Watching a beloved sports team win a championship is one of the great joys in life, as years of cheering — and suffering — with the team finally pay off with the ultimate prize. Some fans are lucky, as their teams establish dynasties and win multiple championships — many such teams include the most successful athletes of the 21st century. But not everyone is so fortunate. Many people root for teams that consistently fail to win titles.
24/7 Wall St. referred to the Sports Reference family of sites to review the 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. Included in our analysis was the team’s winning record over time, their playoff record, championship wins and losses, and years since reaching the playoffs.
Many factors can make a fan base miserable. The most obvious, of course, is 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 made one playoff game in over a decade.
Failing to get to the playoffs year after year can make the faithful apathetic and cause teams to run out of fans. But what may be more gut-wrenching is getting close to a championship and failing to win it. The Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead in the 2017 Super Bowl and lost to the New England Patriots. The Texas Rangers were within a strike of bringing home the 2011 World Series title before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals. Though both came close, neither franchise has ever won a world championship.
The pain of watching a team struggle is tough, but it doesn’t compare with 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 — one of the best cities for sports fans — leaving the cities of St. Louis and San Diego with no hometown team to support.