Almost every sport can be dangerous.
You can drop bowling balls at your feet.
You can be hit by a golf ball while walking down the fairway.
But some sports are inherently dangerous. If you’re going to play, the price assumes you’re likely to get hurt… or injured… or even killed.
Then there is the most dangerous sport – the one in which the participant puts everything on the line every time.
The 20 Most Dangerous Sports on the Planet
Before I reveal which sport is by far the most treacherous, I first want to tackle some other worthy competitors – 19 to be exact.
So, if you’re wondering where your favorite activity falls on this list or just an adrenaline-junkie who needs a new pastime, here are the 20 most dangerous sports in the world.
5. Field Hockey
Field hockey is not an official contact sport.
However, players continually injure themselves through contact with other players, rackets, or the ball.
Even if players wear goggles and mouth guards, it is still one of the sports most likely to result in injury.
Despite the aforementioned eye and mouth protection, it’s insufficient for preventing all facial injuries, including broken teeth and concussions.
Almost 90% of all head and face injuries stem from players being hit by a field hockey stick or ball – ouch!
And with all the running and incidental contact, the sport wreaks havoc on players’ leg muscles, knees, and lower back. In fact, more than 15% of the sport’s injuries are ankle sprains.
The cheerleaders become the butt of jokes and question the contestants’ athleticism.
But don’t let her bubbly demeanor and smile fool you.
In girls’ high school athletics, cheerleading incidents account for nearly two-thirds of all catastrophic injuries.
Several cheerleaders threw themselves 30 feet into the air. Unless a teammate caught them, they weren’t wearing safety gear to help them fall.
Sure, some perform stunts on a soft mat, but statistically there are more head injuries caused by high school cheerleading than high school football. With all these actions, cheerleaders can also end up with foot injuries and sprained ankles.
Cheerleaders are so much more than sparkly pom-poms and funny cheers. Sometimes a trip to the emergency room.
3. Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding require a high level of athleticism and finesse to master proper downhill technique at the same time.
Regardless of skill level, the risk of injury when an athlete dismounts is very, very real.
Johns Hopkins researchers estimate that nearly 600,000 people are injured each year while skiing and snowboarding in this country alone.
One in five of these injuries involves the head, usually from a skier or snowboarder hitting a tree or falling to the ground.
Of these people, 22% lost consciousness or suffered a concussion – often due to not wearing a helmet.
In addition, every third injury affects the knee. A bad sweep, wrong turn, or even a hard hit with a tree or rock can cost them.
Skiers and snowboarders can also see an orthopedist for sprained knees, torn ligaments and sprains.
So skiing and snowboarding are popular sports for young and old around the world, but they can also be very dangerous.
2. Big Wave Surfing
The ocean is already a scary place, teeming with natural predators, rocky cliffs and deadly tides.
But for many people, surfing is the singing of sirens that pulls them out to sea every day.
Then there’s the type of surfer whose adrenaline thirst can’t be quenched by signature waves. Instead, they dreamed up the kind of waves that would give us all nightmares.
In general, big wave surfing is not that deadly. Only 4 big wave surfers have died in the last 10 years. That’s still a big number (and no less than a tragedy), but not as outrageous as some of the other sports on this list.
However, if you’re thrown off the board after riding a big wave, you could faint. Even if you stay conscious, you usually have less than 20 seconds to get back to the surface before another swell pushes you under, daddy.
This sport is definitely not for the faint of heart.
1. Cliff Diving
Cliff diving is precisely what its name suggests.
It’s an extreme sport that involves diving into water from a high, rocky cliff – making it very similar to BASE jumping (which also makes a list).
Divers can travel in excess of 60-70 miles per hour when they hit the water, so injuries are definitely possible.
The most common are abrasions, bruises, compression fractures, concussions, and, much more severe, spinal damage.
It’s not advisable to pick up this sport without some training.
Participants must consider the weather conditions, the waves below, and the potential terrain. Knowledge of wind patterns is vital for landing safety.
Modern cliff divers continue to push the training preparation envelope.
The typical distance is 85-92 feet. For comparison, Olympic divers jump from a maximum height of 33 feet.
In 2015, Brazilian-Swiss athlete Laso Schallo dove more than 193 feet.
It takes a lot of preparation for a few seconds of pure adrenaline, but thousands of people take the plunge each year.