Top 25 Worst Sports Franchises in North America

Every year, ESPN Magazine goes through a painstaking process that ranks sports franchises across the four major professional sports leagues. 1,002 fans are surveyed to determine the criteria fans feel are important returns on their investment. ESPN then enlisted an opinion research firm to survey home fans across the country to grade those categories. Finally, the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon calculated how well teams translated the money spent by their fans into wins. Scores were given across the range of categories and teams were ranked from best to worst.

The categories measured were affordability, bang for the buck, coaching, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, and title track. The balance of subjective categories with the hard data of the costs of being a fan gives the list an objective method of determining the final rankings. This method naturally favors teams that have won titles in recent years and teams with continued expectations of success. The teams at the bottom have tortured their fans with premium ticket prices, while an inferior product takes the stage.

Some organizations on this list have been involved in incidents that have disgraced their respective leagues. Others simply do not have a tradition of winning and offer their fans little hope of winning in the future. Typically, fans will tolerate a certain amount of controversy as long as the team is winning. Winning can be a fantastic distraction, but even winning can sometimes not be enough to overcome the opinion of the general public. The franchises on this list are in need of some serious improvement in order to restore the faith of their fan bases.

25 25. Denver Nuggets

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

24 24. Cincinnati Bengals

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

23 23. San Diego Chargers

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

22 22. Cleveland Cavaliers

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

21 21. Florida Panthers

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

20 20. Minnesota Vikings

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

19 19. Tennessee Titans

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

18 18. Detroit Pistons

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

17 17. San Diego Padres

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports


16 16. Dallas Cowboys

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

15 15. Miami Dolphins

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

14 14. Washington Professional Football Team

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

13 13. Cleveland Browns

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

12 12. Detroit Lions

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

11 11. Vancouver Canucks

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

10 10. New York Jets

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

9 9. Minnesota Timberwolves

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

8 8. Edmonton Oilers

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

7 7. New York Islanders

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

6 6. Chicago Cubs

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

5 5. New York Mets

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

4 4. Oakland Raiders

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

3 3. Milwaukee Bucks

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

2 2. New York Knicks

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

1 1. Toronto Maple Leafs

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the worst franchise in North American sports. The Leafs loss in heartbreaking fashion in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals to the Boston Bruins and failed to make the playoffs last season. Fans are forced to deal with exorbitant ticket prices for a once storied franchise that has made the playoffs only once in the last nine seasons. Many choose to attend games in Ottawa or Buffalo rather than pay to see them at home in the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and there is little hope of that changing in the foreseeable future, especially with a grossly overpaid captain in Dion Phaneuf.

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Top 25 Worst Sports Franchises in North America