TIME Futility

Congrats, Philly: You’re Home to the Worst Sports Teams In History

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher—USA Today Sports/Reuters Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor shoots against the defense of Toronto Raptors forward Bismack Biyombo during the second half at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Nov 11, 2015.

In 2015, the city had the second worst sports year in history. Guess which city has had the worst of all time?

No Philadelphian need be reminded of the city’s awful sports performance in 2015. But we’ll go ahead and do the honors anyway. The perennially rebuilding Sixers were a ghastly 17-69 during the past calendar year. The 2015 Phillies had the worst record in baseball (63-99). The Eagles just fired head coach Chip Kelly, whose many offseason moves backfired. The Flyers missed the playoffs. It was enough to drive Philly’s famously cantankerous fans to new levels of despair.

But how bad, in the grand scheme of sports history, was it? To find out, we asked sports information company STATS LLC to crunch the numbers. In the 2015 calendar year, Philly’s four pro sports teams won 37.5% of their games. Among cities with teams in each of the four major pro sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL), that’s the second-worst mark of all-time. So yeah, it was really, really bad.

Well, at least Philly’s not the worst. But “howd on,” as a Philadelphian might say. The inglorious title of “worst sports year ever” does indeed belong to Philadelphia too. In 1972, Philadelphia’s teams were even more dismal than they were last year, thanks in large part to the 1972-1973 Sixers, who finished 9-73, the worst mark in NBA history. (That record is in danger of being broken … by the 2015-2016 Sixers, who are 4-33). Philadelphia is the home of the U.S. Constitution, Geno’s cheesesteaks, and the two worst sports years of all time.

See the cities with the five poorest combined records, by calendar year, below:

When told that his teams are the worst of all time, Eddie Itkowitz, a Philly native who now lives in Lancaster, Penn., chose to look at the upside. “We Philly fans handle losing better than winning,” says Itkowitz, 61. “When you look at the sports talk shows when we’re winning, there’s nothing to complain about. This losing gives us a reason to vent, to unleash pent up anxiety and emotion.” Itkowitz points out that after the lows of ’72, the Flyers won back to back Stanley Cup titles in ’74 and ’75, the Phillies clinched three straight division titles before finally winning it all in ’80, the Sixers acquired Dr. J, reached the NBA Finals in ’77, ’80 and ’82, and took the title in ’83, and the Eagles made the Super Bowl after the ’80 season. He expects 2015 to serve as a similar turning point.

“Not that I’m happy about it,” Itkowitz says. “It would be much better if our teams were kicking the sh-t out of everyone.”


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