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Suffering Sports Fans: Winningest and Losingest Cities

1986 Kansas City Royals calendar

1986 Royals Calendar

I’ve been a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals ever since my family moved to KC in 1979. Well, it took me a few years to warm up to the Chiefs (as a little kid I was a diehard Cowboys fan) but I’ve been following them both for more than 30 years. As the years passed since Kansas City’s last championship, the Royals shocking win over the Cardinals in 1985, it often seems that Kansas City fans are the most tortured in the nation. The Royals have rarely been in contention since 1985. The Chiefs were the most successful NFL franchise in the 1990’s in the regular season, but their last postseason win was in 1993 at the hands of Joe Montana.

But I’ve wondered which city really is the most championship deprived. Which fans really have suffered more? Which cities are overdue for a championship? To the internet!

I complied a list of every MLB, NFL and NBA team, counted the number of championships they’ve won (1964 or later) and the number of years since their last championship. For each city I compared the average number of years between championships to the number of years since their last championship to determine which cities are “overdue.”

A few caveats. First, I only looked at cities with two or more teams. I figured that smaller markets like Oklahoma City or unlucky cities with only one team (sorry Portland) had their own separate brand of suffering. By only having one team they would naturally go longer between championships. Also, I only compiled statistics for baseball, football and basketball. Using George Carlin rules those are the only true sports we have. They’re certainly the only three I’m interested in. Last, I only looked at 1964 or later. If a team hasn’t won in the last 50 years, I figure a win before that is hardly balm to their current fans (I’m looking at you Chicago Cubs).

The only other issue is how to define “suffered more?” Is it simply the number of years since their last championship or the average number of years between championships?

Here are the cities who have waited longest for a championship:

City Championship Count Years Since Last Championship
Charlotte

0

20

San Diego

0

50

Cleveland

1

49

Seattle

1

34

Kansas City

2

28

Oakland

6

24

Cincinnati

3

23

Minneapolis

2

22

Washington, D.C.

4

21

Toronto

2

20

Houston

2

18

Chargers logo 1961-1973Both Charlotte and San Diego have suffered their own special brand of sports hell, with no major championships. San Diego particularly could vie for “longest suffering city” since the Chargers have yet to win an NFL championship despite existing for our entire 50 year window. The Padres have only done better because they’ve only existed since 1969 so they’ve had less time to fail to win a championship.

After that we get Cleveland, another traditionally sad-sack city when it comes to sports. The Browns won the NFL championship in 1964, the first year of my review window, and the city’s teams haven’t won anything since. Seattle hasn’t won since the SuperSonics in 1979. And then we get to Kansas City with 28 years since the Royals win. Judging by years since the last championship, Kansas City is only the fifth worst city for major sports.

Of note is the fact that Oakland hasn’t won anything in 24 years but has six championships in the last 50 years. The heyday of the A’s and Raiders are long since past, and the Raiders’ last championship actually counted for Los Angeles in 1984.

OK, so let’s look at average years between championships.

City Championship Count Average Years Between Champs Years Since Last Championship
San Diego

0

50.00

50

Seattle

1

50.00

34

Atlanta

1

50.00

18

Cleveland

1

47.00

49

Kansas City

2

47.00

28

New Orleans

1

46.00

3

Tampa Bay

1

37.00

10

Washington, D.C.

4

33.33

21

Indianapolis

1

30.00

6

Milwaukee

6

27.50

2

Oakland

7

27.17

24

Charlotte drops off this list because their oldest team, the Panthers, have only been around 20 years. The list is skewed by cities which have only won one championship, or those who have only won one championship in each of their sports. Interesting to see Milwaukee and Oakland despite five championships for the Packers and four for the A’s. Milwaukee is hurt by the Brewers and Bucks, who have one championship between them, while Oakland is dragged down by the Golden State Warriors who only won it all in 1975. Kansas City, once again, is fifth.

Which cities have gone longer than their average number of years between championships, or to put it another way, are overdue for a championship? Just three.

City Championship Count Average Years Between Champs Years Since Last Championship
Cleveland

1

47.00

49

Cincinnati

3

16.67

23

Toronto

2

18.00

20

Jim Brown 1964 Browns

Jim Brown carries the 1964 Browns over the Colts.

Poor Ohio and Canada. If only I cared about the NHL. Well, Toronto would still be on this list since the Maple Leafs haven’t won since 1967. Maybe this will be the Bengals’ year (but don’t tell Tom Brady or Payton Manning).

So Kansas City isn’t the longest suffering city in major sports. Somehow that doesn’t ease the pain of the Royals long string of lousy baseball, but I’m glad I didn’t grow up rooting for San Diego teams.

Which cities’ fans are happiest? Which cities’ teams have won the most championships and won the most frequently?

City Championship Count Average Years Between Champs Years Since Last Championship
New York City

16

23.93

1

Boston

16

12.78

0

Los Angeles

15

20.92

3

Chicago

8

26.96

8

Pittsburgh

8

16.67

4

Oakland

7

27.17

24

San Francisco

7

17.50

1

Miami

7

14.44

0

Baltimore

7

11.72

0

Milwaukee

6

27.50

2

Dallas

6

21.50

2

St. Louis

6

20.50

2

Yankees logoBased purely on raw numbers, New York, Boston and Los Angeles are far ahead of the rest of the country. You might have guessed that given their payrolls. Fans in those cities officially have nothing to complain about, sports-wise. Interesting that Oakland has the 6th most championships and also has the 6th longest drought since their last championship. Every other city on this list has been waiting eight years or less for another championship, and nine out of these 12 cities have teams who have won it all in the last three years. Big market teams dominate the top of the list but Oakland, St. Louis (thanks to the baseball Cardinals) and Milwaukee (thanks to the Packers) have all had a healthy level of success in the last five decades.

I hope this exercise has given you some hope or some perspective on how teams in your city have done over the last 50 years. Some hope, that is, unless you live in San Diego or Cleveland.

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Roy Z

2 Comments

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