In sport, a whitewash or sweep (N. America) is a series in which a person or team wins every game.
Usage by sport
In Major League Baseball, teams typically play multiple games against each other. If one team wins all the games in that series, it's considered a 'series sweep', or, more commonly, simply a 'sweep'. In many cases, fans of the team in the favoured position, when all but one contest in the current series have been won, will bring brooms (either real brooms or large props for better visibility) to the ballpark with which to taunt the losing team.
On rare occasions, a season sweep can be accomplished, in which every contest between two teams is won by the same team. Intra-division season sweeps are relatively rare, since with the relatively large number of games against intra-division teams (19 per divisional matchup), the division rivals are more likely to find at least one lucky matchup. In cases where two teams only play each other once in the season, there is no distinction made between a series and season sweep.
The World Series has been a best-of-seven series since its inception in 1903, except for the period between 1919 and 1922 when it was a best-of-nine series. There have been nineteen occasions where the championship was decided in four games: 1914, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1938, 1939, 1950, 1954, 1963, 1966, 1976, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2012.
The NBA Playoffs comprises four rounds of best-of-seven series; any team that wins the first four games of a playoff series would have accomplished a series sweep. There have been nine occasions where the NBA Finals ended in four games: 1959, 1971, 1975, 1983, 1989, 1995, 2002, 2007, and 2018. The Golden State Warriors are the only team to have swept two NBA Finals series.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs comprises four rounds of best-of-seven series; any team that wins the first four games of a playoff series would have accomplished a series sweep. The Stanley Cup Finals became a best-of-seven series in 1939; since that year, there have been nineteen occasions where the cup was decided in four games: 1941, 1943, 1944, 1949, 1952, 1960, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. As of 2020, there has not been an instance where a team has achieved a 4–0 series sweep in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1998; as a result, the NHL has gone 21 seasons (or 22 years) without a sweep in the finals, making it the longest active drought in the history of the North American major professional sports leagues.
In cricket, a whitewash is when a team wins all the matches played in a series of at least 3 matches.
- Australia's 5–0 defeat of England to win the 1920–21 Ashes series
- West Indies' consecutive 5–0 defeats of England in 1984 and 1985–86. These two Wisden Trophy results are also commonly labelled blackwashes because of the dark skin of the West Indies players.
- Australia's 5–0 defeat of the West Indies in 2000–01 to win the Frank Worrell Trophy
- Australia's 5–0 defeat of England to win the 2006–07 Ashes series
- England's 4–0 defeat of India to win the Pataudi Trophy during India's tour of England in 2011
- Australia's 4–0 defeat of India to win the 2011–12 Border-Gavaskar Trophy
- India's 4–0 defeat of Australia to win the 2012–13 Border-Gavaskar Trophy
- Australia's 5–0 defeat of England to win the 2013–14 Ashes series
- India's 5–0 defeat of New Zealand to win the 2019–20 T20I series
- New Zealand's 3–0 defeat of India to win the 2019–20 ODI series
The term whitewash is also used in rugby when one team loses every match in a particular series. The team that comes last in the Six Nations Championship has the ignominy of being awarded the wooden spoon, even if they have not suffered a complete whitewash.
In ATP and WTA tennis, the term whitewash is used when a player fails to win a game in a match (6–0, 6–0, 6–0; or 6–0, 6–0), also called a triple- or double-bagel respectively. Double bagels are more common.