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:

  • 53 years – San Diego since 1963 AFL title (pre-Super Bowl, lost 1995 Super Bowl), no World Series title (lost 1984 and 1998 World Series finals), no NBA title (Clippers relocated to Los Angeles in 1984)
  • 51 years – Buffalo since 1965 AFL title (pre-Super Bowl, lost 1991-1994 Super Bowls), no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1970–71 (lost 1999 Stanley Cup final), no NBA title (Braves relocated to San Diego in 1978).
  • 46 years – Vancouver no Stanley Cups since joining NHL in 1970, lost 1982, 1994, and 2011 Stanley Cup finals (The CFL's BC Lions have won six Grey Cups, last in 2011), no NBA title (Grizzlies relocated to Memphis in 2001).
  • 45 years – Milwaukee since 1971 NBA title (lost 1982 World Series final and 1974 NBA Finals)
  • 39 years – Portland since 1977 NBA title, lost 1990 and 1992 NBA Finals. (MLS's Portland Timbers won the 2015 MLS Cup)
  • 37 years – Winnipeg no Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1979, neither the old nor the current Jets franchise has made the Stanley Cup finals (The CFL's Blue Bombers have won ten Grey Cups, last in 1990)
  • 31 years – Sacramento waiting for first since 1985, no NBA championship appearances
  • 28 years – Charlotte waiting for first since 1988. (Super Bowl appearances in 2004 and 2016)
  • 27 years – Calgary since 1989 Stanley Cup, lost 2004 Stanley Cup Final (The CFL's Stampeders have won four Grey Cups since then, last in 2014)
  • 27 years – Orlando waiting for first since 1989 (lost 1995 and 2009 NBA Finals)
  • 26 years – Edmonton since 1990 Stanley Cup, lost 2006 Stanley Cup Finals (The CFL's Eskimos have won four Grey Cups since then, last in 2015)
  • 26 years – Cincinnati since 1990 World Series title, neither the Reds nor the Bengals have returned to the World Series or the Super Bowl respectively.
  • 25 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). This is the longest current championship drought for any metro area with a team in each of the "Big Four" leagues. The Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, and Wild have yet to make a championship appearance since 1991.
  • 25 years – San Jose No Stanley Cup title since joining NHL in 1991.(2016 Stanley Cup Finals Appearance)
  • 24 years – Ottawa No Stanley Cup title since rejoining NHL in 1992. (2007 Stanley Cup Finals Appearance) (The CFL's RedBlacks won the 104th Grey Cup in 2016.
  • 24 years – Washington, D.C. since 1992 Super Bowl. (1978 NBA title, 1924 World Series title, however franchise relocated, no Stanley Cups; MLS's DC United won 4 MLS Cups during the drought, the last in 2004). Lost 1998 Stanley Cup Final.
  • 23 years – Montreal since 1993 Stanley Cup, the Canadiens have not returned to the Stanley Cup final since then (The CFL's Alouettes have won three Grey Cups since then, last in 2010)
  • 23 years – Toronto since 1993 World Series (1967 Stanley Cup, no NBA titles since joining in 1995, the CFL's Argonauts have won four Grey Cups since the Blue Jays' last World Series title, the Argos' last in 2012). Neither the Blue Jays, Raptors, nor Maple Leafs have made their respective finals since 1993.
  • 21 years – Houston since 1995 NBA title, lost 2005 World Series final (MLS's Houston Dynamo won the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups)
  • 21 years – Jacksonville no Super Bowls since Jaguars joined NFL in 1995
  • 21 years – Atlanta since 1995 World Series title (no Super Bowl, NBA, or Stanley Cup titles), lost 1996 and 1999 World Series and 1999 Super Bowl.
  • All year counts are including 2016.

Those who believe in the Buffalo Curse[1] cite as examples the four consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Buffalo Bills from 19901993, 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 the 2016 NWSL Championship. The Flash also 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 cities with at least three teams have 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.

Since the founding of Major League Soccer in 1996, both Washington and Columbus have won all three major U.S. soccer trophies (MLS Supporters' Shield, MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup) during their current "Big Four" droughts. San Jose has won the MLS Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup during its "Big Four" drought while Houston, 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.

Notable former droughts:

  • Prior to winning the 2016 NBA Finals, Cleveland had gone 52 years without a championship in any major professional sport. The drought began after the Cleveland Indians won the 1948 World Series. The Indians lost 3 World Series finals, the Browns did not make the Super Bowl, and the Cavaliers lost 2 NBA finals during the drought.
  • New Orleans had gone 43 years without winning a championship in any major professional sport until the New Orleans Saints brought the city its first professional sports title via the 2010 Super Bowl. The drought began in 1967, the inaugural year of the New Orleans Saints (the oldest professional sports team still playing in New Orleans). During the drought, neither the Saints nor the Hornets (now the Pelicans) made the Super Bowl or the NBA finals respectively.
  • Seattle had gone 35 years without winning a championship in any major professional sport from the 1979 NBA Finals to the 2014 Super Bowl. During the drought, the Mariners never made the World Series, the Seahawks lost the 2006 Super Bowl, and the then SuperSonics (now the Thunder in Oklahoma City) lost the 1996 NBA Finals. Including only Seattle's current major league sports teams, the Mariners and the Seahawks, increases the former drought's length to 38 years (because the Seahawks were founded in 1976, the earlier of the two team's inceptions).
  • Phoenix had gone 31 years without winning a championship in any major professional sport until the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series. The drought began with the inception of the Phoenix Suns in 1968 (the oldest professional sports team still playing in Phoenix). During the drought, the Diamondbacks did not make the World Series (albeit only beginning play in 1997), the Cardinals did not make the Super Bowl, the Suns lost 2 NBA Finals, and the Coyotes did not make the Stanley Cup Final (albeit only beginning play in 1996). Since the World Series title, however, Phoenix has experienced a 16 year ongoing drought, leaving that World Series title its only major sports championship.
  • Philadelphia had gone 25 years without a championship in any major professional sport from the 1983 NBA Finals to the 2008 World Series. This 25-year gap is still the longest in U.S. sports history for a city with all four major professional sports teams. During the drought, the Phillies lost 2 World Series finals, the Eagles lost the 2005 Super Bowl, the 76ers lost the 2001 NBA finals, and the Flyers lost 6 Stanley Cup finals.

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
62 Footscray/Western Bulldogs 1954 2016 1961
52 Fitzroy 1944 Never 1
51 Melbourne 1964 Drought active 1988, 2000
50 North Melbourne Never 1975 1950, 1974
49 St Kilda 1966 Drought active 1971, 1997, 2009, 2010, 2010 replay
44 Geelong 1963 2007 1967, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995
36 Hawthorn Never 1961
35 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.


South Korea

Rugby league[edit]

The North Sydney Bears held the longest premiership drought in the NSWRL/NRL with a total of seventy-seven years. This lasted between their second premiership in 1922 up until the end of 1999 when they began a short-lived merger with Manly-Warringah known as the Northern Eagles. This merger was dissolved after three seasons resulting in North Sydney being expelled from the league. As of 2016 they are still applying for re-entry.

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks won their first premiership in 2016 after 50 seasons of NSWRL/ARL/Super League/NRL competition – the longest wait for a first title that any club has endured. Prior to this, the Sharks had played in four Grand Finals (including a replay in 1978) for one draw and three losses.

The Parramatta Eels hold the longest active drought in the NRL totalling thirty years, having not won a premiership since 1986. For reference, Parramatta's first premiership came in its 35th season in 1981. The next longest active drought is twenty-two years held by the Canberra Raiders who have not won a premiership or appeared in a Grand Final since 1994.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs won 20 premierships in the NSWRL from the league's inception in 1908 until 1971, but had to wait to win their 21st title (their 1st in the NRL era) until 2014, a drought lasting 41 years (the Rabbitohs were inactive in 2000-01).

Hull FC lost seven consecutive Challenge Cup final appearances at Wembley Stadium between 1959 and 2008.[13] The team 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 had come within a converted try in six of those games.

The drought culminated in three consecutive title-game losses in 2007 through 2009, and 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 won the Sheffield Shield in 1994/95, its 63rd season of competition, having finished second on 11 occasions in that time. In 46 of those years, only five teams competed for the Shield, as Tasmania were admitted in 1977/78 (winning the Shield in 2007/08, after 30 years).

Somerset have not yet won the English County Championship since they were admitted to the competition in 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, the last in 1874.

Northamptonshire have not yet won the Championship since being admitted to the competition in 1905, after the club was granted first class status.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.buffalocurse.com The Buffalo Curse
  2. ^ "Dalglish believes 'strongest ever' England can end 40 years of hurt". The Scotsman. 24 May 2006. 
  3. ^ "Fairs Cup winners to be re-united". Daily Mail. 6 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Stone, Simon (29 January 2010). "Darren Fletcher the destroyer revels in prolonging City drought". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Liverpool can end title drought, says Rush". The Independent. 28 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ "Sevilla seals Europa League title with shootout win over Benfica". CBC. Associated Press. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Forsyth, Roddy (31 May 2003). "Scottish Cup Final: Dundee defy sinking feeling". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Edinburgh's real disgrace? Hibs have not won the cup since Buffalo Bill was in town". Scotland On Sunday. Johnston Publishing. 20 May 2001. 
  10. ^ Wilson, Richard (21 May 2016). "Rangers 2–3 Hibernian". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  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. Retrieved 24 August 2013.