Sports-related curses

A sports-related curse is a superstitious belief in the effective action of some power or evil, that is used to explain the failures or misfortunes of specific sports teams, players, or even cities. Teams, players, and cities often cite a "curse" for many negative things, such as their inability to win a sports championship, or unexpected injuries.

American football

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals National Football League (NFL) franchise is allegedly suffering a curse[1] by the citizens of Pottsville, Pennsylvania for undeservedly claiming the 1925 NFL championship from the Pottsville Maroons who were stripped of their title by the NFL in one of the greatest controversies in sports history. The curse will supposedly only be lifted when the championship is returned to Pottsville and to the correct shade of red team. The Cardinals team holds the record for the longest championship drought. Arizona also lost Super Bowl XLIII to another Pennsylvania team: the Pittsburgh Steelers (whose founder Art Rooney supported Pottsville's claim to the title). The franchise also leads the NFL in the total number of losses (721 through the 2014 season).[2]

Chicago Bears

George Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears, hired a cheerleading squad in 1977 known as the Honey Bears. When he died in 1983, he left the team to his daughter, Virginia Halas McCaskey. Virginia McCaskey did not like the cheerleaders at all because she saw them as "sex objects", and tried to have them disbanded, but the Honey Bears had a contract through the 1985 season. The Bears lost only one regular season game that year and won Super Bowl XX, but the Honey Bears contract was not renewed. In spite of repeated attempts to bring back the Honey Bears, the idea has been killed by the organization, and the Bears have not won the Super Bowl since then.[3] The last time the Bears appeared in the Super Bowl was Super Bowl XLI. They were defeated by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 29–17.

Detroit Lions

In 1958, the Detroit Lions traded Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years".[4] This story has been disputed as being a hoax, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.[5]

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl (the other team is the Cleveland Browns, but because of the Browns' three-year franchise suspension after the 1995 season, the Lions' streak is longer). The Lions postseason record in this time was 1-10 in ten appearances, their lone playoff win coming against Dallas following the 1991 season. In the last year of the supposed curse, in 2008, Detroit finished 0-16, the first team to lose every game of a 16-game season. When the Pittsburgh Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl championship in 2006, they won it at Ford Field, the Lions' current home.

Madden NFL

Prior to 1999, every annual installment of the Madden NFL video game franchise primarily featured John Madden on its cover. In 1999, Electronic Arts selected San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst to appear on the PAL version's cover, and has since featured one of the league's top players on every annual installment despite Madden's opposition.

While appearing on the cover has become an honor akin to appearing on the Wheaties box, much like the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx, certain players who appeared on the Madden video game box art have experienced a decline in performance, usually due to an injury.[6]

When asked about the "Madden Curse", Chris Erb, then director of marketing for Madden, commented, "I don't know that we believe in the curse. The players don't believe in the curse."

Super Bowl

Main article: Super Bowl curse

The Super Bowl curse or Super Bowl hangover is a phrase referring to one of three things that occur in the National Football League (NFL): Super Bowl participant clubs that follow up with lower-than-expected performance the following year; NFL teams that do not repeat as Super Bowl champions; and host teams of the Super Bowl that do not play the game on their own home fields.

The phrase has been used to explain both why losing teams may post below-average winning percentages in the following year and why Super Bowl champions seldom return to the title game the following year. The term has been used since at least 1992, when The Washington Post commented that "the Super Bowl Curse has thrown everything it's got at the Washington Redskins. The Jinx that has bedeviled defending champs for 15 years has never been in better form".[7] The phenomenon is attributed by football commentator and former NFL manager Charley Casserly to such elements as "a shorter offseason, contract issues, [and] more demand for your players' time".[8] Casserly also notes that "once the season starts, you become the biggest game on everybody's schedule."[8]

Association football

América de Cali

The Colombian football team América de Cali was under a curse since 1948. There was a discussion that year, in a meeting held by team owners, about moving América into the professional league. Benjamín Urrea, one of the owners, was opposed to the idea, so he said famously "They can do whatever they want with the team, but I swear to God they will never be champions".[9] He left the room, while the other owners laughed at him, and he never returned to the team. The team had to wait for 31 years to get its first professional title, in 1979. In 1980, journalist Rafael Medina and singer Antonio del Vivar performed an exorcising ritual on América's home field, to help the team to overcome the curse in the Copa Libertadores, the tournament that decides which team is the South American champion. After that performance, the team went to win five straight national titles, but, notwithstanding the seven more national championships that the team has obtained since then, some fans still believe the curse is alive, as América de Cali is famous for not having been able to win this South American title. The team has been four times the runner-up in Copa Libertadores, three of them in a row – 1985, 1986 and 1987. The last of the sequence was especially painful to the fans, as the team lost the title in the last minute of overtime in the third match, when the tie would award them the title due to goal difference, leading a Colombian narrator to a dramatic narration of the goal.[10]

América de Cali is known as The Red Devils because the shield of the team sports a devil, with horns, tail and trident, which lead to some players masking their own shield with tape to overcome the curse, apparently to no avail. During Gabriel Ochoa's twelve-year tenure as coach, the crest was removed from the uniform for personal religious reasons and, after returning to the uniforms, it was removed again in 1992. In 2010 the crest with the devil was revived and the team went into severe financial problems that moved the Colombian football authorities to ask the team to pay its debts if they wanted to play during the 2011 season.[11]

Australia national team

In a story told in Johnny Warren's 2002 autobiography, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters,[12] during a trip to play against Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1970 Mexico World Cup qualifiers in Mozambique, members of the Australia national soccer team (nicknamed the "Socceroos"), including Warren, consulted a witch doctor preceding their game. The witch doctor buried bones near the goal-posts and cursed the opposition, and Australia went on to beat Rhodesia 3–1 in the decider. However, the move backfired when the players could not come up with the £1000 demanded by the witch doctor as payment, and he subsequently cursed the team. Subsequently, the Socceroos failed to beat Israel and did not qualify.

Whilst the curse is used as an explanation for failing to qualify for the World Cup for 32 years, including in the last match in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 qualifications, the curse is used in particular reference to the failure to qualify for the 1998 World Cup by drawing on aggregate against Iran, despite leading 2–0 in the second half of the final match of qualification.

The curse was supposedly lifted by John Safran during episode 7 of his 2004 TV series John Safran vs God. After reading the story in Warren's book, Safran travelled to Mozambique and hired a new witch doctor to channel the original to reverse the curse. The following year, the Socceroos not only qualified for the 2006 World Cup, but reached the second round before being beaten by Italy in Kaiserslautern. The Socceroos have since qualified for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Australia did appear in the 1974 FIFA World Cup after the supposed curse had been placed. However, they failed to score a goal in any of their three opening round matches, and were eliminated.[13]

S.L. Benfica

Béla Guttmann, a former Hungarian footballer and then manager, joined Benfica in 1959 and coached the Portuguese club to two Primeira Liga titles, one Portuguese Cup and two European Cups. In 1962, after his second European Cup title, he asked for a pay rise but had his request turned down despite the great success he achieved at the Lisbon club, also having his contract terminated. Then, he cursed the club declaring: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion." Benfica has appeared in five European Cup finals and three UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League finals since 1962 and lost all eight matches.[14][15]

Birmingham City F.C.

According to legend, Romani people put a 100-year curse on St Andrew's in 1906

English football side Birmingham City F.C. played 100 years under an alleged curse from 1906 to 2006.[16] As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew's, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people. After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put an 100-year hex on the stadium. This curse is similar to one placed on Derby County.

Throughout the years many Birmingham City managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players' boots red.[17] Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch[18] after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C.. Just over four years after the alleged curse ended, Birmingham City finally won the first major final in their history – beating Arsenal 2–1 to win the League Cup at Wembley.[19]

Derby County F.C.

English football side Derby County were placed under a curse by a group of Romani Gypsies who were forced to move from a camp so that they could build their stadium, the Baseball Ground. The curse was that Derby County would never win the FA Cup.[20] This mirrors the curse placed on Birmingham City F.C..

Despite reaching six FA Cup semi finals between 1896 and 1903, including three finals, they never managed to win the trophy. The next time they reached the final was in 1946 against Charlton Athletic. In the buildup to the final, a representative from the club went to meet with Gypsies in an attempt to lift the curse.[20] During the match, with the score tied at 1-1, the ball burst. It has since been seen by fans of the club as the moment the curse was lifted.[20] Derby County went on to win the match 4-1.

Hibernian F.C.

Scottish football side Hibernian endured a 114 year wait to win their third Scottish Cup, which they did so against Rangers in the 2016 final. Prior to this success, Hibs had lost an agonising ten straight Scottish Cup finals[21] in a drought stretching back to 1902. Hibernian's hoodoo was made all the more noteworthy by their relative success in other major Scottish footballing honours - the Leith side won four league titles and three league cups whilst remaining fruitless in their search for Scottish Cup glory. In spite of remaining a prominent force within Scottish football and building notoriously excellent sides such as the Famous Five and Turnbull's Tornadoes, Hibs were for so long unable to lift the oldest trophy in world football.[22]

Some Hibs fans attributed the absence of Scottish Cup success to a curse which a gypsy woman allegedly placed upon the club during the chairmanship of Harry Swan.[23] Whilst renovation works were being carried out at Hibernian's Easter Road stadium in the 1950s, a harp crest - which had been displayed on the South Stand symbolising Hibernian's founding Irish roots - was removed and subsequently did not reappear when work had finished.[24] During the 2015-16 season, Hibs' modern day badge (which includes the harp) was placed upon the facade of the West Stand at Easter Road.[25] Less than eight months after the harp had been reinstated onto the walls of Easter Road, Hibernian were once again Scottish Cup winners after more than a century in the making.[26]

Cruz Azul (Comizzo curse)

The curse began during the final of the Mexican League winter tournament in 1997, contested between Cruz Azul and Club León in a two-legged match.[27][28] At the time they were the 3rd and 4th teams with the most league championships in Mexico respectively. Both teams were tied until the last moments of the second leg when Leon's goalkeeper Ángel Comizzo kicked Carlos Hermosillo in the face causing Hermosillo to bleed profusely inside the penalty area, leading to a foul and a penalty kick in Cruz Azul's favor. As the penalty was given the referee asked Hermosillo to clean the blood from his face, but Hermosillo ignored him and took the penalty kick, scoring a late winner. Cruz Azul became champion for the 8th time in club history, but fans believed that both teams were cursed by the blood.[29] Leon was then relegated to an inferior league in 2002 but since then was promoted back to the now-renamed Liga MX (formerly Primera División) and are currently the recent Mexican league champions after defeating Club América in the 2013 Apertura playoffs, breaking their part of the curse.

On the other hand, Cruz Azul has lost several finals in the Mexican league, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Copa Libertadores, many of them at the last minute, which has their part in the curse hold true. Although Cruz Azul won the 2013 Clausura edition of the Copa MX the club has yet to win their first league championship since 1997. Their multiple losses at tournament finals and inability to win any league championship has rival club fans call Cruz Azul with the mock title "Sub-Campeonísimos" ("Sub-champion" with the superlative of "-Issimo".) [30][31][32]

Curse of Ramsey

Online users and tabloid journalists have written of a "Curse of Ramsey", in which celebrities die within hours of Welsh footballer Aaron Ramsey scoring. The phenomenon has been brought up after such high-profile deaths as those of Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadaffi, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Nancy Reagan.[33]

Bayer Leverkusen

Main article: Neverkusen

German Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen were given the nicknames "Neverkusen",[34] "Vizekusen" (vize meaning "second") and "Bridesmaid of Europe" for its record during the 1990s to 2000s of reaching finals of major tournaments but failing to win the actual title or finishing runner-up in the league. Bayer were runners-up in the Bundesliga for three seasons in a row (1998–99, 1999–2000, 2001–02) and, as of the 2015-16 season, have yet to win the title. The nicknames were popularised after the 2001-02 season when the club finished runner-up in the two major domestic competitions (league and cup) and the Champions League. Additionally, the German national team which finished runners-up to Brazil at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final featured five Leverkusen players.[35]


Baltimore Orioles

This curse, originally coined in the book The Worst of Sports, is the supposed explanation of the Baltimore Orioles not making it to or winning a World Series since 1983. In Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees hit a fly ball to right field. Jeffrey Maier, a 12-year-old fan from Old Tappan, New Jersey, reached over the fence to retrieve the ball, and, instead of ruling it as fan interference, umpire Rich Garcia ruled it a home run, allowing the Yankees to win the game, the American League (AL) pennant, and eventually, the World Series.

Since the home run, the following events attributed to the curse include:

Boston Red Sox

Main article: Curse of the Bambino

Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Before the sale, the Red Sox had won four titles in seven years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees went on to win 27 World Series Championships. The "curse" was broken when, after 86 seasons, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series (before the Series, the Red Sox had come back from a 3-games-to-0 deficit, a first in Major League postseason history, to defeat the Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium for the American League pennant).

Chicago Cubs and White Sox

Both of Chicago's baseball teams were involved in supposed curses. The Chicago Cubs, after benefiting from a baserunning error by New York Giants' Fred Merkle during the last couple of weeks in the season, won the 1908 World Series. From 1909 to 2015, the Cubs did not win a World Series, despite participating as the National League (NL) champion seven times between 1910 and 1945. The 1945 World Series appearance was most notable because it marked the start of the Curse of the Billy Goat. That incident involved Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, who was asked to leave a World Series game vs. the Detroit Tigers because his pet goat's odor bothered other fans. From 1946 to 2015, the closest the Cubs had advanced to the World Series was five outs away in game 6 of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Florida Marlins, when Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan, attempted to catch a foul ball. The Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 National League Championship Series (NLCS), winning the organization's first National League (NL) pennant since 1945. The Cubs finally won the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians, their first championship in 108 years.

The Chicago White Sox were said to have been cursed because of their role in fixing the 1919 World Series. As a result, the Cincinnati Reds won that series in eight games, and eight White Sox players were banned by baseball for their actions in throwing the series. The White Sox wouldn't win another World Series until 2005, when they swept the Houston Astros in four games.

Cleveland Indians

This curse supposedly prevents the Cleveland Indians from competing in a pennant race, reaching postseason play, or winning the American League (AL) pennant and/or World Series. The origin of this curse dates back to 1960, when the Indians traded outfielder Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Harvey Kuenn. The Indians played in and lost the World Series in 1995, 1997, and 2016, and last won the Series in 1948.

Hanshin Tigers

Main article: Curse of the Colonel

This curse was supposedly cast on the Hanshin Tigers by Colonel Harland Sanders (the founder and mascot of Kentucky Fried Chicken) after fans of the team threw his statue into the Dōtonbori Canal while celebrating the Tigers' 1985 Japan Championship Series.

San Francisco Giants

This curse is an alleged hex placed on the San Francisco Giants following their move from New York City and refers to Coogan's Bluff which is a cliff that overlooks Polo Grounds, the Giants' home in New York.[37] In 1921, the Giants honored Eddie Grant, the first Major League Baseball player killed in World War I, with a plaque in centerfield,[38] but the plaque was lost during the field invasion by fans that followed the Giants' final game at Polo Grounds at the end of the 1957 season.[39]

Since then, the Giants, who had won five World Series titles, all but the first with the Eddie Grant plaque in centerfield, lost in their next three World Series appearances, including the '89 Series that was delayed because of a massive earthquake.[37]

The Giants were approached on multiple occasions with offers to replace the plaque, but the management refused, citing a preference to keep the team's New York history separate. But the team eventually relented, installing a replica of the original plaque in AT&T Park on Memorial Day, 2006. A club official at the time said, "Baseball fans are so superstitious, and players are too, so you have to take this stuff seriously. And if by putting up a plaque we can break some sort of curse, who's to say it's not the right thing to do?"[39]

The Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco in 2010, followed by World Series victories in 2012 and 2014.[37]

Gaelic Games

Mayo GAA

The Curse of '51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire Cup ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951. It remains unbrokendespite the team reaching the final on eight[40] occasions since then, they have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events.[41]

The legend tells us that while the boisterous Mayo team were passing through Foxford on the victorious journey home, the team failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortège to pass by on its way to the graveyard. The presiding priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland Final until all members of the 1951 team are dead.[42]

In 1989, Mayo reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last victory in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006.[43]

Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012. Even with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Rome seeking divine intervention through Pope Benedict XVI the day before,[44] the "Kafkaesque black farce"[43] continued from where it had left offwith Donegal allowed bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphywhose father is from Mayolaunched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo only got on the scoresheet after sixteen minutes and never led at any point during the match. They eventually lost with thirteen points to Donegal's two goals and eleven.[43][45][46]

They lost again in 2013, this time by a single point to Dublin.[40]

They qualified for the 2016 Final on 18 September 2016 where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game. They faced Dublin again in a rematch on the 1st October 2016 but lost by a point.

Following the death of Fr Peter Quinn in January 2016, there now only remains 2 living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team, Pádraig Carney and Paddy Prendergast.

Biddy Early

Biddy Early was a 19th-century healer from Feakle in County Clare remembered as a witch. Her curse or prophecy was said variously to afflict two hurling teams which endured long droughts in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship: Clare[47][48][49] (19141995) and/or Galway[50][51][52][53] (19231980). The two counties played a famous semi-final in the 1932 Championship:[53] Clare won, but lost the final to Kilkenny.[52] After Clare's "curse" was broken in 1995, Billy Loughnane from Ennis wrote to The Irish Times:[54]

Biddy Early is fondly remembered in Co Clare as an extraordinary woman who devoted her time to comforting and healing the sick. She is not known ever to have cursed anyone. She experienced some difficulty with one local clergyman of the day who, for reasons of his own, would have her labelled a "witch". This clergyman's malicious intentions have been greatly assisted recently by those journalists and commentators (outside of Clare) who have been busily referring to the "Curse of Biddy Early". Who started this silly rubbish? ... Some of these people would try to tell us that Biddy decreed that Clare would win no All-Ireland until after all the 1914 team had passed away. Biddy Early died in 1875 before the foundation of the GAA and long before there was any inter-county competition!

Ice hockey

Chicago Blackhawks

Main article: Curse of Muldoon

A curse allegedly placed on the Chicago Blackhawks in 1927 by head coach Pete Muldoon when he was fired, stating that they would never again finish in first place. The "curse" was first mentioned in print in 1943 by Toronto sportswriter Jim Coleman. They would not finish in first place in their division (1928–1937) or in the single-division NHL (after 1938) until 1967, the final season of the Original Six era, despite winning the Stanley Cup three times since Muldoon supposedly "cursed" the team. However, immediately after this, Coleman admitted that he had completely fabricated the "curse" to break a writer's block.

Los Angeles Kings

During game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, with the Los Angeles Kings leading the Montreal Canadiens 2-1, Canadiens coach Jacques Demers requested the on-ice officials to measure the curvature of Kings defenseman Marty McSorley's stick. McSorley's stick was ruled illegal and he was given a two-minute penalty. McSorley's absence allowed the Canadiens to score a goal late in the third period to force overtime, and the Canadiens scored in the extra period to win the game and even the series at one game apiece. The Canadiens would subsequently win the next three games of the series to win the Stanley Cup. This series was the last time that the Kings played in the Stanley Cup finals, until they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2012 and again in 2014. Coincidentally, the Canadiens' championship victory in this series is the most recent time a Canadian-based National Hockey League (NHL) team has won the Stanley Cup.

New York Rangers

Main article: Curse of 1940

The Curse of 1940 was a mythical explanation for the failure of the NHL's New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup since 1940. It was broken when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4–3 in 1994.

Toronto Maple Leafs

See also: Bill Barilko

NHL player Bill Barilko, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had just scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in the 1951 season in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens.[55] In his off-season, he went on a fishing trip with his dentist. Their plane crashed, both passengers died. The Maple Leafs did not win another cup until 1962, 11 years after the crash, and the same year that Barilko's body was found.[56] His number was retired by the Maple Leafs in honour of his legacy and remembrance after his death. The Maple Leafs also notably have the current longest Stanley Cup drought as they have not won the cup since 1967. In fact, the Maple Leafs haven't even returned to the Stanley Cup Final since.

Motor sports

Andretti family

Main article: Andretti Curse

Since winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, auto racing legend Mario Andretti was plagued with unexplainable bad luck in his efforts to win the great race for a second time before his retirement in 1994. The misfortune at Indianapolis has notably extended to his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John, as well as grandson Marco. It is also said to have affected, to an indirect extent, his twin brother Aldo, former car owners Paul Newman, Carl Haas, and Newman's successor Mike Lanigan at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Twice, when Michael Andretti's team won the Indianapolis 500, the driver subsequently defected to rival Chip Ganassi Racing the following year: Dan Wheldon (2005) and Dario Franchitti (2007).

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2014 Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport. Alexander Rossi won the 2016 Indianapolis 500 for Andretti-Herta Autosport.

Talladega Speedway

NASCAR racetrack Talladega Superspeedway has been said to have been cursed by a Native American shaman; other stories claim that it was built on an Indian burial ground. The curse allegedly explains the high number of unusual occurrences, untimely deaths, and spectacular accidents that have plagued the track since its opening in 1969.

Other sports

Croatia's curse of '95

Croatia men's national basketball team was involved in a controversy during the medal ceremony at the 1995 FIBA European Championship. Right before the winning Yugoslav team were about to receive their gold medals, the third-placed Croatian team, in an unprecedented move, stepped down from the medal podium and walked off the court. Croatia's basketball team hasn't set foot once on the medal podium in any major international competition since. The curse theory has all the more credence bearing in mind that Croatia won a medal in every competition every year since it became an independent state prior to the curse taking place (silver in the 1992 Olympics, Silver and Bronze in the 1993 and 1995 EuroBasket competitions respectfully, and Bronze in the 1994 FIBA World Championship). As of 2015 (20 years later) the closest they came to winning a medal since was the Eurobasket 2013 third place game where Croatia lost out to Spain in a 92-66 blowout. It is said that the curse of '95 will last for 95 years, that is until the year 2090.

The Kennett Curse (AFL)

Main article: Kennett curse

This is the name given to AFL club Hawthorn's 11 match losing streak against rivals Geelong, from the 2008 AFL Grand Final to the 2013 preliminary final. After the Hawks won the 2008 premiership, then-Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett proclaimed that Geelong "lacked the mentality to defeat Hawthorn in big games". From that time, however, Geelong defeated Hawthorn eleven times in a row, most games being decided by 10 points or less.[57][58] The winning streak was also attributed to comments made by Paul Chapman that the Cats will "never lose to them again" following the 2008 Grand Final.[59] Chapman missed Hawthorn's curse-breaking win in 2013 due to suspension.

Canadian curling

Main article: Curse of LaBonte

In the 1972 Air Canada Silver Broom curling tournament, Robert LaBonte, the skip of American team, accidentally kicked the stone belonging to the Canadian team at the end of the match. This put the match into an extra end, and Canada won one more point to win the championship. Canada did not win another World Championship until 1980, and this was said that LaBonte put a "curse" on Canada.

Kevin Durant

See also: Lil B

In May 2011, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant tweeted an insult directed at cult rapper Lil B in which Durant expressed incredulity at the idea that Lil B had become "relevant". In response, Lil B tweeted out the BasedGod's Curse, claiming that Durant would never win the NBA championship. The two men have exchanged further insults and basketball-related challenges on Twitter. In June 2012, Lil B claimed on Twitter that he had lifted the curse; however, in February 2014, during the NBA All-Star Game in which Durant was playing, Lil B resumed insulting Durant on Twitter, implying that the curse had returned. Lil B later released a diss song directed at Durant entitled "Fuck KD".[60]

St George Illawarra Dragons

In the National Rugby League (NRL), the Canberra curse referred to the St. George Illawarra Dragons' constant inability to defeat the Canberra Raiders at their home ground, or anywhere else, between 2000 and 2014. The Raiders enjoyed an unusual dominance of the Dragons, winning matches between the pair on a regular basis regardless of which team enjoyed favouritism or home ground advantage.[61] This curse came to an end in Round 23, 2014, with the Dragons winning 3416; it was their first win over the Raiders in Canberra since 2000, overall since 2007, but just their second since 2001.[62][63]

Masters Tournament

The Masters Tournament held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club begins with an informal par 3 competition. No winner of this has ever gone on to win the main tournament the same year.[64]

World Snooker Championship

Main article: Crucible curse

In snooker, the "Crucible Curse" refers to the fact that no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has successfully defended his title since the event was first held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 1977. Of the 17 first-time champions in this era, only two have even made the final the following year, and six were eliminated in their first match. The "curse" can even be seen in the pre-Crucible era—the three first-time champions between the start of the championship's "modern era" in 1969 and its move to the Crucible all lost in their respective semifinal matches the next year. All three players went on to win a championship at the Crucible, and all failed to retain their title after their first victory at that venue.

Multiple sports

Buffalo, New York

Further information: Wide Right, Music City Miracle, and No Goal

The Buffalo sports curse is an explanation for Buffalo's inability to win a Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, or an NBA championship. Those who believe in the Buffalo curse[65] cite as examples the four consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Buffalo Bills for the 1990–1993 seasons (and the team's failure to qualify for the NFL playoffs since 1999), as well as the failure of the Buffalo Sabres ever to win the Stanley Cup (despite winning the Presidents' Trophy for most regular-season points in 2006–07). The Bills, however, won two American Football League (AFL) titles (1964 and 1965), the latter occurring just months before an agreement was reached to merge the AFL and the National Football League (NFL) (Bills owner Ralph Wilson initiated the talks to merge the two leagues, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame). In spite of that, it has been argued that this was achieved when the AFL was in its infancy as an upstart league, garnering little, if any, national attention before merging with the established NFL, and that even if they are considered to be at par, since there would be no Super Bowl until after the 1966 season, the Bills could be no greater than co-champions.[65] There have been conflicting suggestions on how the Bills would have fared against the Green Bay Packers or Cleveland Browns, much as there have been disputes over how well the San Diego Chargers would have played against the Bears in 1963, had the Super Bowl existed at that time.[66]

The earliest reference to the curse traces to 1921, when the city's first NFL team, the Buffalo All-Americans, lost the NFL championship that year to what is now the Chicago Bears on a controversial tiebreaker.[67] Most recently, the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts lost to the Boston Pride in the 2015 Isobel Cup finals, which represented the first time that the Cup was contested; there are disputes as to whether the curse would apply to the Beauts, as it has typically only been attributed to the Bills and Sabres. Other teams based in Buffalo, such as the Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Bisons and Western New York Flash, have all won championships in their respective leagues.

Cleveland, Ohio

See also: The Block

Prior to 2016, Cleveland was particularly known for not winning a championship in any major sport since 1964, as well as repeatedly losing playoff games in heartbreaking fashion. Although the Cleveland Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship Game, the match occurred two seasons prior to the first Super Bowl and six before the AFL–NFL merger. More than fifty years after winning their last league title, the Browns remain one of only four teams yet to play in the NFL title game during the modern era. More recently, the Cleveland Indians lost the 1995, 1997 World Series, and the 2016 World Series. Cleveland Cavaliers lost both the 2007 and 2015 NBA Finals, having been swept in 2007. In 2004, ranked Cleveland "the most tortured sports city in America". In 2012, Cleveland Scene dubbed the city's sports struggles "The Curse of Chief Wahoo", a reference to continued use of the controversial logo.[68][69]

The Cleveland curse was "broken" when the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, thereby ending Cleveland's 52-year championship drought.[70]


Marketing experts have highlighted the "curse of Gillette", given the mishaps that happen to sports stars which are associated with the brand, most notably Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and David Beckham.[71][72]

Gold Coast, Queensland

The Gold Coast is notorious for having teams perform poorly in the major Australian sports leagues and either fold, rebrand or relocate shortly after. The city's sports teams have never reached the Grand Final of any major sports league in Australia, let alone win a premiership/championship. The Gold Coast is often referred to as "the graveyard" due to the number of professional sports teams that have folded in the city.[73][74][75] The teams will often fall into trouble over poor on field performances, financial problems, ownership issues and/or under performing shortly after signing a marquee player. One of the city's two current professional teams fell dangerously close to suffering the same fate in 2015 as Australian media outlets reported they were trying desperately to avoid the curse.[76]

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The "Curse of Billy Penn"[77] was cited as a reason for Philadelphia sports teams' failure to win championships since the Philadelphia 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. Some fans believe that the city's breaking a gentlemen's agreement in 1987 that no skyscraper could be higher than the statue of William Penn on the top of the spire of City Hall put a curse on the city.

When the final beam in the construction of the Comcast Center (Philadelphia's tallest structure to date) was raised on June 18, 2007, iron workers of Local Union 401 attached a small figurine of William Penn to the beam in an attempt to break the curse. The following year, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series.

The city's sports teams have also lost in championship finals in years of presidential inaugurations, beginning with the 76ers' loss in the 1977 NBA Finals and includes the Phillies' loss in the 2009 World Series.[16] During that span, each of the four city's teams have lost championships during such years twice.[16]

San Diego, California

The city of San Diego, has never claimed a modern North American major league professional sports championship (Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, or NBA Finals).[78] San Diego is currently home to the National Football League's San Diego Chargers and Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres. San Diego has never had a National Hockey League franchise. The city has previously hosted two teams from the National Basketball Association: the San Diego Rockets from 1967 to 1971 (now located in Houston, Texas), and the San Diego Clippers from 1978 to 1984 (now located in Los Angeles).

San Diego also has the longest championship drought in North America with at least two major-league sports franchises[79] as well as the second-longest drought for a city with at least one major league franchise (only Ottawa, whose last championship was in 1927, is longer). San Diego's only championship was the 1963 AFL Championship, when the Chargers beat the Boston Patriots 51-10, before the AFL merged with the NFL to form the current National Football League.

The Chargers would only appear and lose in three championship games since then. The Chargers were set to defend their 1963 AFL title in 1964 against the Buffalo Bills. However, a key play by Mike Stratton on Keith Lincoln would help the Bills win, 20–7. The next year, the Chargers played the Bills again in the championship game and were shut out 23–0. The quarterback for the Bills (and the game MVP) in both of those games was former Charger Jack Kemp (and incidentally, those two championships would also be Buffalo's last). In 1966, team owner and founder Barron Hilton was forced to sell off the team to appease the board of directors of Hilton Hotels. Since Hilton sold the team, the Chargers have only had one Super Bowl appearance, in 1994, when they lost 49–26 to the San Francisco 49ers, as San Francisco quarterback and eventual MVP Steve Young threw for a Super Bowl–record six touchdowns. Additionally, eight members of that 1994 Chargers team, including team captain Junior Seau, died before the age of 45.[80]

Founded in 1969, the Padres are one of eight Major League Baseball franchises that have never won the World Series.[81] Of those teams, only the Texas Rangers (1961) and Houston Astros (1962) have been in existence longer than San Diego.[82] The Padres have twice advanced to the World Series, losing 4–1 to the Detroit Tigers in 1984[83] and being swept 4–0 by the New York Yankees in 1998.[84]

Sports Illustrated cover

Players who appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine have tended to coincidentally suffer setbacks or injuries, or lose important games, shortly after appearing on the cover.

2012 Olympics

Reports of an "Olympic curse" (French: malediction olympique) were noted in French media in 2015 following the murder of Belarusian sprinter Yuliya Balykina and the deaths of French athletes Alexis Vastine and Camille Muffat in a helicopter crash during the reality show Dropped. By April 2016, 18 of the 10,568 competitors had died but, based on mortality data for people of the competitors' average age of 26, this was actually lower than the expected death rate, which would have been seven competitors per year and a total by April 2016 of 28.[85]


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