Sports can make people do some pretty crazy things. We dress up in bright colored shirts because our favorite athlete wears (roughly) the same one. We spend exorbitant sums on tickets, often to sit high in the arena or in the freezing cold. We miss family or social occasions to watch a game on TV. After all that, the most we get in return is a win, if we’re lucky.
Sometimes though, the law of averages seems not to apply. Certain cities, no matter what happens, just cannot get it done. When the ineptitude of the field reaches absurd levels, there can only be one answer: they were forsaken by the fickle gods of sports. When that happens, all you can do is wait and suffer. Below are the top five cities the sports gods hate.
Sports and Cleveland have commitment issues. In 1995, owner Art Modell announced that he would move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore because he felt Cleveland would not fund a modern football stadium. The next day voters approved the tax hike to keep their team. They protested and sued. Advertisers pulled sponsorships. Modell did not care. This team went on to become the Baltimore Ravens, who have become a perennial contender. Meanwhile the modern reincarnation of the Browns has floundered, going through nearly 20 quarterbacks since 1999.
Infamously, Lebron James followed Modell’s footsteps in with his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. James was supposed to be the city’s messiah; an Ohio player catapulting the team to relevance. In a painful to watch ESPN special though, he told Cleveland it was over. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert then penned an angry statement, unfortunately written on Comic Sans, blasting James and stating Cleveland would win a title before the Heat did. Last season the Heat won the NBA title; the Cavs finished 21-45.
Additionally, the city’s baseball team, the Indians, have not won a World Series since 1948. They are also saddled with the unfortunate mascot of Chief Wahoo, a grinning red faced Native American. Womp.
While Kansas City has had two desertions, these were relatively minor. The Kansas City Scouts of the NHL only existed for two disappointing years, before moving to Colorado (don’t feel bad, that team moved again and became the New Jersey Devils). Their arena-mates, the Kansas City Kings lasted longer, but relocated to Sacramento after just over a decade. In their final few seasons, their best players were lured to other cities and the arena roof collapsed.
Despite their brief spell of success in the mid-80s, the Royals have to be cursed. The franchise is most known for George Brett going momentarily insane after being called out for having an illegal amount of pine tar on his bat. Since their 1985 World Series, the team has struggled to the point that having a winning record in a month is an accomplishment.
Across the parking lot from the Royals is Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs. Similar to the Royals, they were successful long ago, winning three AFL titles in the 1960s and Super Bowl IV in 1969. While they have put together good years since then, they have never been able to cash in. In 2003, they got off to a 13-0 start and made the cover of Sports Illustrated, before ultimately losing in the first round of the playoffs. They currently sit at 1-10 in the second of back-to-back miserable seasons.
The Buffalo Bills have been a constant source of heartbreak for the Rust Belt city. Despite appearing in the Super Bowl seven times, including four consecutive appearances, they have never won an NFL championship (they won the AFL title twice in the mid 1960s). Following that streak, the team fell off and languished along with the rest of the division behind the ever-successful Patriots.
On the ice, the Sabres have never won a Stanley Cup, despite existing since 1970. They have fielded several impressive teams, such as the French Connection line in the early years of the franchise, but never sealed the deal. The Sabres have also had their share of “forsaken by the gods” moments, from fog covering the ice on an unseasonably warm day, losing the championship on an illegal goal, and having a logo resembling a banana slug.
The city also had a short-lived basketball team, the Braves, who made the playoffs 3 times in 8 seasons, before becoming the Clippers. The worst part of the Buffalo sports struggles is the city, though. In a town that is economically down on its luck, the dedicated fans really could use something to cheer for.
You might think Atlanta is a great sports town. Their teams are generally successful, but they can never close the deal. The Braves, despite being known as “the team of the 90s” and making the playoffs fourteen straight seasons (1991-2005), only won one World Series Title.
The Falcons have suffered similar lack of success. Despite existing since 1969, they have never won a championship, only making it to the Super Bowl itself once. In recent years, they’ve shown a propensity for starting playing well, claiming no one respects them as a contender, and then collapsing.
The Hawks have been consistently average, regularly finishing near the middle of the Eastern Conference and making the playoffs. They have not made it beyond the second round however, leaving the team still seeking its first championship since 1958.
On the hockey side, Atlanta has lost not one, but two teams. The Atlanta Flames called the city home from 1972-1980. The team consistently reached the first round of the playoffs and stalled there annually. After attendance fell to an average of 10,000 per game, the team was sold and moved to Calgary. In 1999, the city was given a second chance in the form of the Atlanta Thrashers. They unfortunately followed their predecessor’s footsteps. In just over a decade of existence, they made the playoffs once (and were swept in the first round), traded away their star player Ilya Kovalchuk, and moved to Winnipeg.
The Minnesota teams have been more successful than most on this list, but still have had their share of trials. While the Twins won two recent World Series (1987 and 1991), the bottom has fallen out since. Their playoff hero Kirby Puckett had to retire at age 35 due to loss of vision in one eye, and then unfortunately passed in 2006 due to a massive stroke. The threat of relocation hung over the team, but things were not rosy when they finally built a new ballpark. In the immaculate Target Field, they posted two abysmal seasons, finishing 63-99 for the past two years.
The Vikings and Timberwolves are both to win a title. The Vikings have fluctuated from decent to awful in recent season, with star running back Adrian Peterson tearing both his MCL and ACL last season. The Timberwolves are still struggling to recover from the loss of Kevin Garnett in 2007. While they have built up a promising young core of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, a combination of injuries and inexperience have kept them from making an impact.
Hockey seems to be a fit for the Twin Cities, but that has not been the case. In 26 seasons, the North Stars were solidly mediocre, making 17 playoff appearances and reaching the finals twice, but never claiming a title. They also have the unfortunate distinction of being the only team with a player to die during a game in the modern era. In 1993, they relocated to Dallas, became the Stars and won the Stanley Cup five years later. In 2000, the NHL returned in the form of the Wild, who have made the playoffs only three times since. In the most recent offseason, they made a splash signing the two top free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. With the team primed to make a run, however, the NHL locked out and is on the verge of canceling the whole season.
Post has been corrected, having previously underestimated how much Buffalo sucks.