D.C. Is America’s Worst Pro Sports City

With the Nationals posting baseball’s worst record, the Skins sliding from 6-2 to 8-8 and the ass dropping out of the Wizards’ season, I’ve been meaning to measure Washington’s professional sporting success — or lack thereof — against that of other American cities with teams in each of the four major pro sports. I finally got around to it, and the results aren’t pretty:


Thank god for those ice-breaking, goal-shaking Washington Capitals.

The samples used here are a) the most recent NFL season b) the most recent MLB season c) last NBA season and this NBA season and d) last NHL season and this NHL season. For NBA and NHL, I weighted the two seasons equally, which seems fair and really helps the Wizards out.

Playoff appearances and performance trump regular season records (i.e. the 9-7 Super Bowl-bound Cardinals give Phoenix a higher NFL rating than the 11-5 Patriots give Boston. For cities with two teams in one league, the average of those two teams is used (this is messy, but I couldn’t figure out a better way, and it doesn’t effect the rankings significantly).

You could probably use this approach at any point on the calendar, but now is a good time as the NFL and MLB are hibernating and the NBA and NHL are at the midpoint. A better time may be early summer, once the NBA and NHL seasons are complete and baseball is at its midpoint. Maybe I’ll revisit this then, though Washington doesn’t figure to improve a whole lot.

For D.C. fans, the added kick in the pants is that Philadelphia is tied atop the rankings with Boston. This should delight Philly fans to no end, and, should they mention it, just ask about their last Super Bowl championship.

Adding even more salt to the wound is that this could be D.C.’s worst college basketball season in 30 years. So, yeah, it’s a particularly cold winter. I recommend rooting for the Caps, and praying for Blake Griffin.

Update: Steinz did something similar in the fall of ’06, concluding that D.C. was 11th out of the 12 cities. So, while nford2 points out that ’07 wasn’t so bad, Washington pro sports teams have been awful for at least two of the past three years. I’d be interested to see where they rank historically, if anyone’s taken the time to figure that out.

13 thoughts on “D.C. Is America’s Worst Pro Sports City”

  1. Perhaps it isn’t, but two of our four teams are among the worst in their sport, one is middling and one is in the upper tier, so I wasn’t sure whether D.C. was THE worst or just one of the worst. These are the things I think about.

  2. Thanks for this it’s pretty eye-opening but let’s not forget how much these rankings change year to year. If you did this ranking a year ago, you’ve got playoff teams in the Caps, Wiz, and Skins so you’d have to think DC would be more towards the middle of the pack…

    Less than a year ago at the beginning the NHL playoffs I remember arguing (reasonably) with a buddy from Philly that DC’s sports were better. At that time, the skins made the playoffs, eagles didn’t, and the caps and wizards had higher playoff seeds than the sixers or flyers. Obviously we saw the two winter philly teams win first round playoff series but hey at one point not so long ago we were looking down on them.

    No doubt it’s been a rough year but have faith things will turn around a little bit, until then let’s try and ignore these types of humiliating rankings.

  3. What is frustrating is the Nats are the worst team in baseball and have done nothing to improve, the Redskins are falling apart and no one has confidence in management, the Wizards are the worse team in the NBA and have no idea if Gil will be back healthy or if we will get Blake G and we are afraid to root for the Caps b/c we can’t afford our hope to be dashed in some inexplicable and unforeseen way. Plus the Phillies won the fucking world series.

  4. I recently did a very similar analysis of DC sports to justify my misery I guess. I think you should also have to consider San Francisco Bay area and Toronto/Buffalo as four-sport cities too. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t keep DC out of the basement.

    I also looked into the longest pro title droughts of these same cities. Not only is DC currently the worst sports city, we are also tied for the longest title drought with Minnesota (Twins and Skins, 1991).

    Minnesota’s last title was the Twins in 1991, who are formerly the Washington Senators. So if you think about it, if the Senators never moved then we would have the longest drought all by ourselves.

    At least Barack has finally arrived and I hear he has a sweet jumper.

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