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Worst Sports Droughts in North America

2012 June 12
by Ben Jones

The Los Angeles Kings ended a 44 season drought by winning the Stanley Cup yesterday. It was the first championship in the history of the franchise, and got me wondering whether there are other teams in North American professional sports that are suffering similar droughts. Indeed, there are.

The poor Cubs are experiencing the worst drought by far, having last won the World Series over a century ago. As bad as that is, at least they can say they have won. Of the teams that haven’t won, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have both passed the mid-century mark without a single banner to display. Baseball fans in the great state of Texas are still waiting.

This interactive visualization shows every team and city in the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL and how many seasons they have been waiting to win. Enjoy:

Thanks for stopping by, as always, and I hope your team isn’t too high on the list!

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    June 12, 2012

    Nice viz!

    My team (the Minnesota Vikings) aren’t high on the list, but they should be. They aren’t on the list at all, actually.

    They were an expansion team in 1961. They lost the Super Bowl in 1969 but won the NFL championship (it was the year before the NFL/AFL merger). They haven’t won a Super Bowl since. Depending on whether you count the 1969 championship, their drought is either 43 or 51 years long. Definitely one of the longest.

    • Eric permalink
      June 12, 2012

      Actually, now that I look closer there are only 24 NFL teams on the list. Quite a few are missing.

      • June 12, 2012

        Eric – great catch, thanks!! Some NFL teams that had never won were left off the original list. It’s been updated, and, indeed, your Vikings are higher than I am sure you would prefer.

  2. John permalink
    June 12, 2012

    Very cool! St. Louis should show up as a zero for Cities Waiting The Longest. Not a fan of St. Louis teams. Just caught that as I was messing around with the chart. Luckily here in Detroit we have the Red Wings to balance out the Lions.

    • June 12, 2012

      Yes, you’re right John – the Cards won the World Series last year. Cheers, and I’m glad my readers are such good fact checkers. Hope to not make you all work so hard next time!

  3. Nicole permalink
    June 13, 2012

    Question: Why isn’t Major League Soccer considered in this data? Salt Lake had a win for their Soccer Team!

    • June 13, 2012

      Great question Nicole. Being an avid MLS (Galaxy) fan myself, I admit I felt somewhat cheesy about only including the “Big Four“. Gimme some time and I’ll add the most popular sport on the planet to the project! :)

  4. Dave permalink
    June 13, 2012

    I’m from Seattle, and with the exception of the 1979 Sonics (now the OKC Thunder, we don’t officially even *own* that championship, it left with the team), we have zero championships. I feel for the Chicago Cubs (ouch 103 years), but at least they have the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 90’s, as well as the Chicago Bears Super Bowl Championship in 1986. They also have the 2010 Chicago Blackhawk Stanley Cup. Basically, their is plenty more to celebrate if you live in Chicago.

    For the amount of sports teams we have, we should have won a major sports championship by now. For this reason, I would say the biggest drought is in Seattle. We are the nation’s Dust Bowl of sports.

    • June 13, 2012

      Hi Dave – thanks for visiting & commenting! I certainly don’t envy Seattle sports fans, but Buffalo and Cleveland have to be considered worse than Seattle. As for San Diego, I have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone living there.

      Hang in there – and keep cheering on those Sounders!

  5. brian permalink
    June 14, 2012

    Just downloaded tableau…does it not let you move the map around according to the mouse position? Similar to Google maps?


    • June 14, 2012

      Hi Brian – Thanks for visiting & commenting! You will have loads of fun learning Tableau – I recommend the on-demand tutorial videos on the Tableau website. Navigating a map in Tableau is a little different than in Google Maps. You can double-click to zoom in, or if you hover over the map a small gray control panel will appear in the upper left corner that will allow you to zoom in, zoom out, drag a rectangle to zoom, and go back to the original (home) map. Good luck! Another great resource if you have questions is the Tableau forum website

  6. June 30, 2012

    The right hand graphic titled Cities Waiting The Longest…. seems to be Cities Waiting The Shortest…. all 0s and 1s. What gives? :-)

    • July 1, 2012

      Interesting – you should see Cleveland (63) and Sacramento (60) listed at the top of the right hand bar chart. St. Louis, New York and L.A. are at the bottom with 0’s. There are scroll bars on the right – see if that helps.

  7. Robert Wayne permalink
    September 19, 2015

    They might as well rename Houston Choke City. Between the catastrophes surrounding the Astros, Oilers and Texans over the years the teams are unable to do anything right under any circumstances, no matter how much the team owners spend. I keep hearing about that goat curse surrounding the Chicago Cubs and I used to hear about the curse of Babe Ruth in Boston but neither of those cities’ sports fans have gone through the frustration of those of us in southeast TX and southwest LA.

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