, and some teams may receive extra picks under some circumstances, so many teams may have more or fewer than seven selections.
The NFL Draft has become one of the key events on the American football calendar. It is held in April at New York's Radio City Music Hall and aired live on television.
The NBA Draft, held in a New York theater each summer, is only two rounds long. Instead of automatically granting the top pick to the worst team from the year before, the NBA holds a draft lottery to determine who chooses first. The top three picks are allocated by chance among the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs the year before. This discourages a team from losing on purpose to get a better draft pick, but also causes other controversy.
NBA teams choose players from the NCAA and from teams overseas. It was formerly common for players to be chosen directly from high school, but in 2006, the NBA required that players wait a year after high school before playing in the NBA. Almost all top U.S. players thus play at least one year in college.
The NHL operates a seven-round off-season draft. Like the NBA, the NHL uses a lottery system to determine which team gets the top pick. All 14 teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs take part in the weighted lottery with the winner moving up as much as four draft positions. Because the maximum a team may move up is five positions, only the bottom five teams in the standings have the potential to select first overall. Any North American player aged 18–20, and any overseas player aged 18–21 is eligible to be selected. Players are generally chosen from junior hockey teams, high schools, the NCAA and overseas clubs.
The NHL rotates the draft's location among cities with teams in the league. Like baseball, players drafted in the entry draft usually have to wait a few years in development, either in junior hockey or the minor leagues, before cracking an NHL roster; usually, only one or two draft picks, generally those that are widely predicted to be blue-chip superstars, jump directly from the draft to the NHL (e.g. Sidney Crosby or Jaromir Jagr).
The three major junior leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League also hold drafts of teenage players in their territories.
Major League Baseball holds two drafts each year. In June, the First-Year Player Draft, MLB's entry draft, takes place. Only players from Canada, the U.S. or a U.S. territory may be drafted; players from elsewhere are free agents and can be signed by any team. Draftees are high-school graduates who have opted not to go to college; college baseball players at four-year institutions who have played three years or turned 21; or junior college baseball players. The draft lasts up to 50 rounds. The MLB entry draft generally receives less attention than the drafts in other American sports, since drafted players usually spend several years in the minor leagues before they crack the Major League team's roster. Also, unlike the NHL. NFL or the NBA draft, the MLB draft takes place while the season is still going on instead of in the offseason.
In December, MLB holds the much shorter Rule 5 draft. If an organization keeps a player in the minor leagues for a certain number of years, other teams can draft him in the Rule 5 draft. The drafting team must keep the player on its major-league roster; it cannot put the player in its own minor-league system.
The WWE Draft, (formerly known as the WWE Draft Lottery) is a process used by WWE (professional wrestling promotion) to provide new brand competition and to refreshen its rosters. The Draft was first used during the brand extension of 2002, though it was officially incepted and used in 2004. Since the inception of the process, it has been referred to as the Draft Lottery (2004-2005) and the Draft (2007–present). Starting in 2005, the draft took place during the month of June; however, since 2009 the Draft has been held in April.
Every spring, the WNBA Draft is held at league headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey. From 2005 to 2008, the Draft was held in the city that hosted the NCAA Women's Final Four. The draft is currently three rounds long with each of the 12 teams in the league (trades aside) getting three picks each. Draft order for teams that made the playoffs the previous year are based on team records. The team with the highest previous record will pick last. Since eight teams qualify for playoffs, the bottom eight picks are determined by this method. For the remaining top four picks, a selection process similar to the NBA Draft Lottery is conducted for the four teams that did not qualify for the playoffs.
The Canadian Football League holds its annual player draft before the start of the season, either in the last days of April or the start of May. It was formerly held as part of the annual league meetings in Hamilton, but is now typically held by conference call. Since 1997, the draft has consisted of six rounds, with teams drafting in inverse order of their records in the previous season. As with the NFL Draft, trading of picks is very common, meaning that a team will not necessarily have six picks in a given draft.
The draft is restricted to "non-imports"—players who were either born or trained (i.e., played high school or college football) in Canada. Eligible players can be drafted both from CIS football programs in Canada and U.S. college football programs (with the latter category containing one Canadian school, Simon Fraser).
In Australian rules football's premier competition, a draft was introduced in 1986 (when the competition was then known as the VFL). This was in response to the increasing transfer fees and player salaries at the time, which in combination with declining attendances, threatened to derail the league. In the AFL Draft, clubs receive picks based on the position in which they finish on the ladder . The draft is held in November, with a pre-season draft in December.
The 1991 NSWRL season featured the introduction of rugby league football's first draft system. The draft allowed teams to recruit players on a roster system based on where the club finished the previous year. It ran in reverse order with the wooden spooners getting first choice and the premiers last. The draft lasted just the one season before being defeated in the courts by players and coaches opposed to its limitations.
When the Russian Superleague became the Kontinental Hockey League, the collective bargaining agreement between the KHL and its players introduced a draft, starting from the very first season of the league. It also allows teams to use a first-round draft pick to select protected players from a team's farm system.
Major professional sports leagues (including the KHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL) have special contingency plans for rebuilding a team should an accident or other disaster kill or disable many players.
A draft bust occurs when a highly touted draftee does not meet expectations, and conversely a lowly-drafted player going on to have a stellar career would be a draft steal.
A draft blunder is a term most commonly used in association with a phenomenon that occurs in the four major sports leagues of North America: the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB, but also happens in other leagues with drafts. The term is used when a clearly superior and exemplary athlete is, for some inexplicable and apparently illogical reason, passed over in the draft in favor of an inferior, unfit or mutually mismatching athlete.
- ^ Michael MacCambridge, America's Game. New York: Random House, 2004. ISBN 0-375-50454-0.
- ^ Paul Dickson, Dickson Baseball Dictionary(Third ed.) s.v. Draft. Norton: 2009. ISBN 978-0393066814.
- ^ Healey, Deborah (2005). Sport and the law. UNSW Press. pp. 46. ISBN 0868406430, 9780868406435. http://books.google.com/books?id=TJQU1i33Fd8C&printsec=frontcover.
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