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Which city's sports fans have suffered the most? The 2010 Sports Misery Index

Robert Niles
Published: February 9, 2010 at 9:27 AM (MST)
Which city's sports fans have suffered the most?

As a stats geek, I'm not happy with answers that rely on goats and curses. Nor can I accept that fans of one team have suffered too terribly when the other pro teams in that same city have racked up one championship after another. (Jets fans, I'm looking at you.)

So in 2007 on my site I developed a quantitative solution to answering this question: The Sports Misery Index.

In short, here's how it works: A city gets one point for each season played by its pro sports teams since the last calendar year in which one of those teams won a championship. (For example: Pittsburgh gets one point for the NFL season which just ended in 2010, since it had a team - actually, two - win a title in 2009.)

We're counting Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA and NHL here. And cities with two teams in one sport get only a single point for each season played in that sport. (This rule helps to keep from overstating the misery of LA and NY sports fans. C'mon, they gets lots of chances to win, as shown by their position on the chart below.)

So the more seasons in which you've had to watch your cities' teams fail to win a championship, the more you've suffered as a sports fan.

I have updated the Misery Index after the 2010 Super Bowl, in which the New Orleans Saints delivered a huge relief to the sports fans of that city, claiming its first-ever championship.

City Last title Misery Score
1. Cleveland 1964 (NFL) 131
2. Buffalo never 98
San Diego never 98
4. Seattle 1979 (NBA) 90
5. Minneapolis 1991 (MLB) 65
6. Washington, D.C. 1992 (NFL) 57
7. SF Bay Area 1995 (NFL) 56
8. Atlanta 1995 (MLB) 52
9. Kansas City 1985 (MLB) 49
10. Houston 1995 (NBA) 41
Dallas 1999 (NHL) 41
12. Cincinnati 1990 (MLB) 39
13. Milwaukee 1997 (NFL- Green Bay) 37
14. Charlotte never 35
15. Denver 2001 (NHL) 33
Phoenix 2001 (MLB) 33
17. Portland 1977 (NBA) 32
18. Salt Lake City never 30
19. Nashville never 24
20. Orlando never 20
21. Baltimore 2001 (NFL) 17
Chicago 2005 (MLB) 17
23. Tampa Bay Area 2004 (NHL) 16
24. Jacksonville never 15
25. Miami 2006 (NBA) 13
26. Columbus never 10
Memphis never 10
St. Louis 2006 (MLB) 10
29. Indianapolis 2007 (NFL) 5
Boston 2008 (NBA) 5
Detroit 2008 (NHL) 5
Philadelphia 2008 (MLB) 5
33. Raleigh 2006 (NHL) 3
34. San Antonio 2007 (NBA) 2
35. Pittsburgh 2009 (NHL) 1
New York/NJ 2009 (MLB) 1
Oklahoma City never 1
39. Los Angeles 2009 (NBA) 0
New Orleans 2010 (NFL) 0

I hope that fans will use the system in deciding which teams to root for, if their city doesn't have a team in the game. That said, while Cleveland, Buffalo and Seattle fans undoubtedly have suffered and deserve to see a championship parade, I can't see too many folks getting too upset about San Diego's sports drought. Not when San Diego fans get to drown their sorrows on a sunny, 70-degree beach. In January.

Anyway, congratulations New Orleans. (And this is coming from a Colts fan, remember.) And let's go Cavs!

Robert Niles also can be found at

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