The Most Dangerous Sport Isn’t What You Think

Sports, in general, are dangerous because of their very nature. They require us to push the limits of our bodies and reach new heights of physical existence. But sometimes we can push too high and get burned.

We took a look at some of the most dangerous sports in the world and came up with a list that factors in the rate of injury, the prolonged effects on the player, and how many people die each year. Here are the most dangerous sports in the world.

15. Street Luge

You would expect this sport to be at the head of the pack. Surprisingly, street luging is pretty safe … relatively speaking. Only 25 deaths were recorded between 2008 and 2011, according to While the injuries can be pretty severe, they are rare because of serious efforts for safety precautions like full leather outfits and motorcycle helmets.

14. Cheerleading

NFL cheerleaders don’t always perform crazy aerobatics, but some of the athletes are getting tossed 30 feet in the air. If their teammates miss the catch on the way down, there’s nothing to protect their heads. It is also considered one of the most dangerous high school sports in America, as Huff Post reports. Cheerleading causes more head injuries than high school football.

13. Skiing

People can imagine many ways to die at a ski resort. You can encounter an avalanche, hit a tree, fall into a tree well, or just hit the ground wrong while heading down a ski hill. But the majority of deaths occur on groomed, easy-to-moderate runs, according to Unofficial Networks. A seemingly simple run can turn tragic in the blink of an eye — perhaps because the skier has let their guard down.

12. Scuba Diving

Aside from the obvious risk of drowning, scuba diving can kill you in many ways. You can surface way too quickly, there could be a bad mix of gas in your tank, you could bump your head on a rock, and let’s not forget about sharks! Well, let’s not. But know that sharks aren’t really all that dangerous if you leave them alone, according to the Smithsonian.

11. Bull Riding

Bull riding used to be way more dangerous. Now they wear bulletproof vests so they don’t get hurt. The helmet is still optional, so there’s that. We still don’t understand why someone would want to sit on top of a pissed-off bull.

10. Bullfighting

Bullfighting still occurs around the world. For some reason, people think it’s a great idea to stab a 2,000-pound creature with sharp horns. Every year, dozens of injuries occur in professional bullfighting, as the BBC reports. However, that number could be a lot higher because of the number of incidents that go unreported year-round. Add the element of a weapon and it becomes just slightly more dangerous than bull riding.

9. Polo

If you think about it, there’s a person precariously saddled atop a horse swinging a heavy mallet around their head, trying to hit a ball six feet below them. This sport does claim lives and causes injuries for both the rider and horse, according to The Telegraph. Some claim it’s more dangerous than boxing, but we disagree.

8. Rugby

Nothing like large, muscular men slamming into each other with no padding whatsoever. While we’re at it, let’s throw some spikes on the bottom of their feet. Does that sound safe? Rugby is one of the toughest sports known to man, and the danger level is great. Yet, every year, thousands of people play the sport around the world.

7. Jai Alai

If you do know what Jai Alai is, then you know how hard those rubber balls can be. Now imagine that hard rubber ball traveling upward of 200 miles per hour. It’s not uncommon for those balls to strike someone in the face and kill them instantly. With the sport being less popular now than it was just a few years ago, reports Brittanica, the number of people playing has gone down. That doesn’t change the dangers of the sport.

6. Hunting

It really changes the dynamic of a sport when your opponent is capable of killing you. The International Hunters Education Association reports less than 100 fatalities annually, according to data from 2002-07. In fact, there were less than 25 fatalities and 300 total incidents. The number of animal attacks is high but could be higher because of the lack of reporting or people considered missing.

5. Skydiving

Imagine what it’d be like to have your main parachute fail while skydiving. There would be a moment of panic, then you remember you have a reserve chute. But what do you do when that one fails, too? You can’t do anything except hope that you can bounce.

According to the U.S. Parachute Association, 11 fatal skydiving accidents occurred in 2020, making for a rate of 0.39 fatalities per 100,000 jumps.

4. Surfing

Surfers are true adrenaline junkies. Falling into the water from sea level might sound like a harmless thing, but surfers are traveling at a high rate of speed. On top of that, they don’t just hit the water; they often hit the reef below.

3. Racing

Cars crash during the Las Vegas Indy 300
A crash during the Las Vegas Indy 300 | Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Racing is an extremely dangerous sport. Overall, 100 people die in motorsports annually around the world, according to Top Gear Auto Guide. Imagine crashing into a wall at 200 miles per hour in either a vehicle or motorcycle. On top of that, the fuel could ignite, and then you’ll be burned to death. It’s a death we wish upon no one.

2. Boxing

Boxing, and its cousin MMA, are sports where literally every athlete walks away with an injury. Whether it’s small like a black eye or fat lip or more severe, they can really take a toll on people. On average, 13 boxers die in the ring annually, according to CNN. You also have to consider the number of people who die from the long-term effects of CTE.

1. Mountaineering

You wouldn’t expect it, but mountaineering can be one of the most dangerous sports. Each year, thousands of people are injured while mountaineering. Many of those injuries result from slipping on a rock or falling. Mountaineers also encounter unpredictable weather. Death is common, but more so are missing persons.

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