Cincinnati, Ohio is a beautiful city.
But the sports scene is ugly.
In fact, I’d say it’s the worst sports city in America right now.
Cincinnati has 2 major professional sports teams, Bengals and Reds, and two major college programs, Cincinnati and Xavier.
There are 116 teams in the four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). The 2 teams of Cincinnati represent 2 of the 3 longest playoff winning droughts.
It’s been 30 years for the Bengals, who last won a playoff game on January 6, 1991. That day they beat the Houston Oilers at home at 41-14 before losing to the LA Raiders a week later.
The last time the Reds won a playoff series was in 1995 when they beat the Dodgers 3-0. They were swept up by the Braves at the NLCS.
Bengal’s ’30 year playoff win drought is the longest in any sport. Detroit Lions have the second longest drought (1991) and the third longest belongs to the Reds (1995). The Florida Panthers are the only other team (among the 116) that haven’t won a playoff series since 2000.
The drought is bad! And it’s worse when put in context.
Including the loss to the Raiders in 1990, the Bengals have lost 8 playoff games in a row.
- 2005 – Returned to the playoffs after a 14 year drought. Lost 31-17 to Steelers. Former number 1 pick Carson Palmer (who had a Pro Bowl season) threw a pass and had his knee removed by Steelers DL Kimo von Oelhoffen
- 2009 – Lost 24-14 to Jets.
- 2011 – Lost 31-10 to Texans. First playoff appearance and win for the Texans who started TJ Yates at QB. This was Andy Dalton’s rookie season.
- 2012 – Lost 19-13 to Texans
- 2013 – Lost 27-10 to chargers.
- 2014 – Lost 26-10 to Colts.
- 2015 – Lost 18-16 to Steelers. AJ McCarron started in QB for Bengals, who imploded on penalties towards the end of the game. Bengals scored all 16 points in the fourth quarter, but a Steelers field goal just seconds behind gave them victory.
The Reds also had a terrible run.
- 2010 – returned to the playoffs after a 14-year absence. In Game 1 against the Phillies, Roy Halladay threw a no hitter. The Reds would lose the series 3-0.
- 2012 – After winning Games 1 and 2 in San Francisco, the Reds came home and lost three home games in a row to lose the series.
- 2013 – Lost one wild card round to the pirates. It was the Pirates’ first win in a series since 1979. And the appearance sparked an 18-year playoff drought.
- 2020 Scored ZERO in 22 innings and was swept to the Braves (who had previously lost 10 playoff series in a row) in a best-of-three series.
Told you it was bad.
How about college.
The Cincinnati basketball team competed in 9 consecutive NCAA tournaments from 2011 to 2019. During that time, they only appeared in 1 Sweet 16 and had a record of 6-9. Cincinnati was last in the Final Four in 1992 and last won everything in 1962.
Xavier Basketball has the second most NCAA tournament appearances of all time (28) without reaching the Final Four. In 2018, Xavier secured a 1 seed and in 2016 a 2 seed, which is his tallest seed of all time. In both years they lost in the second round and didn’t even hit the sweet 16.
Cincinnati Football is an emerging program on an upward trend. You are 31-6 for the past three seasons. It’s worth noting that Cincinnati ranks 0-3 in the school’s 3 biggest games (2009 Orange Bowl, 2020 Sugar Bowl, 2021 Peach Bowl).
To make matters worse, Cincinnati football used to be in a “power” conference and is now relegated to one of the “other teams”.
The lack of success at both universities shows that the Cincinnati curse affects both students and professionals.
Cheers to Cincinnati sports fans. Especially those old enough to remember the last playoff wins in the 1990s.
Mike is the University of Cincinnati alum and the ultimate sports nerd.