There are many professional sports franchises in the Washington D.C. area, including both traditional, local teams that have been around for generations, newcomers and everything in between. But which teams do D.C. area residents care about the most? As a New York centered sports fan, I’m the perfect person to analyze and dissect the local fans’ rooting interest without bias. Here is the ranking of the professional D.C. sports teams that fans care about the most.
* No Baltimore teams were included in the list, even though many D.C. metro area residents have their allegiances tied to the Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens.
1. Washington Redskins: The Redskins are the unquestioned big dog when it comes to D.C. area sports teams, and their stranglehold on life, culture and sports in D.C. is all the more impressive considering they have made the playoffs only four times in the last 18 seasons since they last won the Super Bowl in 1991. Donovan McNabb, Mike Shanahan and Albert Haynesworthy all added plenty to the annual offseason fireworks that the franchise enjoys/suffers through.
2. Washington Capitals: The area wasn’t always “Rocking the Red”, but with the arrival of Alex Ovechkin, D.C. became a revitalized hockey hub in next to no time. Fans are getting antsy however watching Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, amongst other teams, see postseason success while the Capitals fail to live up to expectations.
3. D.C. United: D.C. United of the MLS is a four-time MLS Cup winner, the championship for the league, and is one of only two U.S. teams to ever win the CONCACAF Champion’s League final, pitting the top club teams in the World Cup qualifying region against one another, doing so in 1998. With three separate fan supporting groups and a pretty rowdy home game atmosphere, particularly considering that unlike many other MLS franchises, they still play in a football stadium, D.C. United is one of the under the radar favorites of the D.C. sports scene.
4. Washington Wizards: The Washington Wizards franchise hasn’t been consistently good since the 1970s, when they were the Baltimore Bullets, then the Capital Bullets and finally the Washington Bullets, who won the franchise’s lone championship in 1978. They flirted with developing into a challenger just a few years ago, somehow surviving the debacle of the Michael Jordan era and Kwame Brown, but three consecutive losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs, a few major injuries, and some incident involving Gilbert Arenas and a gun put a damper on all of that. First pick John Wall though promises to inject some life into the franchise.
5. Washington Nationals: New on the scene, yes, sporting mostly terrible attendance records, yes, but even with both of those factors working against them, there seems to be some underlying baseball roots in the city. Whether it’s solely from D.C. residents sick of having to half-root for the Orioles, the short-lived mania from the arrival (and subsequent departure) of Stephen Strasburg, or whatever other reasons, people seem to want to root for a local baseball team, if only the on-field product wasn’t always so terrible.
6. Washington Mystics: The Washington Mystics of the WNBA have been the league’s “attendance champions” for at least 7 times since their founding in 1998. They had the banners hanging on the arena’s rafters to prove it, although the majority were taken down after the franchise was pummeled in the press and by fans for hanging such ridiculousness above their heads. Attendance champions is a relative phrase in the WNBA as well, where an 11,338 figure can win the title in the 2009 season. Meanwhile, success on the hardwood has been harder to come by, with only one playoff series win in their short history.
Attendance records and accomplishments taken from each team’s official website