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As most professional and college sports teams are Long Runners, it's rare to find a team that hasn't had at least one of these.
    Association football/soccer 
  • In Football, any time a team is relegated or nearly falls (double if it occurs due to cheating instead of team incompetence). Among the English teams:
    • Liverpool had one one: Having been a Top 4 team in England (considered by many to have the best league in the world; that is saying something) for a long while, they finished 7th in the 2009-10 season and needed a late surge under new manager (and club legend) Kenny Dalglish to finish sixth the following year. That and awful cup performances just made the club's 2005 Champions League victory seem like a distant memory for a lot of supporters; however, the club's second place finish in 2014, just two points behind champion Manchester City, was the first sign that the Dork Age was at an end. They've since made the 2018 Champions League final, further cementing their exit from the Dork Age. Most Liverpool fans will likely blame the decline on owner Tom Hicks, who admitted he bought into the club just to help finance his two American sports clubs, the NHL's Dallas Stars and MLB Texas Rangers. He promised a new stadium at Stanley Park and never delivered; his son had to resign from the board of directors after sending a fan an email with the words "Blow me f*** face." Hicks and his partners were brought before the House of Commons, who claimed the club was being "drained by their greed". Ultimately, Hicks declared bankruptcy and had to sell off all three clubs, dealing the soccer club in 2010 to the ownership group of the Boston Red Sox.
    • While Manchester United fans may worry about their fortunes following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, it's doubtful that things will get quite as bad as they did after their other legendary manager, Sir Matt Busby retired in 1969. His immediate successor, Wilf McGuinness proved severely out of his depth, and after Busby briefly held the fort again for six months, the club appointed the more experienced Frank O'Farrell. However, O'Farrell failed to address the club's ageing squad and instead busied himself quarrelling with George Best, eventually getting sacked after 18 months with the club bottom of the table. The next manager, Tommy Docherty temporarily papered over the problems by filling the squad with experienced journeymen, avoiding relegation that season, but everything finally came crashing down the season after that, resulting in United being relegated just six years after winning the European Cup. In an ironic twist to make matters worse, they were relegated after a loss to Manchester City, with a goal from United legend Denis Law nonetheless. Fortunately, Docherty managed to end the Dork Age immediately after that by jettisoning most of the older players and building a new, youthful squad who took the club straight back up and resulted in a mostly successful rest of the decade.
    • Wolverhampton Wanderers, after being one of England's most successful clubs in the 1950s and doing quite well for the following two decades, hit this hard in the mid-1980s, enduring three successive relegations between 1984 and 1986. They rose up the leagues again in the early 1990s, but kept stumbling around in the second-highest tier for quite a while, not really emerging from their Dork Age until 2009, when they at least graduated to the status of being a yo-yo club, bouncing between the first and second tiers.
    • Leeds United have been in one for so long that most would argue that it's ceased to be a Dork Age and simply become their new status quo. After being a highly successful club in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s, they were nearly sent into bankruptcy by massive financial mismanagement in the early 2000s, getting them relegated from the Premier League in 2004 and then from the division below it, the Championship in 2007. This nearly resulted in them being sent out of business altogether, only avoiding do so thanks to some Loophole Abuse due to the Football Association's insolvency laws being so ill-defined at the time.note  They eventually got back into the Championship three years later, but have since been mostly floundering around trying to avoid being relegated again. Worse still, their reputation had been rendered so utterly toxic that no reputable owner would go within ten miles of the club, resulting in them ending up with a succession of shady owners who further wrecked their already-appalling reputation until a somewhat respectable owner ended up buying them in 2017. Adding insult to injury, between 2004 and 2016, Leeds was the largest city in Europe not to have a team in the top-flight of their domestic league, and can't even boast that distinction any more (Birmingham took it over following Aston Villa's relegation from the Premier League in 2016).
  • On the South American side, historical team River Plate from Argentina got relegated for the first time in their 100+ year history (and 33 titles) after massive debt trouble and a sporting crisis which has plagued the club for the then-latest 3 years (starting in the second half of 2008 which saw them have an abysmal performance in the national league, culminating with the relegation in the last week of June 2011). The fact that the club has housed many famous Argentine players and that rioting was the result of the whole thing speaks volumes. The club returned to the top division the following year, and since then they have enjoyed a slow but steady recovery that was eventually rewarded with numerous trophies in the competitions, including two Copa Libertadores.
  • The 1990 FIFA World Cup, filled with ties, underperforming teams (both European champions Netherlands and perpetual favorites Brazil fell in the first round of the playoffs) and low goalscoring. Rule changes were imposed afterwards to improve the game (forbidding the keeper from handling the ball, preventing time-wasting and defensiveness; 3 points for a win instead of 2 to discourage draws).
  • Italy had two such stretches, the post-war one that only ended when they were runner-ups in the 1970 World Cup (low points include a plane crash in 1949 that killed many star players and being eliminated by North Korea in the 1966 WC), and one which started in 2010 and still has to end: in the World Cup, the defending champions got last place in their group and didn't even win a game note ; while second place in the 2012 Euro raised hopes, the Azzurri crashed and burned in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, couldn't beat rivals Germany in the 2016 Euro quarterfinals, and missed the 2018 World Cup, the first time they hadn't qualified in 60 years.
  • The oft-victorious Germany team had shades of it for a decade starting in 1994, owing to chaos in the DFB, rampant egoism in German football and over-reliance on aged players: in the World Cup, aside from 2002 final, it was two straight quarterfinals falling to dark horses; in the Euro tournament, the 1996 title was followed by a first round exit... and then in 2004, the Germans failed the continental tournaments on adult, under 19, and under 21 levels (the first, even drawing Latvia 0-0; the last as championship hosts). A revamp in personnel and player development (which also led to increased numbers of children of immigrants) ensued, and until 2018 Germany hasn't missed the semifinals in either tournament, even winning the World Cup in 2014. Their early elimination in the 2018 World Cup and a poor performance in the first edition of the UEFA Nations League (resulting in their relegation) started raising alarms, though.
  • While the Domenech era (2004–10) of the French national soccer team started strong (they reached the 2006 World Cup Final, only losing in the penalty shootouts to Italy), it went downhill since. France fell during the pool phase both in 2008 and 2010; the 2010 World Cup was marked by many scandals (players' strike, insults, a handball goal in the qualifiers...) which greatly affected the team's reputation. While things seemed to slightly improve in the 2012 Euro, it wasn't until the arrival of manager Didier Deschamps when the team truly recovered, reaching quarterfinals in the 2014 World Cup, being runner-ups in their hosted 2016 Euro, and winning the 2018 World Cup.
  • While the England national team has had wildly fluctuating fortunes over the years — in particular, a habit of doing well in qualifying tournaments, and then totally bombing in the actual tournaments — four eras stand out as indisputable Dork Ages:
    • 1972–78, comprising the latter two years of World Cup-winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey's tenure as manager, and the entirety of Don Revie's term. The team failed to qualify for any tournament during this period, resulting in Ramsey being sacked, and Revie's tenure ending in disgrace when he agreed to take over as manager of the United Arab Emirates' national team while still contracted to England, earning him a lifetime ban from football in his home country. On top of that, hooliganism started to become a major problem at England internationals.
    • The latter part of Graham Taylor's tenure as manager. The team qualified for Euro 92 well enough, but were simply shambolic at the tournament itself. The qualifying tournament for the 1994 World Cup somehow managed to be even worse, with an accompanying TV documentary made in the course of the tournaments giving Taylor the image of someone who was completely out of his league in the job. Not surprisingly, the team failed to qualify for the tournament, and Taylor quickly resigned.
    • The year 2000 in its entirety is generally regarded as the absolute lowest ebb of postwar English football. After an awful performance at Euro 2000, England opened their 2002 World Cup qualifiers with a thrashing by Germany in the final match at the original Wembley Stadium, resulting in Kevin Keegan (who made Taylor look like a model of a good England manager) resigning. The FA's head of coaching, Howard Wilkinson then stepped in and oversaw an even worse performance against Finland the following week, only managing a goalless draw. For a subsequent friendly against France, the FA gambled on former youth coach Peter Taylor, who it also became obvious wasn't cut out to manage the national team.note  After that, the FA made an even bigger gamble and appointed the country's first non-English coach, Sven-Göran Eriksson, which was widely seen by the press as an admission that the English coaching system was so broken that the country could no longer produce good coaches. Regardless of this, Eriksson's appointment finally got things going again, and the team recovered to top their qualifying group, ushering in five years of mostly solid performances.
    • As soon as Eriksson left, however, England fell straight back into a Dork Age that lasted a full decade. Assistant coach Steve McClaren was appointed as Eriksson's replacement, but a thoroughly disastrous Euro 2008 qualifying campaign in which England never once looked like qualifying saw him sacked after barely a year. Another foreign coach, Fabio Capello was then hired, and oversaw a much stronger performance in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, only for the side to just barely stumble through an easy group and promptly be obliterated 4-1 by Germany in the first knock-out match. Despite most of the press demanding that he be sacked and replaced by Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, Capello remained in charge for the Euro 2012 qualifiers, which again saw England win their group, only for Capello to be sacked a few months before the tournament for mouthing off against the Football Association. The FA replaced him not with Redknapp, but with experienced journeyman Roy Hodgson, who managed a surprisingly decent performance at Euro 2012, only to oversee disastrous performances at both the 2014 World Cup (in which they failed to win a single goal and finished bottom of their group) and Euro 2016 (where they again struggled through a theoretically easy group, and promptly lost in the knock-out rounds to Iceland, the smallest team in the competition), resigning after the latter tournament. Sam Allardyce was next to take on the job, only to be forced out after just 67 days following a corruption scandal, leading to youth coach Gareth Southgatenote  being thrown the job as basically the only person who wanted it. Under Southgate, however, England surpassed rock-bottom expectations to make the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, leaving a glimmer of hope that the Dork Age may be at an end.
  • The Brazil national team has had two World Cup tournaments widely regarded as Dork Ages:
    • The first is their shambolic defence of their title in 1966, in which they won just one game and exited in the first round. This one is at least chalked up to the extremely dirty tactics of their group rivals (which left star player Pelé injured and barely even able to play), but as the only tournament in-between 1958 and 1970 which they failed to win, it stands out as a real low point.
    • The second is the 1990 tournament, where they only succeeded in winning probably the easiest group in the tournament, and were promptly taken apart by deadly rivals (and eventual finalists) Argentina in the next round. Though the 1966 tournament was officially Brazil's worst World Cup performance, 1990 is usually seen as the low ebb for the country, due to the extremely defensive, midfield-heavy tactics the coach tried to employ, which were seen as the antithesis of the traditional Brazilian style. Like 1966, this performance also suffers from coming right before their victorious 1994 team.
  • If the Cleveland Browns were European and played soccer, they might be 1.FC Nürnberg. One of the finest teams in all of soccer during the 1920s and still pretty damn good up to the 1968 championship (their ninth), they managed to do what no team had done before or done since - they were relegated as reigning champions. Among the things they screwed up after their ninth championship was trading the leading scorer, Franz Brungs, of the league against his express wishes - it was then believed that a new squad ready to tackle the coming European games had to be assembled and there was no place for Brungs anymore. The result was one of the strongest team ever to be relegated from the Bundesliga but relegated they were. The years after that were painful attempts to get back into the first division, which they only managed once they had given up on it - only to get relegated promptly thereafter. They proceeded to buy players that - as 1968 coach Max Merkel observed - would not be worth the price a butcher would ask for them and proceeded to humiliate and embarrass their fans in every way possible, despite a brief respite in the 1980s when a young team made it to the UEFA Cup and the DFB-Cup final (which they lost to Bayern München). However, in 2007 the team seemed to have finally caught a break. Lead by beloved coach Hans Meyer, they made it to the Cup Final and won it this time. With a bright future ahead, a team was assembled that could tackle the European games to come.... (notice a pattern?) Only to manage something which has also not been done by any other German team before or since: They were relegated as reigning cup champions. Solid work boys, solid work. Basically everything since (and including) 1969 has been a giant dork age and unlike other examples, there seems to be just no end in sight. Fans have taken to the phrase "Der Glubb is a Debb - Aber ich mooch nan" note 
  • Among Spanish teams, Real Madrid suffered one due to Laser-Guided Karma after they refused to renew the contract of Vicente Del Bosque (their coach from late 1999 to 2003), who had helped them win two Spanish leagues and two Champions League trophies. During the following three years, the team entered a dark period without winning any major title, forcing their president to resign in early 2006. While the next president seemed to put things back to greatness (the club won the Spanish league twice in a row), a series of institutional scandals put the club at the risk of a legal relegation, which led to that president resigning in turn during January 2009. This, coupled with a series of curb-stomp defeats against Liverpool (0-1 and 4-0 in the Champions League's Round of 16), longtime rivals Barcelona (3-1 and 2-6 in the Spanish league, helping the said rivals win literally everything during that year while Madrid continued with their slump), and surprisingly Alcorcón (4-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie, followed by an insufficient 1-0 victory in the second leg), put the club in a very difficult situation that only improved with better coaches (José Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and somewhat surprisingly Zinedine Zidane) in the following years.
  • Belgium fell victim to this from 2004 to 2012, not only failing to qualify for the European Championships of the era, but also missing out on their first World Cup since 1978 in 2006 and getting defeated by Estonia and Armenia in the away matches of the 2010 qualifiers (they finished fourth both times).
  • The Netherlands has one which started in 2012 and still has to end: in the 2012 Euro, the Clockwork Orange fell in round 1 without even winning or drawing a game; while third place in the 2014 World Cup raised hopes, they missed the 2016 European Championship, the first time they hadn't qualified in 32 years, losing to the Czech Republic, surprise package Iceland and Turkey. They didn't fare better in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, coming third after eventual champions France and Sweden.
  • Italy's top-division football (Serie A) has undergone a slow decline after the 2006 Calciopoli Match-Fixing Scandal that led to the enforced relegation of perennial powerhouse Juventus. Despite the relative success of the Milan-based clubs in the late 2000's (with AC Milan winning the UEFA Champions League in 2007 and Inter following suit in 2010), the league gained a nasty reputation as a corrupt league full of cheaters and match fixers due to the aforementioned scandal. This (and the increasing dominance of the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga) subsequently led to players and agents having second thoughts about moving to Italian clubs, which consequently resulted in said Italian clubs paying stupid amounts of money just to acquire decent to good talent. Once the Milanese clubs' dominance ended in The New '10s, most Italian clubs ended up in dire straits financially, which then led to them selling star players just to balance the books. This not only reduced the quality of play in Serie A, but also led to the bankruptcy of many teams (such as the likes of Parma and Reggiana). By the middle of the 2010's, Serie A had become a second-rate league filled with young players angling for a move to England or Spain and older players who were past their prime.

    Ironically, Juventus overcame their Calciopoli-induced Dork Age to become THE top club in Italy in that time-span. Juve's spell in Serie B forced them to turn to youth development as the crux of their team-building, which resulted in their relative financial health compared to the other top-tier Italian clubs unpunished by Calciopoli. Said financial health allowed the Bianconeri to create a dominant team, which ended up winning EVERY SINGLE Serie A title since 2012 and acquiring big-name stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo in multi-million Euro deals without getting into crippling debt. Time will tell whether Juve's excellence will bring Serie A back to the forefront of European football, but their rise has coincided with a few other Italian clubs (most notably Napoli and Roma) rising up to challenge their dominance, spelling perhaps a bright future for Italian club football.
  • English Club Football had a minor dork age in the late 80's, which started with the 1985 Heysel-induced ban from European Competition and lasted up to the establishment of the Premier League in 1992. During that time period, hooliganism was rife, stadiums were crumbling, stars were lured to the Spanish and Italian leagues, and football tactics had regressed to the primitive long ball "over the top". The nadir of this era was the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, which resulted in the death of 96 Liverpool fans. That incident led to the enforced renovation or replacement of the crumbling stadia, and the subsequent crackdown on hooligan activity. The Dork Age finally ended when the top tier of the Football League broke away to form the Premier League, which resulted in an uptick in finances and quality of football in the English club football scene.

    Don't tell this to Liverpool fans, though, as they were the top team in England during that time period (that being said, Heysel and Hillsborough also happened in that same timeframe). Likewise, the end of that Dork Age coincided with Liverpool's fall from grace in the 1990's.
  • The United States Men's National Team have found themselves in one as of late. On the back of a Round of 16 elimination to Belgium in extra time and a Copa America Centenario 4th Place finish, and with a Gold Cup victory in 2017 everything looked set for the USMNT to springboard to future success. Unfortunately, then came the final matches of The Hex, the final round of qualification for North America's slots for the 2018 World Cup. On the final matchday, the US lost 2-1 away to Trinidad and Tobago while their two rival teams also lost to their competition to put the US out. The US did make the ensuing Gold Cup Final in 2019, but lost to rivals Mexico 1-0. Where the US go from here remains to be seen, but the Dork Age sees no sign of ending just yet.

    Australian Rules Football 
  • Several Australian Rules Football clubs have them:
    • The Brisbane Bears' early period, where the team was based on the Gold Coast, had the awful "angry koala" jumpers, and was consistently on or near the bottom of the ladder.
    • Carlton in the 2000s, after the discovery of major salary cap violations forced the club into a rebuilding period. As of 2012, the club seems to be emerging from this period.
    • Collingwood's "Colliwobbles" between 1958 and 1990, including Grand Final losses in 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981.
    • Essendon in the seventies - some fans use "seventies Essendon" as a derogatory term to refer to a poor performance by the team. This dork age ended when Kevin Sheedy took over as coach.
    • Melbourne from 1965 to 1988. When Norm Smith was controversially sacked as coach in 1965, he predicted the club would never win another premiership, which they have yet to do. They did manage to make the Grand Final again in 1988, though (as well as 2000).
    • For Richmond, from when the club made the 1982 grand final until they unexpectedly won the 2017 premiership. In that period, they were seemingly permanently mired in the bottom half of the ladder, through an endless succession of coaches.
  • Victorian teams as a whole went through a Dork Age in the first half of the 2000s. 2001-2006 saw none of the state's teams win the premiership and in 2006 for the first time ever there were no Victorian teams in the final four.

    Major League Baseball 
  • American baseball in general went through a Dork Age in The '50s, as the only place where the sport wasn't in a sorry state was New York City. The minor leagues were collapsing due to the availability of major league games on television, old stadiums were growing increasingly decrepit, the dominance of New York teams (particularly the Yankees)note  was causing fans outside New York to tune out, some teams were still refusing to integrate long after Jackie Robinson had broken down the color barrier, and the sport had no real presence (other than the aforementioned minor leagues) in the fast-growing "Sun Belt" of the South and the West Coast. All of this gave football, both professional and college-level, enough room to build itself up as a serious rival to baseball's status as "America's pastime." This ended in The '60s once teams (led by the Giants and the Dodgers) started moving to the South and West and giving the sport a real nationwide presence, along with the Yankees' own Dork Age meaning that other teams (especially in the American League) now stood a chance.

    Of course, New York sportswritersand PBS documentary filmmakers — are still likely to remember The '50s as baseball's "golden age", simply because it was the era in which the Yankees got the World Series rings they were entitled to, dammit! And if the Yankees didn't win, then the Dodgers or the Giants probably did.
  • The Boston Red Sox after their infamous sale of Babe Ruth's contract to the Yankees in 1920, producing the infamous "Curse of the Bambino". One could argue that it was one long Dork Age from then until they broke the Curse in 2004, but the Red Sox were relatively successful overall; they just couldn't win the World Series. However, there were three times when it definitely seemed as though the Sox were cursed:
    • After they traded the Babe, the Red Sox were awful throughout the 1920s and '30s, essentially serving as a farm system for New York by making several other one-sided trades that helped strengthen the Yankees' dynasty. Even the most die-hard Sox fans would probably have trouble naming any notable players in the '20s. They didn't have another winning season until 1935, and didn't win the American League pennant until 1946.
    • Another, shorter-lived Dork Age occurred in the first six years after Ted Williams retired in 1960.
    • Finally, from a national standpoint, the "Yankees-Red Sox" rivalry was non-existent from the 1978 playoffs until the ALCS in 1999. Try telling a modern Sox fan that, in the early-mid '80s, the Red Sox sold out only a few games a year to watch a mediocre team playing in a falling-apart Fenway Park. Then show them Roger Clemens' 20-strikeout game and point out all the empty seats. They will likely deny this ever happened.
  • Despite being one of the most storied teams in American sports, the New York Yankees have two periods that many fans would like to forget.
    • Starting in 1964, the Yankees' long-running '50s dynasty quickly collapsed. While some have blamed CBS buying a controlling stake in the team, there were two major factors in their decline: First, in 1960, Charlie Finley bought the then-Kansas City Athletics from the estate of Arnold Johnson, who had moved the team from Philadelphia after the 1954 season. Johnson was widely accused of operating the A's as an effective Yankees farm club, allegedly allowing the Yankees to develop their young talent in a major-league environment before getting the players back in sweetheart deals.note  Finley immediately ended the "special relationship" between the A's and Yankees. The coup de grace was delivered in 1965 with the introduction of the MLB draft, making it even harder for the Yankees to replace their aging 1950s superstars by simply buying up every hot young talent. They finished 1965 in the second division (i.e. in the bottom half of the standings), and the following year they finished dead last in the American League. Longtime announcer and "Voice of the Yankees" Mel Allen was also fired in 1964 to save money. Things got slightly better in the ensuing years, but it was only when George Steinbrenner took over the team in 1973 that it became a contender again.
    • The second Dork Age was The '80s. Despite having the highest winning percentage in baseball for that decade, they failed to make the postseason after 1981 (in a two-division league; they once made the postseason eight times in 10 years out of a single-division AL) and were mostly known for owner George Steinbrenner's antics - mainly giving huge contracts to players who didn't perform and firing managers left and right. They finally hit rock bottom finishing dead last in 1990, with Steinbrenner getting banned from baseball for two years for hiring a con man to try and dig up damaging information on one of his own players. The suspension, however, allowed the front office to finally turn things around, unloading the bad contracts and focusing on player development, making the Yanks a playoff team by 1995 and champions again a year later.
  • The '70s had a somewhat cosmetic version of this due to:
    • The replacement of many of the classic "jewel box" ballparks, such as Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Crosley Field in Cincinnati, etc. - although admittedly many of them had become decrepit and/or obsolete – with multipurpose stadia often described as "concrete ashtrays".
    • The prevalence of first-generation artificial turf - easier to maintain than grass (and a requirement in domed stadiums), but harder on players' bodies and not quite the right shade of green.
    • The uniforms. While the move from wool flannels to double-knit blends marked a quantum leap in performance, several teams went with pullovers, beltless pants, and more colorful uniforms overall. The most infamous would be the Houston Astros' orange rainbow jerseys, often referred to by fans as "Tequila Sunrise" or "Rainbow Guts". Though, Nostalgia Filter has kicked in recently, as the rainbow jersey is actually a popular choice for teams below the MLB level to emulate.
  • The whole of The '90s was this:
    • 1990 started off with a lockout that cut into much of Spring Training. Fay Vincent, who became the commissioner after the sudden death of A. Bartlett Giamattinote  in September 1989 and oversaw the lockout, was forced out of office by the owners (among them, Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, who would subsequently replace Vincent as commissioner, albeit on an "acting basis" at first) two years later.
    • In 1994, the outdated two divisional setup (the year prior, the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies joined MLB as expansion franchises) was tossed in favor of the current three division and a wild card format (which was problematic within itself at first, because the Divisional Series matchups/seedings were initially predetermined instead of determined by winning percentages). Unfortunately, for the 1993 San Francisco Giants, they won 103 games yet came one game short of the Atlanta Braves (who were always since 1969, quite mysteriously, in the NL West despite being the Southernmost MLB franchise on the East Coast). Thus, had the three divisional format been implemented the year prior, then the Giants would've easily won their divisional title.
    • The '90s were also, depending on your point of view, an era of little parity or competitive balance when compared to The '80s, with (at various phases during the decade) the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees dominating the American League and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves shortly thereafter dominating the National League.
    • The '90s hit its collective nadir with the 1994 strike, which wound up leading to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years (and marked the beginning of the end for the Montreal Expos franchise, who had the best record in MLB in 1994 and likely would've been a World Series contender).
    • To make matters worst, during the period, MLB entered a revenue sharing joint venture with ABC and NBC (after their previous four year long television billion dollar television deal with CBS wound up costing the network approximately $500 million) called The Baseball Network. The Baseball Network was problematic because it emphasized the regionalization of the first two rounds of the postseason (meaning that they would be played simultaneously, yet the entire nation couldn't watch them or have much of a choice in regards to which game you could watch). More to the point, the first half of the regular season had no nationally televised, network TV coverage (only picking up after the All-Star Game). Plus, since the Baseball Night in America (the branding for the Baseball Network's regular season, prime time telecasts) held exclusivity over every market, it most severely impacted markets with two franchises. For example, if Baseball Night in America showed a Yankees game, this meant that nobody in New York could see that night's Mets game and vice versa. Further hampering the Baseball Network was that it was implemented in 1994, and thus critically damaged by the strike, finally being dissolved after the 1995 season, as MLB soon partnered with Fox, which it has remained with ever since.
    • Finally, there was the "home run derby" era of the late '90s and early '00s, with players such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds at the forefront. Initially, this was seen as the end of baseball's Dork Age, with the sport rising to heights of popularity perhaps not seen in decades; millions of people were tuning in to watch superstar athletes race to shatter home-run records. However, things turned around quickly once it was revealed where this sudden surge in athleticism was coming from: steroid use so rampant that it triggered a Congressional investigation. Everyone in baseball, along with many fans, now treats that era as one of the most disgraceful episodes in baseball history due to the fact that many of its biggest stars were revealed to have been either doping or engaging in other forms of cheating (like Sammy Sosa's corked bat), with MLB officials turning a blind eye due to the fact that the sport was popular again.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, and proceeded to not make the playoffs again until 2015; every single one of the other 29 MLB franchises made the postseason at least once in that timespan. They followed up the two championships with four consecutive losing seasons (55–60 in 1994note , 56–88 in 1995, 74–88 in 1996 and 76–86 in 1997). Longtime manager Cito Gaston was also fired by the management, and replaced by relative unknown Tim Johnston (who tried to motivate the players by lying about his service in the Vietnam War). Coupled with a severe attendance drop during those years (from which the franchise has only been starting to recover from), it wasn't a good time to be a Jays fan in the late 90's (or in the first fifteen years of the 21st century, for that matter).
  • When the Walt Disney Company took ownership of the then-California Angels in 1997 (on the heels of owning/creating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks), they changed the team name to the Anaheim Angels (in order to carve a niche for Anaheim being the home of Disneyland and Disney's sports) and ditched the signature halo logo for a periwinkle blue color scheme with an angel wing tip for its symbol. This lasted for only a few seasons before reverting back to an updated form of the old red-and-white/halo template as Disney phased itself out of its sports experiment in the early 2000s. (And as for the Mighty Ducks, they won the Stanley Cup the first year Disney relinquished ownership and the organization had rebranded itself as the Ducks, removing all logos and references to the Disney property.)
    • For what it's worth, though, it was under Disney's ownership that the Angels built the team that won the World Series in 2002. While many fans cheered the Mouse-Ears selling to Arte Moreno that year, Moreno has since wrecked the team by trying to make them the Yankees of the West Coast, giving the front office the edict to always sign the best player in free agency each year (in addition to the debacle over the city of Anaheim suing the team to keep their name with the team, forcing them to be called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim until 2016). This led to them dumping proven veterans like Vlad Guererro and Torii Hunter in order to eventually sign expensive contracts with declining superstars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. After two injury-plagued years that saw the latter fail to produce close to the numbers he had in Texas and admitting to a drug relapse, Moreno basically shunned Hamilton completely in the 2015 pre-season, and the Angels eventually handed him back to the Rangers, getting nothing in return and agreeing to still pay more than 80% of his remaining contract, which still had three years left. With the financial strain of that and the six more years on Pujols' deal and a depleted farm system, the Angels could very well be in for another longer Dork Age, despite them also having baseball's current best player, Mike Trout.
  • Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Dodgers also had a late-'90s Dork Age. They had been a crown jewel of baseball along with the Yankees and Cubs, having been a family-owned operation under the O'Malley family for fifty years dating back to their days in Brooklyn. They were also the ultimate sign of stability in baseball, having only going through one managerial change in 46 years. In 1998, the team was sold to FOX, who operated the team for six years. Among the moves made during that tenure:
    • Having more managers in the fold (Bill Russell, Davey Johnson, and Jim Tracy) than the previous 46 years combined.
    • Trading away face-of-the-franchise Mike Piazza, who continued his career as the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history with the New York Mets and was elected to the Hall of Fame as a Met.
    • Adding another color (silver) to their color scheme and alternate uniforms, something that the other "classic" franchises (New York, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago) had not done.
    • Giving away huge free-agent contracts that became incredible busts; they made ace starter Kevin Brown the first $100 million man in baseball despite being 33 and having a history of injuries (which would derail his Dodger career) and gave large deals to an aging, injured, and ineffective Andy Ashby and unproductive Darren Dreifort, who would suffer a career-derailing shoulder injury shortly after his new deal.
    • 2011 almost brought another. After the team made the playoffs four times from 2004–09, the divorce and antics of owner Frank McCourt appeared to derail the franchise. Attendance dropped below 3 million for the first time in almost twenty years, and most of the 2011 season was spent in the basement, filing for bankruptcy. However, a late-season Miracle Rally saw the Dodgers go from last place to a winning record; then 2012 saw the team finish second and sold to a group including LA sports legend Magic Johnson; with a new TV deal pumping serious cash into the franchise (though fans generally hate the deal itself for preventing most of the LA area from actually seeing Dodgers games on TV), the Dodgers have proceeded to dominate their division ever since.
  • Following their heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates saw superstar Barry Bonds and ace pitcher Doug Drabek leave in free agency (after Bobby Bonilla walked the previous year), and the team that had won the National League East three straight years would not have another winning season or playoff appearance until 2013.
  • Almost the entire history of the Philadelphia Phillies is a Dork Age. They have finished in the second division 75 times in 130 seasons, including 27 last-place finishes. They have lost more games than any other franchise in professional sports (The Washington Generals don't count). In their history they have won only two World Series, seven National League pennants, and appeared in the playoffs only 14 times. Their later flicker of hope — winning the 2008 Series, and returning to the playoffs the following three years (including having the best record in all of baseball in 2011) — ended when they finished in third in their division in 2012, fourth in 2013, and last in 2014, with the cherry on the cake coming in 2015 when they finished the season with the worst record in all of baseball.
  • The Philadelphia Athletics went through two Dork Ages following bursts of World Series success. The first was the result of the short-lived upstart Federal League poaching players from existing rosters, and A's manager and co-owner Connie Mack refusing to get into a bidding war, resulting in a first-place team in 1914 that had won three of the previous four World Series to fall to dead last in 1915, and the next six seasons after that. The Athletics did not have a winning record again until 1925, which marked the end of the Dork Age, as they put up winning records again for seven years straight, culminating in back-to-back World Series wins in 1929 and 1930, and a third straight appearance in 1931 where they pushed the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games.

    Unfortunately for the Athletics, The Great Depression would usher in a new Dork Age, one they would never recover from in Philadelphia. The financially strapped A's sold off their star players, and by 1935 they were in last place again. The A's built up the outfield wall along 20th Street to keep the houses across the way from siphoning away their already-dwindling attendance, but this "spite fence" only served to worsen the relationship between the team and the fans. Connie Mack's decreasing health and the passing of Jack Shibe didn't help matters either, and the Phillies moving in to Shibe Park in 1938 failed to significantly boost the Athletics' revenue, as they too had attendance problems. Mack, who had managed the team since its debut in 1901, was finally forced to step down after the disastrous 1950 season, eventually selling Shibe Park to the Phillies, and the A's to Arthur Johnson before he passed away in 1956. The A's woes continued in Kansas City (as noted in the Yankees section above), even after Charlie O. Finley purchased the club (and shopped it around to multiple cities), as their fortunes did not turn around until their arrival in Oakland.
    • Finley's decision to outfit the A's in white shoes in 1967, combined with the colorful Kelly green and gold uniforms implemented a few seasons earlier, led many contemporary ballplayers to consider this a sartorial Dork Age for the A's. However, they weren't laughing when the A's won three straight World Series in the early 1970s. Nevertheless, the white shoes were retired once Finley sold the team, and the A's gradually returned to more traditionally styled uniforms.
  • The Houston Astros went through one in the late 2000s and early 2010s, starting shortly after their sole World Series appearance to date in 2005. Years of signing aging players to large deals, overvaluing a few mediocre free agents, not spending on the draft, and trading away prospects left the team with an aging core incapable of competing and no help in the minor leagues. After a prolonged decline, the team was finally sold in 2010 (with the league forcing the new owner to move the team to the American League after over five decades in the National League, a move which angered many long-time fans). Things only got worse, as the new front office decided the only way to rebuild was to trade off anyone worth mentioning, which further disappointed fans, who had grown attached to the leaders on the rather weak rosters. After that, the team went on a record streak of three straight seasons with the worst record in baseball, losing 324 games from 2011-2013 (and picking up the three #1 draft picks that went with it). There were other minor issues along the way, like trouble negotiating a television contract that left most of the surrounding area unable to see games; unknowingly drafting an injured player first overall (due to teams not having access to medical records before the draft) and not signing him as a result; and having their central database hacked and some of the results leaked. Thankfully, the end of the Dork Age came in 2015, with the team making the playoffs as a Wild Card team (after having just come short of the AL West division championship), their top prospects (acquired thanks to fire sale trades and good draft positions from their tanking) making a splash in the majors, the television contract finally working out for more fans to view the games, and a still-strong minor league system. Even the hacking was resolved, with it being tied to members of the front office of their former NL rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. And then in 2017, they won their first World Series crown.
  • The Minnesota Twins have had a succession of dark ages interspersed with periods of true brilliance. Their pre-move incarnation, the Washington Senators, were so legendarily bad through much of their existence (with the exception of The Roaring '20s, in which the franchise won its first - and for six decades only - World Series championship), that San Francisco sports writer Charley Dryden once quipped, "Washington: First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." The novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant was written riffing on the team's legendary badness, and made into the musical Damn Yankees. After their move to Minnesota at the end of the 1960 season, the team rapidly rose to prominence, winning the American League pennant in 1965 before losing the World Series in seven games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They won the newly-formed AL West twice before this period of prominence came to an end, but end it did, and the team's longest dork age in Minnesota (and the worst uniform in its history) lasted from 1971 until 1984, a period in which arose the team's lasting nickname, the Twinkies. This era marked some of the most shamefully bad play in the franchise's history and ended when the notoriously stingy Griffith family sold the team to local banking magnate Carl Pohlad. 1993 marked the beginning of its second dork age, which lasted until 2000, which was denoted by a number of fading stars with origins in the Twin Cities (which wasn't all bad - Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor each had reasonably productive years in Minnesota and bagged their 3000th hits wearing Twins pinstripes, but it also brought several infamous loads to the Metrodome), forcing it to rely for the majority of its pitching and run production on players who really should have spent a lot more time developing in the minors, and the third one began in 2011, peaking with MLB's worst record in 2016 after what appeared to be a ray of light with a competitive 2015. For a time, it looked like the competitive 2015 season was indeed a harbinger of better things, as the Twins grabbed a wild-card berth in 2017, with Molitor being named AL Manager of the Year. However, they finished under .500 in 2018 and a mile out of playoff contention, after which Molitor was shown the door.
  • After winning the 1985 World Series, the Kansas City Royals didn't make the playoffs again until 2014, with their nadir coming in the mid-2000s. However, all the pain eventually paid off when the Royals won the World Series again in 2015 (the 30th anniversary of their previous championship, at that). And many hoped they make the Playoffs again however they fell off the track midseason when the Indians got hot taking 1st place in the AL Central, and as of 9/30 2016 officially eliminated from playoff contention. It's since gotten even worse, with the Royals not even winning 60 games in 2018.
  • The Chicago Cubs were in a 108-year Dork Age, having not won the World Series since 1908 until finally winning it all in 2016 and, up until 2016, hadn't won a National League pennant since 1945. Such highlights include:
    • Blowing a nine-game lead in the newly christened NL East to the New York Mets in 1969, a team that was the poster child of bottom feeder since their inception in 1962
    • After crushing the San Diego Padres in Game 1 and having the bullpen clamp down on San Diego in Game 2 of the 1984 NLCS, the Padres managed to fight back, and defeated the Cubs in Game 5. The highlight of this is a ground ball that went through Cubs star Leon Durham's legs, opening up the door to four Padres crossing the plate.
    • In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, then-manager Dusty Baker left the starting pitcher Mark Prior on the mound in the top of the 8th. After Steve Bartman infamously deflected a Luis Castillo foul ball from Moises Alou's glove, the Marlins rallied and scored due to (among other things) a fatigued Mark Prior and an Alex Gonzalez error, taking the lead from the Cubs and winning the game (and, ultimately, the series).
    • However, 13 years later, the Cubs' 71-year pennant drought finally ended on October 22, 2016, when they won the NLCS against the Dodgers in 6 games.
    • On November 2nd, 2016, the Cubs in extra innings beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 after coming back from a 3-1 deficient not to mention an array of late-game boners on the part of manager Joe Maddon that allowed the Indians to tie 6-6 and force the extra innings in the first place. Coincidentally, this means they went through a situation similar to the previous champs, the Royals, in that they had endured a long drought before making the playoffs one year and winning the Losers' Seriesnote  the next.
  • And Chicago's other team, the White Sox, suffered this for forty years after the "Black Sox" scandal in 1919, when several players threw the World Series in order to collect on gambling bets; eight players (most notably "Shoeless" Joe Jackson) were banned from the sport for life, and the team would not win another pennant for forty years. While the team went back to being good in the '50s and early '60s, including beating the Yankees in the American League Championship Series in 1959, they fell back into this from the late '60s through the '80s, with the "Disco Demolition Night" debacle in 1979 being a low point and only a division title in 1983 salvaging the era; there was talk of moving the team to Denver or Tampa. The White Sox went back to quality in the '90s and '00s, culminating in them breaking the "Curse of the Black Sox" and winning the World Series in 2005. The '10s, however, seem to have seen them slide back into a Dork Age, with losing seasons every year since 2013, including 100 losses in 2018.

    Mixed Martial Arts 
  • When Tim Sylvia held the UFC Heavyweight Championship, it was considered to be the lowest point for UFC's heavyweight division. Not helping matters was the fact that most of the premier heavyweights (Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Josh Barnett, Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, and Heath Herring) were all in PRIDE during the majority of his reign, while Randy Couture had dropped down to light heavyweight and then retired. On top of that, Frank Mir had not fully recovered from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. With those factors in mind, Sylvia's reign was most known for lack of top flight competition and less than exciting fights that often went the distance. Two things ended this dork age: one, the UFC debut of Mirko Cro Cop in February 2007. Two, Randy Couture's victory over Sylvia a month later.
  • The entire Japanese MMA scene is a shadow of what it was before PRIDE disbanded. Rumors of Yakuza involvement and match fixing kept UFC from its original plan of running PRIDE as a separate organisation, most of the international fighters moved to the American organisations (UFC and Strikeforce) and none of the smaller Japanese promotions (DREAM, DEEP, Shooto, Pancrase, Rizin, ONE FC) reached similar level of popularity and prestige as PRIDE.
  • UFC middleweight division from 2008 (Silva vs. Côté) to 2010 (Silva vs. Maia). Despite Anderson Silva being the best MMA fighter in the world at the time, UFC really struggled to find good competition for him. This period was marred by bouts against grapplers who refused to engage Silva on the feet, even to take him down. Silva meanwhile was showboating and waiting for opponents to engage (since he is known as a counter-fighter). Result? Boring 5 round fights (except against Côté, who injured his knee in the 3rd) with little to no activity and crowds turning against Silva. The dork age ended when Chael Sonnen became the no. 1 contender, unleashed some of the most vicious trash talk and self promotion ever seen in the UFC and then almost backed it up by beating up Silva for over 4 rounds, before getting caught in a triangle choke in the 5th. After that Silva's opposition improved (most notably with a Sonnen rematch and a dream bout with Vitor Belfort), but his showboating finally got the better of him when he lost the title after getting KO'd by Chris Weidman.

    • While the NASCAR Cup Series seemed to hit its peak in popularity around the start of the 21st century, many seemed to think it's been in a Dork Age since shortly thereafter, due to a number of events:
      • Anti-climactic finishes for the championship: From 1998-2003, only one season (2002) didn't end with the champion clinching before the last race, and four of six titles ended with a 200+ point blowout, causing people to lose interest toward the end of the season due to the string of Foregone Conclusions. This reached a peak in 2003 when Matt Kenseth at one point accumulated a 436-point lead (which eventually dwindled to 90 points over Jimmie Johnson by the end of the year, but was still 228 the week before the end, in a system that gave 180-185 points to the race winner) - while winning only one race the whole year (Las Vegas). This led to a major format change that caused a Broken Base in the form of…
      • The Chase for the Cup, now officially known as the "NASCAR playoffs", beginning in 2004, which includes a points reset to bunch the top ten drivers in points (then the top twelve starting in 2007, then the top ten plus the two winningest from 11th-20th from 2011 to 2013, and since 2014 the 16 drivers with the most race wins in the 26-race "regular season"note ) together in order to try to encourage tighter battles for the title. While the actual points margins have certainly been smaller, fans in general (especially older ones) feel that the whole setup is artificial and goes against the nature of racing, and it has only heated the argument as to whether or not NASCAR should increase the number of points for a win to give wins much more prominence over consistent top ten finishes. This was ultimately addressed by NASCAR before the 2014 season, with its announcement that playoff spots would now be determined mostly by race wins. It obviously remains to be seen how much, or whether, this change will help matters.
      • The dominance of Jimmie Johnson. Jeff Gordon has been a polarizing figure for his career for being a California transplant coming in and winning, but at least he would occasionally crack a smile, show charisma and make it look like he might actually have some good ol’ boy in him. Johnson (whose car is owned by Gordon) has been a politically correct milquetoast personality that Madison Avenue loves but has never been popular with racing fans that prefer characters. Add that to him taking advantage of the aforementioned Chase format to win five consecutive championships (breaking Cale Yarborough’s record of three straight) and holding six as of 2015 to put him just one behind legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, and he made racing boring for quite a few old guard fans. Although, Jimmie is slowly getting respect by the fans after he started to not win constantly, as fans slowly started to realize that no matter what, Jimmie will be remembered as one of NASCAR's greats.
      • Several rules changes, with the biggest perhaps being the “freeze the field” rule that immediately halts racing the instant a caution flag comes out rather than allowing drivers to race back to the line first. This led to NASCAR having to make even more changes to try and avoid a race ending under yellow, finally agreeing to add the “green-white-checker” rule (the race is extended past the scheduled # of laps to allow two last laps of racing if needed). While this has been the best possible option to ensure fans got to see an actual race finish, it still irked some fans who felt such conditions “cheapened a race win coming longer than the actual # of miles ran.
      • The "Car of Tomorrow", which was introduced in 2007 with its splitter replacing the front bumper and rear wing replacing the spoiler; the new car was among several new safety mandates NASCAR introduced after Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 (which sadly may have been the incident that spiked NASCAR's popularity in the early 2000s). Despite doing its job as far as safety - no one has died in a crash after four died from 2000-01 - drivers complained about its handling and fans complained about boring racing as a result. The car was announced to be discontinued as of 2013, replaced by the more-similar-to-a-road-car-looking Generation 6 cars.
      • Taking races away from the older, classic tracks in the South in favor of trying to expand the sport’s exposure across the country. Since 1996, North Wilkesboro and Rockingham have been completely removed from the schedule, while Darlington and Atlanta have been cut down to one race weekend each. Quite a few of these moves only led to lower attendance numbers at the newer tracks once they got extra dates (giving a second date to California, including the Labor Day race held in Darlington for years, may have been the biggest disaster; though when California is reduced to one race only (the spring one), it's been mostly a success; Darlington eventually returned to its traditional Labor Day date in 2015) and alienated fans who loved racing at the shorter, unique tracks over the cookie-cutter 1.5-to-2 mile tri-ovals that have gradually taking over the schedule.
      • Too much emphasis on downforce. The continually-rising amount of downforce in the car led to procession races; i.e. races when one car took the lead and stayed there until the next pit stop stint, a restart caused by a caution period, or said car finished the race. This went Up to Eleven when NASCAR tested two new downforce packages (one low, one high) in 2015 after it is apparent that the normal 2015 package (which tend to go to high) was a mess. The races with the low-downforce package were met with extremely positive reviews. Those with the high-downforce package? Extremely negative reviews. Despite NASCAR originally insisting on the high-downforce package, they relented and went to the low-downforce package in 2016, which we can say has been a huge success so far. Given NASCAR is now willing to reduce even more downforce, this might be a starting step for NASCAR to remove themselves from its Dork Age.
    • NASCAR teams that drift into Dork Ages tend not to recover - see Morgan-McClure Motorsports, for example, rising stars of the early nineties who lost Sterling Marlin after a mediocre 1997 season - and only posted one more top ten points finish before shutting down 10 years later.
    • Roush Fenway Racing. Problems include slowly slipping performance through the late 2000's that's become a landslide in the last couple years, major drivers abandoning the team,note  major sponsors following suit,note  and highly touted Young Gun drivers who prove to be epic busts at the Cup level.note  An owner who seems more concerned with micromanaging every other owner in his manufacturer (Ford) camp than actually overseeing his in-house teams, and is known for embarrassing, even borderline-racist, statements about rival teams and manufacturers, along with unconfirmed reports of cheating? Check. Rebellion against said micromanagement by the out-of-house teams? Check.note  It seems like far longer than the 14 years it's been since Roush was able to post back-to-back championships (with Kenseth in 2003 and Kurt Busch in 2004) and seemed on the verge of knocking off Rick Hendrick and Chevrolet to re-establish Ford as NASCAR's top manufacturer.
  • MotoGP:
    • Valentino Rossi's time with Ducati. It was hyped so much by the public, but turned out to be a massive failure. Zero victories, just 3 podiums in 2 seasons, pretty high crash rate (unusual for Valentino), and sometimes battling against Aprilia CRT'snote  is pretty embarrassing for the legend. Fortunately, once he returned to Yamaha, after one year of adapting back, we can say that he's back to the top.
    • The 800cc engine era. Manufacturers dropped out left and right; with Ilmor's project imploding before the 2007 season even reaches halfway, Team KR quietly folding in 2008, Kawasaki stopped racing there in 2008 as well (although Marco Melandri and Forward Racing [then Hayate Racing] ran the Kawasaki's for one last season in 2009), and Suzuki announced a sabbatical at the end of the 2011 season; leaving only Yamaha, Ducati, and Honda still competing by the end of the 2011 season. Rossi's injury in 2010 and subsequent poor form in Ducati mentioned above also hurts them as well. The condition was so bad that in 2012, MotoGP only effectively had 12 manufacturer bikes remaining on the gridnote , with the rest are filled with somewhat-hopeless backmarkers from the then-recently introduced CRT class. This cjanged for the better when Ducati's Loophole Abuse on the Open Class rules in 2014 actually helped the sport, because this means any manufacturer who participated in MotoGP can have more freedom in their bike development depending on their results the previous season so they could catch up to the main factory bikes (which many considered to be Yamaha and Honda). In addition, a shake-up in the tires (from Bridgestone to Michelin) as well as a ban on manufacturer-specific ECUs helped bringing a closer competition as well. The result? Manufacturers are joining one-by-one (Suzuki returned in 2015, Aprilia quietly returned in 2015, and KTM made their debut in 2017); and the 2016 season saw a whopping 9 different race winners and 4 different manufacturers winning at least one race during the season; with some saying 2016 to be one of the best seasons ever.
  • Formula One: Since late 2012, constant debates on "man versus machine" began deeming the motorsport a dork age with DRS (Drag Reduction System) technology providing "fake overtakes" as well as the domination of Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel, who won four world champions in the controversial "best cars" by 2013. The backdrafts, however, started went out of control in 2014 with the hybrid V6 turbo engine, which failed the huge expectation from the sport: The engines are too quiet, the cars are significantly slower, and the domination reign simply changed to another team. YouTube comments cannot shut up on how bad the sport is compared to the 80s, which doesn't help when drivers and the elites themselves are not happy with the technology over-assisted cars providing "boring" races.
  • Open wheel racing in North America: The Split, full stop, in which Tony George founded the Indy Racing League to compete with Champ Car in anger over how much control the richest teams had over the league. The rivalry between the two leagues got vicious until Champ Car reunited with IRL following their bankruptcy. It was only in the late 2010's-about ten years after the merger-that people felt the effects of The Split were no longer affecting IndyCar.

    National Basketball Association 
  • Michael Jordan, the famed basketball player, playing professional baseball. Even he admits he wasn't that good and that it was mostly a chance to clear his head after his father's death, a process not fully completed until he helped classic Looney Tunes characters triumph over the diabolical Mon-Stars. Tin-foil heads have a great conspiracy theory that states he was secretly suspended for a year for a gambling problem. There's no proof, but few people would be surprised. Also, Washington Wizards MJ, tragically immortalized in the otherwise outstanding NBA Street 2. What's worse, they even included Jordan 'Classic', from his Bulls days, who's a much better player than the Wizards Jordan.
  • There was the seismic collapse of the Chicago Bulls after their second three-peat. Michael Jordan retired for the second time. Phil Jackson sat out the next season and resurfaced as the new head coach of the Lakers. Luc Longley, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, and Dennis Rodman all left as well. Chicago wouldn't see the playoffs again until 2005.
  • The New York Knicks have been in a Dork Age since 1973, the last year they won the championship, especially since they have only made the NBA Finals twice in the more than 40 years. But the years following that last Finals trip in 1999 have been especially lean. The Knicks have only made it past the first round of the playoffs once since 2001, missing the playoffs 10 times in that span. They have brought in the likes of Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas and even Phil Jackson to turn things around, and yet things just seem to get worse and worse. Jackson’s first year as team president saw them hit rock bottom, as their 17 wins in 2014–15 were the fewest in franchise history - for a team that dates back to the NBA’s founding, including the early years where they played at least 20 games fewer in a season than they do now. Not helping is Jackson's Born in the Wrong Century attitude, as he repeatedly made statements on how teams could not win titles if their offense revolves around three-point shooting. Knicks fans facepalmed as four of the top five 3-point shooting teams made the conference finals (with the fifth team, the Clippers, knocked out the previous round) with the title going to the Golden State Warriors, led by MVP Stephen Curry, who broke his own record for most 3s made in a season, as well as setting a new playoff record.
  • The '90s in general were this for any team who weren't the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets, but no one had it worse than the Dallas Mavericks - as in, no one had a worse winning percentage in that decade among all the major pro sports franchises. They missed the playoffs for 10 straight years, in a league where eighth place gets you in. They were most known for trying to build around the trio of Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn (who were nicknamed "The 3 J's") and it failed due to them bickering over who got to date Toni Braxton. The owner who traded them off, Ross Perot Jr., cared more about building real estate around their upcoming new arena than winning. Finally, one Mavericks fan decided he could run the team better - and realized he had the money to back it up. The Dork Age ended when Mark Cuban bought the team from Perot in January 2000; the Mavs returned to the playoffs the next year and would not miss out again until 2013, finally winning it all in 2011.
  • The '90s were also unkind to several NBA teams fashion-wise, with the popularity of screenprinting; the sublimated dye process allowing teams to create graphic-laden jerseys without excessive amounts of embroidery, or less durable heat-transferred vinyl appliques. However, some of the designs were not well-received in the long run.
    • The Philadelphia 76ers adopted this star-laden look that was more fitting for an All-Star team. (The actual All-Star jerseys from that time weren't that far off, either.) Another team that experimented in the early 90s: the New Jersey Nets, whose tie-dye road jerseys only lasted one season.
    • Even though the Sixers dropped those jerseys after just a few years, several other teams throughout the league got Screen Fever. Even the two-time champion Rockets weren't immune. Among some of the other questionable looks of the 90s: Atlanta, Cleveland, Milwaukee (just a third jersey, thankfully); Toronto, Utah, and Detroit.
  • Prior to this, the NBA had a Dork Age for most of The '70s. Unlike the '50s and '60s which were dominated by the Boston Celtics, the '80s, which saw the epic Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry and the rise of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan, and the '90s, which was the decade of the Chicago Bulls, the '70s did not have a single dominating team standing out from the rest. Many times, you never knew whether a team would be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs or go all the way to the Finals, and overall, there was too much parity for comfort. Then there was the lack of exciting, highlight reel-quality players outside of Julius Erving and David Thompson. And Thompson, Spencer Haywood, and Marvin Barnes were among many NBA players with known drug problems in a decade when cocaine use among athletes was in vogue; the NBA being a league of cokeheads didn't sit well with a lot of fans.
  • In a similar vein to most fans' reactions to NBA's 90's screen fever, most times when NBA teams strays from their traditional colors and/or look are seen as a stylistic Dork Age by said teams' fans note . Perhaps fittingly, many of the most controversial changes started or occurred during The90s.
    • In 1996, the Detroit Pistons switched their primary colors from the Blue and Red of the Bad Boys era to a Teal and Burgundy combination that was loathed by the fanbase. And that's not even getting into the very gaudy logo that Detroit used at that time. Pistons fans derisively refer to this era (1996-2001) as the "Teal Era".
    • The Golden State Warriors underwent a drastic style change after being purchased by Chris Cohan in 1997, abandoning the Blue and Yellow they had worn since they moved to the Bay and utilizing an Orange and Navy Blue color scheme. Unsurprisingly, fans cheered when new owner Joe Lacob announced the return of Blue and Yellow in 2010 note . That being said, the second iteration (worn from 2001-2010) of the Orange-and-Navy jerseys (nicknamed the "We Believe" Jerseys due to their association with the Dubs' upset of the Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs) has been viewed more favorably among the fanbase; so much so that the Warriors revived said jerseys during Golden State's last game at Oracle Arena. note .
    • After their 1995 Championship, the Houston Rockets replaced the plain red, white, and yellow look that the team sported during most of their history with an drastically different Red and Dark Gray aesthetic that featured weirdly pinstriped Jerseys and a logo that featured a snarling cartoon rocket. Fans didn't miss that look very much after the team introduced a more stylish red and white look during the Yao Ming era.
    • Fans of the Utah Jazz had endlessly debated over the Jazz's decision in 1996 to abandon the music note logo that they had worn since the very beginning in favor of a logo that emphasized the Wasatch mountain range. Supporters of the logo change note that the many iterations of the "Mountain" logo are more emblematic of Utah, while opponents have bemoaned that said logos had no "Jazz" elements in them. Perhaps in response, the Jazz returned to using the Music note logo in their Jerseys in 2010, before completely abandoning the Mountain logo and making the Music note the primary logo in 2016.
    • Cleveland Cavaliers fans weren't too keen on the team changing their colors from red and gold to orange and blue in 1983. The 1995 switch to black and light blue was received more poorly, in part due to the horrible uniforms that the Cavs wore during that time period. The return of red was celebrated in 2003, although the arrival of Lebron James may have played a factor into that.
  • Los Angeles Lakers:
    • One down period for the Los Angeles Lakers was the early to mid 90's. After the "Showtime" team effectively disbanded with Magic Johnson's AIDS's induced retirement, the Lakers went from being a Championship contender to an also-ran in the Western Conference. Despite having young stars such as Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Vlade Divac, and Cedric Ceballos, the Lakers were pretty much first or second round playoff fodder, with the proud franchise even missing the playoffs in 1994. Acquiring Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996 put the Lakers on the upswing, but the Dork Age only truly ended when Phil Jackson was hired and the Lakers won the 2000 NBA Finals.
    • A more severe dark age started in The New '10s, and may still be going strong up to now. After winning 2 championships with the Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol-Phil Jackson core, the aging Lakers started to fall behind in a competitive Western Conference that featured both veteran contenders (e.g the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs) and young, promising squads (the Oklahoma City Thunder and LA Clippers). After the NBA blocked the Lakers' attempt to trade for Chris Paul, the Lakers took a page out of the Miami Heat's book and built a "superteam" by bringing in superstars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash through trades in 2012. The experiment backfired spectacularly; the Lakers struggled en route to an 8th seed in the play offs and got swept by the San Antonio Spurs. (And to make it worse, longtime owner Jerry Buss died that season). The next season was a lot harsher, as Dwight Howard left for Houston, Kobe and Steve Nash were out for almost the entire season thanks to injuries, and the Lakers ended up missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The pain train just kept chugging on for the Lakers as The New '10s continued; superstars (e.g. Pau Gasol) left, an aging Kobe Bryant struggled with injuries, co-owner Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak filled the once proud franchise with scrubs (e.g. Ed Davis, Ronnie Price) that would've been cut from past Laker squads, and the Lakers kept missing out on the playoffs. The 2015-16 Lakers ended up posting their worst record in franchise history, 17–65, though retiring star Kobe Bryant went out in style with a season-leading 60-point performance in his final game. While Kobe's retirement did give the Lakers a huge amount of cap room, his salary came off the books at the exact time that the league's huge new TV deal gave many teams lots of cap room as well, rendering the Lakers' advantage moot. Things started to go on an upward trend when Jim Buss and Kupchak were finally let go by Jim's sister and co-owner Jeanie and were succeeded by Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. After improving to 35 wins, the Lakers managed to get LeBron James in free agency, but another season out of the playoffs proved that the Lakers weren't out of the woods just yet. Time will tell whether their recent acquisition of Anthony Davis puts an end to the Lakers' misery.
      • To make matters worse for Lakers fans, the Lakers' most recent decline coincided with two perennially tortured California teams, the Los Angeles Clippers (commonly mocked by many as the "other team" in LA) and the Golden State Warriors, becoming perennial powerhouses. The Clippers, who already had young stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, rose to prominence once they obtained Chris Paul and took the league by storm with their high-flying "Lob City" offense. Once the Lob City era ended, the Clippers built quietly around a younger squad before signing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and becoming a contender once again. The Warriors slowly built their team thru the draft and free agency (culminating in the blockbuster signing of Kevin Durant in 2016), and later became known for their high-scoring perimeter offense (which featured "Splash Brothers" Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) and an underrated yet suffocating defense, which would lead to the Dubs upstaging both LA teams by dominating the league and winning the title in 2015, 2017, and 2018 (with all wins coming against LeBron James himself!). If the Kings' youthful yet promising team gets its act together, then the Lakers might end up being the butt of jokes in the State of California.
  • Given that the Golden State Warriors have been the NBA's best (and most hated) team since the middle of The New '10s, it's tough to remember that they were a complete joke from 1975 to 2015. The Warriors were actually a decent to good team during their early years (first in Philadelphia until 1962, then in the San Francisco Bay Area since then), boasting three Championships (in 1947 note , 1956, and 1975), and NBA legends such as Joe Fulks, Al Attles, Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond, and Rick Barry. In the years following the 1975 Championship, though, it was constant pain for Warriors fans, as the Dubs turned into one of the league's whipping boys thanks to constant playoff misses, bad draft choices (e.g. Joe Barry Carroll and Chris Washburn), and uninspired player transactions (the team let go of Robert Parish, who became a key member of the 80's Celtics' dynasty). There was some respite in the late 80's and early 90's, as the fast-paced Run TMC trio wowed fans with their lightning-fast play and high-octane offense. Unfortunately, the end of the Run TMC era ushered in an even darker period from 1994 to 2012 when the Dubs missed the playoffs every season except for a one-off cameo in 2007 (known as the "We Believe" Warriors). Despite some bright spots (the aforementioned "We Believe" team and their upset of the first-seed Mavericks, the presence of studs such as Antawn Jamison and Jason Richardson), that period was filled with crappy draft picks (Joe Smith over Kevin Garnett, Todd Fuller over Kobe Bryant etc.), poor personnel decisions (huge contracts given to scrubs like Erick Dampier and Andris Biedriņš, signing past-their-prime players like Terry Cummings and John Starks), and several controversies (Latrell Sprewell choking his coach, Monta Ellis getting into a moped accident). The Warriors fans' suffering would come to a close as the Warriors ended up getting a much-needed ownership change, while smartly using key draft picks (mostly earned from near-constant suckitude) on building blocks such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Such a transition ended up bringing the Dubs back into the playoffs in 2013, and a further coaching change reaped four NBA Finals appearances, three championships, an NBA record for regular-season wins, an NBA playoffs record, and Kevin Durant, ensuring that the stench of the Dubs' 40-year long Dork Age is pretty much dead and gone.
  • The storied Boston Celtics also had quite the dark age of their own once the star-studded Larry Bird-led teams of the 80's fell apart. The Dork Age began on a tragic note, as Bird's would-be successor Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose. The Celtics would still remain competitive for a while, but Larry Bird's numerous back and foot issues would start to plague the team as they fell from a Title Contender to an also-ran. Boston would drop like a stone once The '90s started rolling: Larry Bird retired in 1992, promising young star Reggie Lewis died in 1993 due to heart issues, aging stars Kevin McHale and Robert Parish left the team, and a gutted Celtics team would miss the playoffs for the first time in 1994. The Celtics then spent the middle part of the decade retooling their roster with younger players, with some panning out (Dino Radja, Dee Brown, Davis Wesley, Rick Fox) and some flopping (Eric Montross, Eric Williams, Dana Barros), but could never quite get over the hump in a stacked Eastern Conference, culminating in the team losing a franchise-record 67 games in 1996. While the playoff misses continued as the 90's drew to a close, the Celtics seemed to be on the way to renewed glory under renowned college coach Rick Pitino, sporting younger stars like Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, and Antoine Walker. While the likes of Pitino and Billups ended up as relative disappointments, Pierce would end up becoming the Celtics' newest franchise player. His rise to stardom coincided with the team crawling back to respectability in the 2000's, culminating in Boston finally winning their 17th Championship in 2008 once Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen arrived.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers have had three distinctive Dark Periods in their history, following mostly the same pattern (Sixers lose stars, try to rebuild, then succeed once they stumble upon a star player)
    • After Wilt Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers in 1967, the Sixers spiraled downhill as star players Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham followed suit, which led to the team missing the playoffs for the first time ever in 1972. Next season saw the team reach new lows, as a depleted Sixers squad containing a past-it Hal Greer and a bunch of nobodies posted a 9-73 record, which stood for the longest time as the worst ever season record in NBA history. Philly bounced back to playoff contention shortly afterwards, signing George McGinnis, drafting Darryl Dawkins, and hiring Gene Shue as coach. The Sixers then acquired Julius Erving from the Nets after 1976's ABA-NBA merger, which brought the team back into the ranks of the NBA's elite.
    • While Erving's retirement didn't hurt the Sixers too much due to the emergence of Charles Barkley, Barkley's own trade to the Phoenix Suns brought the team down to mediocrity throughout the mid-90's. Said period was characterized by constant playoff misses, free agency disappointments (e.g. Scott Skiles, Charles Shackleford, an aging Orlando Woolridge), draft busts (Shawn Bradley over Penny Hardaway, Sharone Wright over Eddie Jones), and ugly, star-laden uniforms. Philadelphia would only climb back to respectability soon after they drafted Allen Iverson first overall in 1996.
    • After failed attempts to rebuild in the post-Iverson era left the Sixers as an Eastern Conference also-ran in the early New Tens, new Sixers GM Sam Hinkie proceeded to do the unthinkable and spent the 2013 offseason trading away star player Jrue Holiday and letting go of other key veterans, intending to build the 76ers from scratch with youth. Hinkie's plan (nicknamed "The Process") was to have the team constantly struggling, which would earn the Sixers high draft picks that they would then use to draft a youthful and talented core of players for the future. Unfortunately, the plan didn't quite work out as well at first, with 2014 draftee Joel Embiid and 2016 draftee Ben Simmons missing significant time due to injuries (Embiid missed his first two seasons, while Simmons missed his rookie season), while the other picks (Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter Williams, Jahlil Okafor, Markelle Fultz) wound up as relative disappointments. The Sixers' continued ineptitude and lack of progress led many to believe at that time that "The Process" was a failure, which may have contributed to Hinkie's resignation in 2016. "The Process" finally paid off once Embiid and Simmons overcame their injury issues and made their long-awaited debuts in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as the two of them became All-Star talents and subsequently brought the 76ers back into playoff contention in 2018.
  • The Portland Trailblazers' "Jail Blazer" era of the early to mid-2000's is considered to be this by Blazers fans. At the start of the "Jail Blazers" era, the Trailblazers played host to players with frequent off-the-court troubles such as Rasheed Wallace, Qyntel Woods, Zach Randolph, Darius Miles, Bonzi Wells, Ruben Patterson, and Damon Stoudamire. While the team remained successful at first, fans weren't receptive to the frequent legal troubles of the teams' stars. Portland attempted to improve the team's image by trading away the troublesome Wallace and Wells in 2003, but that only served to mire the Trailblazers in mediocrity while the on-and-off the court issues of the remaining "Jail Blazers" (e.g. Patterson, Randolph, Miles) continued to alienate fans. It wasn't until the latter part of the decade that Portland's fortunes improved; by that time, many of the "Jail Blazers" had left, and the Blazers would proceed to build around talented AND relatively trouble-free young stars such as La Marcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy note  .

    NCAA Men's Basketball 
  • If ever there was a Tough Act to Follow in sports, it's being one of the successors to John Wooden, who retired as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins in 1975 after 620 wins and 10 national championships. His immediate replacement, Gene Bartow, came in for the inevitable criticism, but did pretty well for himself, going 52-9 in 2 years before getting hired by the University of Alabama at Birmingham to start their basketball program from scratch. His replacement, Gary Cunningham, kept up a similar pace, with a 50-8 record in two years. But Cunningham, who felt more comfortable as an administrator than as a coach, suddenly quit to become an athletic director at an NAIA college in Oregon. In the eight seasons after that, they went through three head coaches, only won two Pac-10 championships, and only once got past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. That time was under future Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown in 1979–80, the season after Cunningham left. Brown coached a freshman-dominated team that finished fourth in the Pac-10 all the way to the NCAA championship game, losing to Louisville. He left in 1981, just before the NCAA wiped the Bruins' 1980 tournament appearance from the books when it found that two players on that team were ineligible.Postscript  They finally got back to a successful level with the hiring of Jim Harrick as head coach in 1988, ultimately winning a national championship in the 1994-95 season. The next season, going in as a strong contender to repeat, they instead got stunned in the first round by Princeton, in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. That would be Harrick's last game at UCLA; he got fired after it was revealed that he tried to cover up an incident where he paid for a dinner involving two of his players, a violation of NCAA rules. Since then, it's been a struggle for UCLA to rekindle past glory.
    • Harrick's replacement Steve Lavin took them to six straight NCAA tournaments, but could never get his team past the Sweet Sixteen. Then came the disastrous 2002-03 season, when the Bruins finished 10-19, their first losing season since 1947-48 (the season before John Wooden was hired). This included losses to Northern Arizona and the University of San Diego. Lavin was dumped at the end of the season.
    • After a modest start, Lavin's replacement Ben Howland took UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours. After that, however, the program quickly faded. The Bruins went 14-18 in 2009-10, including losses to two of the lesser lights of college basketball in SoCal, Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. A Pac-12 regular season title in 2012 was wiped away by a loss in the conference tournament, then a 20-point humiliation in the NCAA Round of 64 by Minnesota. Howland was fired.
    • Once again the Bruins turned to a young coach named Steve, but Steve Alford proved to be no different than Steve Lavin, as again they failed to make it past the Sweet Sixteen. The last straw came in the 2018–19 season, with a 73–58 loss to Liberty (yes, the university founded by Jerry Falwell), at home in the storied confines of Pauley Pavilion. Alford was let go 13 games into the season. And in a weird symmetry, the Bruins named assistant Murry Bartow as interim coach for the rest of the season. Yes, he's the son of the aforementioned Gene Bartow.
    • And after the end of the season, it became painfully clear just how much the UCLA program had fallen—according to one veteran sportswriter, "Kentucky coach John Calipari shamelessly used UCLA to the point of embarrassment... taking the school’s interest and reported contract offer and flipping it into a so-called ‘lifetime’ contract [at UK]." The same writer closed his story with "A program that for decades was a fixture at the Final Four will be there this season only as the butt of punchlines." Next came a stab at TCU coach Jamie Dixon, who had an $8 million buyout clause. That didn't stop the Bruins from talking with him, and even coming close to a deal... but then when UCLA realized that TCU would hold firm to its buyout amount, it backed off. Another veteran sportswriter used the terms "misguided" and "nonsensical" to describe the coaching search... and that was before another SEC coach, Tennessee's Rick Barnes, fresh off a season that saw the Volunteers reach the #1 ranking in the polls a couple of times (note Volunteers, not Lady Volunteers), reportedly used UCLA in much the same way Calipari had. An admittedly biased post from a site that reports on Kentucky sports said, "In an ironic twist, the UCLA basketball coaching search has turned into a bigger joke than Tennessee football’s last coaching search, all thanks to the Tennessee basketball coach." The Bruins finally lured Mick Cronin from Cincinnati.

    NCAA Football 
  • After receiving the NCAA's first-ever "death penalty" (banned from playing games for two years) in 1987,note  Southern Methodist University would have only one winning season and no bowl games in the 20 years after that, until June Jones took over as coach for the 2008 season and ended the drought the next year.
  • The Southwest Conference's breakup in 1995 (which many blame as a result of the SMU Death Penalty) led to Dork Ages for most of the schools that didn't immediately go to the Big 12 Conference. TCU, SMU, Houston and Rice have combined to change conferences 11 times since the SWC's end.note  Only TCU has produced a consistently winning program among those four. Meanwhile, Baylor getting picked for the Big 12 led to that program's Dork Age, as the Bears did not produce a winning season for the first 14 years of the conference's history, including four seasons of going winless in conference (they didn't win more than one conference game in a season until 2005) until Art Briles took over in 2008. Baylor went on to make bowl games in each season from 2010 to 2016, winning the conference championship in 2013. However, revelations that the school had tried to cover up a long string of sexual assaults by players led to a complete housecleaning after the 2015 season, with Briles being fired and both the athletic director and university president resigning. After a bowl appearance in 2016, the Bears looked to be entering a new Dork Age, going 1–11 in 2017, but new coach Matt Rhule began to right the ship with a 2018 bowl appearance.
  • After David Cutcliffe's only losing season at Ole Miss (the year after Eli Manning went to the NFL), he was pressured to fire his assistant coaches. Cutcliffe refused, so AD Pete Boone fired him and made Ed Orgeron the new head coach. Orgeron's overall record in three years was 10–25, including a putrid 3–21 in SEC play. In Coach O's final season, the Rebels did something no other team had done in over two decades: go winless in conference play.
  • The University of Florida's football team has hit several Dork Ages ever since the early 2000s retirement of their famed coach Steve Spurrier:
    • Ron Zook, chosen by Spurrier as his successor, was broadly competent and the Gators ended all three of his seasons ranked with bowl berths, but he never managed more than eight wins in a season and his teams had a nasty tendency to lose big against other ranked teams. Fan disappointment led Zook to announce his departure from the program at the end of the 2004 season.
    • High expectations were expected of Urban Meyer, plucked from obscurity in Utah, for his first season, and he delivered, as the Gators went 9-3 and won their bowl game. The next year, he did one better, with the team having a nearly perfect season, winning the SEC, and the national championship. In 2008, he took the team to yet another national championship, and fans had already pegged him as a worthy successor to Spurrier's legacy, if not a better one altogether. Unfortunately, in 2009, his health problems caught up to him. After the Gators' loss in the SEC championship game, Meyer was hospitalized due to a cyst in the brain caused by stress. He took a leave of absence for the first part of the 2010 season, and the team suffered its first 7-5 season in his entire six-year tenure. He announced his retirement from coaching after the season, then immediately went back on it a year later to sign to coach Ohio State, and bring them a national championship in 2014. As Florida was suffering through the lowlights of Will Muschamp's tenure, fan bitterness was off the charts.
    • Once upon a time, Will Muschamp was considered to be the "coach in waiting" to long-time coach Mack Brown at the University of Texas. Then came his run as head coach with the Gators. Muschamp was heralded as the perfect replacement for Urban Meyer, and it looked like it would be such when the Gators went 11–2 and made the Sugar Bowl in 2012. Then came the 2013 and 2014 seasons which saw the Gators achieve new lows in football and contributed to Muschamp resigning. This era contained "highlights" such as:
      • A complete regression in the offense as the Gators hadn't ranked higher than 103rd nationally even in the year they made the Sugar Bowl.
      • A regression in starting quarterback Jeff Driskel. Once considered to be the best recruit of the 2010 class, he performed worse and worse to the point where NFL and College Football Hall of Famer and former Florida running back Emmitt Smith publicly called for Driskel to be benched.
      • A 4–8 record in 2013, their first losing season since 1979.
      • A 34–10 blowout loss at home against perennial loser Vanderbilt... who hadn't beaten Florida in Gainesville since World War II.
      • A 26–20 loss to Georgia Southern — the first time in school history that Florida had ever lost to a FCS school. It's not exactly unheard of for a FCS school to beat a FBS school, but the way that Georgia Southern did it is important — Georgia Southern beat Florida without completing a pass.note 
      • Members of the Gators offensive line blocking each other...twice.
    • Jim McElwain was widely seen as a competent successor to Muschamp considering he took the Gators to the SEC championship game in 2015. Cracks began to show in 2016, but the wheels came off the bus big time in 2017:
      • 2016 was a year when the Gators were expected to win big, but in their first major game of the season they choked away an 18-point lead to Tennessee. That wasn't the only humiliation they suffered that year, as they lost by 21 points to Arkansas (who could themselves qualify for a long entry on this page), and were humiliated by in-state rival Florida State during the last game of the season. Somehow, they still managed to make it to another championship game, mainly because Georgia and Tennessee choked even harder, but they were thrashed by Alabama, and it was considered a very big disappointment for a team that had been tipped for bigger things.
      • The 2017 season saw Florida ranked #17 to start, but immediately lost it by falling to Michigan in the first game of the season.
      • The quarterback situation was a mess. First choice Luke Del Rio had been hurt the previous season and still wasn't ready to play. This resulted in Florida having to split their snaps between the perennially underachieving Malik Zaire and the physically talented but unproven Feleipe Franks.
      • In the interim, they beat Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee, but considering the first two are the perennial doormats of the SEC East, and the Vols were in an even worse Dork Age at this point (detailed below), it could hardly be called an achievement.
      • Following that, the season immediately crashed and burned. Florida lost twice at home to LSU and Texas A&M teams they were expected to beat. Following a 42-7 beating at the hands of conference rival Georgia, McElwain was fired before the day was out.
      • Firing their coach didn't help, though, and the Gators completed their slide by losing humiliatingly to Missouri and South Carolina (coached by Muschamp) before once again getting embarrassed by Florida State to close out the season.
    • Thankfully, hiring Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen for the 2018 season seems to have done Florida a world of good, as the Gators managed to stay consistently ranked in the latter half of the season, even upsetting #5 LSU and avenging their loss to South Carolina. But they were still upset by Missouri and Kentucky (admittedly, the latter had its best season in decades), signaling it's too soon to call whether this Dork Age has truly ended or not.
  • The Tennessee Volunteers suffered from one between Phillip Fulmer's departure at the end of the 2008 season and his return as athletic director in late 2017, and these are just the coaches responsible:
    • Lane Kiffin went one and done before leaving for USC, causing local outrage... and that was before it was discovered he had engaged in improper recruiting schemes while at UT.
    • Derek Dooley brought the Vols three losing seasons, one bowl appearance, and the "Dumbass Miracle" that was the most embarrassing fail UT would suffer in 2010.note 
    • For a while, things looked up with Butch Jones... and then, in 2016, came allegations of a "rape culture" developing under his watch. Despite going 8-4 in the 2016 season and winning a bowl, this was considered to be a major disappointment as the Vols were widely expected to win the SEC East and end up in the conference championship game, and did neither. A speech where Jones declared that despite not winning the championship of the SEC, the seniors had won the "championship of life" became roundly mocked on the internet.
    • Things came to a head in the 2017 season, widely seen as Jones' make it or break it season... and he broke it to a spectacular degree. Lowlights include:
      • After a promising start, coming from behind to beat Georgia Tech in the opening game of the season, losing 26-20 to a Florida team widely seen as being the worst in decades and having the most incompetent coach (Jim McElwain, detailed further in Florida's own section) since Ron Zook. Florida ended up going 3-5 in the conference and ended up with just as few wins as the Vols.
      • After struggling to beat doormat UMass the next week, fans booed the team and walked out before the game was over.
      • A 41-0 thrashing at the hands of conference rival Georgia at home. Quarterback Quinten Dormady performed so poorly that he was given the yank at halftime for unproven freshman Jarrett Guarantano; Dormady never started another game that season.
      • Losing to South Carolina in a game where neither team managed to score a touchdown. After this game, students painted the "Rock" on campus with "FIRE BUTCH".
      • Being predictably beaten by powerhouse Alabama and a Kentucky team having its best season in years.
      • Jones didn't even get to see the end of the season; after Tennessee was blown out 50-17 by Missouri, another team that was winless in conference play, he was shown the door and replaced for the final two games by failed Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. This didn't make things any better, and consecutive losses to LSU and Vanderbilt (yet another team winless in conference play, and a perennial SEC doormat) capped off one of the worst seasons in Volunteer football history, and marked the first time the team had lost 8 games in a season (finishing 4-8). To top things off, they were the only team in the SEC to not manage even a single conference win (even Arkansas, widely considered a dumpster fire, managed to do that), and the team ranked a putrid 116th out of 130 in the FBS for points scored, 107th in passing yards, and 115th in rushing yards, completely wasting the one bright spot on the offense, star running back John Kelly.
      • The only thing keeping fans afloat post-Jones was the hope of an earth-shaking new head coach like Jon Gruden... but the coaching carousel proved fruitless. Jeff Brohm, Mike Gundy, David Cutcliffe, Dave Doeren, and Scott Frost turned Tennessee down, and Dan Mullen ended up going to division rival Florida. Fan ire switched to athletic director John Currie, widely seen as even more incompetent than Jones. Currie was never liked in the first place considering his tenure at Kansas State was marred with failure, and he was widely perceived as being a puppet used by Jimmy Haslam, whose mismanagement of the Cleveland Browns is detailed in the NFL section of this very page, to exert undue influence on the school's athletic programs.
      • An ESPN reporter on the morning of November 26, 2017 reported that the Vols had found their new head coach... Greg Schiano, who was a spectacular failure at both Rutgers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and to make matters worse, he had been implicated in covering up the Jerry Sandusky scandal when he was an assistant at Penn State. The fanbase was enraged, and everyone from students to Tennessee state legislators voiced their displeasure. The deal was canceled only a day later.
      • To the relief of most, Currie was finally fired, and Fulmer returned to the program as athletic director, reducing Haslam's toxic influence on the team to a minimal amount... but many Vols fans were dreading the program having to pull an unproven coach from a lower-tier team or hire a coordinator who hasn't been a head coach yet. Many even believed the program had no other choice but to hire Hoke full-time. They ended up luring Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, but the jury is definitely out on how that will go, though the fact that he lost to West Virginia 40-14 in his debut just goes to show that no matter how good he turns out to be over time, the Vols have a long way to go before they make a full recovery from the utter disaster that was 2017, and the nine-season period that constituted Fulmer's Revenge as a whole—indeed, it had gotten so bad that despite Fulmer's return, bookies have placed UT's odds of coming out on top in the SEC in the 2018 season at 66 to 1—ahead only of Arkansas (80 to 1), Kentucky (100 to 1), and Vanderbilt (150 to 1), and UT had been creamed by Vanderbilt in 2017, which says a hell of a lot about the uphill climb Fulmer and UT are facing. Under Pruitt, the team finally showed itself to be a true competitor with a 59-3 landslide against ETSU—a remarkable reversal of fortune from the West Virginia game the week before, and later on in the season they managed to upset two ranked teamsnote . While the jury is still definitely out if Pruitt can turn the team's fortunes around, the signs were at least promising...until Tennessee imploded at the end of their season again in almost an exact repeat of the last one, getting blown out by Missouri and losing to Vanderbilt for the third time in a rownote , going 5-7 and missing out on yet another bowl game. At least they were better than Arkansas this time, not to mention that unlike Jones the year before, Pruitt was able to manage SEC victories.
      • The offensive line was widely criticized for looking like what a Division III team would field and possibly losing Tennessee their bowl berth thanks to folding like wet tissue paper every time a defense blitzed. Jarrett Guarantano getting injured almost every game thanks to the line's inability to block became a minor meme in and of itself. This caused fifth-year senior transfer QB Keller Chryst to see a lot more playing time over the season than was likely originally planned.
    • How bad has Fulmer's Revenge affected UT athletics as a whole? This article lists 13 of the worst moments of that nine-year span; even covering all of 2017, we've only barely scratched the surface.
    • Certainly not helping matters is Mark Richt, who was the Georgia Bulldogs' head coach from 2001 to 2015, and whose hiring is generally held to be the beginning of the end for UT's dominance as a college football team and helped sow the seeds for the Curse of Phillip Fulmer to take hold after the 2008 season. And even after Richt left for his alma mater of Miami after the 2015 season, his replacement in Athens, Kirby Smart, proved to be the real deal, keeping the Dawgs atop the SEC East pecking order. Thanks to the influence of Richt (and later Smart) over SEC recruiting, it could well be a while before Pruitt is able to undo the damage Richt did to any conceivable degree.
  • The Pittsburgh Panthers were once a major force in college football. Under coach Johnny Majors, they won their ninth national title in 1976 and consistently reached major bowls throughout the '70s and early '80s with coaches Jackie Sherrill, Foge Fazio, and quarterback Dan Marino. After a Fiesta Bowl loss in 1983, the team went 3–8 the following year, beginning a drastic downslide. The team made only two minor bowls between 1984 and 1997; Majors' return in the mid-90s did little more than tarnish his reputation, already at a low point due to being replaced at Tennessee following a 1992 season where he blew three straight games. Pitt rebuilt drastically under Walt Harris, reaching several bowls including the 2004 Fiesta Bowl (where they were crushed by Utah, 35–7). As of this writing (January 2019), they've managed to climb back to respectability, going to 10 bowls in 11 seasons (every year since 2008, except in 2017), but still haven't matched their peak in the '70s and '80s.
  • The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team after the Tom Osborne era counts as this. Nebraska has found success during his successor Frank Solich's six-year tenure there, until his abrupt firing by then-athletic director Steve Pederson, with his reasons infamously being that he would not “let Nebraska gravitate into mediocrity” or “surrender the Big 12 to Oklahoma and Texas.” Although interim coach Bo Pelini was interviewed for the job, it ended up going to former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan. In his first season, the team finished 5-6 and did not make a bowl game for the first time in years, as well as being the first losing season since 1961. The 2005 and 2006 seasons were better, but nowhere even close to what the team used to be in the Osborne era.
    • Then in 2007, the team had some hope coming into the season, returning several starters on both sides of the ball. Nebraska would win their first two games, only to be crushed at home by the top-ranked USCnote  Trojans while Lincoln hosted ESPN's College GameDay that week. Following two sloppy wins, Nebraska would then go on to be winless in October. Their homecoming loss to Oklahoma State saw the team hit rock bottom, which resulted in Steve Pederson getting ousted as AD and was replaced by Tom Osborne. They would later get clownstomped by Kansas 76-39, and two weeks later Bill Callahan was fired after going 5-7 with one of the worst defenses in program history.
    • Bo Pelini's tenure was fairly successful, as he finished all of his seasons with at least nine wins. However, Nebraska narrowly lost two championship games before leaving for the Big Ten. Then in 2012, Nebraska made it to the Big Ten Championship Game against a Wisconsin team that the Huskers beat earlier. The result? A 70-31 thrashing at the hands of Wisconsin. It didn’t help that Pelini is known to have anger management issues on the field. Despite their nail-biting win against Iowa, Tom Osborne’s replacement Shawn Eichorst (keep that name in mind) fired Pelini, then infamously said that he had to "evaluate where Iowa was." The Huskers would finish 9-4 yet again.
    • Shortly after Pelini’s firing, Shawn Eichorst made a coaching announcement that surprised many fans — former Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who, contrasted to his HotBlooded predecessor, is considered to be one of the nicest guys in college football. However, the team got off to a rocky start in his first year, as Nebraska lost their first home opener in 29 years to BYUnote . In fact, Nebraska would lose multiple close games during the year, but they would eventually become bowl-eligible due to having a high APRnote . Then, tragedy struck in July 2016, as punter Sam Foltz was killed in a car accident. Although the team came back to the rankings in the following season, they finished with yet another 9-4 record (one of those losses being a 62-3 massacre by Ohio State).
    • Nebraska’s 2017 season was basically one season-long Humiliation Conga. Lowlights include:
      • After surviving Arkansas State, the team nearly came back from a 42-14 halftime deficit against Oregon, with starting quarterback Tanner Lee throwing four interceptions. Lee would finish the season with a whopping sixteen interceptions.
      • Losing to Northern Illinois at home, with two of the Huskies’ touchdowns being interceptions from Tanner Lee. The loss was so bad because not only it was the first loss to a MACnote  team in school history, but Shawn Eichorst was fired from the AD position several days later. It didn’t help that he told fans to “hang in there” after the loss.
      • Losing at home to Wisconsin in a game that honored the 1997 national championship team.
      • Losing predictably to Ohio State 56-14 at home, their worst home loss since 1961. To make matters worse, Ohio State would later get curbstomped by Iowa, costing the Buckeyes a spot in the College Football Playoff despite winning the Big Ten championship.
      • After barely getting past a Purdue team who appears to be exiting out of their Dork Age, Nebraska would lose at home to a Northwestern squad who would win their third consecutive overtime game.
      • Their 54-21 blowout loss to Minnesota was particularly bad because the Golden Gophers were one of the worst offensive teams that year, yet they manage to beat Nebraska by a large margin. It didn’t get any better, as Nebraska would unsurprisingly lose to Penn State and get humiliated at home on Black Friday by Iowa. Remember when Shawn Eichorst said that he wanted to “evaluate where Iowa was”? It became Harsher in Hindsight, as Iowa would beat Nebraska three times in a row from 2015 to 2017, with the scores being 28-20, 40-10, and 56-14 respectively.
      • Mike Riley was fired by new AD Bill Moos at the end of the season. Things have been looking up for Nebraska fans, as the hiring of Scott Frost, who led the Huskers to the 1997 national championship and was also the star coach who had just led UCFnote  to an undefeated season, was met with universal acclaim. Time will tell if he manages to live up to the hype in the near future.
    • The start of Frost's Nebraska tenure didn't look good at all. The Huskers were 0–6 at the halfway mark of the 2018 season, the worst start in school history. That said, two of those losses were by less than a touchdown, and a third was in overtime. Another loss later in the season, at highly-ranked Ohio State, was also by less than a TD. It's still too soon to tell how much of the blame belongs to Frost, since most neutral accounts indicate that Riley left the cupboard almost totally bare.
  • Going all the way back to Knute Rockne, Notre Dame has established a fairly consistent pattern of having a great head coach, followed by two or three coaches who, despite some success, were much more mediocre, before hiring another great coach. Two of the mediocre coaching tenures, though, stand out as being the worst eras for Fighting Irish football. Interestingly, the coaches came from opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of qualifications.
    • Joe Kuharich (1959-62) grew up practically in the shadows of Notre Dame Stadium, and had been a star player for the Irish in the 30s, before going on to play in the NFL and having coaching stints at the University of San Francisco and two NFL teams. But, Kuharich seemed lost trying to adapt his pro football coaching style to college players, and a few marquee wins were offset by heartbreaking losses and blowout losses to teams who weren't that good. The low point was the 1960 season, when the Irish finished 2-8, including an embarrassing 51-19 loss to instate rival Purdue. Kuharich had a 5-5 record in his other three seasons, but was let go with a total record of 17-23. He's still notable as the only Notre Dame head coach to never have a winning season at the school.
    • Gerry Faust (1981-85) was a high school football coach when the Notre Dame athletic department decided to take a huge, huge gamble on him. Granted, he'd had otherworldly success in high school coaching, going 178-23-2 in 19 years at Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati. Many of his players had gone on to play for Notre Dame. Visions of tropes like Underdogs Never Lose, Dark Horse Victory and Super Coach playing out in Real Life tantalized fans and the media (though America's most famous Catholic college hiring a man whose very name evoked a Deal with the Devil should have given people some pause). But, Reality Ensues. In his first year, the Irish went 5-6, their first losing season in 18 years and a huge letdown for a team who had been in national championship contention the year before. The next two seasons saw Faust's team come down with Every Year They Fizzle Out syndrome, starting out strong but ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak. One particular lowlight was a loss to Air Force; the Irish had beaten the Falcons in all eleven of their previous meetings (Faust went on to lose three more times to Air Force). By his fifth and final season, Faust's players gave up on him. He lost his final three games at the school by a combined score of 104-20, capped by a 58-7 thrashing at the hands of college football's new emerging dynasty, Miami. It was Notre Dame's worst loss since 1944. Faust's total record in South Bend wasn't exactly horrible (30-26-1), but was a major disappointment by Notre Dame's lofty standards. Going back to the strategy of a coach with plenty of college experience, Notre Dame hired veteran coach Lou Holtz and climbed back to respectability.

    National Football League 
  • Following a disappointing 1992 season, the Chicago Bears decided to fire longtime head coach Mike Ditka and replace him with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt. Word to the wise: never bring up the Wannstedt era in a conversation with a Bears fan (or that of Wannstedt's successor, Dick Jauron). It didn't help Wannstedt when Jim Harbaugh walked after the 1993 season. Also, a series of poor draft picks (John Thierry, Curtis Enis, Cade McNown, David Terrell) ensured that the Bears would stay in that Dork Age for some time. Nor did it help when Ricky Williams walked, ten years later when Wannstedt was the coach of the Miami Dolphins. Still, his popularity among Miami Dolphins fans is likewise rather low.
  • The entire Jimmy Johnson era and legacy is in turn a dork age for the Dolphins. Johnson's insistence that it would be his team, built his way, meant clashes with Marino (particularly over Johnson's attempts to trade him), the team's best player; and Johnson used high picks on running backs such as John Avery and James Johnson (no relation), who ended up as role players at best. And he brought in Cecil "the Diesel" Collins, who went to prison for probation violations before even playing a season (he was only a fifth-round pick, but the embarrassment was still strong). Johnson resigned in 1999, and hand-selected Wannstedt as his successor, and the Dolphins have been ordinary (at best) ever since.
    • If that was bad, however, their 2007 season, with Cam Cameron behind the wheel, was even worse. They were literally a hair away from going 0-16 the year before Detroit did, and managed to eke out one win, in being in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens in overtime. He was thankfully fired once the disaster of a season was through, but since then they've only had winning seasons twice (2008 and 2016), and both times would lose in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
  • The San Diego Chargers were in a Dork Age from 1996 through 2003, where they failed to make the playoffs and never won more than half of their games. The Ryan Leaf era (1998 and 2000) deserves a special mention, as he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and became one of the worst draft picks of all time. Leaf's 2000 campaign saw the Chargers go 1-15, they replaced him with Drew Brees at quarterback, and the rest is history. And they left San Diego for their original home of Los Angeles after the 2016 season.
  • The first five years of Jerry Jones owning the Dallas Cowboys netted two Super Bowl championships. Then Jones fired coach Jimmy Johnson for daring to demand credit for the championships, thus establishing Jones as the only man in charge - and the Cowboys have suffered ever since. They had enough talent for one more championship in 1995, but have won two playoff games since, with the wins 13 years apart. Why? As one of the few sole general manager-owners in the league, Jones cannot draft fundamentals (like an offensive line) to save his life, frequently takes chances on players who had injury problems in college like DeMarco Murray (that have carried over into injury-plagued NFL seasons) and has on at least two occasions traded away multiple draft picks for underachievers like Joey Galloway and Roy Williams. While they eventually found some good skill players like linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware and wide receiver Dez Bryant, management's inability to draft the basics for a team has cost the Cowboys multiple chances at returning to prominence, especially since the advent of Tony Romo and later Dak Prescott becoming the starting quarterback.
    • Jimmy Johnson was replaced in 1994 by Barry Switzer, who was an accomplished college coach and a close friend of Jerry Jones. There were just a few problems with the man: first, he had integrity issues and an arrest record. Second, he coached the Oklahoma Sooners, mortal enemies to Texan football fans everywhere. Third, and most importantly, he was just too nice, a hands-off guy in a league where it was typically a coach's way or the highway, and a talented team where many players reveled in their debauchery like rock stars. As a result, the Cowboys underachieved under Switzer (though they still won the Super Bowl in his second year, they failed to get out of the division round the following year, and the wheels fell off after that), and it wasn't long before fans were screaming for his head.
  • Green Bay was known as "NFL Siberia" from 1968, the year after Vince Lombardi retired as head coach, and 1992 when General Manager Ron Wolf brought in Mike Holmgren to coach, traded for Brett Favre, and signed Reggie White following the season. To give some perspective, they won five championships in Lombardi's final seven years and made the playoffs six straight times after signing Reggie White, including two NFC titles and a Super Bowl.
    • The Packers' plummet to mediocrity and occasional awfulness post-Lombardi era was partly driven by poor draft selections. For a classic example, collegiate stud Jerry Tagge (from perennial powerhouse Nebraska) was drafted 11th overall in 1972 as future Hall of Famer Bart Starr's heir apparent at quarterback. In three seasons with the Packers, Tagge passed for three touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and was ironically cut by Starr himself, who had, by 1974, taken over as Green Bay's head coach.
    • There was also the infamous trade for star quarterback John Hadl, who was clearly past his prime when the Packers sent five mostly high future draft picks (two first-rounders, two second-rounders, a third-rounder) to the Los Angeles Rams to acquire his services. Hadl "rewarded" Green Bay with nine TD passes and a whopping 29 interceptions combined in 1974 and 1975.
    • The Mike Sherman years definitely qualify as their latest Dork Age. In addition to being their coach, he was also given the mantle of general manager after Ron Wolf retired. To say this was a colossal mistake was an understatement; Sherman's scouting abilities were virtually nonexistent and resulted in such stellar draft picks as Ahmad Carroll (a cornerback who was notorious for constantly giving up big plays, earning him the nickname "Highway 28") and B.J. Sander, a punter that Sherman traded up to get. In addition to that, photos surfaced of him asleep at the player combines, which only fueled the fire against him. While they posted decent records under Sherman and won the NFC North three times, they struggled in the playoffs. The Packers suffered their first home playoff loss under his tenure, a 27–7 asskicking at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, and also their second, a 31–17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in 2005. The 2005 season resulted in a 4–12 record, the first losing season for the Packers since 1991, and resulted in Sherman's firing. Some argue that the seeds of Brett Favre's diva attitude were sown here as well; whereas Mike Holmgren wasn't afraid to smack him upside the head when he did something stupid, Sherman's coaching philosophy seemed to be "Brett can do whatever the hell he wants." It's no coincidence that his interceptions trended higher in this period, culminating in a 29-interception season in 2005. When Mike McCarthy was hired, everyone rejoiced.
    • The Packers had a Dork Age between Curly Lambeau's departure and Vince Lombardi's arrival that nearly turned out to be a Franchise Killer. The Packers went through five different head coaches between 1950 and 1958 and posted their all-time worst record, 1–10–1 in 1958, just narrowly avoiding bankruptcy almost every season. So shaky was their financial situation that the league threatened to fold the franchise or permanently move it to Milwaukee (where they had been playing two "home away from home" games each season).
    • Averted after Brett Favre's "retirement". The departure of a long-time face of the franchise is usually one of the largest causes of Dork Age in sports, but thanks to Aaron Rodgers and company, the Packers had their greatest period of success since the Lombardi years. The Packers defeated the New York Giants (the same team that handed the Packers a loss in Brett Favre's final appearance in Green Bay) on December 26, 2010 and did not lose another game until December 18, 2011, racking up 19 straight wins including Super Bowl XLV, just three years following Favre's departure.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be the kings of this trope in sports. Their image was cemented when they were winless for their entire inaugural season and almost all of the second, an NFL-record 26-game losing streak from 1976 to 1977. This was partially due to a horrendous rash of injuries, as they were not provided medical information on players prior to the expansion draft, but also largely due to coach John McKay's decision to use younger players with potential, rather than older players who would be ready to retire by the time the team was good.
    • While some of the younger inaugural Bucs had potential (brothers Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon, both rookie defensive linemen out of Oklahoma) and some of the veterans (quarterback Steve Spurrier, defensive end Pat Toomay) had decent, if not stellar NFL careers beforehand, the team also had its share of players who'd be out of a job if not for the Bucs, and were often out of the NFL after their run with the Bucs ended. These included giant left tackle Steve Young (no, not THAT Steve Young who replaced Joe Montana on the 49ers), 190-pound linebacker James "Psycho" Sims, who originally played defensive back at USC, and several other ex-USC players coached by McKay, including his slow, undersized wide receiver of a son, John McKay Jr., who, unsurprisingly, was a starter.
    • Eventually, McKay's youth-first strategy was successful: they made the playoffs in their fourth season, the quickest of any American major professional sports franchise to that point. But the 1982 players' strike divided the team and destroyed McKay's enthusiasm for coaching. Then a series of unproductive drafts coincided with the veteran players' aging and the emergence of the USFL, so the team went very quickly from being a championship contender to the worst team in the league. They finished with losing records for each of the 14 seasons from 1983 to 1996, and their constant coaching turnover resulted also in a constant turnover of players, with nobody ever in place for long enough to finish the rebuilding job. This streak included selecting Bo Jackson with the first pick in the 1986 draft, only to see him refuse to sign with the team and instead sign a baseball contract; and trading a 1992 first-round pick (which became the second-overall pick in the draft) for Chris Chandler, who played for less than one full season with the team. It was not until Rich McKay and Tony Dungy improved the team's personnel selection and coaching in the mid-1990s that their situation improved.
    • One bad draft that stands out was the 1982 draft, where the Bucs wanted to select Booker Reese, a super-athletic, yet extremely raw defensive end, with the 17th overall pick. A communications snafu led Tampa Bay to mistakenly use that pick on their second choice Sean Farrell, a talented and polished offensive tackle who ended up having a good NFL career. The Bucs, wanting to have their cake and eat it too, wanted to trade up for Reese in the second round, and were so desperate for a deal that they sent their first-round pick in the 1983 draft to Chicago for the rights to Reese. Reese was a huge, drug-addled bust in the pros, while the Bears used that pick (18th overall) to select Willie Gault, who had a successful pro career at wide receiver. Much worse, Dan Freaking Marino was still on the board at that time, and the Bucs needed a quarterback in the worst way possible.note 
  • The Washington Redskins are enduring one right now, and have been ever since executive meddler extraordinaire Daniel Snyder took over. Despite being the most profitable team in the league, the team has perennially underperformed due to Snyder's interference: the team has had seven head coaches in 12 years, posted a losing record through 2000–10 (86–106) and has constantly favored flashy style over substance on the field. Moreover, Snyder's moneygrubbing and intolerance of dissent has definitely rubbed fans the wrong way; Washington fans are the only fans in the nation charged to see their team in preseason, and since 2009 banned all signs from the stadium. Many Redskins fans eagerly await Snyder's departure, to put it lightly. It's gotten much worse eventually with the controversy over the team's name being offensive. Even longtime Redskins fans are now turning against the team and its institution for its refusal to change anything at all with a negative connotation towards American Indians. By 2016, once-unheralded Kirk Cousins had stepped up as an elite quarterback and erased bad memories of two horrible seasons and onetime potential Hall of Famer Robert Griffin III's injury- and attitude-fueled descent to mediocrity. Unfortunately for Redskins fans, Cousins' rise just meant the Redskins found an entirely new way to screw up: franchise-tagging Cousins twice instead of giving him a long-term deal, which resulted in him defecting in free agency to Minnesota after the 2017 season. The Redskins have replaced him with Alex Smith, who is at least a competent quarterback, but the trade cost the team a draft pick, a promising young cornerback, and a large extension for Smith that's probably not much smaller than the long-term deal they could have given Cousins after the 2016 season.
  • The NFL's St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams' downward spiral.
    • From 2005 to 2016, the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams never finished above .500, only getting to .500 once. During the time, they made some questionable draft picks (Alex Barron, Tye Hill, Adam Carriker, Tavon Austin, Greg Robinson) that more or less held the team back. Their coaching choices never panned out, such as Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett, Steve Spanguolo, and most infamously, Jeff Fisher. From there, the team was lacking in different team needs that were never addressed, namely the offensive line. From 2007 to 2016, they suffered consecutive losing seasons. When Jeff Fisher took over in 2012, they consistently led the league in penalties. 2016 was egregious because of it being their first season back in Los Angeles since 1994. To twist the knife further, head coach Jeff Fisher said "none of this 7-9 bullshit" after posting three 7-win seasons during his stay with the Rams. He was right: he was fired during the season, posting a 4-9 record before Fisher's firing. With head coach Sean McVay taking over and 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff turning into a star after Fisher got fired, the Rams made it to Super Bowl LIII, losing to the Patriots in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in 53 years, but also proving that their last Dork Age is over.
    • And there's the ownership. At the beginning of the Dork Age, polarizing owner Georgia Frontiere was near death and had her son, film producer Chip Rosenbloom, running the team. Once Rosenbloom inherited the team, he more or less was trying to make the team so bad that he could move them back to Los Angeles and sell to the highest bidder. Minority owner Stan Kroenke put a stop to that by putting the NBA Denver Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche in his wife's namenote  to buy him and his wife's share of the team.Background  Dealing with the fan apathy, however, was another issue completely, and in 2016, Kroenke himself moved the team back to Los Angeles.
    • As for Spagnuolo himself, after his firing in 2011, he became the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints (who were without head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the 2012 season for his involvement in the Bountygate scandal). Spags' defense set a dubious record of allowing 7,042 yards of total offense, the most in league history. This led to his firing by Payton following his reinstatement. After a stint as a secondary coach with the Ravens from 2013-2014, he would return to the New York Giants as a DC in the 2015 season; his defense allowed 6,725 yards of total offense, the third worst in league history.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers' early history. Their first 39 seasons featured only eight winning records, no playoff wins, and no titles. In 1969, they hired Chuck Noll as head coach and he began to build the Steelers into a solid contender. They recorded their first playoff win in 1972 (the famous "Immaculate Reception" Game) and eventually went on to claim four Super Bowl titles before the end of the decade. When the players from the '70s dynasty inevitably retired, the Steelers fell back into another Dork Age in the '80s. After Noll finally stepped down in 1991 and Bill Cowher became head coach, the Steelers returned to their winning ways, but they weren't completely out of the Dork Age due to constantly fizzling out in the playoffs, the most glaring losses coming in the '94, '97, 2001, and 2004 AFC Championship Games, at home nonetheless, as well as Super Bowl XXX against the Cowboys. Cowher finally won a championship in 2005 before retiring after the 2006 season. With current coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have played in two more Super Bowls with one victory, haven't posted a losing season since 2003, and despite a few speed bumps as key players from the later Super Bowls have retired, continue to remain perennial playoff contenders thanks to fresh talent ably taking their places.note 
  • When it comes to the Dork Age of Sports, Who Dey! Who Dey! Who Dey think gonna beat dem Cincinnati Bengals?! 25 years without a playoff win. Seven playoff games = seven embarrassing losses; the last five, in a franchise-record playoffs streak from 2011–15, resulted in an NFL record for consecutive first round losses, including two squandered division titles (2013, 2015). A Who's Who List of Draft Busts and Questionable-at-Best Free Agent Pickups. A scouting department and coaching staffs full of yes men. A tortured fanbase foaming at the mouth for a better team. And the one constant string-puller in the last two decades of debacles? Mike Brown.
  • After years of success in Oakland and Los Angeles, the Oakland Raiders entered a Dork Age after their 2003 curb-stomping by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII (Who were led by Jon Gruden, the head coach Al Davis practically gave away with contempt). Since then, their playoff drought lasted until 2016, and they only finished better than 5-11 four times, in 2010 and 2011 with 8–8 records, 2015 at 7–9, and 2016 with a 12-4 record. All but the most apologetic NFL fans point to Al Davis' waning health and mental capabilities late in life, and his stubborn refusal step down as General Manager. Some fans think it actually started with Davis' falling out and eventual acrimonious split with running back Marcus Allen in 1993 (Allen left as a free agent and signed with the Raiders' bitter rival, Kansas City). Things have started to turn around with Davis' son, Mark Davis, in control.
  • The Detroit Lions fell into a long, mostly uninterrupted Dork Age since "The Curse of Bobby Layne" set in in 1958. Before this point, they had four NFL championships, including three in six seasons. Since then, the team has accumulated twelve total playoff games, one total playoff win (in 1991), zero Super Bowl appearances (the only franchise in the NFC as of 2017) and the worst overall winning percentage of any team in the NFL. Barry Sanders, the team's longtime running back, retired before the 1999 season (at the top of his game!) because he was sick of playing for a lackluster team. "Sub-mediocre" is sometimes a generous description of the team's "prowess", never more so than the infamous "imperfect record" (0–16) season in 2008. The curse is supposedly over now (since Layne said "they wouldn't win for 50 years" when departing for Pittsburgh), but even in their following playoff appearances (2011, 2014, 2016, all first round losses) they haven't really played like the Lions of old.
  • The "new" Cleveland Browns.
    • A once-successful franchise that was the home of legendary running back Jim Brown and a long history that included four NFL championships, and three titles when they were part of the All-America Football Conference before that league folded and the Browns jumped to the NFL itself. Though they never won a championship in the "Super Bowl" era (1967 to present) they did have 14 playoff appearances and were, at worst, a respectable team. Then, in 1995, owner Art Modell controversially uprooted the franchise and moved them to Baltimore. The city of Cleveland filed a lawsuit and were allowed to hold on to the Browns name and history, in hopes of one day returning to play under a new franchise, which they were eventually awarded, and after a three-year hiatus, the Browns returned to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999. Since then, they've been a disaster, posting a 88–216 record through the 2017 season. They have had only two winning seasons (2002, 2007), and only made the playoffs once as a wild card team. The reason for the continued ineptitude are multiple, and include a revolving-door at both the head coach and Quarterback positions they can never seem to fix, years of bad draft picks, injuries, and embarrassing legal problems with the ownership. Playing in a tough division opposite Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh hasn't helped, either. To add salt to the wound, the "old" Cleveland Browns (now Baltimore Ravens) have since won two Super Bowls, while the "new" Browns are widely viewed as the league's Butt-Monkey franchise.
    • The quarterback position has been a particularly sore spot for the new Browns, as they've either had draft busts (Tim Couch, and, unless he sorts his life out, Johnny Manziel), nondescript journeymen (Kelly Holcomb, Josh and Luke McCown), or past-their-prime former studs (Jeff Garcia, Jake Delhomme) leading the team. As of the 2018 season, the team has had 30 starting quarterbacks in 20 seasons. Compare that to the New England Patriots, who have only had five starting QBs — Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady, Brady fill-ins Matt Cassel and Jimmy Garoppolo, plus Jacoby Brissett, who filled in when Garoppolo was hurt and Brady suspended for Deflategate — over the same period of time. And given the woes of all starting Quarterbacks since then "draft bust" Tim Couch (who was not worth a first overall pick, granted, but he was not that bad) starts to look pretty good for a Browns QB. That said, it does look like 2018 top pick Baker Mayfield, who took over as the starter in Week 3, is the real deal, seeing that he led the Browns to 7 wins, more than they had in the previous three seasons combined. Though you never know with the Browns...
    • Entering the 2019 season, the quarterback who has won the most regular-season games in Cleveland since the Browns returned to the league is Ben Roethlisberger. Who has spent his entire NFL career with the Steelers.
    • The "new" Browns went on to share NFL infamy with the 2008 Lions in 2017, when they cratered all the way to 0-16. Any hope of improvement was dashed, however, when coach Hue Jackson, who has gone 1-31 since taking the helm of the team in 2016, was retained for a third year.note  That, combined with the fact that the current owner (since 2012), Pilot Flying J head Jimmy Haslam, seems more concerned with lining his pockets and/or trying to keep his truck stop chain afloatnote  than building a good front office, has led many a Browns fan to consider the current state of the Lionsnote  a wistful fantasy.
  • The New York Jets went through this from the 1994 to the 1996 seasons, which started with the Fake Spike Game between the Dolphins and Jets, that resulted in them losing their last four games and the firing of Pete Carroll. The following season, the Jets hired Rich Kotite as the new head coach and general manager. Kotite notoriously passed up highly-touted defensive tackle Warren Sapp for tight end Kyle Brady in the 1995 draft, despite the Jets already drafting one three years ago. During Kotite's tenure, the Jets finished 3–13 and 1–15, and eventually, Kotite resigned at the end of the season.
  • Nine of the ten American Football League teams have points of pride they can point to from the league's ten-year history. Six of the original eight (Houston, Dallas/Kansas City, San Diego, Buffalo, Oakland, New York) won championships, Boston (now New England) had a Championship appearance in 1963 and sported several future Hall-of-Famers, Miami was the first AFL expansion team and brought pro football to Florida, and Cincinnati brought Paul Brown back to pro football. And then there's the Denver Broncos, who were the league's perennial doormat. The only team of the original eight to never post a winning season, they also had the additional stigma of sporting one of the all-time ugliest uniforms in all of pro sports for their first three years. Broncos fans tend not to EVER bring up their AFL years, though things did get much better post-NFL/AFL merger, with the "Orange Crush" defense driving the Broncos' success in the '70s, and John Elway leading the team to more success in the '80s and '90s.
  • The New York Giants have had great success in multiple eras — the late-'50s and early-'60s with Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford, and Sam Huff, the mid-'80s to early-'90s with Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, and, in subsequent years, their two Eli Manning-led Super Bowl teams. But they've also had about just as many Dork Ages.
    • The first Dork Age of Giants football came in 1946, when star quarterback Frank Filchock and fullback Merle Hapes were banned from the NFL for their roles in a betting scandal, where a gambler allegedly paid them off to fix the 1946 championship against the Chicago Bears. Post-betting scandal, the Giants dropped from 7–3–1 in 1946 to 2–8–2 in 1947, and didn't recover until QB Charlie Conerly's rise to stardom in the early '50s.
    • There's the '70s Dork Age, which featured past-their-prime QBs Craig Morton and Norm Snead, and mediocre youngster Joe Pisarcik (he of the infamous fumble that led to the Miracle at the Meadowlands) at quarterback. From 1973 to 1980, the Giants finished either fourth or fifth (and last) in their division, though by 1979, they'd made one big move to end this Dork Age, drafting Phil Simms as their quarterback of the future.
    • After winning Super Bowl XXV, the rough, gruff, yet brilliant and successful Bill Parcells retired from football, with his head coaching job going to Ray Handley. One of his first moves was to have a gimpy, yet still capable Simms battle it out for starting QB with Super Bowl XXV hero Jeff Hostetler, who was a capable fill-in, but not franchise QB material. And while he seemed at first to be a nicer guy than Parcells, media, and ultimately players, didn't see him that way, as he refused to take accountability for the Giants' descent "from the Super Bowl to the toilet bowl". Handley was gone after going 14-18 in two seasons (1991-92), and while Dan Reeves led the Giants to an 11-5 record in 1993, the team turned over the QB reins to the disappointing Dave Brown in 1994. And Danny Kanell in 1997 when Brown wasn't cutting it. And while their record under those two QBs (a combined 38-41-1) isn't that bad, it can be said that the Giants achieved such a record despite, and not because of, their quarterbacks.
  • The San Francisco 49ers had great periods in their history such as the "Million-Dollar Backfield" era of the 50's and the Montana/Rice/Young era of the 80's and the 90's, but they had two significant lean periods in their history.
    • The Niners of the late 70's under Joe Thomas were putrid. Big acquisitions such as Jim Plunkett, and OJ Simpson became utter busts, and the team trundled through losing season after losing season. Thankfully, said losing run ended soon after Bill Walsh and Joe Montana arrived.
    • The 49ers under the York family have turned into the NFL's joke, save for a 4-year run (2011-2015) under Jim Harbaugh's tutelage. The Niners' struggles began when the Yorks replaced head coach Steve Mariucci with Dennis Erickson, who proceeded to have two straight losing seasons while coaching practically the same team Mariucci led to the playoffs. Not helping was an increasingly toxic locker-room atmosphere (sparked primarily by the feud between Quarterback Jeff Garcia and Wide Receiver Terrell Owens), the departures of key players like Owens, Garcia, and Garrison Hearst, and the drafting of infamous bust Rashaun Woods. Things seemed to turn around in 2005, when Erickson and GM Terry Donahue were fired and the team selected quarterback Alex Smith with the Number One pick. Unfortunately, Erickson's successor as head coach, Mike Nolan, was no better, and Smith was pretty much an injury-prone bust during his early career. The Niners then replaced Nolan with Mike Singletary, who was a good motivator (a strange example was when he dropped his pants to allude to his team's embarrassing play) but an otherwise mediocre coach, and the Niners kept on losing. However, the Niners' constant losing hid the fact that they were able to draft key building blocks such as Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Andy Lee, Patrick Willis, Joe Staley, NaVorro Bowman, and Colin Kaepernick. Said building blocks (and Alex Smith's improvement) led to the team becoming a powerhouse once Harbaugh arrived. Unfortunately, said success would end once Harbaugh left due to a dispute with management and was replaced by Jim Tomsula, who was just flat-out incompetent. With key players either leaving (like Willis, Smith, Gore etc.), getting injured (Bowman), or just flat-out struggling (Kaepernick), the Niners went from playoff contenders to the NFL's laughingstock, even after Tomsula was replaced by Chip Kelly, who was eventually fired as well. Thankfully, a new GM (John Lynch), a new head coach (Kyle Shanahan), some young prospects (Carlos Hyde, Eric Reid, and DeForrest Buckner, to name a few), and a host of free-agent signings (e.g. Pierre Garcon, Malcolm Smith and, in a giant coup, former Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolonote ) may mean that the Dork Age might be nearing its end, but the stench of the Yorks' ownership might still keep it going. The Niners didn't improve in 2018, going 4–12—though they had an excuse in that Garoppolo lost almost all of the season to a torn ACL.

    National Hockey League 
  • The '70s was this for North American hockey in general. Over-expansion and a rival league in the World Hockey Association drained the talent pool, and minor leagues that once featured talent to rival the NHL in the Original Six era degenerated into the chaotic world that inspired Slap Shot. The leagues that didn't completely collapse limped their way through the decade. Even the NHL saw franchise instability, as teams relocated, merged, and teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. The WHA was even more unstable, with only six of sixteen total franchises (never more than 14 in one season) reaching the finish line in 1979, and only four being accepted into the NHL.
    • The late 1990s-early 2000s are looked backed on negatively (unless you are a Devils, Red Wings or Avalanche fan). The Dead Puck Era, as it is called, featured very few goals and the focus was mainly on playing the neutral zone trap.
  • The Disney era for the Anaheim Ducks was a mixed bag, but was on the whole a lot worse than the current era.
    • Back then, their name was The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, with the logo of a duck goalie mask in front of a puck with two crossed hockey sticks behind it, and they were used more for movie publicity than they were as a sports team (as were their sister franchise, the Anaheim Angels). While their traditional home and away jerseys and the original logo are often looked back on fondly by fans (even to the point where the old logo was brought back for the current third jerseys), their third jerseys from the 1995-96 season is considered one of the worst in the sport's history. Overall, the Ducks were both literally and figuratively treated as a Mickey Mouse organization by everyone including the ownership.
    • While the Ducks were not a bad team, they were never really good either, making the playoffs four times in twelve seasons, and only making the Stanley Cup finals once in 2003. Even with breakout players like Paul Kariya, Teemu Selänne, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Andy McDonald and Steve Rucchin, they could never quite consistently compete for playoff spots until after the ownership changed.
  • Due to its extremely small market, the Edmonton Oilers have had this problem caused often.
    • The rare aversion in their history came, oddly enough, when Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. At first, it began as a textbook Dork Age when the Kings beat the Oilers in the 1989 playoffs, but Edmonton averted it by winning the Stanley Cup the following year with Mark Messier as the face of the franchise. The year following the Oilers' Cup win, Messier was traded to the New York Rangers, beginning one of two Dork Ages.
    • Beloved forward Ryan Smyth was the centerpiece of the second Dork Age. Just like Gretzky and Messier, the Oilers could not afford to keep Smyth, who was set to enter free agency at the end of the year. At the 2007 trade deadline, a year after he was the centerpiece of an improbable Cup run, Smyth was sent to the New York Islanders for prospects. The Oilers finished the 2006–07 season on a 2–16–1 slide, knocking them out of playoff contention. The Oilers failed to make the playoffs until the 2016-17 season, while racking up 4 number 1 draft picks in 6 years between 2010 and 2012.
  • In 1995, Montreal Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy demanded a trade after a major falling out with coach Mario Tremblay after Tremblay refused to pull him after allowing five goals in the first period of what ultimately ended up being an 11–1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings (Roy was finally given the yank in the second period after allowing his ninth goal). Roy would end up winning two more Cups with the Colorado Avalanchenote . Meanwhile, it took 16 years for the Canadiens to find a stable goalie after Carey Price finally took the reins from Jaroslav Halák. The closest the Canadiens have ever gotten to the Stanley Cup since Roy's trade was losing in the Conference finals, leading some to suggest that the Habs are suffering under the 'Curse of Saint Patrick'.
  • Many NHL teams hit extreme slumps after success. For example, the Detroit Red Wings were better known as the "Dead Things" after Gordie Howe retired (until Steve Yzerman took over... 15 years later), the Chicago Blackhawks took two rebuilds to get back to mediocrity, and the Washington Capitals spent several years as a bottom feeder team before rebounding by drafting Alexander Ovechkin.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs had the Harold Ballard era. Ballard made a habit of trading off popular players in exchange for magic beans, firing coaches frequently, and generally pissing off everyone within earshot. Ballard went off the deep end by canceling a youth game at the Gardens because his grandson was slated to play in it. By the 1980s, the Leafs were the laughingstock of the NHL all because of Ballard's actions. On a lesser note, the 9-year playoff drought between 2005 and 2012. Particularly the last, as the team lead its division for some time, and got eliminated after losing 9 of 10 games, only making 24 points to the end of their season, finishing at 13th on the East. Even when they returned, they overcame and tied a series which the Bruins were winning 3–1, but lost Game 7 after losing a game the Leafs were leading 4–1!
  • Similar to Ballard, the above mentioned Chicago Blackhawks had their own 0% Approval Rating owner in William Wirtz, also known as "Dollar Bill" for being a greedy tightwad. Add Invisible Advertising, blocking local broadcasts of home games, raising ticket prices, and plain mismanagement, from 1997 to 2008 the Hawks hit Rock Bottom, with many Chicago fans preferring the minor-league Chicago Wolves of the AHL (who, at that period, were affiliated with the then-Atlanta Thrashers). The team has since rebounded after Wirtz died in 2007 and his son Rocky led the Hawks to three Stanley Cups, but to show how bad things were, the fans at the United Center booed the memorial for the universally reviled "Dollar Bill" at the 2007–08 home opener.
    • Sadly, the Blackhawks would fall back into this trope in the 2017-18 season, when they lost star goaltender Corey Crawford to a concussion. The Hawks would soon struggle without him for the remainder of the season and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It got worse in 2018-19, when after a 6-6-3 start, longtime head coach Joel Quenneville got the pink slip. Soon, the Hawks would hit Rock Bottom again, now toting one of the league's worst records. All of this following a period where they won three Cups in six years.
  • Poor, poor Canada, ever since the Vancouver Canucks lost in 1994, Canadian teams have been in a complete Dork Age, unable to win the Cup ever since. From 1995-2003 no Canadian team even made it to the final. Since then only four Cup finals featured a Canadian team (2004 Calgary, 2006 Edmonton, 2007 Ottawa and 2011 Vancouver). To put it into perspective, the Detroit Red Wings have made the Stanley Cup final more times than every Canadian team combined since 1993. The 2015-16 season then hit a collective nadir for Canada: on March 31, 2016, all 7 Canadian teams missed the playoffs with the Philadelphia Flyers defeating the Washington Capitals in a shootout, mathematically eliminating the Ottawa Senators from clinching the final wild card spot. Now Canadians were forced to watch America take the whole spotlight in the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup.
  • Many younger fans don't know about the San Jose Sharks' struggles in The '90s, due to the Sharks' relative success (despite their near-constant playoff chokes) in recent history and their extremely 90's-era identity (black and teal as primary colors, a scary animal mascot, "Get Ready for This" as a goal song). As expected for an expansion team, the Sharks were perennial underachievers, despite their rabid fanbase, the presence of talented players such as Doug Wilson, Arturs Irbe, and Owen Nolan, and some early successes (first-round playoff upsets of the Detroit Red Wings and the Calgary Flames). The Sharks then Took a Level in Badass after hitting rock bottom in 1997, drafting young stud Patrick Marleau (seen by some as the best Sharks player of all time) and hiring Darryl Sutter. Ever since then, they have been a constant playoff threat (albeit one that always makes an early exit from the post-season) and a huge draw for fans in the South Bay Area. Many even consider the San Jose Sharks as one of the most successful post-90's expansion teams in North American sports.
    • The Sharks had two moments where they nearly entered another Dork Age:
      • The first one was during the 2005/2006 season, where they spent the first half of the season out of playoff contention. After a 10-game losing streak, the Sharks then traded key players Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm to the Boston Bruins in exchange for eventual talisman Joe Thornton; the trade ended up causing the Sharks to come roaring back with a vengeance, ending up in 5th place in the Western Conference.
      • The second one was during the last season of head coach Todd McLellan (2014/2015). Following an embarrassing first round choke to the hated Los Angeles Kings (under none other than former Sharks head coach Darryl Sutter, no less, who was responsible for the Kings' 2012 and 2014 Cup victories), the Sharks ended up stripping Joe Thornton of the captaincy and going the entire season without a captain. They also made some uninspired offseason moves, such as signing John Scott and letting go of the likes of Martin Havlát and Dan Boyle. This ended up with San Jose finishing sixth in the Pacific Division and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997. This was despite the presence of veterans Thornton and Marleau, the strong play of stars Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Brent Burns, and the development of young studs such as Tomáš Hertl, Melker Karlsson, and Chris Tierney. Thankfully, the Sharks' slide was halted when GM Doug Wilson (considered by some a scapegoat of the Sharks' struggles) replaced McLellan with Pete DeBoer (who named Pavelski team captain), and made key acquisitions such as Martin Jones, Joel Ward, Joonas Donskoi, and Paul Martin. These moves ended up not only bringing the Sharks back to the post-season, but also led to the Sharks' first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup finals...where they lost to the Penguins in six games. Some things just never change.
  • Many Hockey fans will tell you that the NHL is currently going through one long Dork Age under the leadership of Commissioner Gary Bettman. Why, you may ask? Let's count the reasons:
    • 1. Two seasons shortened and another cancelled by work stoppages note .
    • 2. Five franchise relocations note .
    • 3. Several expansions into Southern markets that are either uninterested or unsupportive of their new hockey teams. The financial situation of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes has been bad enough at times that the league itself has stepped in to run them while still insisting that the franchise is viable long-term. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Thrashers drew so poorly, they were uprooted and awarded back to Winnipeg in what could almost be seen as an apology to Canadian fans who'd lost two franchises south to the US. And the 2017–18 season saw a new Las Vegas team start play.note Things may be looking up, though, with the announcement that a Seattle team is due to begin in 2021 (and Seattle has been chomping at the bit to get a new team), but some are still upset that Canadian markets are being ignored.
    • 4. Selling ESPN's television broadcast rights to the NHL to what was at the time, the nearly-unheard-of Outdoor Life Network, previously best known for PBR Bull Riding and Dirt Track racing. And even then the coverage of Hockey was notoriously bad. Only much later, under the names of Versus and eventually NBC Sports Network (now NBCSN), has it gotten any better.

  • Ever since Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi retired in the early 2000s, American men's Tennis has been in a bad slump, with the only true standout American male player since 2003 being Andy Roddick who won just one Grand Slam and spent the vast majority of his career being overshadowed by Roger Federer (and Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray...). A couple of other Americans (John Isner, Mardy Fish) have managed to make it into the top 10 at one point or another, but none of them have been able to stay there for a prolonged amount of time or be serious Slam contenders and with Roddick retiring from tennis in 2012, no true candidates to take his place have emerged yet.
    • True on the singles side. However, in doubles, the Bryan brothers (twins Bob and Mike) were the world's top team for most of the period from 2005 to 2016.
  • Australian men's tennis isn't doing so hot either ever since Lleyton Hewitt's career tailed off after his stint as the World No. 1 in 2001-03. Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios initially generated big excitement and hopes with their runs to the Wimbledon quarterfinals as teenagers, but they've become much better known for lacking the motivation and mental strength to make it to the top and spouting off controversial statements than anything they've achieved with their tennis since then (which hasn't been that much — they've yet to crack the top 10 rankings or win a title bigger than an ATP 500), and no other young Australian male player has really looked like a future Slam winner.
  • Swedish men's tennis is in an even worse state than American and Australian men's tennis. While the U.S. and Australia still at least have multiple male players ranked in the top 100, Sweden has struggled to produce even one top 100-caliber player ever since Robin Söderling's career was tragically cut short by mononucleosis in 2011 — in May 2019, the highest-ranked Swede in the ATP rankings was Elias Ymer at No. 115. That's quite a steep fall from relevance for a country who used to be a tennis powerhouse with Hall of Fame-worthy players like Björn Borg, Mats Wilander, and Stefan Edberg in the 1970-90s.
  • After Justine Henin's sudden retirement in 2008, women's tennis went through a period of instability with the World No. 1 spot being frequently occupied by players who had yet to win a single Grand Slam in their careers (Jelena Jankovic in 2008, Dinara Safina in 2009, Caroline Wozniacki in 2010-11) and were just a little more consistent than the actual Slam winners who were either sidelined by injuries or had a bad habit of following up their wins with first-round losses to inferior players. Things stabilized in 2012, though, when Victoria Azarenka claimed the No. 1 mantle with an Australian Open victory and Serena Williams returned to a regular playing schedule.

    Philippine Basketball Association 
  • The PBA had a Dork Age of its own for most of the 1980s. Crispa and Toyota, the league's two most popular and successful teams, disbanded in quick succession. In fact, lots of teams were sold or outright disbanded, and from 1985 to 1988, the once ten-strong league was down to six full-time teams. The stars who made Crispa and Toyota great quickly showed their age, while there was a noticeable dearth in quality talent from the collegiate ranks and amateur leagues. Defense was also nonexistent, as teams mailed it in with scores resembling the '80s Denver Nuggets on uppers. Sure, there was the ascendance of Ginebra as the people's team, thanks to the arrival of "Living Legend" Robert Jaworski in 1984, and Billy Ray Bates was a talented, exciting American "import" for the same team. But by and large, the PBA went through a long slump in attendance, popularity, and talent level until 1989, when young players like Allan Caidic, Alvin Patrimonio, and Jojo Lastimosa proved worthy replacements for the old guard, and the mostly youthful San Miguel Beermen won a Grand Slam, winning all three "conferences" in the season.
  • Some will argue that the PBA in the mid-2010s is also going through a new Dork Age. Reasons include a lack of effort on defense, high scores as a result of said lack of defense,note  no parity, what with two expansion teams making it a 12-team league in 2014, and bullshit trades that benefit contenders and make also-rans look like farm teams.
  • Ginebra San Miguel went through a Dork Age in the early-mid '90s that was so bad, Filipino singer-songwriter Gary Granada wrote a song about it and made it a big radio hit. (The song is called "Kapag Natatalo Ang Ginebra", or "When Ginebra Loses" when translated in English.) The Dork Age started in 1993, as the team's Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" Expy lineup disintegrated due to age and injury, and while Ginebra thought the best way to avert a slide was to trade a promising rookie draftee (Vic Pablo) for two proven veterans (Manny Victorino and Ponky Alolor), they were both aging, soft, and a shadow of their old selves. 1994 first-overall pick Noli Locsin reminded many of NBA star Charles Barkley, but it didn't prevent Ginebra (then briefly known as Tondena) from another miserable finish. Their nadir, however, came in 1995, when the team selected 7-footer EJ Feihl second overall (he was an utter bust) and the coach's son, Robert "Dudut" Jaworski Jr. in the second round (he wasn't pro-caliber by any means). Fortunately, things started to look up in 1996, when the team got a skilled big man, Marlou Aquino, as their first-overall pick, and signed 1995 second-rounder Bal David to play point guard, thus ending that Dork Age. Eventually, Ginebra (now Barangay Ginebra, named after the team's die-hard fanbase) entered in the midst of another Dork Age. While most Ginebra teams haven't been bad, they have nonetheless been painted as underachievers, with gaudy stats tending to hide a failure to come up big when it matters. It doesn't help much that their once-stellar backcourt of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand is definitely showing their age. Ginebra's inability to win any conference championship since 2008 has led their "Manila Clasico" games with bitter rival/sister team Purefoods/Star (also in a Dork Age circa 2016) to be derisively dubbed the "Boracay Cup", in reference to Boracay being the Philippines' top beach attraction, and the tendency of both teams to go on early "vacations" after getting eliminated.
    • With Barangay Ginebra having won their first championship in eight years in the 2015-16 Governor's Cup, there's a strong possibility Ginebra has finally ended its Dork Age.
  • And speaking of Star, 2016 has marked the dawn of the team's most notorious Dork Age. After legendary head coach Tim Cone left for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings (see above) for the 2015-16 season, he was replaced by Jason Webb, a former PBA backup point guard and analyst who had not a whit of PBA coaching experience ahead of his hiring. Immediately, he tried to fix things that weren't broken, eschewing Star's tradition of defensive-oriented halfcourt basketball for a more uptempo style, and putting a bigger premium on youth when the team had often done just fine with an older, veteran lineup and short, seven-to-eight-man rotations.note  In the end, Webb was fired following an underachieving 2015-16 season. It doesn't help, though, that rumors have been swirling about the Star franchise being sold, and that when Star management denies rumors, those rumors eventually become reality. (Cone's transfer from Star to Ginebra being the quintessential example.)
  • Even the San Miguel Beermen, the PBA's most successful active franchise, are not immune to the occasional slump. One such Dork Age happened during the mid-90's (between the last years of legendary coach Norman Black's tenure and the acquisition of team legend Danny Ildefonso): stars such as Mon Fernandez and Ato Agustin either retired or got injured, local coaches complained after the Beermen hired American coach Ron Jacobs, and the team frequently choked in the playoffs. Another slump happened when the team played as the "Petron Blaze Boosters" from 2011-2014: despite the Governor's Cup triumph in 2011 and the excellent play of stars Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos, the team went through numerous playoff chokes and coaching changes before they drafted 6'11" giant JuneMar Fajardo, hired Leo Austria as coach, acquired veterans Chris Ross and Ronald tubid, reverted to the "San Miguel Beermen" moniker, and became a consistent championship contender.
  • Current contenders Talk n' Text were this during their days as the 7Up Uncolas and the Mobiline Phone Pals; they had a gritty and physical style of play (much like the Detroit Pistons during the "Bad Boy" era), but they weren't able to win anything of note until they acquired half-Filipino standouts Asi Taulava and Andy Siegle.
  • The German national team (which is just as much a world power in Handball as it is in soccer) after their win of the 2007 world cup. Before that, they had been to the final of the 2003 World Cup, to the final of the 2002 European Championship and won the 2004 European Championship, after that they flunked to fifth, eleventh, fifth and not even qualifiednote  in World Cups and fourth, tenth, seventh and note even qualifiednote  in European Championships. Until they made a few adjustments, hired Dagur Sigurðsson from Iceland as their manager and managed a Dark Horse Victory in the 2016 European Championship. Whether that is the new normal or only the setup for yet more embarrassing defeat remains to be seen. Given their loss against Qatar in the round of 16 at the 2017 world cup and their embarrassing early exit at the 2018 European Championship, it seems the 2016 European Championship was a fluke and not the other way round.


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