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What was your first, worst sports heartbreak?

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Time to open old wounds...

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Ohio State v Syracuse Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Let’s be honest: being a Syracuse Orange isn’t always fun. In fact, it probably feels like there is more pain there there is happiness. Part of that is expectation setting: when you expect to be good, a fun regular season win will do far less positive than a first round loss will do negatively.

This week at SB Nation, we’re talking about Sports Moments That Make You Cry, and we wanted to lead it off with our team’s First Heartbreaks and Worst Heartbreaks, across all sports and specifically with the Orange.


Most of my early life, I knew the Pirates and Penguins were bad, I wasn’t into college sports, and the Steelers were good, but not great. So when my best friend’s Titans played my Steelers, I finally had stakes and I learned the hard way why you never gamble on teams you love. As for my ‘Cuse fandom, I was a freshman in 2011-12, and I remember half the guys on my floor in my dorm room watching this game, slowly sinking into despair as this game got away from the Orange.


  • First Heartbreak: 1997 Giants NFC wildcard loss to Vikings (absolutely tears)
  • First ‘Cuse Heartbreak: 2006 Iowa loss (no tears)
  • Worst Heartbreak: Mets’ final game at Shea Stadium (most recent tears about anything)
  • Worst ‘Cuse Heartbreak: 2010 Sweet 16 loss to Butler (no tears)

I haven’t cried often in my life — blame being raised (as many are) that it’s perceived as a weakness — but most recent instances of tears for me have been sports-related. As a nine-year old, the Giants’ surprising run to an NFC East title was exciting to be part of, though I never really conceptualized what the end would look like. It hit like a ton of bricks. Same went for the final game at Shea Stadium. It wasn’t about the Mets choking away the N.L. East for the second straight season. It was about the memories that building held for me as a fan, and what felt like the nail in the coffin for the “Amazin’ Mets” as they were known. Thankfully, 2015 and 2016 redeemed portions of this optimism.

The Syracuse ones probably track for many of my age group. I was a Syracuse fan before arriving on campus in 2006, but was casually invested. As discussed here many times, the Iowa game that fall shattered any illusion I’d have a “normal” Orange fandom going forward. Butler is brutal for everyone. But you could probably sub in Marquette (2011) or Dayton (2014) and the gut-wrenching feeling is about the same.

Syracuse v South Florida Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images


  • First Heartbreak: When the Red Sox let Carlton Fisk leave. My favorite player on another team was crushing to me as a kid
  • First ‘Cuse Heartbreak: 1991 NCAA Tournament loss to Richmond. My freshman year at Cuse and finally excited about being on campus for a long tourney run and splat. Just crushing.
  • Worst Heartbreak: 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Chris Kreider ran Carey Price and knocked him out of the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Worst ‘Cuse Heartbreak: The entire Greg Robinson era. I was able to meet him on campus after he retired and thought he could help the Orange. I had season tickets in the front row of the O-Zone and spent far too many Saturdays watching Cuse lose game after game.


I grew up in the Bash Brother era. This was paramount in my sports fandom and Jose Canseco was my idol (hindsight...). I was just too young to comprehend the Kirk Gibson home run in 1988, but when 1990 rolled around, watching the Reds run them off the field just hurt.

For the Orange I had just become a die hard Syracuse hoops fan with the 1996 run at a formative 11 years old, and was looking forward to the next year... which let me down horribly. The 2006 football loss to Iowa had to be the worst though. I’m not sure if it was because I actually sat through it live, or what, but the depravity that was felt at the end of that game was just... ugh.

The worst overall has to be 2017. The United States needed to draw Trinidad and Tobago to advance to the 2018 World Cup. In normal cases, this shouldn’t have been an issue. Alas, a crazy Omar Gonzalez deflected own-goal, and Alvin Jones improbable screamer from 30 yards out, and the perfect storm of everything in CONCACAF going against the USA ended any hope. There’s literal podcast audio of me in shock and choking up at the end of that game. I still get chills thinking about it.

Now that your memories have been refreshed with so many painful ‘Cuse memories, what was your first and worst ‘Cuse heartbreaks? Let us know in the comments, and later in the week, we’ll decide on the worst ‘Cuse Heartbreak for the fandom.