Any pro sports franchise can luck into a winning season. American leagues are designed for parity — losing teams get the first picks in the draft each year, so even the most hapless team can suddenly find themselves with a franchise-saving superstar.
But in order to sustain years and even decades of success, it takes something truly special. Often, when teams are able to string together years and years of playoff appearances, it is because the franchise’s owner has a plan for success, and the general manager, head coach, and superstar players are all on the same page.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on team performance by year from the Sports Reference family of sites to determine the sports franchises with the most consecutive winning seasons. Winning seasons were defined as those where a team finishes the regular season with more wins than losses, or a point percentage greater than .500 in the case of the NHL. The 2004-2005 NHL was canceled due to a labor dispute, but teams that maintained a winning streak before and after that season were still considered.
Players come and go, but to maintain 15 or more consecutive seasons of winning, franchises need owners and coaches who can cooperate to implement a winning strategy. Teams that do not have a clear philosophy for how they want to play are at risk of falling apart mid-season, costing players, general managers, and coaches their jobs. These are the NFL franchises that always fire their coaches.
Teams that consistently make the playoffs typically win at least one championship, if not several. Playoff experience is invaluable in a title run, and year after year of postseason play often shapes contenders into champions — but not always. Some of the teams on this list, despite over a decade of winning, never got over the hump and won it all. These teams often blame their shortcomings on great opponents, bad luck with injuries, or even curses. These are the greatest teams that never won a championship.