Drought (sport)

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In sports, a drought refers to instances in which an individual or team has gone through a lengthy period of time without accomplishing some goal. For a team, this usually refers to an extended period of time without 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.

North America[edit]

Droughts by sport[edit]

Drought prone cities[edit]

Several North American cities are believed to have championship droughts among their "Big Four" pro sports teams:

  • 88 years - Ottawa since 1927 Stanley Cup
  • 52 years - San Diego since 1963 AFL title (pre-Super Bowl), no World series title, no NBA title.
  • 51 years - Cleveland since 1964 NFL title (pre-Super Bowl), 1948 World Series title, NBA Finals Appearance (2007, 2015)
  • 50 years - Buffalo since 1965 AFL title (pre-Super Bowl, no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1970-71).
  • 45 years - Vancouver no Stanley Cups since joining NHL in 1970
  • 44 years - Milwaukee since 1971 NBA title, (1957 World Series title, however franchise relocated).
  • 38 years - Portland since 1977 NBA title.
  • 36 years - Winnipeg no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1979
  • 36 years - Salt Lake City no NBA titles since the Jazz relocated in 1979.
  • 30 years - Sacramento waiting for first since 1985.
  • 27 years - Charlotte waiting for first since 1988.
  • 26 years - Calgary since 1989 Stanley Cup
  • 26 years - Orlando waiting for first since 1989.
  • 25 years - Edmonton since 1990 Stanley Cup
  • 25 years - Cincinnati since 1990 World Series title (no Super Bowl titles).
  • 24 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).
  • 24 years - San Jose No Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1991.
  • 23 years - Washington, D.C. since 1992 Super Bowl. (1978 NBA title, 1924 World Series title, however franchise relocated, no Stanley Cups).
  • 22 years - Montreal since 1993 Stanley Cup
  • 22 years - Toronto since 1993 World Series (1967 Stanley Cup, no NBA titles since joining in 1995).
  • 20 years - Houston since 1995 NBA title
  • 20 years - Jacksonville no Super Bowls since Jaguars joined NFL in 1995
  • 20 years - Atlanta since 1995 World Series title (no Super Bowl, NBA, or Stanley Cup titles).
  • 18 years - Nashville waiting for first since 1997
  • 15 years - Columbus waiting for first since 2000.
  • 14 years - Memphis waiting for first since 2001.
  • 14 years - Phoenix since 2001 World Series.
  • 11 years - Tampa Bay since 2004 Stanley Cup (won 2003 Super Bowl)
  • All year counts are including 2015.

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 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.The Cleveland Cavaliers again lost the NBA Finals 4-2 against the Golden State Warriors in their first NBA Finals appearance since 2007. In 2004, ESPN named Cleveland the most tortured sports city in America.[1]

Those who believe in the Buffalo Curse[2] 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 the National Women's Soccer League, based in Buffalo but playing home games in Rochester, won league titles in the two competitions that directly preceded the NWSL—Women's Professional Soccer in 2011 and WPSL Elite in 2012. The Flash also won the NWSL Shield, awarded to the team with the best regular-season record, in that league's inaugural 2013 season, but lost the championship final to Portland Thorns FC.

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. San Diego's two former NBA teams, Rockets and Clippers, never won an NBA championship either. 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, and the Lynx claimed another league title in 2013 and 2015.

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.

Since the founding of Major League Soccer in 1996, Washington has won all three major U.S. soccer trophies (MLS Supporters' Shield, MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup) during its current "Big Four" drought. San Jose and Columbus have won the MLS Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup during their "Big Four" droughts while Houston, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Portland have won the MLS Cup (but no MLS Supporters' Shields or U.S. Open Cups) during their "Big Four" droughts.

All of the Canadian cities listed above have won multiple Grey Cups during their "Big Four" droughts listed above.

Outside North America[edit]

Association football[edit]

  • 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 its 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[edit]

In the VFL/AFL (1897–present), the longest premiership drought was that of South Melbourne/Sydney, 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 (69 years) who won their first and only senior premiership 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 1933 2005 1934, 1935, 1936, 1945, 1996
69 St Kilda Never 1966 1913, 1965
60 Footscray/Western Bulldogs 1954 Drought active 1961
52 Fitzroy 1944 Never 1
50 Melbourne 1964 Drought active 1988, 2000
50 North Melbourne Never 1975 1950, 1974
48 St Kilda 1966 Drought active 1971, 1997, 2009, 2010, 2010 replay
44 Geelong 1963 2007 1967, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995
36 Hawthorn Never 1961
34 Richmond 1980 Drought active 1982
32 Collingwood 1958 1990 1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1977 replay, 1979, 1980, 1981 2
29 Footscray Never 1954
28 Geelong Never 1925 3

1 Fitzroy dropped out of the competition and folded in 1996, having never appeared in another Grand Final after their 1944 premiership.
2 This is commonly known as the "Colliwobbles".
3 Geelong finished runners-up in 1897, but no Grand Final was required under the round-robin finals system in place that year.

Rugby league[edit]

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 46 seasons of NSWRL/ARL/Super League/NRL competition - the longest wait for a first title that any club has endured; in this time, the Sharks have played in six Grand Finals for one draw and five losses. Parramatta's first premiership came in its 35th season in 1981.

Hull FC lost seven consecutive Challenge Cup final appearances at Wembley Stadium between 1959 and 2008.[13] 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).[13]

Rugby union[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Somerset have never won the English County Championship, in which they have competed since 1891.[14][15] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Darcy, Kieran (2004-07-13). "Mistakes by the lake". ESPN.com. 
  2. ^ http://www.buffalocurse.com The Buffalo Curse
  3. ^ "Dalglish believes 'strongest ever' England can end 40 years of hurt". The Scotsman. 24 May 2006. 
  4. ^ "Fairs Cup winners to be re-united". Daily Mail. 6 October 2008. 
  5. ^ Stone, Simon (29 January 2010). "Darren Fletcher the destroyer revels in prolonging City drought". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Liverpool can end title drought, says Rush". The Independent. 28 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sir Alex Ferguson". www.espnfc.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 30 March 2014. In the newly founded 'Premier League', Ferguson found more success; the arrival of enigmatic Frenchman Eric Cantona proved to be the final piece of the jigsaw and United finally won the league title in 1992-93, ending a 26-year drought. 
  8. ^ "Sevilla seals Europa League title with shootout win over Benfica". Associated Press. CBC. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Forsyth, Roddy (31 May 2003). "Scottish Cup Final: Dundee defy sinking feeling". Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "Edinburgh’s real disgrace? Hibs have not won the cup since Buffalo Bill was in town". Scotland On Sunday (Johnston Publishing). 20 May 2001. 
  11. ^ Halliday, Stephen (14 November 2013). "St Johnstone: Stevie May, Tommy Wright win awards". Scotsman (Johnston Publishing). Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Richard (17 May 2014). "St Johnstone 2–0 Dundee Utd". BBC Sport (BBC). Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Gibbons, Trevor (23 August 2013). "Rugby League: Will Hull FC's Wembley hoodoo strike again?". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Pitt-Brooke, Jack (9 April 2013). "Somerset: Always the bridesmaids of the County Championship". The Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Berry, Scyld (23 August 2008). "Somerset scent a piece of County Championship history". Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 24 August 2013.