The 20 World's Most Dangerous Sports in 2023.
The 20 World’s Most Dangerous Sports in 2023.

Almost every sport can be risky.
A bowling ball could hit your foot.
A golf ball could hit you as you walk down the path.

But some games are actually very dangerous. You have to agree that there’s a good chance you’ll get hurt, killed, or otherwise harmed in order to play.

Finally, there was the most dangerous sport of all, one where players had to risk everything every time.

These are the 20 most dangerous sports in the world.

Before I tell you which sport is by far the most dangerous, I want to talk about 19 other sports that are just as dangerous.

Here are the 20 most dangerous sports in the world, in case you’re curious about where your favourite exercise fits on this list or just want to try something new.

20. Field Hockey 

Hockey is not a physical sport according to the rules.

But players get hurt all the time when they touch another player, the stick, or the ball.

Even though eye and mouth guards are worn, the sport is still one of the most likely to cause injuries.

Even with the eye and mouth protection described above, it’s not enough to stop all facial injuries, like broken teeth and concussions.

People hurt their heads and faces almost 90% of the time when they get hit by a hockey stick or ball.

The running and accidental touch in the sport are very bad for the leg muscles, knees, and lower backs of the players. In fact, ankle sprains make up more than 15% of accidents in the sport.

19. For cheerleading

For cheerleading
For cheerleading

Cheerleaders are the target of many jokes that make fun of how strong the people who work as them are.

Don’t be fooled by their smiles and happy faces, though.

Cheerleading crashes make up almost two thirds of all serious injuries in high school sports for girls.

A few dancers are thrown 30 feet into the air. They don’t have any safety gear on that will help them land if their partner can’t catch them.

Even though some do their stunts on padded mats, high school cheerleading is generally more likely to cause head injuries than high school football. Because they do so many tricks, cheerleaders could hurt their legs or sprain their knees.

There’s a lot more to cheerleading than fun songs and shiny pom poms. It’s sometimes a trip to the emergency room.

18. Skiing and snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding

A lot of speed and skill are needed to learn how to ski or snowboard so that you can make it down the mountain safely.

No matter how skilled an athlete is, they are very likely to get hurt as they careen downhill.

Johns Hopkins researchers think that about 600,000 people hurt themselves every year in this country alone while skiing or snowboarding.

About one in five of these injuries is to the head. This generally happens when a skier or snowboarder hits a tree or falls to the ground.

Only 22% of those people were able to wake up or were not injured, and this was usually because they weren’t wearing a helmet.

Also, knees are involved in one out of every three accidents. They can be put through a lot of stress with just one bad wipe-out, a wrong turn, or even a hard hit from a tree or stone.

Skiers and snowboarders can also hurt their knees by sprains, tears, and dislocations, which require a trip to an orthopaedic expert.

So, skiing and snowboarding are fun for people of all ages all over the world, but they can also be very dangerous.

17. Big Waves Surfing

Big Waves Surfing
Big Waves Surfing

The ocean is already a scary place because of the dangerous tides, sharp rocks, and animals that live in the water.

Still, for many, surfing is like a siren song that calls them to the ocean every day.

Another type of surfer can’t get enough of the thrills that regular waves offer. But what they dream about are waves that would make the rest of us sick.

Big wave surfing isn’t really that dangerous. Only 4 big wave surfers have died in the last 10 years. Still a big amount and a terrible tragedy, but not as scary as some of the other sports on this list.

Even so, you might lose consciousness if you fall off your board after riding a big wave. Most of the time, you only have less than 20 seconds to get back to the top before another big wave pushes you down.

Be warned: this sport is not for the weak of heart.

16. Cliff Diving

Cliff Diving
Cliff Diving

Cliff jumping is exactly what it sounds like.

It’s a dangerous sport where you jump into the water from a high, rocky cliff. It’s a lot like BASE jumping, which is also on the list.

When divers hit the water, they can go faster than 60 to 70 miles per hour, so accidents are definitely possible.

Cuts, bruises, compression fractures, concussions, and, much worse, spinal damage are the most frequent.

You shouldn’t start this sport without first getting some training.

People taking part must think about the weather, the waves below, and the possible landscape. To land safely, you need to know how the wind blows.

Cliff divers today are still pushing the limits of what they can do in their training.

85 to 92 feet is a common distance. Olympic dives, on the other hand, jump from a height of 33 feet.

Athlete Laso Schallo, who is Brazilian and Swiss, jumped more than 193 feet in 2015.

Thousand of people jump every year, even though it takes a lot of work to get ready for those few seconds of pure energy.

15. Scuba diving

Scuba diving
Scuba diving

Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) diving is a pretty hard and stressful sport that needs special gear and skills.

Even though most people who want to learn how to scuba dive go through a lot of training, there are still many ways that people can end up in danger.

For starters, if you’re swimming in the open ocean, the wild animals (huge, hungry sharks) are a clear danger. Care must be taken.

If you go further, you might find yourself with broken gear, like a broken depth gauge (which could cause light decompression sickness) or a broken regulator (which could cause you to drown).

Decompression sickness (DCS) is another illness that scuba dives often get. DCS, also known as “the bends,” happens when a diver sucks in compressed air at a lower depth and their body tissues take in too much nitrogen. If too much nitrogen has been taken in by the lungs, the drop in pressure when the person comes back to the surface creates nitrogen bubbles in the tissue.

DCS is very painful, and it can also damage nerves and tissues in ways that could be deadly.

The bends aren’t the only thing that can happen if you’re below 135 feet. It can be even worse if you rise too fast or hold your breath. This can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

14. Buzkashi

Buzkashi
Buzkashi

An old game from Central Asia called “buzkashi,” which means “goat pulling,” is played on the back of a horse or yak. Some say that Buzkashi began in Afghanistan when two tribes tried to steal the goat of a rival group.

No matter what, there is no way that a sport called “goat pulling” is ever going to be safe.

Even so, Buzkashi has been around for more than a thousand years and is even the official sport of Afghanistan.

The game isn’t very famous in the West, but Sylvester Stallone and his friends played it in Rambo III in 1988.

The game is played on an open field, and the goal is pretty simple: each person tries to get control of a ‘ball’ that looks like a goat or cow head and throw it into a basket or goal.

Like you’ll do.

Not only do people in Buzkashi not use guns, but they also use whips to move their horses and beat their opponents.

Players can also pull hair and grab other players off their horses, which can hurt, break, or even kill them. Even though deaths are rare, falling off the horse is very likely to happen, and when it does, it is very painful.

13. Bo-Taoshi

Bo-Taoshi, whose name comes from the Japanese words for “pole toppling” or “pole bring-down,” is a lot more dangerous than Capture the Flag.

A lot of people think that the sport started in 1945 as a way for the Japanese militia to get men ready for war. Because of this, new soldiers compete in this game during their initiation. This game is so well-liked in Japan that kids and teens play it on holidays and sports days. 

A normal fight has 300 people.
That’s right, 300.

There are 150 crazy players going up against another 150 crazy players.

The offensive and defensive units are made up of half of each team. The defensive units wear white and the attacking units wear a bright colour.

Players on defence line up around a pole that can be 10 to 16 feet high. When a gun goes off, players on the other team actually throw themselves at the players on the other team to knock down the pole.

You can attack and protect at the same time for both teams. The winner is the first person to knock down the other team’s pole. 

There is a lot of face-kicking and thrashing of arms and legs as teams try to knock down the poles.

The sport has become more well-known and is now even played in the United States. The aBo-Taoshi league started up in Richmond, Virginia, in 2012.

If your two favourite things to do are climb poles and beat people up, you might want to move to Richmond.

12. Calcio Storico

It might be the easiest thing about this sport, even though it looks hard to say.

Calcio Storico has a long history that goes back to 1580. Every year on June 24, people in Florence, Italy, crowd into the main street, which has been turned into an arena, to watch a rough sport that is a mix of rugby, football, and wrestling.

Two teams of 27 people play against each other for 50 minutes. There are no substitutes, so if you get hurt, you have to keep playing.

On the 80×40-meter field, a ball is thrown in the middle. The goal is to get the ball into the net that runs along the other team’s 40-meter side. Get it and run with it, kick it, or pass it to someone else.

The other team is, of course, trying to kill you the whole time.

In terms of aggression, the only rules are that players can’t gang tackle, sucker punch, or kick someone in the head.

That’s nice, then.

There is still a long list of very hard things that people can do, which is a shame. This means they can use their feet and hands to:

• Hit
• A headbutt
• Trip
• Take on
• Wrestling
• Get choked

The rules for a lot of martial arts moves are also completely clear.

How much fun!

People who play Calcio Storico have been hospitalised for months afterward, but no deaths have been reported in recent years.

11.  Bull Riding

Most of the time, taking life by the horns is easier said than done.

That being said, it’s probably still a lot easier and safer than trying to ride a real bull.

People who work as cowboys or girls will tell you that riding a bull is one of the most risky things you can do.

The rules are easy to understand and very scary.

The rider has to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds and can only use one hand at a time. They also can’t switch hands.

If you’re crazy, sitting on top of a 2,000-pound, angry, and uncertain bull might be fun for a short time, but there’s always the chance of getting hit and breaking a bone.

Or, you know, dying.

Dale Butterwick, a sports researcher at the University of Calgary, says that 20 out of every 100,000 rodeo competitors will seriously hurt themselves.

According to Butterwick, catastrophic means that a player has died or had a big change in his or her life.

So.

You understand.
This is not good.

For 8 seconds, it’s very dangerous. But more than 1,000 experienced bull riders are ready to take it.

10. Street Luging

Street Luging
Street Luging

People who do street luging lie on a rolling board, which is called a “sled,” and ride it down a specially stepped paved road or course.

Skaters came up with the sport when they were trying to find faster ways to move on their boards. They found that sitting on them instead of standing on them would make them go much faster.

How much bigger?

He once wrote in The New York Times that street luging is like “sledding at 90 miles per hour.”

What Damian Andrew set in 2017 as the world record for a street luge that doesn’t need help is 101 mph.

What might go wrong?

Even though the speeds are very high, riders have to take safety measures like wearing full leather gear and motorcycle helmets. People do get hurt, but not often, and the accidents can be very bad.

Lugers put their lives at risk to get a quick rush of energy going downhill. Since you are so close to the road, you are more likely to hit the paved track directly.

Courses, which can be anywhere from a half mile to three miles long, usually have a lot of sharp turns that make it hard to see what’s ahead.

Also, did I forget to say that luges don’t have brakes?

That’s correct.

If a luger decides they no longer want to race at lightning speed down a windy road, they can do one of two things:

• If they can drag their feet on the ground, they can slow down and stop.
• They might run into something

Oh no!

9. NASCAR and Motocross

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), which has been around since the 1940s, is a show that millions of people watch every year.

Some drivers go over 180 miles per hour, so it’s not a surprise that some have been hurt or killed in accidents.

During the past 20 years, NASCAR has taken steps to make its cars safer. In this case, they’ve required a “kill switch” so that engines can be turned off from afar if the driver can’t. For example, drivers have to wear clothes that don’t catch fire.

NASCAR made all drivers use the Head and Neck Support (HANS) Device after famous driver Dale Earnhardt died in a high-speed crash in 2001. This device keeps drivers’ heads from moving forward.

But drivers are still at risk even with these kinds of safety features. People who drive may get blood clots from waiting for too long or breathing in fumes, even though the crash isn’t very bad.

Motorcycle motocross is a sport like this where people race each other with powerful engines and a crazy amount of bravery.

People who race in motocross don’t go as fast as people who race in NASCAR, but if they crash, there is a lot less space between them and the track. It’s one of the most dangerous games in the world because of this. It only takes one mistake to be your last.

8. MMA

MMA
MMA

Fighting in mixed martial arts (MMA) is a battle between two very skilled fighters. The fighters can hit and wrestle their opponents until they either pass out or “tap out,” which means “I quit.”

Okay, fine. It’s not a surprise. It’s one of the world’s most dangerous games.

One out of every three mixed martial arts fights ends in a knockout. This means that brain injuries are more likely to happen than in boxing or other martial arts.

Even if a competitor doesn’t get hurt in a match, the practice rounds can be very painful and even dangerous. It is possible for athletes to tear muscles, break bones, fracture lungs, and even hurt their heads.

The most common accidents are cuts, bruises, and concussions because the arms, neck, and head are hit over and over again.

Because of this, the term “bloodsport” still fits MMA, even though official organisations like the UFC have done a lot to distance it from that name.

7. Jai Alai

Jai Alai
Jai Alai

Think of squash on steroids and one that needs help controlling its anger.

We say “Hi-Lie” when we say “Jai Alai.”

The sport, which is also known as “Cesta Punta,” began in the 1700s in Spain and some parts of France.

Each team of two players throws a ball made of goatskin, rubber, and metal against a huge wall in front of them using a device that looks like a scoop. This makes the ball go faster than a person could throw it.

How quickly?
150-170 MPH!
It’s about 190 MPH on record.

In Jai Alai, the walls have to be made of solid rock, or they’d fall down quickly.

To get this fast, players have to start with their back to the wall they’ll be throwing against, which makes it hard for them to see who’s in their way.

It seems like the other people would either stay away from the person throwing or at least keep an eye on them, but the desire to win often wins out. Many people look at the wall before the ball is thrown to try to get an early start on where they need to be to catch it.

This is how a lot of them get hit in the head with one of these very hard balls, which is not good.

Because of this, four people have died while playing the sport. When the New York Times wrote about Jai Alai, they said this about the player pay that really summed up how dangerous it is:

“Basic salaries for jai alai players range from $35,000 to $50,000 a year, assuming they don’t get hurt, which happens a lot.”

When figuring out how much money you can take home as a Jai Alai player, you need to take into account the very real chance that you’ll get hurt so badly that it will limit how much you can make.

…wow.

6. Boxing

Boxing has been an important part of sports competitions around the world for hundreds of years. It was probably America’s favourite sport before baseball.

It’s also been very dangerous for a long time.

In fact, it’s so dangerous that thirteen fighters die every year on average.

To protect boxers, laws like the Mohammed Ali Boxing Reform Act have been passed, but accidents, some of which are very serious, still happen all the time.

Head and eye injuries are the main ones. A expert boxer’s punch has the same force as a 20 mph bowling ball that weighs 13 pounds.

…ouch.

People who take these kinds of hard hits get cuts, bruises, broken ribs, internal bleeding, broken teeth, and even damage to their internal systems. Some fighters have even had retinal detachments and bleeding.

More dangerous effects include long-term brain injuries that make it hard to speak, become stiff, and lose your memory.

Every sports fan pays to see a knockout punch, but it’s also one of the most dangerous accidents in the game. It hurts more than just now. It stays longer than just one day. People who box can be hurt by it for the rest of their lives.

5. Bullfighting

We’ve all seen pictures of a matador in his fancy outfit waving a big red flag to get the attention of an angry, determined bull that digs its heels into the ground and charges right at the rival.

The sport of Spanish bullfighting has its roots in the gladiator games of the Roman Empire. It is still a dangerous sport today.

It’s not a surprise.

Gladiators were not known for being very safe.

There have been about 530 deaths in bull rings since 1700.

A bull running right through you is the worst thing that could happen in this old sport, but there are other risks as well. A stray horn could cut off an eye. A simple cut or scratch could cause an illness that makes you sick or even kills you.

Luckily, these days there are doctors on hand to treat all kinds of common bullfighter injuries, from “that looks like it hurt” injuries to “holy $%&#! I believe he is dead!”

Still, even though this has helped lower the death rate in the dangerous sport, you should probably find something else to do if you like breathing.

Even though it has become more modern, bullfighting is still very, very dangerous. In fact, two bullfighters died in the ring just four years ago.

Professor of human-animal studies Garry Marvin says, “If a normal person got into the ring with a fighting bull, they’d be severely gored or dead within a few minutes.”

4. Freediving

Think about holding your breath as you go deeper and deeper into the water for almost three minutes.

50 feet.
100 feet.
150 feet.
200 feet.

Freediving is what that is, and many people can go much deeper with just one breath.

For men, the record for a nonstop weight dive with fins is 420 feet, and for women, it’s 331 feet. To give you an idea, a normal football pitch is 360 feet long.

Thankfully, there has only been one death in professional freediving. Mostly, that’s because competitions are only for experienced people, they have rules and laws, and medical doctors are always there.

There are, however, many people who go free diving without these kinds of safety gear. ABC News wrote a story about free diving that said, “There are about 5,000 free divers around the world, and an estimated 100 die each year.”

At the beginning of the same story, it talked about a champion free diver who died while trying to descend 561 feet. This shows how dangerous the sport can be, even for the most experienced divers.

3. BASE Jumping

When you fall from the sky, nothing is going to be especially safe.

But BASE jumpers have found a way to make it a million times more dangerous.

When these extreme athletes jump from fixed things like buildings, antennas, satellites, or even the ground, they get a lot of pleasure out of it. When you jump, you’ll be at least 5,000 feet above that.

Because the distance is usually so short, BASE jumpers just hold a parachute that has been opened in their hands and let it go right after they jump. It might take too long to wait for it to launch after pulling a chord.

223 people have died while BASE jumping between 2007 and 2017.

In 2016, more than 30 BASE jumpers died, making it the deadliest year for the sport so far.

One study found that for every 2,317 BASE jumps, one person dies. That means that if you decide to jump, you have a 0.04% chance of dying.

I’m going to pass.

2. Mountaineering

When adventurers go to the mountains, they feel a rush of excitement and know they are very likely to get hurt or die.

In fact, since the first try to climb Mt. Everest in 1922, close to 300 people have died on that mountain alone.

Not being able to control one’s surroundings is the biggest problem. Bad weather can be an overwhelming problem for a mountain climber who is out in the open on the side of a big mountain.

It’s hard for even the most prepared mountain climbers to get used to the weather when it goes from calm, sunny, and warm to windy, rainy, and snowy very quickly. Another very real danger is frostbite.

Mountain climbers also run the risk of hitting many things that fall, such as huge icicles, rocks, and avalanches. Mountain climbers need to be alert and pay attention to what’s in front of, above, and below them to stay safe.

Mountain climbers may also come across crevasses, which are deep cracks in ice sheets and glaciers, along the way. These cracks are often hidden by snow, and if you fall into one, you could die.

And as climbers go higher, the thinner air at higher elevations can make them sick from altitude or, even worse, expose them to UV rays.

Because of all of these things, Prof. Sir David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University, who is known as the UK’s foremost risk expert, thought climbing was the world’s most dangerous sport. He thought that there was a 1% chance of dying on every steep climb.

  1. Mountain Climbing (Free Soloing)

I’m going to pick a different sport, though it’s a related one, as the most dangerous in the world anyway.

Traditional mountain climbing is very dangerous, even with all the ropes, hooks, and other safety gear that climbers use.

The 2017 Accidents in North American Climbing study says that 38 people died while climbing in North America in 2016. Even though this number was a bit high, the normal value is still around 30.

There is, however, a more dangerous form of the sport, which is why I’m putting it at the top of this list.

This way of climbing mountains doesn’t use any safety gear at all.

It’s called “free soloing,” and the thought of it makes my heart race.

Free soloing is a sport where crazy people climb mountains without any ropes, harnesses, or anything else that could be thought of as a safety device.

Strength, flexibility, focus, and courage are the only things they use (this makes my hands sweat just thinking about it).

It’s almost impossible to free solo climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a rope, but Alex Honnold did it in 2017.

There are more than 3,000 chances to fall to the ground. In other words, El Capitan is three times taller than the Eiffel Tower. Five climbers who were working alone died trying to do the same thing between 2013 and 2018.

It’s not like he never loses his grip—look at this picture of him falling off the side of a cliff (thank goodness with a rope and harness this time).

If you want to make your anxiety go through the roof, I highly suggest Free Solo, the documentary that followed his amazing story.

As you might guess, not many people belong to the free-solo climbing club. Not many climbers have the knowledge or courage to try these things.

Still, 6 people have died trying to climb a mountain without any safety gear in the last 10 years.

Without a question, I think it is the most dangerous sport in the world.

Did I Miss Any Dangerous Games?

Don’t like my list of dangerous sports?
Do you think I missed one?
Do you think it should have been higher?
Allow me to know in the space below for comments. I’ll change this list if enough people agree.
I’m going to go for a safe jog on flat ground in the middle of the day…with a helmet.

See More Articles:

  1. Exploring the World of Combat Sports: An A to Z Guide.
  2. Combat sport.
  3. Unlocking the World of Combat Sports: Exploring the A to Z list
  4. “Warriors Through Time: The Global Evolution of Combat Sports.”

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