What Is the Most Dangerous Sport in the World?Adam Brinkman
Anyone can tell you that sports are dangerous—or at least the fun ones are! Human bodies are relatively fragile, especially compared to most things in our environments, so it’s no surprise that injuries can happen when people put their bodies under stress. We got curious about which sport was most dangerous, and we’ll avoid any graphic detail, but we are going to share our general findings and try to put this debate to rest!
In this classic, American contact sport, injuries occur so often and are so normalized that it’s not uncommon for someone to scoff at the idea that there are serious, long-term consequences for some players. Broken bones, neck and head injuries, and concussions are fairly common—and in the early days of football, it was worse, with early games leaving players dead on the field: check out what vintage football protective gear looked like, and it’s pretty obvious why!
We’ve come a long way with better helmets, more advanced padding, and modern medicine, but it’s sobering to think of the risks professional football players face.
For those who don’t know, free diving is a sport that involves diving as deep as possible without using breathing equipment. No oxygen tanks, no snorkel (not that it would do any good underwater), not even a diving bell. Just a diver, their swim gear, and the abyssal open ocean—and sometimes deep ocean holes or caves, in case regular free diving wasn’t terrifying enough as is!
Out of 417 recorded freediving accidents between 2006 and 2011, 308 were fatal; that’s nearly 75% of fatalities out of reported accidents, without even looking at water-specific injuries like decompression sickness (also called the bends).
Big Wave Surfing
Any time you get people in the water, there’s a highly increased potential for injuries, and big wave surfing is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the water. Regular surfing looks cool as heck, and big wave surfing is even bigger, with 100-foot waves not being out of the norm.
Of course, along with the chance to hang ten on the most gnarly of waves comes the chance to be sucked over into a wash cycle—and in big wave surfing, that wash cycle might mean drowning or being smashed against underwater rocks. (And that’s without even considering sharks.) You’d have to be quite the adrenaline junkie to try out this one!
All you have to do is stay on the bull for eight seconds. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s eight seconds only holding on with one hand, and the bull can weigh up to 1800 pounds. And it really, really doesn’t want the rider to be there.
Most bull riding injuries are either something small, like a twisted ankle from an improvised dismount, or something deadly serious, like falling or being thrown by the bull, and then the bull either trampling or falling on top of the rider. Because again: the bull really, really doesn’t want the rider to be there.
Fun fact: Each eight-second bull ride is scored out of 100 points (less than eight seconds is zero points). To get the total, up to 50 points are awarded for the rider’s effort, then those points are added to up to 50 points awarded for the bull’s effort. If you’ve ever seen a lazy bull that refused to buck and a rider who looked upset by that even though they’re getting an easy eight seconds, now you know why!
A dozen teenagers vaulting and tumbling across the ground, launching each other up to 30 feet into the air with only each other to catch them. What could go wrong? Leg injuries, ankle sprains, broken bones—statistically, high school cheerleading leads to more head injuries annually than high school football.
Okay, now stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong and just trust us: cheerleaders are skilled gymnasts participating in an underrated, strength- and agility-based sport that only becomes full contact if something goes terribly wrong. That sounds pretty dangerous to us!
Maybe it’s not technically a ‘sport’ but we can’t not include the legendary lawn game that was the cause of so many injuries and deaths that it got recalled by the manufacturer, banned from sale in multiple states and became impossible to find, unless you had a friend whose parents hadn’t heard about the recall.
The game has since been redesigned to remove the point from the darts, replacing them with a small, densely weighted tip that doesn’t cause serious injury if it hits someone. Buy the new version for your favorite Gen X friend or relative and they’ll tell you it’s just not the same.
Note: Just to clarify for anyone born in the 90s or later: yes, there was a popular outdoor summer game you could find in the toy section of most stores that involved throwing oversized, pointed darts into the sky and trying to get them to land on a target on the lawn. The main challenge was to not accidentally hit anyone standing elsewhere on the lawn, or next door (don’t ask)—and our parents bought that game for us! The 80s were wild.
And the most dangerous sport in the world…
What? Oh no, it can’t be!
It may not seem dangerous to those unfamiliar with the game, but then you must not know the pain of hurt feelings. Personally, we don’t know any other sport more likely to start a playful family argument—or settle a family feud.
Do you play official rules or house rules? Are you a gracious winner or have you spent the long, cold winter perfecting your I-win-you-lose dance? Do you set down your beer for better balance or do you hang onto your beer for better balance? Whichever way you choose to play, the important factor in having the most fun—and avoiding the potential for dangerous hurt feelings—is making sure you play with other people who match your playstyle.
So why don’t you hop on over to Cornhole Worldwide and order your custom Cornhole board today!
Which of these extreme sports do you think is the most dangerous? Well, it seems like that all depends on how you define ‘dangerous’ and how you define a ‘sport!’