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Sometimes referred to as an exhibition match or a demonstration game, the exhibition game is the act of two sports teams choosing to engage in playing a game that is not considered to be relevant to any type of league or competition standings. Essentially, the outcome of the game has no bearing on the current record of the competitors, and is usually conducted either as part of a training program for the teams involved, or as a means of raising money for a charity or community project.
Exhibition games are found in just about every branch of competitive sports. As a tool for helping teammates to get used to working with one another, the exhibition game serves as a test drive for the blending of various skill levels and working out the strategies that will be employed by the teams during the regular season. The concept of the exhibition game for this purpose is not limited to professional sports. In fact, sports teams from high schools and colleges may choose to engage in exhibition games as a means of helping to work the team into a more cohesive unit before the start of the season.
Many professional sports also make good use of the exhibition game as not only a means of building team spirit and cohesiveness, but also as a means of getting fans into the right mindset before the regular season begins. This is especially true with baseball. Choosing to hold a demo event or two in advance allows new team members the chance to get to know the long time players, and begin to find their place in the workings of the team. Often, the public is invited to attend the demo game, which can be a motivating factor for both the spectators and the team players. Generally, an exhibition game is open to the public at no cost, although some sports teams have chosen to charge a small entry fee that is often donated to a designated charity.
In the local community, an exhibition game may also be used as a means of raising funds for the high school teams. As part of the fund raising event, the ticket price is usually set at a level that encourages many people to attend, with the proceeds being divided between the two teams. The money that is collected may go toward the purchase of new equipment and uniforms for the team members, as well as to help improve the sports facilities at one or both of the schools involved.
Exhibition games are also great for markets into which leagues would like to expand. For example, there's a reason the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball hold exhibition games in foreign countries -- they're interested in expanding to those countries and want to get crowds interested in the sport.