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    The 10 Saddest, Most Tortured American Sports Cities

    A definitive list of cities whose teams have played well enough, only to lose in the most soul-sucking, hell-defining ways humanity would allow.

    10. Houston, TX

    Hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years since Houston had reached the summit of their major sports glory, but the barrel of glory for Houston fans has been on empty for quite sometime, now.

    Since the days of Hakeem, Kenny, Horry, Elie, Drexler, Mad Max and Cassell, the back-to-back NBA titles in the mid-1990s grow ever more distant in memory. The Rockets have been victimized by the Jazz (1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008), Derek Fisher and saw Yao Ming's career end abruptly.

    Meanwhile, the Astros have had torturous NLCS endings (1980, 1986 and 2004) before finally reaching the World Series in 2005 (though many remember the Pujols bomb off Brad Lidge), only to get swept by the White Sox. Today's Astros, meanwhile, have had three consecutive 100+ loss seasons, getting progressively worse overtime. Things don't appear to look up for this woeful team in sunrise-rainbow colors.

    As for the NFL for Houston fans, the Oilers saw painful endings to the Steelers in the late-1970s, became the team responsible for the biggest choke-job in NFL postseason history (1992 AFC Wildcard vs. Buffalo), had Buddy Ryan fight his own coaching stand, were relocated to Nashville to eventually be the Tennessee Titans, were given the Texans after Los Angeles botched expansion team finances, and saw those Texans suffer a 14-game losing streak in 2013.

    At least the Dynamo of MLS mitigate some of the pain with two MLS Cups in the mid-2000s. Then again, they did lose consecutive MLS Cup games to David Beckham's Galaxy, so there's that.

    9. Philadelphia, PA

    You can point all the blame on this city's suffering towards an inanimate, bronze statue.

    Atop city hall lies a statue of city founder William Penn, and prior to 1987, a gentleman's agreement between legislators forbade future skyscrapers from exceeding the height of city hall and the Penn statue. That all changed with the opening of One Liberty Place in March of that year. Livid in anger and fury for his stature being desecrated by OLP, Billy Penn atop heaven placed a curse on Philadelphia's pro sports teams to never win again.

    In the curse's inception, the Sixers lost Charles Barkley to Phoenix when he couldn't beat Jordan's Bulls and lost the 2001 NBA Finals to the Shaq-Kobe Lakers. The Flyers reached the NHL's conference finals seven times during the Billy Penn era but couldn't claim the Stanley Cup in any of those runs, including five series losses in the conference final round. The Phillies reached 10,000 losses (the 1st by any professional North American sports team) and were victimized by Joe Carter. And the Eagles appeared in four straight NFC title games in the early-2000s but lost three in a row; in the one year they did reach the Super Bowl, Brady's Patriots made Terrell Owens, and Philadelphia sports fans everywhere, throw-up in agony.

    In an attempt to end the curse, workers building the Comcast Center in 2007 decided to top a beam with a miniature Penn statue to again don Penn as the tallest figure in the city. Seeing how really sincere workers and all of the city's sports fans were to him, Billy Penn lifted his curse a year later, in the form of the 2008 Phillies World Series win.

    Still, the amount of anguish this city's teams suffered can't be ignored, all because of a pissed-off colonial-American leader.

    8. Cincinnati, OH

    Though only having two professional teams, Cincinnati has had its own round of stinging losses. Their last championship won was from their Reds in 1990, and that was a surprise title won for the most part (sweeping the powerful Bash Brother Athletics).

    Reds fans saw their 1999 team have the highest number of wins (96) by a team who didn't qualify for the postseason since the institution of wildcard teams (lost a tiebreaker to the Mets), had to witness the dramatic decline of Ken Griffey Jr., had to witness a no-hitter by Roy Halladay in 2010 and saw their team lose three straight home games in the 2012 NLDS to the eventual World Series champion Giants.

    The Bengals, meanwhile, saw torturous endings to Super Bowls XVI and XXIII to the 49ers, saw sucky teams throughout the 1990s, saw Carson Palmer's ankle shatter before their eyes and haven't won a postseason game in 23 seasons, the longest such streak currently in the NFL.

    7. Kansas City, MO

    All that barbecue served there can't hide their residents from this city's own sports misery.

    In terms of their major pro teams, only two championships hail from Kansas City, the Chiefs win in Super Bowl IV and the 1985 Royals World Series win. Ever since that Super Bowl win, the Chiefs have been mired in bad luck, especially from the 1990s-on. Though they have a shorter length of a playoff win drought than the Bengals (by three seasons), the Chiefs have had the most consecutive postseason losses since winning a 1993 AFC Divisional game. They've lost seven straight playoff games in 20 years, three times as a 13-3 team (1995, 1997 and 2003). And the Chiefs gave up the second-biggest lead in NFL postseason history to Andrew Luck's Colts in the 2013 postseason.

    The Royals, meanwhile, had stinging losses to the Yankees in the ALCS in the late-1970s, and in the one year they did breakthrough against the Bronx Bombers, they were abruptly ended by Tug McGraw's Phillies. 1985, meanwhile, was their comeback year, as the Royals recovered from 3-1 series deficits in the ALCS to the Blue Jays and in the World Series to the Cardinals to win their only MLB title. But since then, no playoff games have graced Kauffman Stadium.

    Some say it's because the baseball Gods punished the city for Don Denkinger's blown call, while others attribute their bad luck to the installation of shuttlecocks at the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Whatever ills Kansas City fans, they at least can douse themselves in barbecue meat to cope with losing, but even that only goes so far.

    6. San Diego, CA

    The amount of sports anguish suffered in "America's Finest City" compares to other cities in this list, though it's heavily underrated due to the laid-back nature of the city's fans.

    Nonetheless, San Diegans have seen their share of painful moments. The city lost two NBA teams (the Rockets to Houston in 1971 and the Clippers to Los Angeles in 1985) and doesn't look like the league will cut them any slack for a 3rd team anytime soon.

    The Padres, meanwhile, have made only two World Series appearances in their history, both times losing to some of the most powerful teams of all time in victimizing fashion (Kirk Gibson and the 1984 Tigers, Tino Martinez and the 1998 Yankees). They allowed Roseanne to render the worst National Anthem of all time, host a fire sale during the summer of 1993, and argue that they were short-circuited by Matt Holliday and the 2007 Rockies.

    The Chargers, ultimately, have sent the souls of San Diego fans down to hell the most often. They couldn't get to the Super Bowl under Dan Founts and "Air Coryell." They eventually reached their lone Super Bowl trip in January 1995, and were proceeded to be torched by Steve Young. They drafted Ryan Leaf. And their teams in the late-2000s suffered stunning postseason losses to the Patriots and Jets, the worst being the 2006 team against New England despite having the NFL's best record (14-2) and the league MVP in tact (Tomlinson). Worse, the Chargers have been at the heart for relocation talks to Los Angeles for quite sometime now.

    In terms of current pro championship designations (Super Bowl, World Series, NBA, Stanley Cup), San Diego holds the dubious distinction of having the largest population of any American sports city (1.35 million) to have never seen any of those titles. At least there's Sea World to quell all their pain.

    5. Washington, D.C.

    Hard to believe that fans in America's capital haven't celebrated a sports championship in more than 20 years. In fact, D.C. has the distinction of having the 2nd longest title drought by a city with teams in all four pro leagues (see #3 for the town with the longest such drought). But they have suffered as much as any other city.

    About the only positive for the Bullets/Wizards was the name change, and of having Michael Jordan (despite him being a shadow of his former self). So that's that. The Redskins, meanwhile, have had blunderous coaching and quarterback decisions, have seen Gus Frerotte headbutt his way into sports bloopery, and saw Robert Griffin III tear his LCL and ACL on the turf at Landover.

    The Capitals, meanwhile, lucked out on the Easter Epic (losing the longest Game 7 in Stanley Cup Playoff history), ran into a bulldozer in the form of the 1998 Red Wings and have underachieved under the Ovechkin era, suffering such catastrophes in the forms of the 2010 Canadiens and Joel Ward's penalty.

    As for baseball, they originally lost two Senators teams (one to be the Twins in 1960 and the other to be the Rangers in 1971). Though Washington has only had their 3rd MLB franchise since the 2005 season, the 2012 NLCS loss by the Nationals to the Cardinals shoot their fans up the suffering list. The ending to Game 5 should be a loss no sports fan should ever suffer, but alas, Washington fans were subjected to such torture.

    If it helps, their MLS team, D.C. United, has been the beneficiaries of four MLS Cup victories in five appearances, so that stems the losing a bit. I think.

    4. Atlanta, GA

    How much does it say when a sports city still ends up in a suffering list, despite a run of 14 consecutive division championships? The very endings of Atlanta teams constitute more sadness than exuberance, frankly.

    First-off, the NHL left the Peachland twice (the Flames to Calgary in 1980, the Thrashers to Winnipeg in 2011 to be the Jets). So that's that. The Hawks, meanwhile, have been perennial underachievers for most of their history, wasting the talents of Dominique Wilkins and Spud Webb in the process.

    The Falcons, meanwhile, saw stunning losses in the 1980, 2010 and 2012 NFC postseasons as the #1 seed, saw the downfall of Michael Vick and lucked out on reaching Super Bowl XXXIII because of another team's loss (see #3)...and were promptly burned by the Broncos in John Elway's final game.

    The Braves best exemplified the city's suffering, however. In a run of 14 straight divisional titles (1991-2005), Atlanta could only muster five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series title (all coming at the cost of the #1 most tortured city). In their current run (2010-on), the Braves have had stinging losses to the Cardinals and Dodgers. The list of culprits who've inflicted pain towards Braves fans could fill a book (Kirby Puckett, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor, Jim Leyritz, Livan Hernandez, Robin Ventura, Carlos Beltran, Chris Burke, Sam Holbrook, Juan Uribe).

    The bow on the present? Atlanta fans can't even relish on at least hosting the 1996 Summer Olympics because of the bombing at Centennial Park, and of the IOC disapproving the games on the grounds of over-commercialization.

    3. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

    With their last sports championship clinched in October 1991, Minneapolis-St. Paul represents the city with the longest title drought of any town with teams in all four major leagues. And they've suffered mightily, even when they do win.

    In the NBA forefront, this city saw the Lakers relocate to Los Angeles in 1960. Then, during the incarnation of the Timberwolves, Minnesota fans witnessed seven consecutive 1st round flame-outs by their basketball team. In their one lone year of glory in 2004, the T-Wolves lucked out in the Western Conference Finals to those Lakers, and haven't returned to postseason relevance since.

    In the NHL forefront, meanwhile, this city saw the North Stars relocate to Dallas in 1993, where they won a Stanley Cup in Texas six years later. Then, during the incarnation of the Wild, Minnesota fans witnessed mediocre and average hockey play, at best. In their one lone year of glory in 2003, the Wild lucked out in the Western Conference Finals to the Mighty Ducks.

    The Twins, meanwhile, added improbable World Series championships in 1987 and 1991, and were still up for contraction in 2001, along with the Expos. In the end, after months of fearing the worst, Minnesota fans saw their Twins end self-termination talks in time to see Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in their primes.

    But it's the Vikings who've done the most damage for the souls in Minnesota. One of two teams to never win the Super Bowl and lose at least four times (see the #2 city for the other team), the Vikings have had painful playoff endings in 1975 (the original "Hail Mary"), 1987 (Darrin Nelson's dropped touchdown catch), 1998 (the 15-1 team and Gary Anderson's missed field goal) and 2009 (Brett Favre's interception). Their 2003 team was only the 2nd in NFL history to miss the postseason despite opening a season 6-0 (Nate Poole's "Hail Mary" catch). And the Metrodome popped open in horror in 2010.

    2. Buffalo, NY

    Oh, poor Buffalo. Despite only having two pro teams, fans in that city have died a million deaths, over and over and over and over again.

    The city lost the NBA's Braves to San Diego in 1978. So that's that. Meanwhile, Buffalo looked prime in acquiring an MLB team in 1991 when the league announced new franchises to be added within two years. Despite the legacy of the minor league Bisons, MLB decided to award franchises to Denver (the Rockies) and Miami (the Marlins) instead.

    The Sabres have had decent teams over the years, yet made the Stanley Cup Final series only twice, losing both appearances (1975 and 1999). In the latter, they were victimized by the ill-fated "No Goal" call in Game 6, which clinched the cup for the Dallas Stars. Their mid-2000s teams with Ryan Miller at the helm lost consecutive Eastern Conference Final series, the latter as the President's Trophy holders.

    But all their suffering can be pin-pointed to the Bills. Though they and the Vikings are 0-4 in Super Bowls, the Bills lost four consecutive Super Bowls in the early-1990s, a completely unfathomable achievement in infamy. Three of the games in blowout fashion, but the 1st in the worst way possible, in the form of Norwood's wide right attempt of a possible 47-yard title-winning kick. If there is salt for the fresh wound for Buffalo fans, there's the Music City Miracle. If there's a whipping belt for that wound, it's the fall of O.J. Simpson, the Bills most noted player prior to Marv Levy's teams.

    1. Cleveland, OH

    Was there really any doubt?

    The despair in Cleveland is so horrible, some of their most infamous moments begin with the nomenclature, "The [insert infamous moment]." It is so terrible, their fans take pride in naming their stadiums as "factories of sadness." It is so nightmarish, Cleveland fans expect the worst yet still suffer mightily when such tragedy happens.

    Where to begin?

    For starters, the Indians from 1955-1994 were perennially in the American League basement. Then in the late-1990s, Indian fans were treated to two league pennants, yet lost both World Series in heartbreaking ways, to the Braves (giving Atlanta their only pro title) and Marlins (failing to hold onto a 9th inning lead in Game 7).

    The Browns, meanwhile, remain the last championship team from Cleveland (1964) and in important games since, they've been sliced with the guillotine many times. Let's see: "Red Right 88," "The Drive," "The Fumble," "The Move," "Bottlegate." Worse-yet, because of the most bitter sports franchise relocation in modern sports history, the original incarnation of the Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, have won two Super Bowls and have been an NFL force within the last 15 years, whereas the current Browns incarnation have been terribly mediocre.

    The Cavaliers have given Cleveland fans the most recent heartbreak. From those excellent teams of the late-1980s/early-1990s (Nance, Price, Daugherty and Ehlo) to the LeBron-lead teams of the late-2000s, the Cavaliers could only muster one NBA Finals appearance (2007), and many pundits consider it among the worst teams to play in the NBA's championship series. And then there's "The Decision," forever altering how basketball teams are formed, how LeBron is perceived by the public and how much expectations should Cleveland fans give any of their teams.

    Congratulations Cleveland fans. Your city has the undisputed title of being America's saddest, most tortured sports city. And it's tragic, but your day in the championship sun will come. Hang in there.

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