Watching a beloved sports team win a championship can be one of the great joys in life, as years of cheering and watching finally pay off with the ultimate prize. Some sports fans are lucky and get to watch their favored franchises establish dynasties and win multiple championships. But not everyone is so fortunate. Many people across the U.S. root for teams that consistently fail to win championships.
Many factors can make a fan base miserable. The most obvious is, of course, prolonged stretches of losing seasons. Any team in the playoffs has a shot at winning a championship, and even one postseason round can get fans excited. But teams like the Sacramento Kings, Seattle Mariners, and Cleveland Browns haven’t played one playoff game in over a decade — and show no signs of turning around their fortunes any time soon.
Prolonged losing stretches can make a fan base apathetic, but what may be more gut-wrenching is getting close to a championship and losing it at the last moment. The Atlanta Falcons blew a 25 point lead in the 2017 Super Bowl, and the Texas Rangers were within a strike of bringing home the 2011 World Series. Though they came close, neither franchise has ever won a championship.
The pain of watching a team struggle is tough, but it doesn’t compare to the disappointment of losing a team all together. Franchise owners will sometimes move their team to a new city in the hopes of getting a better stadium, more tax revenue, or simply because they don’t like their current city — leaving fans who grew up rooting for that team with no one to cheer for. The Rams and Chargers of the NFL recently moved to Los Angeles, leaving the cities of St. Louis and San Diego with no hometown team to support.
Each of the four major sports leagues have changed a lot since they were first founded. Foul balls weren’t counted as strikes in the early days of professional baseball. The NBA didn’t introduce 3-pointers until 1979. The Browns were the dominant franchise in the NFL during the 1950s, but most Browns fans likely weren’t around for those days. Each league has absorbed or merged with a rival league at some point. Because of these changes, we only included statistics and championships that came in what is conventionally considered the modern era of each of the four major sports.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed modern-era histories of teams in the four major American sports leagues — NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL — to determine which teams were hardest to cheer for based on playoff appearances, championships won, championships lost, overall record, and number of times a franchise moved.