Why Do So Many Sports Overlap in October?

If you’re a sports fan, you’re probably eating pretty well in October. It’s a pretty common sentiment, since so many sports in the states overlap. By the way, if you’re not into sports, this is why all of your ads and social media feeds are just sports now. But what’s up with that? What’s actually overlapping, and is there a reason why? Why do so many sports overlap in October?

The Overlap

While many sports have seasons starting and ending in different times, October brings forth a confluence of many major sports leagues in North America. 

For starters, the MLB’s World Series takes place in October. But that’s not all. The NHL and NBA seasons begin in October. The NFL might not start in October, but the season is in full swing by the time October rolls around, so football fans will have something too. You’ll even have something if you’re into the other kind of football; the MLS season ends in early October and you’ll be able to catch the soccer rivalry matches. 

College basketball and football also overlap in October. 

Even NASCAR’s season overlaps with October. 

Sports Equinox

All this athletic overlap can coincide with a single day, which is now called the “sports equinox.” That’s just a fun name for “all the sports are happening at the same time.” Normally that just means the big four in the states; baseball, football, hockey, and basketball. On October 20, 2022, the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, and NHL were active at the same time. 

The sports equinox doesn’t always have to be the 20th of October. October 17, 1971 marks the first recorded sports equinox, with an MLB game, three NBA games, six NHL games, and 12 NFL games. We’re also seeing more of them–especially since 2006. This is in part because of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football which started in 2006. Thursday Night Football put three nights of football on during the week, increasing the probability the NFL would line up with the MLB. There was a sports equinox in September of 2020, but that was largely due to the scheduling offsets caused by COVID-19. 

In 2017 the NBA moved its season up, extending it by a week to allow for more downtime between games. This, in turn, pushed the NBA season further into an overlap with the other seasons in swing during October. If you’re a fan of the sports equinox though, you might be seeing less in the near future, as the NBA season has moved the state date for its season back a bit–meaning an overlap between the NBA and MLB is only likely if the MLB postseason is particularly long. But it’s also a marketing thing so… you’ll probably still get something down the line.

See if you know your sports leagues here.