If it gets bad enough, sports cities can become this trope, often called "cursed cities".
Atlanta. Historically, many Southerners have supported their college teams more than professional teams, since major league sports is still relatively new for much the Deep Southnote From 1966 to 1988, discounting the 5-year existence of the New Orleans Jazz in the NBA in the 1970s, Atlanta was the only major city in the Deep South east of Texas with a team in major professional leagues besides the NFL.. However, because of the city's notorious traffic issues, the transient status of many of the metro area's residents, and long stretches of futility by its professional teams, many sportswriters, usually those based up North, often brand Atlanta as "the worst sports town in America".
The Falcons have been for most of their existence a mediocre team at best to a bad team at worst. However, under Arthur Blank's ownership, the Falcons' fortunes started to improve. Since 2008, under general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons have become one the NFL's more solid teams. During the 2012 season, despite holding the league's best record for most of the season as well as being undefeated in their first 8 games, sportswriters were hesitant to give the Falcons much respect due to Smith & Ryan's lack of postseason success; however, the pair recorded their first playoff win in the 2012 NFC Divisional Playoffs. Unfortunately, they promptly lost the NFC Championship Game to the San Francisco 49ers, even after being up by 17 points at one point in the game, and the less said about the following season, the better.
The Braves have fluctuated between very good and very bad teams throughout their long history in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. In their first 25 seasons in Atlanta, the Braves suffered through several losing seasons with only a few glimpses of success. After Ted Turner bought the team during their post-Hank Aaron Dork Age, he staged several outlandish promotions to spur attendance, most notably a "headlocks and wedlocks" night, where several couples were married in a group ceremony pre-game with a wrestling match after the game. Also, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium's turf was considered the worst in the majors, being maintained by the city's street crew until the late 1980s. During the 1990s, the Braves became one of the more dominant teams in baseball, winning 14 consecutive divisional championships; however, the team won it all only once in 1995.
The Hawks have been equally inconsistent since their arrival in Atlanta in 1968 (prior to this, they were in St. Louis, where they won a championship in 1958note And since the franchise is waiting ever since, it's the second longest drought in the NBA, behind the Rochester Royals\Sacramento Kings since 1951). While teams such as the Spud Webb and Dominique Wilkins one in the 80s and early 90s and the current squad are competitive, the team never got to the Eastern finals (at the most two Western finals before the league realigned into conferences) and spent 8 years without even reaching the playoffs.
The city lost not one, buttwo NHL teams in the league's modern era, with both teams relocated to Canada. The Flames were established in 1972 and were moved to Calgary in 1980 while the Thrashers first played in 1999 and were moved to Winnipeg in 2011, becoming the second generation Jets. Both the Flames and the Thrashers struggled with low attendance, minimal media exposure and unstable ownership during their time in Atlanta. The Flames were a modest success on the ice, making the playoffs in 6 out of their 8 seasons in Atlanta; however, they never won a playoff series. The existence of the World Hockey Association as well as the bottoming out of Atlanta's real estate market in the 1970s caused then-owner Tom Cousins to bleed money on the Flames, forcing him to sell the team to a Calgary-based consortium to avoid bankruptcy.note Some sources state that Cousins found out that the other team owners were embezzling money from the players' pension fund. When Cousins stated he wanted no part and threatened to expose the scheme, the NHL Board of Governors forced him out of the league. The Thrashers had the growing pains expected of an expansion franchise in their early seasons; however, the team were an absolute disaster under the Atlanta Spirit Group's ownershipnote Atlanta Spirit never wanted to own the Thrashers, much less have the team as a tenant in Philips Arena, regularly finishing in the bottom of the league and only making the playoffs once, getting swept in the first round by the New York Rangers. Atlanta Spirit's internal legal problems and indifference towards the team, True North Sports and Entertainment's desire to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's attempt to keep the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotesnote the original Winnipeg Jets in Arizona more or less drove the Thrashers out of Atlanta. Further cementing the Thrashers' Butt Monkey status, Atlanta Spirit considers them an Old Shame, erasing any and all reminders of the team.
Of course, winter sports in general and ice hockey in particular don't have much following in the southern US for the obvious reasons. Makes it hard to get people enthusiastic about a franchise. However; Atlanta has had more successful teams in minor leagues. The IHL's Knights were a successful team in their 4 years in Atlanta in the early 90s, winning the league's championship in 1994; however, the team left because the Omni Coliseum was to be demolished, and Ted Turner, who controlled the arena and the Hawks at the time, wanted a NHL club. Like their NHL predecessor and successor, the Knights relocated to Canada, this time to Quebec City to fill the void left by the Nordiques' departure; however, the team ultimately folded after only two seasons in Quebec. The ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators, based in the suburb of Duluth, has been successful both on and off the ice since their inception in 2003.
The WNBA's Dream are a top competitive team in their division that has great players and always made to the Playoffs as of 2013. They've won three conference championships and made it to the Finals (2010, 2011, 2013), only to get swept by the opposing team; two of them coming from the same team, the Minnesota Lynx (2011, 2013), who are one more Finals win away from creating a dynasty, while the Dream are one Finals loss away from being the women's basketball example of the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo is home to two tortured teams, and was to another that begun to stink once leaving town (see the Clippers in the NBA folder):
If you asked a football fan what the Buffalo Bills are most famous for, the three common answers will likely be:
a) They're the first team to lose four consecutive Super Bowls.
b) They're the team whom the Tennessee Titans beat in the "Music City Miracle".
c) They're the team that the other teams in the AFC East slaughter for two easy wins.
The NHL's Sabres usually choke early in the playoffs and lost two finals in mysterious circumstances, in 1975 (where one game was played amidst fog and with a bat invading the rink) and 1999 (nicknamed "No-Goal Game" in Buffalo, as they thought the triple-overtime title goal for Dallas was illegal).
The Cavaliers just barely managed to avoid officially becoming the worst franchise in professional sports history... by stopping one game short of the 27 consecutive losses needed to go on to full Butt Monkey glory. Instead, they get to share the 26-game record with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Bucs were a brand new expansion team with few players who were actually NFL-worthy when they had that losing streak. The Cavs, who'd been in the NBA for 40 years during their streak, have no such excuse. Either way, the 2010-11 team still holds the worst losing streak in NBA history, a record it took from the 1981 through 1983 Cavaliers. Yes, two seasons. Those '81-'83 Cavaliers were owned by a man so incompetent the NBA passed a rule to prevent other owners from constantly taking advantage of him during trades.
And adding further insult to the Browns' injury: Because they're in the same division, every year they have to travel to the Cincinnati Bengals, who play in Paul Brown Stadium (Yes, the namesake of the Cleveland team has his name on the stadium of a cross-state division rival), and the Baltimore Ravens—the original Browns franchise that packed up and moved in 1996, Took a Level in Badass and went on to win two Super Bowls, while the only way the Browns can ever go to the Super Bowl is to buy tickets. And, just to pile it on, their final divisional opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that's won the Super Bowl six times.
The ultimate Butt Monkey in baseball has to be the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Their owners had bought the St Louis Browns but kept ownership of the Spiders (something illegal today) and transferred most of the good players from Cleveland to the newly-renamed St. Louis Perfectos. They only won 20 games out of 154—35 games behind the next-to-last place Washington Senators, giving them a winning percentage of .130, baseball's worst and one of two seasons below .200 (the 1890 Pittsburgh Pirates being the other).
Kansas City, as detailed here. Like Seattle, their soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, is one of the best of the MLS. But in the Big Four, KC currently has the longest streak without playoff wins among cities with at least two teams (last was the Chiefs in 1994... 15 years longer than second place San Diego), their last title was a World Series by the Royals in 1985 and the team hasn't qualified for the playoffs ever since (the longest drought in the MLB), the Chiefs haven't won since 1970 and have a tradition of being trampled in the playoffs, and the indoor teams left town (the NHL's Scouts moved first to Colorado, then to New Jersey; the NBA's Kings went to Sacramento). As the article linked states, "Cleveland has earned national renown for being Heartbreak City. By comparison, the plight of the Kansas City sports fan is almost ignored. We suffer in silence. But man, have we suffered."
Philadelphia. Four major sporting franchises, four Butt Monkey teams.
Baseball's Phillies once held the professional sports record for the most consecutive seasons without winning at least half of their games (finally eclipsed by the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010), also once held the record for the longest championship drought (they went 97 years from their inception to their first championship; that record was eclipsed by the Cubs in 2006), and became the first professional sports franchise to amass a total of 10,000 losses (since joined in that regard by the Atlanta Braves). Their recent success, however, means that nobody is going to pity the team or its fans much at the moment - though the fact that some of their futility records are being eclipsed by others also helps.
The Eagles last won a title in 1960, seven years before the first Super Bowl. Keep in mind that despite the success they've had in the '00s, they are the only team in the NFC East division to have not won a Super Bowl note they lost XV against the Oakland Raiders and XXXIX against the New England Patriots. The fact that every other team has won at least three Super Bowls doesn't help (yes, even the Redskins).
The Flyers may have been the most feared team in the NHL (if not the world) during their two Stanley Cup-winning seasons in 1973-74 and 1974-75, but they've had little to cheer about since then aside from becoming only the fourth team in North America to bounce back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series (against the Boston Bruins in 2010) - they've been back to the Stanley Cup final series six times (1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997, and 2010) and have lost every single time.
The Philadelphia 76ers used to own the worst record in NBA history back in the 1972-73 season. In that season, the 76ers somehow accumulated only nine victories to go with their 73 losses. Not even the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (considered the best team in NBA history) could make a complete contrast from that, as they won 72 games and lost 10. Eventually, they did win a championship in the 1980s, but that record still haunted the team for quite some time now. The 2013-14 team, widely considered a "built for tanking" squad that tied the Cavs' 26 losses record streak, pushes the ante further.
San Diego. It's the largest major metropolitan area in the U.S. never to have won one of the four modern major professional sports championships (though the fact that the city only has teams for two of the four sports doesn't help) and both their football and baseball teams have come close only to be crushed in agonizing defeat. The Chargers did win a championship, but that was in 1963, when they were in the old American Football League. The AFL and NFL merged in 1970, and the Chargers have not won a championship since.
Not helping matters for the Chargers is their quarterbacks; Eli Manning, the younger brother of Peyton Manning, and the No. 1 draft pick for 2004, spurned them, and was traded to the New York Giants, where he would win two Super Bowls. Next, there's Drew Brees, who was released in 2005 and joined the New Orleans Saints in the 2006 season, where he would win Super Bowl XLIV, and set several passing records. Instead, the Chargers got Ryan Leaf, who would go on to become arguably the biggest draft bust in NFL history.
Their pro soccer team, the Sockers, were a formidable force in the 1970s and early 1980s. Why MLS never awarded a franchise to San Diego is baffling, to say the least!
Seattle. What with the Sonics being stolen and relocated to Oklahoma City (with the blessing of the NBA commissioner no less), and the Mariners losing superstars whenever they hit free agency. Although, the Butt Monkey status is being redeemed somewhat by the success of the rebooted Seattle Sounders FC MLS team, and the WNBA's Storm has been successful as well.
For most of their existence, the Seahawks were not a good team. In their first appearance in the Super Bowl, they got shorted, only to be the Opposing Sports Team to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the eyes of the fans, media, and yes even the officials.note To this day, that Super Bowl has led to referees being accused of preferential treatment toward Piitsburgh in every game, regardless of whether the calls actually went their way in a given game. However, in recent seasons, the Seahawks have redeemed themselves by having the loudest fanbases in the NFL, making CenturyLink Field one of the hardest places to play in as a road team, and the 'Hawks dominated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, bringing Seattle its first Big Four championship in nearly 35 years.
Vancouver. Considering the city of Vancouver is also something of a Butt Monkey in the media, there's no surprise.
The Vancouver Grizzlies had a mercifully short existence in the NBA, in which they won the first two games in franchise history and it was all downhill from there, with two losing streaks in their first season and no season in which they came close to a winning record or any hope for the playoffs. In fact, in the NBA's first lockout season, the team ended up getting only 8 wins in that season.note Thankfully for them, that lockout had only 50 games as opposed to the more recent 66-game lockout season. That meant they didn't grab the worst record in NBA history.. To add insult to injury, a few years after the team moved to Memphis, they became a perennial playoff team.
The Vancouver Canucks are one of two Canadian teams left in the NHL not to have won a Stanley Cup. The Canucks of the 1980s were particularly bad. The Canucks didn't have a .500 season from 1975-76 to 1991-92 (though reaching the Stanley Cup final in 1982, getting soundly thrashed by defending champions New York Islanders), and from 1984-85 to 1991-92, the Canucks won more than 30 games (out of 80) just once. The Canucks also became Wayne Gretzky's favourite team to play against, so much so that he recorded more goals against Vancouver than any other franchise. It got so bad that coach Harry Neale cracked, "Last year we couldn't win at home. This year we can't win on the road. My failure as a coach is not be able to find a place to play." Nowadays, they've gone from being bad to having an tendency to disappoint their loyal fans by setting new record lows in playoffs ranging from being the only Presidents' Trophy team to win only one playoff game in the first round, to managing to lose the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins despite having a two-game lead in the series.
Soccer example: in Brazil, a common saying is "There are things that only happen with Botafogo". In the 1940s, despite good players only won the state championship once. In the 1960s, they had one of the top teams and players in Garrincha, but Pelé'sSantos was contemporary. They had a 21-year drought of titles starting in 1968, and 5 years later even had to sell their stadium. Despite a minor resurgence in the mid-90s, with a Brazilian championship and a South American tournament, in 2002 Botafogo was relegated, and upon its return to top level in 2004 nearly fell again.
Another just as tragic example is Atlético-MG. The first Brazilian champion in 1971 (before a confederation Retcon to turn two previous tournaments official as well), but plagued with good-but-unlucky or downright atrocious teams ever since, to the point that until winning theCopa Libertadores in 2013, the only big titles were defunct second-level South American tournaments. Standout moments include a lossless runner-up campaign (losing the final game on penalties at home), losing a Libertadores playoff because of too many expelled players, a relegation in 2005, finishing the 2009 tournament 9th after frequently being in the top positions, and despite leading for 15 straight rounds in 2012 only ending as second. Add that his inter-city rival Cruzeiro won plenty of titles, frequently gives crushing defeats on Atlético, and has supporters obsessed in displaying their superiority... (even if it borders on hypocrisy at times, such as when dissing Atlético's Libertadores title when Cruzeiro hadn't won a big title since 2003)
For sports as a rule, if you cause a foul-up in a notable tournament that causes your team to lose (and be potentially removed as a result, depending on where you are) or look significantly worse, you will be this for years on end, partly down to Never Live It Down. Examples include Rob Green for England in the 2010 FIFA World Cup- he's not been able to find a good team for a while since.
The Maldives national soccer team's record in 1998, the first time they entered the World Cup qualifiers: Played 6, Won 0, Tied 0, Lost 6, Scored 0, Conceded 59 — including a 17-0 defeat at the hands of Iran. Guess if you can't be the champions, you might as well be the plucky amateurs who set the record for the worst ever World Cup qualifying run.
Major League Baseball
A year after winning the 1918 World Series, the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, who went on to become the game's greatest player and team. The Sox would be known as having the "Curse of the Bambino" (although that really didn't become lore until 1990) until they finally won the Series again in 2004.
The San Francisco Giants, which from their move from New York in 1957 until 2010 didn't win a World Series (the so-called "curse of Coogan's Bluff"), with highlights being heavy, monsoon-like rains delaying the 1962 championship, a massive earthquake during the 1989 World Series damaging the Giants' home field, suffering a massive turnover in game 6 of the 2002 WS, and the Barry Bonds steroid scandal.
The Chicago Cubs. 105 years without a World Series title and counting (by far the longest championship drought in all professional North American sports leagues, especially given that their last title was won before the NBA, NFL, and NHL even existed), and they haven't even reached the Fall Classic since World War II. Hell, they're probably the worst sports team championship-wise in general. After their 1908 World Series victory, they didn't even win a playoff series until 2003. Then, just when it seemed they were going to win the pennant for the first time since 1945… well, just Google "Steve Bartman". One can only wonder why this team still keeps running on even after literally over a century without winning a championship.
As mentioned above, many "cursed teams" are dubbed that because of infamously bad moves the team made. What are the Cubs supposedly cursed by? A goat. During that last World Series trip in 1945, a local tavern owner tried to take his pet goat to a Series game, even buying the goat a ticket. When the other fans demanded he and the goat leave, he declared the Cubs would never win the title again.
Their crosstown arch-rivals, the White Sox, were almost as unfortunate, with their most recent victory (2005) coming 88 years after the last one before that (1917). Their curse is attributed to throwing the 1919 Series to Cincinnati when most observers thought they would make short work of the Reds. Seventy-five years after that, they were leading their division by a good bit when a players' strike derailed the season. Finally, in 2005, they made it through a full season with the American League's best record, and promptly charged through the postseason, culminating in a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros.
Fans of the Miami (formerly Florida) Marlins. Whenever their team starts to look like they'll be good for years to come, ownership calls for the best players to be traded away. The champagne-soaked carpets hadn't even dried after the Marlins won the 1997 World Series before the team was stripped for parts, while the second fire sale after the 2003 World Series win at least happened over 2 years. It's beginning to reach the point where the fans have stopped caring, when they're not infuriated that the city of Miami sunk nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars into a new stadium for the Fish on the (now-broken) promise of fielding a competitive team.
The New York Mets are basically the LA Clippers of baseball. They've gained a reputation in recent years for either playing well, then completely collapsing, or just playing a subpar season from start to finish, trading for worthwhile players and doing nothing with them, and taking in lesser players and trading them away when they start playing well. A common joke about a good player on the Mets is "how will they manage to screw this one up?" That's right, even the Mets' own fans like making fun of them—and themselves, as anyone who's ever watched Jon Stewart during baseball season can tell you.
In 1969, men walked on the moon for the first time, and the Mets won a World Series for the first time. The latter was considered a much more surprising event, given that season's team is called the "Miracle Mets" because they were down 8 1/2 games in the NL East by mid-August before going on a tear to win the division...over another Butt Monkey (the Cubs) that suddenly choked down the stretch. Heck, the latter has been more rare than the former, too — there have been six separate missions with men on the moon, while the Mets have won the World Series twice (1969 and 1986).
The Pittsburgh Pirates. They didn't have a winning (or .500) season between 1992 and 2013. The 20 consecutive losing seasons are a record in North American sports. In 2012, they looked to be on the way to a winning season only to suffer one of the worst September collapses ever. To make matters worse, in what turned out to be their 81st loss, their ace AJ Burnett only allowed one run … only for Cincinnati's Homer Bailey to throw a no-hitter. In 2013 the streak of losing seasons finally ended and the Pirates finally made a return to the playoffs...and promptly lost in the divisional series. It gets worse when you consider the Pirates' contrast to the other teams in town, which are mostly successful (to the point that the Steelers won the Super Bowl and the Penguins the Stanley Cup in the same year (2009)).
The St. Louis Browns were a textbook example of long-term futility. From 1903 to 1953, the club had just one first-place and three second-place finishes against a whopping ten times in the American League cellar. The one time they did manage to scrape together a pennant-winning team was 1944, when the rest of the league's stars were off fighting World War II (by comparison, every player on the Browns was classified as "4-F/Unfit For Military Service"), where they were defeated by their in-city rivals the Cardinals. The Browns were so putrid that for the last decade or so of their existence they were more known for stunts such as signing a one-armed outfielder and sending a midget up to bat as a pinch hitter. The team was finally sold and moved to Baltimore, where the new owners excised almost all traces of the team's St. Louis roots by engineering a trade with the Yankees for most of the remaining Browns of note. To this day, the Baltimore Orioles rarely mention anything about their past prior to 1954.
Formula One pilot Rubens Barrichello was this. As three time champion Ayrton Senna (da Silva) tragically died in 1994, he was the best Brazilian pilot in the field and thus the one Brazilians expected from the most. Unfortunately Barrichello spent 6 years with middling cars and low results (in 1997 he only finished two races out of 19), and after getting to the best car, Ferrari, became for six years second fiddle to Michael Schumacher, who in turn ran his way to become the biggest F1 champion. Once he had the best car again, in 2009 with Brawn, his bad luck struck again and he finished third while teammate Jenson Button was champion. He ended up going to Indy Car in 2012 as his previous team chose not to renew his contract, going for … Senna's nephew Bruno, proving the surname will always chase him. And the Indy season was so middling he went to drive stock car instead.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is often looked upon as the butt monkey of sports car racing due to the series' notoriously hideous and low-tech Daytona Prototypes. They are now working on a plan to try and shed that image, however, beginning with an attempt at repairing the appearance of their Prototypes.
With the merger between Rolex and the American Le Mans Series into the United Sports Car Championship in 2014 came a merger of the Daytona Prototypes and the Le Mans Prototype Class 2 into a single Prototype class.note Le Mans Prototype 1 was excluded for much the same reasons (i.e. cost and speed) that the Daytona Prototypes were created in the first place (before their introduction, Rolex raced modified Le Mans Prototypes, which were still much too fast for some of their circuits, particularly Daytona International Speedway, where the special road course setup nonetheless uses most of the NASCAR oval), while the LMP Challenge class (a single spec series where everyone races the same cars) was carried over intact Whether anyone still wants to use the Daytona Prototypes or not will be clear in a couple more years.
National Basketball Association
The Charlotte Bobcatsnote scheduled to become the Charlotte Hornets in the 2014-15 NBA season. Being an expansion team, it was expected for them to be terrible from the start, but nobody expected them to be this terrible. After a few bad seasons, they surprised everyone with a playoff bid in the 2009-2010 season, but it all went downhill after being swept out of the first round. They didn't even come close to making the playoffs in the 2010-2011 season and set a new record for the worst seasonnote With regards to win percentage (.106); the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers still kind of hold the record for the worst record in a full season. by an NBA team in history in the 2011-2012 season, with 7 wins and 59 losses despite gaining two lottery picks in the 2011 Draft. This was made even worse by the fact that the team had 23 straight losses and 34 losses by at least 10 points. Not even being owned by Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player in the league's history, helped them, as he's been publicly questioned by many (including his friend/rival Charles Barkley) on his ownership abilities, with some grossly mismanaged contracts for players not worth even half their money. And before you think that there is a bright side that they will receive the second pick in the 2012 Draft, keep in mind that all of the Bobcats' lottery picks have been considered busts so far.note Admittedly, their very first pick, Emeka Okafor, won Rookie of the Year and is considered a good if unspectacular player, and the jury's still out on both Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, but when you become a part of the worst team imaginable, you might as well be considered busts until the stench goes away (with a better team). Charlotte better hope, no, pray that their pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't bust out on them either.
Just a year after the technically worst season in NBA history, the Bobcats surprised everybody, starting 7-5, matching their win total for the entire previous season in just the first 12 games. They then promptly remembered that they were the Charlotte Bobcats and collapsed epically, starting with a 17-game losing streak.
The Los Angeles Clippers — dear LORD, the Clippers, a standard of this trope in other leagues. It's gotten to the point where other teams' fans in the league PITY Clippers fans when they visit Staples Center. And it might never get any better for them. Rising star Blake Griffin aside, the Clips are crippled by a racist owner who doesn't care about winning games, atrocious luck with injuries, poor draft management, and a merry-go-round of GMs and head coaches who don't know what they're doing (with Vinny Del Negro, fired after the 2012–13 season, proving our point). A lot of teams in the NBA are bad—the Clippers are the only team that has never been really good (although they did try in the one year where they took the Phoenix Suns to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals). And now the Clippers have lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs may be a Butt Monkey on their own with that many losses in a row (26 to be exact), but the Clippers' status as a Butt Monkey of the NBA will be enhanced with the defeat that ended the aforementioned losing streak.
However, their trade for star point guard Chris Paul might be a sign that they really could be shedding their skin here. Still, only time can truly tell with this team, because Chris Paul was originally meant to play for the other team in Los Angeles.note Yeah, he was originally meant to play for the more popular Los Angeles Lakers as yet another star to add to their resume, but due to "basketball reasons" (as in, the majority of owners didn't want the Lakers getting yet another superstar), the league decided that the L.A. Clippers should have him instead! What made it possible for the other owners to have a say in it is that, in a colossal conflict of interest, the league itself was the owner of his previous team, the New Orleans Hornets.
Also, after getting rid of Vinny Del Negro, they swapped a couple of draft picks to the Boston Celtics to get their current coach, Doc Rivers. (The Celtics had decided to blow up their roster anyway.)
Clippers fans do get to look up at 16 NBA championship banners in the rafters ever time they show up for a home game. The catch is, none of them belong to the Clippers. That's right, they don't even have their own arena; they're forced to share Staples Center with the infinitely more successful L.A. Lakers.
Admittedly, the Clippers have been growing and building upon their most recent success with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul on their team, starting with two straight Pacific Division titles, and it helps that the Lakers have been getting worse in the process as well.
Before the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, there were the Providence Steamrollers. Even though they were an Original Eleven NBA team, it's still no excuse for them with what happened after their first season. After a somewhat respectable 28-32 beginning season, things somehow went to Hell for the team next season as they ended up winning only 6 games! Not even the above mentioned Charlotte Bobcats ended up being that horrible!note Admittedly, the season was shorter that season (48 vs. 60). If social media was around during the late 40s-early 70s, people would've probably wanting teams to have a worse comparable record to the Providence Steamrollers (which may be illegal these days). In that same season, they also allowed a 46-year-old coach to play for a game, simply because it was his birthday. Afterwards, they had one more season of being better than last season, but not by much (12-48) before folding altogether. You could very well make a case that the Providence Steamrollers were the worst team to ever play for the NBA.
National Football League
The Cincinnati Bengals. No matter how much of a whipping-boy the Browns are in the AFC North, at least they have days when they won championships (albeit before the current NFL was formed). The Bengals have no such history, only having one period of being competitive in their history (1981-1990), and they still didn't win any Super Bowls. It also doesn't help that after period of success came the era of "The Bungles" (1990s), when they were absolutely terrible. It seems that they're getting better nowadays with an underrated defense and the drafting of Andy Dalton, Jermaine Gresham and Jerome Simpson, but time will tell.
Just how bad was the Bungles era? During that time period, the franchise had nine seasons with 10 or more losses, three of those seasons in which they had the league's worst record. When NFL Films did a Top 10 worst teams countdown, the Bengals teams of the 90s earned a spot on the list. Yes, you're reading that right—teams. That's how bad they were. Every other team on the list was there for a single particularly atrocious season. The Bungles were particularly atrocious the entire decade, so there was no way to pick out any one year to represent them.
They currently have the longest playoff win drought, with the last in 1990, and five berths ever since.
The Detroit Lions, the epitome of this trope in the NFL. At this point, almost all NFL fans simply pity Lions fans, who have come to set up entire online forums dedicated to how much their team sucks. After trading away Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne in 1958 (upon which he supposedly quipped that the Lions wouldn't win for 50 years—his words couldn't have been more prophetic...unless he'd added some more years to the prediction) the Lions went on to compile the worst winning percentage in the NFL and become one of only four current NFL teams who have never made a Super Bowl appearance. Ever since the beginning of the 1960s, the Lions have been marked by mediocre play (including a game where a Lions player died on the field) and only sporadic playoff appearances where they were always eliminated in the Wild Card round. The last time the Lions saw anything resembling success was in the 1990s, when coach Wayne Fontes took the Lions to winning seasons in 1991 (when they won their only playoff game since the 1950s), 1993, 1994 and 1995, only for him to be fired in 1996. They would return to the playoffs again in 1997 and 1999 under his replacement, Bobby Ross, who would retire abruptly in the middle of the 2000 season due to frustration over the team's futility. From there, everything went south. Matt Millen was hired as the team's general manager, and under his stewardship the Lions would record a 31-84 record, the worst in modern NFL history. Millen's tenure saw the team go through multiple overhyped draft busts (Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, just to name a few), idiot coaches (dear God, Marty Mornhinwig) and a revolving door of aging journeyman players, which culminated in the now-infamous 0-16 season in 2008 which saw Millen's firing. The 2008 season had such memorable "highlights" as quarterback Dan Orlovsky running out of the back of the end zone to sack himself for a safety against the divisional rival Minnesota Vikings, with the 2 points from the safety ending up as Minnesota's margin of victory. There was hope that they could finally turn around under then-current coach Jim Schwartz, who made a several great draft picks and took them to a 10-6 season in 2011 which brought them their first playoff berth since 1999, but a disastrous 2012 season where they went 4-12 proved that they are still the same old Lions. In 2013 they led their division for most of the season and looked like they were headed to round 2, only to drop to third in Week 15, and being eliminated the following game.
The Lions' misery is exemplified by the nationally televised game they play every year on Thanksgiving Day, where they get to show their futility to all of America. Somebody has to be the turkey, after all. They had a 10-year losing streak before beating the Packers in 2013. Most famously, their 2012 Thanksgiving game was cost by coach Jim Schwartz challenging a scoring play (NFL rules state that all scoring plays are to be automatically reviewed by the booth before the scoring team is awarded the points). Schwartz's challenge not only invalidated the booth review, but also drew an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty on the Lions and gave the Houston Texans a free 7 points on a play that the booth would have certainly overturned if they had been given the chance to review it. That 7 points was the difference that allowed the game to end with a tie and go into overtime, in which the Texans eventually kicked a field goal and won. While the challenge rules were later changed as a direct result of that game, that's no consolation to Lions fans.
At least the Lions fans are openly critical of their horrendous team and have a sense of humor, exemplified by how they made an amateur line of "0-16: The Imperfect Season" merchandise after the 2008 season; this is a big reason why they are viewed sympathetically by other NFL fans. Other examples of the Lions' fans' sense of humor are spread all throughout the internet, with a good starting point being the suggestion box on the Lions' Facebook page. There, along with angry rants from frustrated fans, you will find suggestions such as changing their home game entrance music to "I Missed Again" by Phil Collins or a Tori Amos song, or they should export the team to the Canadian Football League, or simply compile the team every Sunday morning out of the first 52 fans to arrive at the stadium as "they would certainly play better than the team we have now!"
It has generally been accepted by fans that the team will never be competitive for as long as it is owned by William Clay Ford. It has been pretty well deduced that the Fords are completely indifferent to the Lions' poor performance as long as the games are selling out and the team is turning a profit. The fact that the Fords like to raise ticket prices after the Lions have a winning season is seen as just further proof of this. The Lions' lack of a winning culture has been attested to be a number of former players and coaches, the most notable being Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders—who eventually admitted that his abrupt retirement just short of breaking Walter Payton's all time rushing record was due to the team's careless attitude and frequent coaching changes removing any enjoyment he derived from playing the game and the knowledge that he had no chance of being traded to another team—and former head coach Bobby Ross—who frequently accused the players of just playing for their paychecks and abruptly retired in the middle of the 2000 season out of frustration with the organization's lackadaisical attitude towards winning; he felt that he was the only person there who genuinely cared about building a winning franchise.
As many fans will point out, the Lions' poor play stands in contrast to the general competitiveness of the Detroit Tigers, Pistons and especially Red Wings (who are one of the best teams in the NHL). What do those teams have in common? They're not owned by William Clay Ford. Moreover, two of them—the Tigers and Red Wings—are owned by Mike Ilitch (the guy who started Little Caesar's Pizza), a former athlete (he played minor-league ball in the Tigers farm system in The Fifties) who revels in his teams' victories and feels the pain from their defeats.note He's particularly itchy about the Tigers, as when he bought them in 1992—from Ann Arbor-based fellow pizza magnate Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's—they had won the World Series as recently as 1984, but since then they've had some great runs but no titles. Ford's death as of 3/9/2014 may change this status.
Or, to put it all in a nutshell, the Lions are the L.A. Clippers of the NFL.
During the 2012 season, the sentiments of most fans after a Lions game is "At least CalvinJohnson had a good game." Especially apparent when he broke the record for most receiving yards and is on track for a 2,000-yard season. Many people/fans were just glad the Lions did not go 0-16 again.
The Houston Oilers won the first-ever AFL championship—and never won another one. A string of crushing playoff defeats in the team's NFL history finally came to a head in 1993, when they blew the biggest lead (35-3) in NFL playoff history to the freakin' Buffalo Bills. The fans dubbed them "Choke City" (Adding insult to injury, they declared the Rockets "Clutch City" when they won the NBA title a year later). They also suffered due to the fact that they were owned by Bud Adams, who was frequently near the top of "Worst Owners in the NFL" lists. How the Oilers moved wasn't due to apathetic fans—Bud Adams threatened to move the team when he wanted an upgrade to the Astrodome and then wanted a brand new stadiumshortly afterthe city of Houston gave funds to upgrade the Astrodome. When the city of Houston understandably balked at such a request, Adams announced that he was moving the team to Tennessee, breaking the hearts of many an Oiler fan.
Bud Adams still remained near the top of "Worst Owner" lists according to Tennessee Titans fans until his death in 2013. While they haven't experienced many losing seasons like some of the other examples thanks to long time coach Jeff Fisher, they've had to endure questionable moves by their owner which often crippled their Super Bowl hopes. When the Titans of the late '90s-early '00s couldn't get over the hump and win the Super Bowl, Adams dismantled the team in a hissy fit by trading most of the team away. There was also the situation with 2006 Draft, where he forced Jeff Fisher to draft Vince Young and then forced Fisher to start Vince Young despite him obviously not being ready to take over the starting job. When Vince Young eventually turned out to be unfit for the starting job, Adams decided that the best way to solve the problem was to fireJeff Fisher. Then fired Vince Young as well the next week, making the whole ordeal even more pointless.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, especially in the last few years. If you hear about them on sports talk radio or ESPN, there's usually some snide remarks being made about the team, how seats in their stadium are tarped over - never mind that a) the only reason there's extra seats is to accommodate the Florida/Georgia game and the Gator Bowl, which draw much larger crowds than the NFL, and b) other cities, like Oakland, tarp off seats, too - and just this side of a betting pool on when the moving trucks will roll in to carry them to another city, usually Los Angeles.
Some of this stems from a general bias against the city of Jacksonville, Florida; while it's actually the largest city in Florida, it has a reputation of being a small town that thinks it's a metropolis. Ever since the team was awarded in 1995, there have been sports writers and fans questioning, "Why a team in Jacksonville?"
By expansion team standards, their first five years were pretty good, with two division championships and two appearances in the AFC Championship Game. Salary cap woes caught up to the team in 2000, leading to coach Tom Coughlin's firing in 2002 (he went on to win the Super Bowl twice coaching the New York Giants), and things went further down hill from there due to poor drafts and coaching. A change in ownership in 2012 has finally brought about a full-on rebuilding that will take a couple of years. In the first half of the 2013 season, that showed on the field, with the team losing handily each week; after the bye week, though, the team went 4-4 to finish 4-12, and gave a glimmer of what could be next year.
It may be hard for a younger football fan to believe this, but for much of their existence, the New England Patriots were this. With mediocre season after mediocre season and being on the receiving end of one of the most lopsided Super Bowl defeats in history for the one season that they were not mediocre, if you asked Patriots fans in the '80s (Hell, probably early '90s fans as well) if they thought they could win a championship in their lifetime, they probably wouldn't have an answer. Then came the 2000s and birth of a dynasty and they haven't resembled anything close to this trope since.
Before the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, they were considered to be the league's biggest joke next to the Lions. The 1980 season saw them reach the peak of putrid play, going 1-15, at the time being the worst record in league history. And thus, the nickname "Ain'ts" was born.
Fun fact: their fans were the first to wear paper bags over their heads.
Another fun fact: You know the following example Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their first 26 games? They won their 27th game. Guess which team that was? That's right: This butt monkey. The Saints. It was so bad a loss the team fired both the head coach AND the quarterback the day after.
Even after the Super Bowl win, the Saints seem to be returning to their Butt Monkey ways. As defending champs, the Saints lose a playoff game to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks (the worst team to somehow make the playoffs in NFL history). Then the Saints got caught in the Bounty Gate scandal which likely was a factor in their 2012 losing season. A bounce back to the playoffs in 2013 was considered a short break (they managed to beat the Eagles in the Wild Card Round, only to get beaten by the Seahawks in the Divisional Round).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started out this way—just before their first NFL game, they got lost in the bowels of the Houston Astrodome for almost 20 minutes. It really never got much better for them as they were the first team to go winless in a 14-game season, having the longest losing streak in football (0-26 their first 26 games) and not returning a kick for a touchdown for the first 31 years of their existence.
Tampa Head Coach John McKay summed up the Bucs' futility with his usual humor: "We can't win at home, we can't win on the road, so we were going to petition the league for a neutral site." He was also once asked about the execution of his offense - he replied, "I'm all for it."
The Bucs suffered two bizarre moments in the rookie drafts. In 1982 a miscommunication had their rep at the draft select guard Sean Farrell over defensive lineman Booker Reese, forcing them to trade up in the following round to get Reese; and in 1986 they tried drafting Bo Jackson with the first overall pick, but because the team's owner refused to let Jackson play baseball as well as football Jackson refused to sign. Jackson signed with the Raiders once the Bucs' rights expired. While not wanting Jackson to play baseball seemed logical in that the MLB and NFL seasons overlap, meaning that Jackson ended up missing about a quarter of each of his football seasons, getting him for 3/4ths of the season is better than 0/4ths. Especially given that with the Raiders he ended up as one of the league's rushing leaders despite playing only partial seasons and being the Raiders' #2 running back.
They eventually did win a Super Bowl in 2002. Even so, they could never really recapture their glorious year.
National Hockey League
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been an absolute disaster at levels equal to or greater than the former Atlanta Thrashers, and as of next season, they'll have been doing it for longer. No wonder why certain people have taken to calling them the Blowjobs.
The Jackets embarked on their lockout-shortened 2013 campaign with a horrid 5-12-2 record. Then, they made a dramatic turnaround in the second half of the season, going 19-5-5 (for 43 points) the rest of the way. Not even the Presidents' Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks did that well over that stretch. However, it wasn't enough, as the Jackets missed the final playoff spot on a tiebreaker.
As an NHL franchise for the first thirteen seasons, the Kansas City Scouts/Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils only made the playoffs once and were a joke to the point that Wayne Gretzky called them a Mickey Mouse Organization after a 13-4 poundingnote For those unfamiliar with hockey, scoring 13 points is about on par with laying 100 on a team in football. in a game against the Edmonton Oilers. By the 1987-1988 season, New Jersey Took a Level in Badass and only missed the playoffs twice since.
The New York Islanders in the NHL also seem to embody this as of late. Despite the fact that they were a dominant force in the 1980s,note They won the Stanley Cup in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983, each time either finishing first in the league or beating the team that did. they've only managed a handful of playoff appearances (usually as one of the lower seeds) in the past fifteen years. The team just cannot catch a break. They play in perhaps the worst arena in the league (it was even recently revealed to have an asbestos problem), their new arena deal being mulled and stalled by the local city council (though the brand new Nets arena in Brooklyn will house them starting in 2015), and are absolutely dwarfed in the local media by the much larger New York Rangers. The fact that their mascot during the mid-nineties resembled the Hi-Liner Fishsticks guy didn't help.
The move to Barclays Center might not help their case much in that the arena was specifically designed for basketball with no aforethought to hockey, thus it will have the smallest capacity in the NHLnote also, Barclays Center has obstructed seating in hockey configuration; the former home of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, the US Airways Center (then known as America West Arena at the time), had the same issue. In essence, the Islanders are leaving a crappy arena for another crappy arena.
The New York Rangers underwent a long drought after winning the Stanley Cup in 1940, presumably because the following year they burned the Madison Square Garden mortgage papers in the Cup and then helped drive the rival New York Americans out of existence. Opposing fans would drone the players with chants of "1940!" until they finally took the Cup back in 1994 (beating the aforementioned Vancouver Canucks).
Coincidentally, the Vancouver Canucks are seemingly responsible for causing the "Riot Curse", where after they got beaten by the Rangers in the 1994 finals, the city of Vancouver rioted in anger. Since then, no Canadian team has won the Cup, and any team that beats them is certain to win the Cup to add salt to the wound. Yes, Vancouver caused an entire Cup drought to a nation. History would repeat itself when the Canucks were beaten in the Stanley Cup finals in 2011 by the Boston Bruins, which caused the city to riot again.
The Detroit Red Wings, today universally-loathed/feared/respected (or some combination of the three) power players, had this going during their 42-year Cup drought, with opponents using the word "1955" like a weapon until they finally took it in 1997.
Both the Alberta teams have been this since their Cinderella runs to the Stanley Cup finals in the 2000s - lost to teams from sunny towns to make Canada feel even worse. The Calgary Flames, who had broken a seven-year drought as they reached the final in 2004 (lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning), lost in Round 1 the following four seasons, and failed to qualify ever since, with the final nail in their coffin being team star Jarome Iginla leaving in 2013. The Edmonton Oilers haven't even qualified since the 2006 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes (helped by star defender Chris Pronger requesting a trade shortly after the finals), being on perpetual "rebuild mode" even after three straight number one draft picks between 2009 and 2012.
Besides Edmonton, the three other teams which descended from the World Hockey Association, the Hartford Whalers, the Quebec Nordiques, and the original Winnipeg Jets, could be considered Butt Monkeys, albeit deliberately invoked by the NHL. As part of the agreement to join the NHL, the four WHA teams' rosters were stripped of their players, save for a few protected players, the teams received no compensation for players reclaimed by the existing NHL teams and the teams were placed in the bottom of the order in the 1979 rookie draft, instead of at the top as is the standard practice for expansion teams. Of the four former WHA clubs, only the Edmonton Oilers play in and have won the Stanley Cup in their original market; the original Winnipeg Jets became the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, and the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes. To rub salt in Quebec's and Hartford's wounds, both Colorado and Carolina won the Stanley Cup, with Colorado winning the cup in their first year in Denver. Although Phoenix/Arizona has yet to win the Cup, they did advance to the Western Conference Finals in 2012, advancing further in the playoffs than either incarnation of the Jets to date.
Every team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters will be the Butt Monkey for at least that game. Special notice especially goes towards the Washington Generals, who were once a champion ABL team in Philadelphia before the league folded.
Australian Rules Football: The St Kilda Saints have been playing in the VFL/AFL since it was founded in 1897, and have only won one premiership (1966) and that by a single point. The Western Bulldogs (formerly Footscray) have also only won one premiership, longer ago than St Kilda did (1954), and haven't played in a Grand Final since 1961, where they lost to never-won Hawthorn (a butt monkey at the time, though they lost that status in the 70s, and were the league's dominant team in the 80s). Other candidates include Fremantle (who joined the league in 1994 and are yet to win a premiership, although they made the Grand Final in 2013), Port Adelaide (who hold the record for the biggest losing margin in a Grand Final), and Greater Western Sydney (only joined the league in 2012, but rock-bottom in their first two seasons)
In international Cricket, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh - many critics feel that one or both of them are unworthy of test match status, and think their spots should be given to other countries, such as Ireland or even Afghanistan (who, due to the country being deemed unsafe, play their home matches in the United Arab Emirates).