Longest Losing Streaks in Sports


Posted: October 14, 2020

Updated: October 14, 2020

  • Even top teams can have bad periods with losing all their games
  • Tennis player Vince Spadea lost 21 games in a row
  • Prairie View A&M Panthers lost 80 consecutive games in nine seasons

Sometimes it’s just not working for a team or player and despite all the efforts, good results are not coming. Losing a game or a match can happen to the biggest stars and teams but in the list below we find examples for more serious cases of bad form.  From top NBA teams to ATP tennis players, these are the longest losing streaks in sports. 

Fans and experts notice all kinds of records in the world of sports. Of course every athlete wants to be remembered more for their successes than their failures. But sometimes a huge defeat or long-term bad form can also get a lot of attention. Which is usually followed by a significant change at the clubs with the signing of a new manager or new players. While in the case of an individual athlete, often a psychological issue is in the background. In the following examples, no one could find the reason for the bad performance for a long time or just didn’t have the financial background to improve on it.

The list of the longest losing streaks in sports

7. Philadelphia Phillies

The oldest same-name, same-city American franchise, the professional baseball team of Philadelphia Phillies has won two World Series and seven National League titles. But even they suffered from a long losing streak in 1961, when they lost 23 games in a row. It was the second worst record since 1899, when the Cleveland Spiders lost 24 games. This bad form didn’t arrive unexpectedly as the team was suffering in the previous years as well. They finished last in the league between 1958 and 1961, then things got better in 1962. They improved so much in 1964 that the team almost won the league in the season.

longest losing streaks in sports
Those are some big sprees!

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The NFL team of Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an even worse record in 1976 when the team lost 26 games. Their bad streak started in the 1976 season with losing all games and even the first 12 games in the next season. Tampa Bay was an extension team, and had to rely on cast-off players from other teams and rookies with no experience. Still no one expected them to be so bad and didn’t win a single game in the whole season. The Bucs were the only team to achieve this negative record until 2008 when Detroit Lions did the same. Who would have thought that the Bucs would win the Super Bowl once, which they did in 2002. Online sportsbooks in the US mention the team in the favorites again with the odds of 13.00 for another title.

5. Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks

Another newbie had a similarly tough first year in the NHL. The Washington Capitals lost 17 games in their inaugural 1974-75 season. They were also an extension team like Buccaneers and faced similar issues. With less talents and several rookies, they struggled the whole season and only got an 8-67-5 record at the end. The Capitals allowed an average of 6.8 goals during the losing streak, including allowing a dozen goals to the Penguins in a 12-1 loss. The team also set records for most road losses with 39 out of 40. And also the record of most consecutive road losses with 37. In the 1992-93 season San Jose Sharks tied Capitals in the longest losing streak record with 17 losses.

4. Vince Spadea

But not just teams are capable of showing disastrous forms, individual players as well. First we have Vince Spadea in our list of the longest losing streaks in sports. The American tennis player reached the top 20 in 1999 after getting to the quarter-finals in the Australian Open. But after his big success came an awful year suffering from injuries and losing 21 games in a row. He ended his streak in a win at the first round of 2000 Wimbledon in a five-set game against Greg Rusedski. Amazingly Spadea managed to return to the top 20 later. He won his only ATP title in Scottsdale in 2004. Still, he is most remembered for his worst period, earning his nickname, “the Charlie Brown of tennis”.

3. Charlie Wi

We have another individual athlete in the list, South Korean golfer Charlie Wi. He has been playing in the PGA tournament since 2005 but hasn’t got any victory yet. It’s not like he is such a bad player, as he finished five times as a runner-up. But from more than 260 events probably he should have won at least once. In other tournaments Wi is more successful as he got 1 victory in the European Tour and 7 from the Asia Tour. While in the biggest tournaments he usually can’t even make the cut, so get into the first half of the field. At the age of 48 Wi is still playing and getting ready to play in senior tournaments. Hopefully with more success.

longest losing streaks in sports
Who’s the biggest loser?

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

After one of the greatest NBA players, LeBron James left Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, the team experienced its worst period. They lost 26 games in a row between December 2010 and Februar 2011, which was the longest single-season losing streak in the NBA. Cleveland had the worst record of the league which meant that they could have the first-overall pick in the 2011 draft. They got Kyrie Irving who managed to bring back the team to top level.  Even James returned to the club a few years later, and won the title with them in 2016. Online gambling sites in the US are already offering odds for the new, 2020-21 NBA season. But Cavaliers are only at the bottom of their list.

1. Prairie View A&M Panthers

The NCAA might not be as prestigious as the other mentioned sports, but it’s still loved by many fans and watched closely by the experts. Here plays the football team of Prairie View A&M University Panthers from Texas.  Between 1989 and 1998, for nine seasons, the team was in deep trouble and lost 80 consecutive games which must be one of the longest losing  streaks in sports. They double the previous losing streak of 44 games by Columbia and likely to hold this unwanted record for a long time. But slowly they began to improve and in 2007 they had their first official winning season since 1976.

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