In sports, "garbage time" refers to a period during a game where the outcome has already been decided, and the remaining time is essentially meaningless in terms of the final score. During this period, the teams involved may make substitutions, relax their play or adopt different strategies, with the intent to avoid injuries and conserve energy for the upcoming games.
In basketball, for example, garbage time typically occurs in the fourth quarter when a team has a substantial lead. The losing team may continue to play, but the outcome is no longer in doubt, and the remaining time is essentially just running out the clock. During garbage time, coaches may choose to give playing time to bench players who do not normally get many minutes in the game, to allow them to gain experience and confidence.
Similarly, in American football, garbage time usually occurs in the latter part of the fourth quarter when one team has a commanding lead. At this point, the losing team may run out the clock and make conservative plays to avoid turnovers and injuries.
Overall, garbage time refers to the final stages of a game when the outcome is all but decided, and the play becomes less competitive and meaningful.