Games behind


Games behind

In sports, the phrase games behind or games back (often abbreviated as GB in tables), is a common way to reflect the gap between a leading team and another team in a sports league, conference, or division. It is determined by adding the absolute difference in wins between a leading team and the team of interest to the absolute difference in losses between the two teams, and dividing by two. The leading team itself is always zero games behind. Usually this is indicated in tables by a dash rather than a zero.

:mathrm{Games} mathrm{behind} = frac{(mathrm{Team A's} mathrm{wins}-mathrm{Team B's} mathrm{wins}) + mathrm({Team A's} mathrm{losses} - mathrm{Team B's} mathrm{losses})}{mathrm{2For example, if Cleveland is three games behind Detroit for first place, Cleveland would have to win three games, and Detroit would have to lose three, to tie for first. A "games behind" situation changes rapidly when two teams contesting the lead play each other since a zero sum game plays out. In this case, Cleveland would pull even with Detroit in a three-game sweep.

It is often used in professional baseball and basketball, where tie games are not permitted, and to a slightly lesser extent in football where ties are rare (when they do occur, they are counted as half a win and half a loss when calculating GB). Usually, in tables of standings in newspapers and magazines kept during the season, teams are ordered by the teams' winning percentages, with the number of games they are behind the division leader supplementing the table. On rare occasions, it is possible for a team on top of a division to be games behind a second place team. This usually occurs during the early portion of a season when teams have played an uneven number of games. For example, if Team A has a record of 23-13 and Team B has a record of 26-15, Team A would be recognized as having a better record by virtue of their .639 win percentage to Team B's .634 percentage. However, in the standings, Team A would still be one-half game behind Team B, though they would be ordered ahead of Team B.

The statistic is rarely calculated in hockey which traditionally allowed ties, making a GB calculation impractical. Instead, hockey leagues calculate standings using a points system where traditionally a win earns two points and a tie one. The replacement of ties with shoot-outs has not lead to any changes in this regard since shootout losers still receive one point. Some team managers and fans have suggested that shootout losers should receive no points, in such a system the number of points would become irrelevant compared to the number of wins and media outlets especially in the U.S. would probably start reporting GB in hockey standings. However, a more supported suggestion calls for reducing the value of shootout losses by increasing the number of points awarded for wins (probably to three as is done in soccer).


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