If it gets bad enough, sports cities can become this trope, often called "cursed cities".
Atlanta. Historically, most Southerners have supported their college teams better than their 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 (with only one championship in over 150 seasons of play in the Big Four), many sportswriters, usually those based up North, often brand Atlanta as "the worst pro sports town in America". Many Atlantans often attempt to refute this claim by stating that the poor ownership of its professional teams is the reason for the city's reputation as a bad sports townnote And in some cases, this is true, especially with the recent debacles of Atlanta Spirit, owners of the NBA's Hawks and ex-owners of the now-defunct Thrashers of the NHL.
The Falcons have been for most of their existence a mediocre team at best to a bad team at worst. It took the team over 4 decades to attain its first consecutive winning seasons. 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. Ted Turner bought the team during their post-Hank Aaron Dork Age in order to keep the team in Atlanta (and to keep one of his programming staples on his then-fledgling superstation WTCG). In his early years of ownership, Turner often staged outlandish promotions to spur attendance, most notably a "headlocks and wedlocks" night, where several couples were married in a group ceremony before the game with a pro-wrestling show 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 championshipsnote discounting the strike-shortened 1994 season, where they were 2nd in the NL East, but 1st in the NL Wild Card before the work stoppage; 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 Hawks' first permanent arena in Atlanta, the Omni Coliseum, despite being fairly innovative for its time, was literally a rust bucket. The arena was built with weathering steel as part of its load bearing structure; however, the engineers who designed the arena failed to account for Altanta's humid climate, meaning the steel had rusted more than intended. The rusting had gotten so bad, holes large enough for people to crawl through appeared in the structure, leading to its demolition and replacement with Philips Arena.
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 moved to Calgary in 1980 while the Thrashers first played in 1999 and 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 (the Flames were hastily established in 1972 in order to keep the WHA out of the then-new Omni Coliseum) 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 Nelson Skalbania's Calgary-based consortium to avert bankruptcy.note Other sources state that Cousins was forced out of the league by the NHL's Board of Governors when Cousins found out that the other owners were embezzling money from the players' pension fund, and Cousins threatened to expose the scheme. 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 ownership, regularly finishing in the bottom of the league and only making the playoffs once. In their lone playoff appearance in 2007, the Thrashers got immediately swept by the New York Rangers. What makes the disaster of Atlanta Spirit's ownership worse was the fact that the group never wanted to own the Thrashers at all or even have them as a tenant in Philips Arena; they were only interested in the NBA's Hawks. Also, the group spent five years in a protracted internal legal dispute, which prevented the group from putting the Thrashers up for sale in the meantime. Aside from Atlanta Spirit's aforementioned dysfunction, Mark Chipman's and 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 Coyotes (formerly the original Winnipeg Jets) in Arizona basically 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, and many hockey purists, especially Canadians, say that the NHL leaving Atlanta was the best thing to happen in Bettman's tenure as commissioner. However, many Atlanta hockey fans (both Thrashers and former Flames fans) would argue that the NHL leaving Atlanta and returning to Winnipeg was the worst thing to happen, considering that the league made no effort to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta, yet made significant efforts to keep other struggling clubs, especially the aforementioned Coyotes, in their respective markets prior to the Thrashers' demise.
Of course, winter sports in general and ice hockey in particular don't have a mainstream following in the southern US for the obvious reasons. Makes it hard to get people enthusiastic about a franchise. Despite the failures of two NHL clubs, Atlanta 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 after the 1995-96 season because then-Hawks owner Ted Turner wanted bring the NHL back to Atlanta and the Omni Coliseum, the only hockey-ready venue in Metro Atlanta at the time, would have to be demolished and replaced by what would become Philips Arena, since the NHL would not allow Turner to use the Omni Coliseum even as an interim facility. 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 tying with the New York Liberty (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002) as the Buffalo Bills of women's basketball.
Georgia Tech has a well known and well respected intercollegiate athletics program in the NCAA, thus averting the trope. Atlanta's other major public university, Georgia State, not so much. Although Georgia State's football program is still young (only established in 2010), the squad's first FBS season was winless with three of their losses coming from FCS schools.
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, four common answers will likely be:
They're the first team to lose four consecutive Super Bowls.
They're the team whom the Tennessee Titans beat in the "Music City Miracle".
They're the team that the other teams in the AFC East slaughter for two easy wins.
In the final years of Ralph Wilson's life, they were one of the most likely candidates for relocation to either Los Angeles, Toronto or London; however, new owner Terry Pegula, who also owns the NHL's Sabres, intends on keeping the Bills in Buffalo for the long term.
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 and is based in a city with which Cleveland (as a city) has a typical neighborly rivalry (they're about 100 miles apart and their spheres of influence collide somewhere between Akron and Youngstown).
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. 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." Like Seattle, their soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, is one of the best of the MLS. But in the Big Four...
The Athletics' stint in Kansas City (1955-67) was one of most futile stretches in MLB history. They finished all 13 seasons below .500, and in the 50s they essentially functioned as a farm team for the New York Yankees.
The Royals' wins to reach the NL Finals broke the longest streak without playoff wins among cities with at least two teams: 20 years (every since a Chiefs win in 1994), 15 years longer than second place San Diego.
The Chiefs won a Super Bowl in 1970 and nothing else since. Apart from a tradition of getting trampled in the playoffs, the Chiefs have also had a notable lack of successful quarterbacks. The last QB to win a playoff game for the Chiefs? Joe Montana, who at the time, was in the twilight years of his career.
The indoor teams left town: the NHL's Scouts moved first to Colorado, then to New Jersey and the NBA's Kings went to Sacramento.
The Scouts' awful records in their two seasons note 15-54-11 and 12–56–12 were one of the major reasons that the 1974 NHL expansion was widely seen as having been a mistake. Unsurprisingly, the Devils tend to not mention their past as the Scouts (or the Rockies, for that matter).
The Kansas City / Kansas City-Omaha Kings were actually decent in their first few years, even making the Western Conference finals. However, a series of bad luck incidents prevented the team from building on its success: the Cleveland Cavaliers lured their best players away and the general manager was fired in a bizarre scandal in which he was found to be reusing marked postage stamps. The roof caved in on the Kings — both figuratively and literally. Part of the roof fell in at the Kemper Arena because of a severe storm, forcing the team to play most of the 1979–80 season at a much smaller one. The ownership group sold the team to Sacramento interests for just $11 million, probably relieved to get rid of them.
Adding further insult to the indoor plight, Kansas City has a state-of-the-art arena ready, but both leagues are unwilling to expand, and trying to relocate teams also didn't work.
Oakland. In the Bay Area, if San Francisco is considered the eldest child and San Jose is the youngest child, then Oakland would be the oft-neglected middle child.
The Oakland Coliseum is considered to be one of the worst stadiums currently used by a professional team; it is the only stadium still shared between a NFL team and a MLB team, and the plumbing within the stadium is severely outdated, with sewage problems occurring even when the stadium is empty. Unlike many multipurpose stadiums, the Coliseum uses grass instead of artificial turf, meaning the Athletics have to play on a field abused by football cleats late in the baseball season, and the Raiders have to play on dirt early in the football season.
In their early years, the Raiders were a very competitive team under late owner Al Davis, and Davis was known for being bold and controversial as a owner/general manager. However, towards the end of Davis' life, the team became something of a joke. Since 2002, the team went through seven head coaches and has finished no higher than third in the AFC West, finishing each season at or below .500.
While the Athletics have been fairly competitive in their time in Oakland, their Butt Monkey status lies primarily with the Coliseum, where they have played since moving to Oakland in 1968. Aside from the stadium's aforementioned issues, the stadium's baseball configuration has the largest amount of foul territory in the majors, meaning that foul balls which would end up in the seats and out of play at another ballpark can, and often will, be caught for an out; also, this puts fans seating in the lower bowl further away from the action. Many Athletics fans hate the Mount Davis grandstand, which was constructed in the mid-1990s to lure the Raiders back to Oakland; Mount Davis took away the picturesque view of the Oakland hills which served as the backdrop for Athletics' games. The Athletics have tried to move out of the Coliseum and into a baseball-only ballpark either in Santa Clara, San Jose or Fremont; however, the San Francisco Giants claims territorial rights on those cities and refuses to cede any of them to the Athletics.
The Golden State Warriors (who have played in Oakland since 1971, but expect to return to San Francisco by the end of The New Tens) have suffered a lot since the mid-seventies, after a Dark Horse Victory in 1975 and two good seasons that followed. Despite bright moments (the Sleepy Floyd game, Chris Mullin\the "Run TMC" era, taking down the Mavericks as an 8 seed), management was always screwing the team, be it for turning into a contender or keeping it competitive. After a revamp in 2012 the Warriors are again one of the strongest teams in the NBA, but they still need to overcome the fierce competition in the Western Conference to think about a fourth title.
Philadelphia. Four major sporting franchises, four Butt Monkey teams.
Veterans Stadium, home of the Phillies and the Eagles from the 1970s until the early 2000s, was arguably the most notorious stadium of the "cookie cutter" era. The stadium's artificial turf was so bad, it ended the careers of two (opposing) players. Also, the stadium was infamous for its fans who sat in the 700-section; Eagles fans as well as Phillies fans in general were so rowdy in that era, the city of Philadelphia had to install a court and jail within The Vet. (The judge of the "Eagles Court," Seamus P. McCaffrey leveraged the recognition he got from that into a run for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where he now sits as a Justice—and is facing an FBI investigation over alleged violations of ethics rules.)
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 and Chicago Cubs). 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. Of these, 1979 and 1997 were particularly embarrassing slapdown sweeps, and 1987 a heartbreaking series that went to seven games against Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky's Oilers.
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 (with his father Archie Manning referring to Chargers general manager A.J. Smith as "The Lord of No Rings"), 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.
There's the blessing that Phillip Rivers (drafted in 2004 with the pick they got from the Giants for trading Eli) was actually a pretty good quarterback. The curse? He (along with the Chargers) have gained a reputation for choking in the playoffs.
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! (California instead got two teams in Los Angeles and one in San Jose)
Seattle. What with the Sonics being stolen and relocated to Oklahoma City (with the blessing of then-NBA commissioner David Stern no less, despite the move being a breach of contract), 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.
The Seattle Pilots lasted only one season before going bankrupt and moving to Milwaukee, making them the shortest lived professional team in the modern era of the Big Four. The reason for the Pilots' short life: after the Athletics left Kansas City for Oakland in 1968, Missouri Senator Stuart Symington threatened to revoke Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption if they didn't return to Kansas City. MLB intended to enfranchise the Pilots and Royals in 1971; however, due to pressure from Senator Symington and the American League not wanting an odd number of teams, MLB was forced to activate the Pilots in 1969 before the city of Seattle was even remotely ready to accommodate the team, playing in the less than Major League adequate Sick's Stadium. Major League Baseball would eventually return to Seattle in 1977 after the city sued the American League for breach of contract with the Pilots' move to Milwaukee. In true Butt Monkey fashion, the Mariners struggled; the team did not attain its first winning season until 1991, 15 seasons after their inception, and the team hasn't made the postseason since the 2001 season. The Mariners' first home, the Kingdome, was considered one of the worst venues in professional sports. Its roof in particular proved to be problematic for the relatively short lifetime of the stadium; the roof would often leak water, which resulted in several acoustic tiles falling from the ceiling in July of 1994. This, along with two workers dying during the repair of the ceiling, led to the Kingdome's eventual demolition and replacement with Safeco Field for the Mariners and CenturyLink Field for the Seahawks, with the latter built on the footprint of the Kingdome.
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 one of the most passionate and loudest fanbases in the NFL, making CenturyLink Field one of the hardest places to play in as a road team, and the Seahawks utterly dominated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (despite the Broncos having the league's statistically best offense and being favored by the Vegas oddsmakers to win in a close game), bringing Seattle its first Big Four championship in nearly 35 years.
Tampa Bay. While two of their three major sports franchises - the football Buccaneers, the hockey Lightning - have won a national championship within the last 10 years and the third - the baseball Rays - has played in a World Series and been a recent high-caliber contender, the teams overall have been miserable throughout most of their (brief) history. The only reason Tampa's not on par with long-suffering communities like Cleveland and Philadelphia is due to Tampa being a relative newcomer (1976 onward) to pro sports.
The Buccaneers were notoriously one of the biggest Butt Monkey teams in the NFL. The inaugural season was so bad (0-14) that the losing streak carried over into the second season (2-12) for an unreachable 26-game losing streak. And don't even get started on the nightmare that was the entire 1980s decade (blown draft selections, whiffing on Bo Jackson, wasting talent like Steve Young and Vinny Testaverde...). It wasn't until Tony Dungy turning things around in the 1990s and Jon Gruden winning the Super Bowl before fans believed the worst was over. And then Gruden got fired in 2008 and the team's gone back to being a disaster again.
The Lightning is a slight aversion in that they're a successful team, but inconsistently reaching the playoffs and rarely doing well when they get there. Other than the Stanley Cup season of 2004.
The Rays started off as the Devil Rays playing for a penny-pinching owner who alienated the local business community and mismanaged the team. It didn't help that the team's attempts at jersey designs and colors looked like eyesores for the first eight years. It wasn't until they dropped the Devil from the name and got smarter ownership that the team turned it around in 2008 to become the model mid-market franchise (small payroll but big results) of the last six years. Problem is, they still play in one of the least-liked indoor stadiums left in pro baseball in a part of the Tampa Bay market (downtown St. Pete) that can be almost impossible to drive to for most game days.
The most successful pro franchise in Tampa Bay is the Arena Football team, the Storm.
Their MLS team, the Mutiny, was the first team to be the best of the regular season. Yet they lasted only five years. (the current soccer team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL, won the league in 2012 but has struggled ever since)
And let's not talk too much about the poor University of South Florida's college football and basketball programs...
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.
Gold Coast. Despite Queensland being a state for rugby, the Gold Coast Titans have had only two seasons with more wins than losses. However, it's nothing compared to their predecessors, the Gold Coast Chargers (a.k.a. the Giants, the Seagulls and the Gladiators), with their most successful season having a point difference of -28 and their worst having a difference of -365. Multiple teams have folded, most abysmal: The Rollers and the Blaze in basketball, the (admittedly successful if short-lived) Cougars in baseball, the Blue Tongues (after moving from Brisbane) in ice hockey, and in football, Gold Coast United, which had virtually no attendance from fans (they were replaced by the Western Sydney Wanderers, who became a success story for the expansion of the A-League).
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. 106 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. (The owner later regretted his statement, and he and his descendants have tried—with the cooperation of the Cubs and the fans—to lift the curse in various ways on several occasions. The tavern, incidentally, is the "Billy Goat Tavern" on lower Michigan Avenue, made famous by the "Olympia Cafe" sketch on Saturday Night Live ("No Coke, Pepsi!").)
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 Hornets/Bobcats. After reclaiming the original Hornets history and records from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats are effectively the NBA's version of the Cleveland Browns, particularly after the re-establishment of the franchise. The original Hornets franchise were a decent team, despite never winning the division; however, the Bobcats era was an absolute embarrassment. 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. Also not helping the Hornets/Bobcats (and the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards) is the fact that they share the Southeast Division with the Miami Heat, who has dominated the division (and the Eastern Conference since 2011), winning it 7 out of 10 times since the division's creation in the 2004-05 season. 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.
In their last season before the rename, the Bobcats managed to get some dignity by clinching their second ever playoff berth. Then came a sweep by the Heat, ensuring the Bobcats to be one of the few teams to never win a playoff game!
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.
Most of the Clippers' woes can be pinned on (soon to be) former owner Donald Sterling, who moved the team from San Diego to Los Angeles (in an effort to 'bring pro basketball to Los Angeles' notwithstanding that the Lakers had been the team in Los Angeles for more than twenty years at that point). Sterling's racism, long an open secret, led to his lifetime ban from the NBA and a forced sale of the team. His complete ineptitude at running a basketball team means that almost anyone else is likely to be a step up for the Clippers. However, given that Sterling is 80 years old, and he's likely to make at least $700 million on a $12.5 million initial investment when the team is sold, the punishment is too little, too late in the eyes of many.
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 National Football League. 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,note We use the term "divisional rival" here loosely, since in the NFC North, like the NFC East, everyone hates everyone else. 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 from nothing—unlike W.C. Ford, who, as you might have guessed, is a descendant of Henry Ford), a former athlete (he played minor-league ball in the Tigers farm system in The Fifties) and diehard Detroit sports fan 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; it's still a little early to tell, as Ford's widow Martha Firestone Fordnote Yes, that Firestone. With the tires. is now owner and it's not clear how she'll run things. The heir apparent to the owner's title is William Clay "Bill" Ford, Jr., who is a bit of a hippie for an executive (he's a vegan and folk singer and when he was CEO of Ford for a time he donated most of his salary to charity) but likes sports (he's a judoka and plays amateur hockey) and seems a bit more invested in the team.
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 either Los Angeles or London; the team plays one of their home games in the latter city as a semi-permanent tenant in the NFL's International Series.
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 (objectively, these critics are right that "largest city in Florida" is a bit overblown: it has the largest population because it is also the most geographically extensive major city in Florida—Miami, the Tampa Bay Area, and Orlando-Kissimmee have much larger urban populations, but they are divided into a large number of small municipalities). 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. They debuted in 1967 but didn't have a winning season until 1987, with the 1980 season as the peak of putrid play, when they went 1-15, at the time being the worst record in league history. Then they couldn't win a playoff game until 2000. 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 far above example Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their first 26 games? They won their 27th game. Guess which team that was against? 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).
National Hockey League
Among the Big Four of North American professional sports leagues, the NHL itself is a Butt Monkey, especially under Gary Bettman's tenure as commissioner. Since Bettman became commissioner in 1993, the league suffered from three work stoppages, losing the entire 2004-05 season and nearly losing the other two strike-affected seasons (1994-95 & 2012-13). Also, many teams, primarily those based in warm-weather markets, are financially struggling; many hockey purists blame the 1990s expansion and relocation into the Sunbelt for the league's financial hardships as well as diluting the talent pool.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been an absolute disaster at levels equal to or greater than the former Atlanta Thrashers. 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.
The first year they made the playoffs, they had to go up against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings. The Wings outscored the Jackets by a brutal 12-2 in the first 3 games, but Columbus almost forced overtime in Game 4...only for Detroit to score the series-clinching goal with 57 seconds left in regulation. The Blue Jackets finally won a playoff game on their second try in 2014 against the Pittsburgh Penguins; however, the Blue Jackets fell in the first round in 6 games.
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 a a similar score in The Beautiful Game or laying 100 on a team in American 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 (e.g. obstructed seating, scoreboard is not over center ice, etc.); also, the Barclays Center seats less people for hockey than the Nassau Coliseum, and barely seats more than Winnipeg's MTS Centre. In essence, the Islanders are still going to be playing in the league's worst arena. The best thing one could do with the Isles at this juncture is to completely relocate them outside the NY metropolitan area where they wouldn't be outmuscled by the Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
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.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been a Butt Monkey at various points in their history. From the team's founding in 1967 up through the mid-1980s, they consistently finished at or near the bottom of the standings and skated line-ups consisting mostly of has-beens and nobodies. It didn't help that the other two major Pittsburgh sports franchises, the Steelers and (to a lesser extent) the Pirates, were among the most dominant teams in their respective leagues throughout the 1970s, making the Pens something of a joke locally as well as nationally. They slowly started to turn things around starting with the drafting of Quebecois sensation Mario Lemieux in 1984, building up a strong roster of players alongside him that culminated in not one, but two Stanley Cup victories in 1991 and 1992. However, just when it seemed that the NHL would see another dynasty in the making, the team declined again throughout the 90s leading to a second butt monkey period from 2000-2004, with an injury-plagued Lemieux continuing to play far past his glory days, poor financial practices putting the team into bankruptcy, and a outdated and low-capacity home ice in the Civic Arena, leading to serious discussion of disbanding or relocating the team around this time. It actually took yet another Canadian phenomenon—Sidney Crosby, drafted after the infamous lockout in 2005—to lift the team once again, leading to a third Stanley Cup in 2009, a brand-new arena constructed a year later, and generally becoming a formidable enough opponent to avert this trope in recent years.
The current Winnipeg Jets are the runt of not only the NHL, but among all of the teams in the four major professional leagues. The team plays in the smallest standalone market among the big fournote Even though Green Bay is significantly smaller than Winnipeg, the Packers are also part of the larger Milwaukee market. The team plays in the league's smallest arena, the MTS Centre, which seats only 15,000; even though it's a large, state of the art arena for a small metropolitan area, it is rather small by NHL & NBA arena standards, meaning the Jets end up finishing in the bottom third in the league and dead last among Canadian teams for attendance despite selling out all their home games. When the novelty of the Jets' "return" wears off and if the club fails to field a competitive squad in that time, the attendance issue may become more apparent. Many top-tier free agents have Winnipeg on the top of their "no-move" lists because of city's perception of being located out in the middle of nowhere and having nothing to do in the off-season. True North Sports and Entertainment brought the NHL back to Winnipeg by buying a bargain basement team in the former Atlanta Thrashers, a team practically ran into the ground by its ex-owners (See Atlanta's section in "Cities in General" for more details). Aside from dysfunctional ownership in Atlanta, the only reason the NHL even considered returning to Winnipeg was a strong Canadian dollar; if the Canadian dollar ever falls too far below its US counterpart as it did in the early '90s (which lead to the original Jets moving to Arizona), the Jets are most likely the first Canadian team to be put up for relocation or worse, contraction. The team had to spend their first two seasons in the Thrashers' place in the now-defunct Southeast Division, putting the team at a competitive and geographical disadvantage since their nearest divisional opponent was more than 1500 miles away. Realignment for 2013-14 hasn't helped much, as the Jets finished dead last in the reorganized Central Division.
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.
Anyone on the receiving end of an aikido demonstration, as they are pinned, twisted, and slammed in front of an audience of students. Since this is for educational purposes, and aikido is based on countering, this is an Enforced Trope.
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).