Which sports city is the saddest sports city of all? You're expecting us to say Cleveland. But it is not Cleveland. As it turns out, several Wire staffers come from very sad cities to be a sports fan; cities with the sort of sadness that makes one scoff at the fact that at least Cleveland got its precious (and still terrible) Browns to come back to them. So below, we present to you the best cases for why our hometowns are where sports franchise miracles go to die. And also, David Sims wanted to write about New York City.
New York City
Yeah, I hear you yelling from over here. The Yankees have a gazillion trophies and every time they throw money at stars and it doesn't pay off, the rest of the world celebrates! And the Giants have pulled off two improbable Super Bowl runs in the last seven years. FINE. But I don't care about teams in New Jersey (bye, NFL) and I hate the Yankees. The last time my Mets won the World Series (1986) was the year I was born, and now I root for a team that was bankrupted by Bernie Madoff and doesn't even have fan support from people who live next to its STADIUM.
My truest love is the Knicks, who have won two titles in their history, the last in 1973, and are universally regarded as having the worst owner in the league. [Ed. note: Well, now anyway.] The Knicks are the team that forged me in sports fan misery with their '94 Finals loss to the Rockets and '95 playoffs knockout by the Pacers. Yes, both the Mets and the Knicks have had their chances and blown ridiculous contract after ridiculous contract on over-the-hill superstars. But isn't it worse to have all the potential and money that comes with being a New York team and fail again and again? What's that? You want me to shut up? Oh, okay. - David Sims
What's the fourth-biggest city in the country? Phoenix? Philadelphia? After the Big Three, it gets a little muddled. Enter the self-esteem crisis that is Houston, Texas, a city with no universally recognized skyline, buildings, or attributes. Austin has its music, Dallas has its Cowboys, San Antonio has its Alamo, and Houston has no zoning.
This dearth of regard carries over most forcefully into sports, where Houston is, historically, the saddest of the sad. A football town in a football state, the Houston Oilers never once made the Super Bowl, blew the largest lead ever (in a playoff game no less), and fled town for Tennessee. Their replacements, the Houston Texans, lost 14 straight games last year. Their baseball team, the Astros (or Lastros or Disastros) made the World Series one time in five decades and were swept. In the last three seasons, the Astros became the only team in baseball's modern era to lose 100 games or more in the three consecutive years.
Houston's only championships are known best by their asterisk. Even the greatest glories that the Houston Rockets attained—Olajuwon over Ewing in 1994, Olajuwon over David Robinson on his way to besting Shaq in 1995—are obscured by one simple historical fact: Michael Jordan was off batting .202 in Birmingham when the Clutch City captured its two rings. That was 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Houston itself remains sad and unrecognizable. — Adam Chandler
The entire country of Canada
OK, let's get this out of the way quickly: Canada is not a city. It is, perhaps unbelievably, a rather large country. It does not have enough sports teams across the Big Four leagues to count in this discussion, though, so we consider Canada one solid, sad whole. A solid, sad whole that has not seen a Big Four title since 1993, when the Blue Jays won the World Series and the Montreal Canadiens became the last Canadian team to hoist the country's holy grail, the Stanley Cup. It has been nothing but gut punch after gut punch for the last 21 years. Grantland examined the most heartbreaking times Canada came to ending the Stanley Cup drought, and there are plenty. Read that if you need some schadenfreude to fill your afternoon, and then send it to your favorite Canadian friend and watch his or her face turn bright purple. (Most of my friends will read that and cry like babies. Me? I'm a Rangers fan — I've been public enemy #1 for the last two weeks and it felt great.)
But the heartbreak doesn't stop off the ice. Canada has other major sports teams, too. Or should I say "had"? Vancouver had a basketball team, the Grizzlies, who moved to Memphis in 2001 after seven short years of futility. The Montreal Expos would have been the favorites to win the 1994 World Series, with a roster of names who went on to Hall-of-Fame careers playing for other teams, if a work stoppage didn't cut the season short with the 'Spos in first place. Ten years later, the team moved to Washington, D.C. without ever winning a pennant. The two surviving non-hockey teams, the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays, haven't fared much better. The Raptors had a hero — and then they ran him out of town, and this year they got punked by Brooklyn in the playoffs. The Blue Jays haven't seen the post season since winning it all in 1993.
Some people want to move an NFL team to Toronto, which seems like a great idea on the surface. Toronto could support an NFL team, probably. The city is full of bandwagon fans anyway. But if it means more pain for my dear friend Joe and the city of Buffalo [see below], forget it. They've suffered enough. - Connor Simpson
In most ways, Jacksonville is more of an incredibly lucky place than a sad one. The city, just on that precipice of becoming a Major American Metropolis, has its own NFL team. That's really exciting! But instead of being allowed to enjoy that peacefully, Jacksonville has become a target of mockery across the country for its struggles with attendance and filling out its stadium. The Jaguars had awful attendance problems in 2009, when seven of eight home games were blacked out. Yikes. That essentially made Jacksonville synonymous with blackouts and attendance issues. "Oh hey, look it's the Jaguars' only fan!" is a common lame comeback from trash-talking fans of other teams.
In the proceeding years, though, it's become clear that this was not a problem specific to Jacksonville. Teams across the country — Tampa Bay, Miami, San Diego, Oakland — have had trouble selling out their stadiums, particularly in warm places where the majority of people grew up elsewhere rooting for another team. It's fairly obvious why: going to games sucks. Watching at home is free. There is better internet to check your fantasy teams. Beers don't cost $9.
The Jaguars haven't had any blackouts since 2009, a string of four consecutive years. Still, despite the fact that ticket problems are in every city, the Jaguars remain the butt of every attendance joke. It's unfair and rude, but it still is frustrating when another idiot ESPN talking head says to sign Tebow because he'll put fans in the seats, and Jacksonville really needs that! No. Jacksonville does not need that. Not anymore than a number of other cities and teams. And that makes me sad when people diss Jacksonville for dumb, ignorant reasons. — Eric Levenson
Let me set the scene: It's 1997, and the new owner of Connecticut's single major league team, the NHL's Hartford Whalers, is moving the hockey team to the Carolinas (where of course there's a HUGE hockey fan base, ha ha). Kevin Dineen scores the team's final goal, the Whalers become the Carolina Hurricanes, and Hartford suffers its biggest heartbreak since the team traded Ron Francis. Sad story (see: image at right), especially for a kid who grew up going to Whalers games, right? It gets worse.
Fast forward to one year later. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has agreed to move the Patriots to Hartford from the team's aging Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts. Although I'm a hockey and not a football fan, this is still pretty cool: unlike the Whalers, the Patriots actually have a chance of doing well (or even getting to the playoffs). The state's governor — whom many suspected always wanted to woo the Patriots, instead of keeping the Whalers — announced the deal in a joint press conference with Kraft. But two days before Kraft's deadline to pull out of the signed deal without penalty, the team announces that just kidding, they'll stay in Massachusetts after all, thanks to a pretty sweet counter offer worked up by the state once the fire was under their feet. What's it like to root for a team that may have used your city as a stepping stone to the deal they always wanted? Hartford knows.
There's a Guy Maddin film called My Winnipeg that is in no small part about the narrator's (and the city's) anguish after the loss of their beloved Jets. I saw it once, in an audience full of Hartford residents, and you could taste the sad empathy in the room. Except Winnipeg eventually got its Jets back. Hartford, on the other hand, is facing the possibility of even losing its minor league hockey team in the near future. But still, fitting with the heartbreaking OFFICIAL MOTTO OF THE CITY OF HARTFORD, "post nubila Phoebus" (after the clouds, the sun), fans still keep watch, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this is the season that an NHL hockey franchise will be lured back home. - Abby Ohlheiser
Buffalo is the saddest, most victimized, most put-upon and tortured sports city in America. I honestly can't believe we're having this conversation. Probably the only reason we are is because the NFL's Bills have been bottom-dwellers for so long that people have started to take their failure for granted. Back in the '90s, Buffalo's four consecutive Super Bowl losses made the city synonymous with sports futility. The true tragedy of the Buffalo sports fan, however, lies in the people who every year come back with the glimmer of hope that this is the year things all turn around. I call those people "Dad."
Buffalo is merely a two-sport town, so sometimes their futility gets lost amid cities like Cleveland and Minneapolis who have been failing in more sports. But sports failure is about quality, not quantity. And between the Bills and the NHL's Sabres, Buffalo has reaped the following: Four consecutive Super Bowl losses, one of which occurred after an agonizing missed field goal on the final play, a game so notorious it managed to inspire the plots of a Jim Carrey movieand a Vincent Gallo movie, not to mention a throwaway line in one of the most famous X-Files episodes of all time, wherein it was revealed that the Cigarette Smoking Man was responsible for the Bills' historic failures; Suffered a six-month span in 1999-2000 wherein the Bills lost a playoff game via the most improbable [Ed. Note: probably illegal] football play since the Immaculate Reception AND lost the Stanley Cup Finals via a goal that VERY CLEARLY should not have been allowed. The Bills won back-to-back AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 ... the last two years before the Super Bowl existed. The Sabres squandered the best record in the NHL in 2006/07. They've failed to deliver titles to all-time great athletes like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, and Dominik Hasek. The most famous athlete to have ever played in Buffalo was O.J. Simpson. We're constantly victimized by weather bigotry, where talented players won't play in the cold weather. We're constantly under threat of our team leaving the comparably small and less prosperous Buffalo for apathetic nightmare towns like Toronto and Los Angeles. Jon Bon Jovi and Donald Trump want to buy the Bills AS WE SPEAK. I honestly could go on, but let's boil things back down to the basics: four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Vincent Gallo. O.J. Simpson. — Joe Reid
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.
The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.
Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata all said their goodbyes last weekend—in very different ways.
In the past, departing Saturday Night Live cast members have gotten whole sketches devoted to sending them off. Kristen Wiig was serenaded with song and dance from Mick Jagger and the rest of the crew; Bill Hader’s Stefon finally married Seth Meyers; Will Ferrell got a series of testimonials. On last weekend’s 42nd season finale, the show said goodbye to three cast members with varying tenures and legacies: Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata. The first got a goodbye sketch of sorts, the second a couple of featured roles on her last night, and the third no acknowledgement at all. It was a slightly muddled end to what feels like one of SNL’s weaker eras—even as the show breaks ratings records in the age of Donald Trump.
The condition has long been considered untreatable. Experts can spot it in a child as young as 3 or 4. But a new clinical approach offers hope.
This is a good day, Samantha tells me: 10 on a scale of 10. We’re sitting in a conference room at the San Marcos Treatment Center, just south of Austin, Texas, a space that has witnessed countless difficult conversations between troubled children, their worried parents, and clinical therapists. But today promises unalloyed joy. Samantha’s mother is visiting from Idaho, as she does every six weeks, which means lunch off campus and an excursion to Target. The girl needs supplies: new jeans, yoga pants, nail polish.
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At 11, Samantha is just over 5 feet tall and has wavy black hair and a steady gaze. She flashes a smile when I ask about her favorite subject (history), and grimaces when I ask about her least favorite (math). She seems poised and cheerful, a normal preteen. But when we steer into uncomfortable territory—the events that led her to this juvenile-treatment facility nearly 2,000 miles from her family—Samantha hesitates and looks down at her hands. “I wanted the whole world to myself,” she says. “So I made a whole entire book about how to hurt people.”
Can governments be as innovative about saving lives?
Yesterday’s terrorist attack that struck at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Britain’s Manchester Arena—leaving 22 people dead and 59 injured, by the latest count—feels perhaps even more callous and personal than other such recent atrocities. As TheNew York Timesnoted, the target was “a concert spilling over with girls in their teens or younger, with their lives ahead of them, out for a fun night.”
For Europe, the attack, now claimed by ISIS, represents a continuation of a nightmare scenario: The pace and deadliness of terrorist attacks in the continent has reached levels unprecedented in the post-9/11 era, with the heinous and grotesque becoming frighteningly routine.
Even five years ago, specialists could count the major post-9/11 attacks in Western countries on one hand, and knew every date on which they had been perpetrated. They were known by names like 3/11 or 7/7 (references to attacks in Madrid and London, respectively).
Her career of female self-determination demonstrates the rights of religion, sexuality, and expression that much terrorism seeks to undo.
Among the many sickening aspects of the bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, Monday night is the sense of a pattern. Ever since the November 2015 Paris attacks that claimed lives at a rock concert and soccer match, violent Islamic extremists have continued making mass entertainment events one of their primary targets. There was the Pulse massacre in Orlando and the street-festival truck attack in Nice, but also killings at nightclubs in Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, and Tel Aviv.
There’s no doubt a logistical rationale to assaulting these “soft targets”—they may be vulnerable, and bloodshed at them can inspire a particular kind of fear among civilians. But it stands to reason there’s an ideological motive too: A culture is embodied its gatherings and in its entertainments. The particular implications of targeting musical events, which are almost inevitably bound up with art’s larger humanitarian project, have been widely noted.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu explains to his city why four monuments commemorating the Lost Cause and the Confederacy had to come down.
Last week, the City of New Orleans finished removing four monuments—to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, and the postwar battle of Liberty Place. The removals occasioned threats, protests, and celebrations. On Friday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu explained to his city why he had concluded that the monuments needed to come down.
The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way—for both good and for ill.
The office was, until a few decades ago, the last stronghold of fashion formality. Silicon Valley changed that.
Americans began the 20th century in bustles and bowler hats and ended it in velour sweatsuits and flannel shirts—the most radical shift in dress standards in human history. At the center of this sartorial revolution was business casual, a genre of dress that broke the last bastion of formality—office attire—to redefine the American wardrobe.
Born in Silicon Valley in the early 1980s, business casual consists of khaki pants, sensible shoes, and button-down collared shirts. By the time it was mainstream, in the 1990s, it flummoxed HR managers and employees alike. “Welcome to the confusing world of business casual,” declared a fashion writer for the Chicago Tribune in 1995. With time and some coaching, people caught on. Today, though, the term “business casual” is nearly obsolete for describing the clothing of a workforce that includes many who work from home in yoga pants, put on a clean T-shirt for a Skype meeting, and don’t always go into the office.
The reported suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was aimed at preteen and teenage girls enjoying one of the best nights of their lives.
Every terrorist attack is an atrocity. But there’s something uniquely cowardly and especially cruel in targeting a venue filled with girls and young women. On Monday night, a reported suicide bomber detonated a device outside Manchester Arena, killing 22 people, many of whom were children. The victims had gathered at the 21,000-seat venue to see the pop musician Ariana Grande, a former Nickelodeon TV star whose fan base predominantly includes preteen and teenage girls. The goal of the attack, therefore, was to kill and maim as many of these women and children as possible.
How can you respond to such an event? Like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, it’s something so horrific in intent and execution that it boggles the mind. And like the 2015 attack claimed by ISIS at the Bataclan theater in Paris and the shooting in Orlando last year, the Manchester bombing was targeting people who were celebrating life itself—the joy of music and the ritual of experiencing it as a community. For a number of children at the Grande concert, it would have been their first live musical event. Images and video of the aftermath of the bombing, depicting teenagers fleeing from the event, reveal some still clutching the pink balloons that Grande’s team had released during the show. The youngest confirmed victim of the attack, Saffie Rose Roussos, was 8 years old.
The story of a decades-long lead-poisoning lawsuit in New Orleans illustrates how the toxin destroys black families and communities alike.
Casey Billieson was fighting against the world.
Hers was a charge carried by many mothers: moving mountains to make the best future for her two sons. But the mountains she faced were taller than most. To start, she had to raise her boys in the Lafitte housing projects in Treme, near the epicenter of a crime wave in New Orleans. In the spring of 1994, like mothers in violent cities the world over, Billieson anticipated the bloom in murders the thaw would bring. Fueled by the drug trade and a rising scourge of police corruption and brutality, violence rose to unseen levels that year, and the city’s murder rate surged to the highest in the country.
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The president wants to cut funding for programs such as career and technical education and redirect that money toward school choice.
Updated on May 23, 2017
Many of the spending goals outlined in Donald Trump’s proposed education budget reflect his campaign rhetoric. The president, who has long called for reducing the federal government’s role in schools and universities, wants to cut the Education Department’s funding by $9 billion, or 13 percent of the budget approved by Congress last month. The few areas that would see a boost pertain to school choice, an idea that Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have repeatedly touted as a top priority. In the White House’s spending proposal, hundreds of millions of the dollars would go toward charter-school and voucher initiatives, while another $1 billion in grants would encourage states to adopt school-choice policies.