by Max Barry

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1

Professional Sports

The uniforms worn by the national team in Baptism of Fire 38

The are two major sports leagues in Mount Shavano. One is the Shavano Football League, which playing traditional American football, and the other is the Shavano Soccer League, which plays the sport the name suggests. There are leagues for many other sports, generally organized along similar lines, but they are less prestigious.

Both leagues are organized under rules that encourage year-in, year-out competitiveness rather than the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. That includes salary caps, amateur drafts, playoffs, and the like.

The SFL plays a sixteen game schedule over sixteen weeks in the fall and into winter, and is organized in six four team divisions spread across two conferences. The schedule is predetermined in that each team is allocated a slot, and the schedule of slots is the same every year. For example, the defending first place team in the North Division of the Western Conference always opens at the defending second place team from the same division. The first three and last three weeks are devoted to divisional games. The total breakdown of games is six divisional, four in-conference but out of division, and six out of conference games.

Ten teams make the playoffs, five from each conference broken into three division winners and two wildcards. The wildcards in each conference play each other in the wildcard round, then the winner plays at the highest ranked division winner while the other division winners play each other, then the winners of those two games advance to the conference title game. The conference winners play at a neutral site - at this time, always at Admirals stadium in Harbor Grove unless a team from that city is playing. The first alternate is site is Cloud Field in San Angelo, and the second alternate used only if the championship is San Angelo vs Harbor Grove is the Turtle House in Monarch - for the national championship, all playoff games prior to that round are hosted by the higher-ranked team. Playoff ties are resolved by playing sudden death overtime that is timed only in that teams switch ends every fifteen minutes; regular season ties are allowed to stand.

The FRSL likewise has 24 teams is 6 divisions over two conferences, and plays a 38 game schedule fall-to-spring. The games for each team break down as follows:
*Against designated rival team twice each home and away.
*Against other division rival teams three times each, twice home and once away for each in alternating years. The set up against each team offsets so that this is three home and three away games in any given season.
*Against non-divisional conference rivals home and away once each.
*Against non-conference home or away in any given year, alternating which, and with a total of six home and six away in any given year.

The playoff format is generally the same as the SFL, with three division winners and two wildcards per conference playing single elimination games. The major exception is that the team with the better record hosts the title game instead of having a neutral site game. Ties in the playoffs are broken by a 30 minute sudden death overtime followed by a shootout if needed.

SSL plays under some rules that are slightly different from standard international rules. Most prominently:
*Two points for a win rather than three.
*Free substitutions are allowed. However, the bench is limited to three players plus an emergency goalkeeper. Also, the starting goalkeeper cannot re-enter the game if substituted.
*The clock counts down with pauses from injuries, etc rather than the archaic "injury time" concept.
*Indoor venues and turf are accepted rather than discouraged.
Indeed, without the last having a soccer league in the country would be quite impossible given the weather.

A unique feature of Shavanoan sports is that sports clubs are multi-sport. Almost all fans can root for their teams in both leagues, plus in less popular sports, minor leagues, and can even play for team in amateur leagues organized by the clubs.

The Mount Shavano national soccer team has played in and done well in various local friendlies for years, but the only major international tournament they participated in was the 38th Baptism of Fire. They showed very well, losing the title game in a shootout. Goalkeeper Robert Anderson was named player of the tournament.

Note that in Mount Shavano using the term "football" to refer to soccer is considered extremely uncouth, akin to most "four letter words".

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