Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These are the stages that Washington DC sports fans go through annually following the premature playoff demise of each of their beloved sports franchises. However, despite the perennial ineptitude of DC sports teams’ and their reputation of being (in the words of Tony Kornheiser) choking dogs, fans convince themselves that each season will be different than the last and that somehow, someway the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, and Redskins will break the endless cycle of mediocrity that the city has become accustomed to.

For those who aren’t familiar or need a refresher on the recent history of Washington DC sports, here is a quick run-down of each franchise:

  • Washington Capitals:
    • Championships: 0
    • Last championship appearance: 1998
    • Haven’t reached the Conference Finals since 1998
  • Washington Nationals (established in 2005):
    • Championships: 0
    • Last championship appearance: Never
    • Have never reached the NLCS
  • Washington Redskins:
    • Championships: 3
    • Last championship appearance: 1991
    • Haven’t reached the NFC Championship since 1991
  • Washington Wizards:
    • Championships: 1
    • Last championship appearance: 1979
    • Haven’t reached the Conference Finals since 1979

As is evident by looking at the information above, each Washington franchise has had historical success, to a degree, but somewhere along the way they seem to have picked up a habit of royally choking in the early rounds of the playoffs.

In spite of all of this, the Capitals and Wizards found themselves with a shot at redemption yesterday; a chance to erase the cloud of doubt hovering over them and prove to the world that they are capable of delivering on their potential by providing their fans with something they have been waiting 30 years to see.

And they choked.

In what was hyped as one of the most important nights in DC sports history, the Capitals and Wizards showed their true colors by faltering when it mattered most. Each team gave their fans reason to believe that they had the goods to make a championship run, only to snatch their hopes away by crashing and burning in spectacular fashion as they both got blown out by their arch rivals.

This has left many searching for answers to why all of the sports franchises in Washington DC are so prone to epic playoff failure, but nobody seems to have an explanation. Are the teams’ simply victims of bad luck? Unlikely, as this has been happening for some time now. Are the teams’ flawed in their roster construction? Their regular season success would suggest otherwise. Do the teams’ star players’ lack the mental and intestinal fortitude to perform when the pressure is on? Possibly. Did the Native Americans curse all Washington DC sports franchises for allowing their city’s football team to be named after a racial slur? Maybe, if you believe in that sort of thing.

We may never understand the reasons behind the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, and Redskins playoff ineptitude, so fans are left constantly rotating through the stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. And until the cycle of mediocrity is broken, Washington DC will remain a city plagued by the broken dreams of its residents.