As basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said, “you can’t win unless you learn how to lose.” Unfortunately, some teams and individual athletes are better at the latter. For example, 2018 was a big year for the Cleveland Browns, not because they had a winning record or made it to the playoffs or anything like that, but because they finally cracked a 635-day losing streak with an actual, honest-to-goodness win (not a tie). The long-suffering people of Cleveland were treated to free beer, courtesy of Bud Light, and hot-off-the-draft quarterback Baker Mayfield proved he’s probably worth his hefty paycheck, after all. Ironically, the Browns’ impressively bad run isn’t even the longest in NFL history, but more about that in the quiz...
For every sad, sad losing streak there’s blessedly a winning streak to lift our spirits. Although he certainly lost a few matches during the time frame, men’s tennis great Roger Federer currently holds the record for most consecutive weeks (237) at number one in the ATP world tour ranking list, with 310 weeks in the top spot throughout his career. Perhaps he took a tip or two from the Miami Hurricanes men’s tennis teams of 1957 to 1964, which enjoyed 137 consecutive wins, a record that has yet to be toppled!
The truth is, few athletes are able to avoid the dreaded winning drought, it’s just that some of them do it more spectacularly than others. And as much as everyone loves to set a record, they’d prefer it not be a record for losing. Take our quiz to see how much you know about some of the worst losing streaks in sports.
The Buffalo Bills made it to the big game four years in a row but never managed to pick up a win during that time.
While playing in the 1991-94 Super Bowls, the Bills lost to the Giants, the Redskins and the Cowboys — twice.
The Towson Tigers never won a game between Dec. 30, 2010, and Jan. 27, 2012.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost 26 straight games after losing LeBron James to Miami after the 2009-10 season.
The Philadelphia Phillies were one game shy of setting the record for worst losing streak in baseball history after losing 23 games straight in 1963.
In 1899, the Cleveland Spiders lost a heartbreaking 24 games in a row, setting an MLB record that held for over a century.
The Capitals lost 17 games in a row during their inaugural 1974-75 season, finishing the year with a record of 8-67.
Between 1992 and 1993, the newly formed San Jose Sharks lost 17 straight games to tie the NHL record for most consecutive losses.
The Tampa Bay Bucs lost every single game during the 1976 season, setting an NFL record.
After the Saints lost to the Buccaneers, Saints coach Hank Stram was immediately fired.
The 76ers set the record for most consecutive losses in the NBA before finally beating the Lakers to end their streak.
The record for second-longest losing streak in the NBA is 26 games. It's held by the Cleveland Cavaliers and the 76ers, who also hold first place for a different losing streak a few years later.
After 16 consecutive losses, the Oakland Raiders beat Kansas City to end their streak in 2014.
Mets pitcher Anthony Young lost 27 consecutive decisions between May 1992 and July 1993.
Nascar driver McDuffie raced from 1963-91, when he died in a crash without ever winning a single race.
The last time the Cubs won before 2016 was in 1907, a 108-year drought, which was the longest for all major North American sports.
Tavern Owner Billy Sianis cursed the Cubs after he was banned from bringing his goat to the game.
Despite Sianis retracting his curse in 1970, the Cubs still went another 40-plus years without a World Series championship.
Brooklyn College women's basketball set a record when the team lost 58 straight games from 1987-89.
The Tulsa Shock lost 20 games in a row before finally beating the Los Angeles Sparks to end the streak in 2011.
The Prairie View A&M Panthers lost a whopping 80 straight games in the '90s, the most consecutive losses in FCS history.
The Panthers scored just 48 points total in 1991 and gave up an average of 56 points per game.
The Northwestern Wildcats lost 34 straight games to set the record for most consecutive losses in FBS college football.
Boxer Reggie Strickland had a career record of 276 losses out of just 363 matches.
The Beavers lost 207 straight games, a record for Division III basketball.
Teams from Wagner College in New York hold the record for both tennis and lacrosse losses, with teams losing 59 straight tennis matches and 29 straight lacrosse games.
The Chiefs lost eight consecutive playoff games between 1994 and 2014, an NFL record.
The Ottawa Senators must have really hated to travel; the team lost 38 straight away games between 1992 and 1993.
Tennis player Vince Spadea lost 21 straight matches between October 1999 and June 2000 before finally scoring a win.
The Kansas City/Sacramento Kings struggled through 15 straight losing seasons between 1983 and 1999.