In sports, a drought refers to instances in which a team has gone a lengthy period of time without accomplishing some goal (e.g. making the playoffs or winning a championship). Droughts occur for a variety of reasons, from chronic mismanagement to bad luck. Some droughts are also popularly attributed to a curse.
Droughts by sport
- In MLB, the Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 and have not even appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945. This is the longest drought in North American sports. Some cite the Curse of the Billy Goat as a reason for the drought. They recently were in the MLB Playoffs (2008) and were swept out of the post season in three games by the Los Angeles Dodgers, which increased the drought to a full 100 years (99 years if the cancelled 1994 World Series is excluded). Even if the Cubs had won the 1945 World Series, they would still hold the longest drought in baseball, as the next closest team to them is the Cleveland Indians, who last won the World Series in 1948.
- In the NHL, the longest current title drought is shared by two teams: the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have not won the Cup or even appeared in the Cup Finals since 1967, and the St. Louis Blues, who entered the league when it doubled in size the following season, and have not yet won the Cup.
- In the CFL, the longest current Grey Cup drought is held by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 22 years.
- In the NFL, four teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans), and ten other teams have never won that game. The longest active title drought is that of the Arizona Cardinals franchise, which last won an NFL championship in the 1947 season. The Cardinals have played home games in four different cities in three market areas since the team last won a title: Chicago, St. Louis, and the Phoenix suburbs of Tempe and Glendale.
- 13 NBA teams have never won a championship. The league's longest drought belongs to the Sacramento Kings, who have not won the championship or even been to the NBA Finals since 1951, when they were known as the Rochester Royals. Sacramento is the fifth different city to host the team since it last won a title (Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Omaha are the others).
- In Major League Soccer, the longest current MLS Cup drought is 16 years, held by three teams, the New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, and FC Dallas, as each team has failed to win the league title despite having competed in every MLS season dating back to 1996. All have made MLS Cup Final appearances (Dallas lost to Colorado Rapids in MLS Cup 2010, New York lost to Columbus Crew in MLS Cup 2008, and New England lost to Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS Cup 2002 and MLS Cup 2005, and to Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup 2006 and MLS Cup 2007). While Dallas and New England have won other trophies (Dallas won the 1997 U.S. Open Cup as the Dallas Burn, and New England won the 2008 North American SuperLiga and 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, New York has gone 16 seasons without winning a non-preseason trophy. CD Chivas USA, Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have also never won an MLS Cup title, but were added as expansion teams subsequent to 1996. Defunct teams Miami Fusion FC and Tampa Bay Mutiny never won the MLS Cup before they were shut down in 2002.
- In regards to other major domestic trophies, the longest active Supporters Shield drought is shared by four teams, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, New England Revolution, and New York Red Bulls. None have won a Supporters Shield despite competing in every MLS season since 1996. Among MLS teams, the longest Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup drought is 16 years, shared by 3 teams, the Colorado Rapids, New York Red Bulls, and San Jose Earthquakes. 5 other United States-based teams have not won the Open Cup (CD Chivas USA, Houston Dynamo, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake), but were added as expansion teams after 1996. 3 Canada-based MLS teams, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are ineligible as they compete in the Voyageurs Cup.
Drought prone cities
Several North American cities are believed to have championship droughts among their "Big Four" pro sports teams:
- 85 years - Ottawa since 1927 Stanley cup (excludes cancelled 2004-05 NHL season).
- 49 years - San Diego since 1963 AFL title (pre-Super Bowl), no World series title.
- 49 years - Cleveland since 1964 NFL title (pre-Super Bowl), 1948 World Series title.
- 48 years - Buffalo since 1965 AFL title (pre-Super Bowl, no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1970-71).
- 42 years - Milwaukee since 1971 NBA title, (1957 World Series title, however franchise relocated).
- 42 years - Vancouver no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1970-71 (excludes cancelled 2004-05 NHL season)
- 36 years - Portland since 1977 NBA title.
- 34 years - Seattle since 1979 NBA title; however franchise relocated (no World Series or Super Bowl titles).
- 33 years - Winnipeg no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1979 (excludes cancelled 2004-05 NHL season)
- 32 years - Salt Lake City no NBA titles since the Jazz relocated in 1980.
- 28 years - Kansas City since 1985 World Series title, (also won 1970 Super Bowl title)
- 28 years - Sacramento waiting for first since 1985.
- 24 years - Charlotte waiting for first since 1989.
- 24 years - Oakland since 1989 World Series title (1984 Super Bowl title, 1975 NBA title).
- 24 years - Calgary since 1989 Stanley Cup
- 23 years - Orlando waiting for first since 1990.
- 23 years - Cincinnati since 1990 World Series title (no Super Bowl titles).
- 23 years - Edmonton since 1990 Stanley Cup
- 22 years - Minneapolis–St. Paul since 1991 World Series title (1969 NFL title (non-Super Bowl), 1954 NBA title, however franchise relocated; no Stanley Cup titles).
- 21 years - Washington, D.C. since 1992 Super Bowl. (1978 NBA title, 1924 World Series title, however franchise relocated, no Stanley Cups).
- 20 years - Toronto since 1993 World Series (1967 Stanley Cup, no NBA titles since joining in 1995).
- 20 years - Montreal since 1993 Stanley Cup
- 18 years - Atlanta since 1995 World Series title (no Super Bowl, NBA, or Stanley Cup titles).
- 18 years - Jacksonville waiting for first since 1995.
- 18 years - Houston since 1995 NBA title (no World Series since it joined in 1962, 1961 AFL championship, no Super Bowl titles)
- 17 years - Nashville waiting for first since 1996; no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1999
- 14 years - Columbus waiting for first since 2000.
- 13 years - Denver since 2001 Stanley Cup
- 13 years - Memphis waiting for first since 2001.
- 13 years - Phoenix since 2001 World Series.
- All year counts are including 2013.
Cleveland has waited longer than any other city with at least three major sports franchises to win a title. The last time a Cleveland professional sports team won a championship was in 1964 when the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship (pre-Super Bowl era). The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948 (the second-longest drought in MLB, after the Cubs) and the Cleveland Cavaliers have also never won an NBA championship. The city even had a short-lived NHL hockey team called the Barons, which never won a championship either. In 2007, the Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals in the city's first championship game since the 1997 World Series, but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. In 2004, ESPN named Cleveland the most tortured sports city in America.
Seattle has not won a major sports championship in any sport other than basketball and hockey. The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917 (the first American team to do so), the Seattle SuperSonics (NBA) won a title in 1979, and the Seattle Storm (WNBA) won in 2004 and 2010. The city's MLS team, Seattle Sounders FC, which entered the league in 2009, has lost in the conference semifinals in each of its three seasons to date. However, the Sounders won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in all three seasons. Neither the Seahawks nor the Mariners have ever won a championship (the Mariners have never even been in the World Series). Seattle nearly won a championship when the Seahawks represented the city in Super Bowl XL in 2006, but fell by a score of 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Adding to the angst for Seattle sports fans, the Sonics controversially relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season, becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Those who believe in the Buffalo Curse cite as examples the four consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Buffalo Bills from 1990-1993 (and their failure to even reach the conference playoffs in subsequent years), as well as the failure of the Buffalo Sabres to ever win the Stanley Cup. Wide Right, No Goal, and The Music City Miracle also contribute to the belief in the Buffalo Curse. Hearts were broken once again in 2006, when the Sabres lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, four of their top six defensemen were lost to injury along with Tim Connolly, the leading scorer of the playoffs at the time of his injury. Even though the Sabres made it back to the conference finals the next year, they lost again, this time to the division rival Ottawa Senators. It is notable that the Buffalo Bills won the AFL championship in 1964 and 1965. The alleged "curse", however, has not extended to the city's fringe or minor league teams—the Buffalo Bandits of the NLL have won 4 league championships (1992, 1993, 1996, 2008) and six division Championships 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004, 2006, 2008), and the Western New York Flash of Women's Professional Soccer, based in Buffalo but playing home games in Rochester, won the league title in their inaugural 2011 season.
San Diego's two professional sports teams, the San Diego Padres and the San Diego Chargers, have never won a World Series or Super Bowl, which are believed to stem from the San Diego Sports Curse. The Padres are tied with the Texas Rangers for the most World Series appearances (two) of the eight teams without a World Series championship. The Chargers won the 1963 AFL championship and have only appeared in one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXIX, which they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 49-26).
Some other four-team cities have some shorter yet notable droughts. Minneapolis-Saint Paul has not reached a championship series since the Twins won the 1991 World Series. This drought, like the one in Buffalo, has not extended to the market's fringe or minor league teams—two such teams, the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx and the Minnesota Stars of the current North American Soccer League, won league championships in 2011.
Philadelphia was previously considered a drought-prone city, having gone 25 years between championships (1983 76ers to 2008 Phillies), with losses in championship rounds by the Flyers (1985, 1987, 1997, 2010), Phillies (1983, 1993), Eagles (2004), and 76ers (2001). Some attributed this drought to an alleged Curse of Billy Penn.
Outside North America
- England has not won a major trophy since the 1966 FIFA World Cup. This was noted particularly when David Baddiel and Frank Skinner wrote the song Three Lions in 1996, which told of England's "thirty years of hurt".
- Manchester City went 35 years between winning major trophies, from the 1976 League Cup to the 2011 FA Cup.
- Hibernian has not won the Scottish Cup since 1902. The club has lost the Scottish Cup Final ten times since then, most recently in 2013.
- St. Johnstone have never won a major national trophy (Scottish league championship, Scottish Cup or Scottish League Cup).
Real Betis has not won the league since 1935, which actually is their only La Liga championship. The other top-team of Seville, Sevilla FC won his last La Liga championship in 1946, when the team won his only league title.
Real Madrid won 6 of the 11 first European Cup ever disputed, and then entered in a 32-year period without winning a single European top championship. This was broken in 1998, when Los Blancos won their seventh European top championship. This was followed by another two Champions League titles in the following four seasons.
Arenas de Getxo is a basque team which currently plays in the Spanish Tercera División, the fourth level in Spanish football system. The team competed in the first seven La Liga seasons starting in 1929. Previously Arenas had won the Spanish Cup in 1919, so the drought is now 93 years old.
Australian Rules Football
In the VFL/AFL, the longest premiership drought was that of the South Melbourne/Sydney Swans, who won their third premiership in 1933, but did not win another premiership until 2005, 72 years later. The second-longest drought in the league was that of St Kilda, which won its first senior premiership in its 68th season of VFL/AFL competition in 1966.
- Longest VFL/AFL premiership droughts
|Years||Team||Previous VFL/AFL Premiership||Next VFL/AFL Premiership||Grand Finals during drought|
|72||South Melbourne/Sydney Swans||1933||2005||1934, 1935, 1936, 1945, 1996|
|68||St Kilda||Never||1966||1913, 1965|
|58||Footscray/Western Bulldogs||1954||Drought active||1961|
|50||North Melbourne||Never||1975||1950, 1974|
|48||Melbourne||1964||Drought active||1964, 1988, 2000|
|46||St Kilda||1966||Drought active||1971, 1997, 2009, 2010, 2010 replay|
|44||Geelong||1963||2007||1967, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995|
|32||Collingwood||1958||1990||1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1977 replay, 1979, 1980, 1981|
The North Sydney Bears hold the longest premiership drought in the NSWRL/NRL, winning their final premiership in 1922 for an eighty-year drought, up until the end of their short-lived merge with Manly-Warringah; they are currently applying for re-entry into the league.
Since being established in 1967, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are yet to win a premiership through 44 seasons of NSWRL/ARL/Super League/NRL competition - the longest wait for a first title that any club has endured (Parramatta's first premiership came in its 35th season in 1981); in this time, the Sharks have played in six Grand Finals for one draw and five losses.
Hull FC lost seven consecutive Challenge Cup final appearances at Wembley Stadium between 1959 and 2008. The team has won two Challenge Cups during that time, but the final victories were at Elland Road (1982 replay) and the Millennium Stadium (2005, while Wembley was being rebuilt).
In France, ASM Clermont Auvergne had a championship history arguably as tortured as the most "cursed" teams in North America or Australia. From their formation in 1911 through 2009, they had never won a national title, despite making the championship final 10 times, and coming within a converted try in six of those games. The drought culminated in three consecutive title-game losses in 2007 through 2009. Les Jaunards finally broke through in 2010 to win their first title after 91 years of competition (they did not play in 1915-1919 or 1940-1942 due to World War I and World War II).
Queensland did not win the Sheffield Shield until 1994/95, its 63rd season of competition, which is particularly astounding given that, over those 63 years, only five teams competed for the shield until 1978/79, when Tasmania were added to the competition.
Somerset have never won the English County Championship, in which they have competed since 1891. Gloucestershire have not won the Championship since it was constituted in 1890, but won three unofficial "Champion County" titles in the 1870s. Northamptonshire have not won the Championship either, but were only admitted to the competition in 1905, after the club was granted first class status.
- List of Current NFL franchise post-season droughts
- List of Major League Baseball franchise post-season droughts
- List of National Basketball Association franchise post-season droughts
- List of National Hockey League franchise post-season droughts
- List of Major League Soccer club post-season droughts
- List of Canadian Hockey League franchise post-season droughts
- Darcy, Kieran (2004-07-13). "Mistakes by the lake". ESPN.com.
- http://www.buffalocurse.com The Buffalo Curse
- "Dalglish believes 'strongest ever' England can end 40 years of hurt". The Scotsman. 24 May 2006.
- "Fairs Cup winners to be re-united". Daily Mail. 6 October 2008.
- Stone, Simon (29 January 2010). "Darren Fletcher the destroyer revels in prolonging City drought". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
- "Liverpool can end title drought, says Rush". The Independent. 28 April 2009.
- "Edinburgh’s real disgrace? Hibs have not won the cup since Buffalo Bill was in town". Scotland On Sunday (Johnston Publishing). 20 May 2001.
- Halliday, Stephen (14 November 2013). "St Johnstone: Stevie May, Tommy Wright win awards". Scotsman (Johnston Publishing). Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- Gibbons, Trevor (23 August 2013). "Rugby League: Will Hull FC's Wembley hoodoo strike again?". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Pitt-Brooke, Jack (9 April 2013). "Somerset: Always the bridesmaids of the County Championship". The Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Berry, Scyld (23 August 2008). "Somerset scent a piece of County Championship history". Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 24 August 2013.