And the Worst Sports Team of All Time Is.

With the Detroit Lions hanging over the cliff of eternal embarrassment, has any sports team ever come close to their unenviable record?

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The Detroit Lions can already be considered to be having the worst season in NFL history. They have lost their first 15 games and only a victory against Green Bay will see them avoid a “perfect” season. Detroit fans are clinging on to the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost all of their games in 1976, but the Bucs were an expansion team at the time and only played 14 games. However, Tampa Bay went on to lose the first twelve matches in their second season meaning a remarkable 26 game sequence of losses.

The other North American Sports will never produce a team that loses all of their fixtures. Baseball, Hockey and Basketball all see their franchises play a minimum of 82 games, a figure so large that no team has found it possible to lose so often. The 1973 Philadelphia 76ers gave it a shot though. Their record was 9-73 for the season, meaning that they won just 6.57% of their games. They didn’t reach the Bucs’ 26 game streak, however 20 consecutive losses that season puts them up there with the poorest seasons in professional basketball history. The ‘96 Grizzlies and the ‘98 Nuggets both recorded sequences of 23 straight losses, but they managed to record better seasons than the woeful 76ers.

The 1899 Cleveland Spiders hold the honor of the worst baseball season of all time with a 20-134 record. They are rivaled by the Wilmington Quicksteps of 1884 who had a record of 2-16 and a percentage of .111 compared to Cleveland’s  .130. The Phillies lost 23 games in a row in 1961, but so far the Bucs are looking unbeatable. Well…you know what I mean.

In the National Hockey League, the record for consecutive losses is 17 which is shared by San Jose and Washington, however the Winnipeg Jets failed to win for 30 games which is a NHL record. 

Of course, all of the aforementioned teams play at the top level, against the best athletes in their field. There are stories of hideous records in soccer’s backwaters such as Union Niederkappel of the Austrian seventh tier. They played and lost 22 games in the 1981/82 season conceding 216 goals and scoring just 8. At a higher level Derby County are the poorest ever side to have played in the English Premier League since its inception in 1992. They won just one of their 38 games and conceded 89 goals. 

All of the clubs mentioned should rightly be dismayed by their achievements. Being the worst at anything is deplorable, but the squads and rule-makers in North America have the most to answer for. The four major sports believe in parity uber alles. The notion of “any given sunday” reigns supreme in the land of the free and the fact that a franchise can be so unsuccessful makes nonsense of this ideal. Derby County have less money than Manchester United and reside in a less desirable area than Chelsea, so it stands to reason that they would struggle. However the Detroit Lions operate under a salary cap system that only marginally favors the more successful franchises. 

The coaching staff and players cannot be excused. They should have been able to beat at least one side in a league of equality. The general manager and his scouts also have to be placed under scrutiny for hiring staff that have performed so embarrassingly. 

Green Bay have not had a great season, losing their last five games. However if they manage to muster one last win before the post season, the Detroit Lions will surely go down as one of the most inexcusably bad franchises in sports history.

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