ESPN the Magazine can quantify Washington sports

An ESPN-made system of values and percentages is hardly a way to put a number to the success of a professional sports franchise, but there is little doubt that the logic involved in making such a system creates quite a realistic picture.  In the magazine’s annual study of the 122 MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL teams, ESPN ranks each team based on how well they treat and perform for their respective fan bases.

ESPN The Magazine. Photo courtesy of

In other words, this very interesting study tells us which teams are the best at keeping their fans happy, and which teams are the worst.

If you were curious about the rankings of the four major teams in D.C., the order should really come as no surprise.  The Capitals are 27th (although they were 11th last year), the Nationals are 78th, the Wizards are 110th, and our beloved Washington Redskins are an unsurprising 121st out of 122 teams.  Only the Cincinnati Bengals fans are in greater misery than the fan base of the Redskins.

Additionally, the Baltimore Ravens were 21st and the Baltimore Orioles were 67th (woooo Baltimore.)

Breaking down each ranking, I think it’s safe to say that the Capitals are ranked where they should be.  The are fun to watch and are consistently good year after year.  Ted Leonsis is one of the best owners in sports (the Magazine named him the 6th-best owner in all of sports) and if not for the lack of playoff success in the last few years, the Caps could easily be a top-10 franchise.

The Nationals are also ranked pretty well too.  At 78th, it shows that they are neither a horrid team nor a good one – but so far, they’ve been leaning towards the former.  The main selling point for the Nats in their ranking was their ranking of 44th for affordability.  For those of you who think their recent hot streak merits greater numerical value in the rankings, think about whether or not the Nats have really grabbed your attention for a long period of time.  Honestly, there’s nothing particularly special, is there?

The Wizards are ranked 110th, meaning there are only 12 other teams in worse condition.  This is due in large part to their ranking 117th in both fan relations and player performance.  The Wizards have only one winning season in the last five years and in the last three seasons have won 19, 26, and 23 games respectively.  Although John Wall provides excitement, the latest draft class looks to be a possible succes, and Ted Leonsis has taken over as owner, the Wizards are three or four years away from really challenging as a contender.

And then, there was one.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Redskins are the 2nd-worst franchise in North America.  They’re worse than the Los Angeles Clippers.  Worse than the Atlanta Thrashers, who just got relocated to Winnipeg.  Worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have posted a losing season in each of the last 18 seasons.  Worse than the Chicago Cubs who may be the most futile team in the history of the universe.

I. Just. Want. Parking. Photo courtesy of

When I heard the ESPN had ranked the Redskins so low, I was embarrassed for several reasons.  One, ESPN’s rankings are pretty legit.  Success is measured by wins and fan loyalty and by that formula these rankings are pretty spot-on.  Two, how much worse can things get for the Skins?  As if we already weren’t aware of how annoyingly bad this franchise is, now the entire country can see the futility of the burgundy and gold boiled down to three digits: 121.  That’s 121 out of 122, as in the 2nd-worst franchise on the continent.  As in we pay money out of our minds to have the jersey of Donovan McNabb, we pay hundreds of dollars for crappy tickets, and pay exorbitant amounts of money in order to park five miles away from a stadium that’s in MARYLAND.  Thank you, ESPN The Magazine, for finally quantifying how bad the Redskins are.


Stay strong, D.C. United.  Although you play America’s fifth-favorite (and not qualifiable for the rankings) sport, you are probably this city’s only hope for glory.

If you want to see ESPN’s rankings, click here.

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About David Webber

I am an aspiring sports writer who was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area and who now goes to school at DePaul University in Chicago. I am an avid fan of Washington sports, and it would be my dream to get a job covering one of my favorite teams.

Posted on June 28, 2011, in The Wall. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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