||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with North America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (August 2010)|
In sports, a losing streak is an uninterrupted string of contests (whether games, matches, etc.) lost by a team or individual. A losing streak can last as few as two games, or it may last much longer. A losing streak and a winless streak are distinctively different, as a winless streak may include:
- tie games or draws
- in first-class cricket, unfinished matches
- in association football, ice hockey and some field hockey leagues, and depending on the definition of “loss” used by the observer, overtime or shootout losses.
Tie games can also be included in an unbeaten streak, as in soccer.
On an individual level, losing streaks might arise from the loser effect: an increased probability of losing at time T, based on losing at time T−1, T−2, etc. This means that one has a slightly higher probability of losing the next match because one lost the previous one. The outcome of a match does not solely depend on the strength of the opponents, but also on how much effort one or the other is willing to invest. The loser effect rises from the tendency to hold back on the next match after losing. On the other hand, the winner effect encourages the opponent who won the previous match to invest more in the next fight. This phenomenon is well known in the study of animal behavior where the winner and loser effects help to keep the level of conflicts low in group living animals.
Here is a list of the longest team losing streaks of all time in several competitions:
- NCAA Football Division I (FBS): 34 games – Northwestern Wildcats: (1979–1982)
- NCAA Football Division I (FCS): 80 games — Prairie View A&M Panthers: (1989-1998)
- NCAA Football Division II: 52 games – Lock Haven Bald Eagles: (2007-2012)
- NCAA Football Division III: 50 games – Macalester Scots: (1974-1980)
- NCAA Basketball:
- Division I, men: 41 games — Towson Tigers: (2011-2012)
- Division I, women: 58 games — Long Island Blackbirds: (1986-1989)
- Division II, men: 46 games — Olivet Comets: (1959-1961); Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs (1971-1973)
- Division II, women: 70 games — Notre Dame de Namur Argonauts,
- Division III, men: 207 games — Caltech Beavers: (1996-2007) (record for all divisions, men or women)
- Division III, women: 83 games — Schreiner Mountaineers, (all-division record for women)
- Note: New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders lost 51 games (2007-2009) while in the process of becoming a Division I program, but is not an official record.
- NBA Basketball: 26 games (tie) — Cleveland Cavaliers: (2010-2011); Philadelphia 76ers: (2014)
- WNBA Basketball: 20 games — Tulsa Shock
- MLB baseball:
- NHL hockey: 17 games (tie) — Washington Capitals: (1974-75); San Jose Sharks: (1992-93)
- NFL football: 26 games — Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (1976-1977)
- MLS soccer: 12 games — New York Red Bulls: (1999)
- USL Pro Soccer: 26 games — Antigua Barracuda FC: (2013)
- CFL Football: 16 games — Hamilton Tigers/Tiger-Cats: (1948-1950)
- NCAA Men's Tennis Division 1: 59 matches — Wagner College (2007-2012)
- NCAA Lacrosse Division I: 29 games — Wagner College:
- NCAA Lacrosse Division III: 92 games — City College of New York:
- CIS Football: 49 games — University of Toronto Varsity Blues: (2001-2008)
- United States Hockey League: 53 games — Omaha Lancers: (entire 1986–87 season, 5 games of the 87–88 season)
- VFL/AFL Australian Football: 51 games — Melbourne University Football Club:
- SANFL Australian Rules Football: 56 games — Glenelg Football Club:
- WAFL Australian Rules Football: 27 games (tie) — West Perth Football Club and Peel Thunder Football Club:
- NSWRL and NRL rugby league: 42 games — Sydney University rugby league team:
- Test Cricket: 21 matches — Bangladesh – (2001–2004)
- One Day International cricket: 23 matches — Bangladesh – (1999–2002)
- Twenty20 International: 12 matches — Bangladesh – (2007-pres)
- Combined international cricket: 28 matches — Bangladesh – (10 tests, 18 ODIs, 2003–2004)
- Twenty20 club or domestic: 19 matches (tie) — Quetta Bears – (2005-present); Sydney Thunder – (December 2011-January 2014)
List of the longest individual losing streaks of all time in each sport:
- MLB Baseball: 27 consecutive losing decisions — Anthony Young:
- ATP: 21 consecutive matches — Vince Spadea:
- At the Bar international: 196 weekends - A. Thornton - (2012–present)
- List of Major League Baseball longest losing streaks
- List of National Basketball Association longest losing streaks
- Imperfect season
- Winning streak (sports)
- Sports Illustrated Photo Gallery of the most memorable losing streaks
- Forbes' Worst Losing Streaks in Sports
- Worst college football teams of all time. ESPN.com Page 2,
- "Winner and loser effect". Fighting the Sharks. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- "Winning, losing, and reaching out". Behavioral Ecology. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- NCAA FBS Records, 2012
- "Worst College Football Teams of All Time". ESPN. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- Albright, Bill. "Lock Haven Skid at 50 after Last-Second TD". Retrieved 3 November 2012.
- Scherr, Rich (28 January 2012). "Towson men's basketball team ends record losing streak". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- "Women's Hoops Ends Losing Streak with Victory over N.D. de Namur". Hornetsports.com. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "Caltech ends 26-year league drought". NCAA.com. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "Inside Schreiner: Women's Basketball". Inside Schreiner. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- Garcia, Marlen (6 January 2012). "Towson's losing streak reaches record proportions". USA Today. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
- "Games Lost by Teams Records". Baseball Almanac.
- "Memorable Losing Streaks". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- WAFL Footy Facts: Consecutive Games Lost