Sports can prove to be a time for merriment and a great source of entertainment for everyone involved from the players to the fans but every now and then, injuries and even death can cast a shadow. Involving a lot of physical contact, it hardly comes as a surprise that every sport entails an element of danger. But which would you consider the most dangerous in this lot? From extreme sports like Base jumping to well-known ones like football, here are 10 of the most dangerous sports in the world.
10. Base Jumping
If you thought jumping off an airplane with 15,000 feet to go dangerous, think again. For many, this isn’t challenging enough apparently and hence they choose cliffs and man-made objects like towers. Jumping from such heights may sound safer while in reality they tend to be trickier due to virtually no time available to deploy the parachutes or deal with any problems. BASE is actually an acronym for the type of objects people jump off. It stands for Buildings, Antennas (tower), Spans (or bridges) and Earth (natural formations like cliffs, canyons, gorges, etc.). First developed by Carl Boenish in 1978 it has grown in popularity since.
9. Horse riding
Ever hoped to one day own your very own pony and ride on it every single day? Well, I’m sure many of us have but did you know that horseback riding also happens to be considered as a very dangerous sport? Fatal injuries and even deaths are caused every year by horse riding accidents. The most common cause of injury is getting trampled while on the ground near the horse. The hooves are potent that could easily make you a permanent fixture in the hospital. Other causes include getting thrown off your horse or fatal kicks while leading the horse into the paddock. So should you get that pony you dreamed of, please do remember to exercise extreme caution.
8. Scuba diving
Scuba diving is an underwater sport fast gaining popularity across the planet. This recreational sport involves using SCUBA – Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus to stay underwater long enough to savor the serene beauty of marine life. While for some the allure of scuba diving lies in the charm of underwater life for others it’s the thrill of exploring a wreck or a cave. The danger in this sport chiefly lies in the changes in pressure. These changes in pressure could potentially rupture a lung, ear-drums or damage the sinuses. Prolonged exposure to high pressure gases can result in the build-up of nitrogen and helium in our blood stream which may lead to damage to tissues, blocking of small blood vessels or even shut down of blood supply! Other casualties could be due to failure of diving equipment.
7. Running of the bulls
The festival of San Fermin or running of the bulls as it is more popularly known takes place on the 6th of July in Pamplona, Spain. It originally was a means to transport bulls from where they were bred to the bull ring where they would be slaughtered. Youngsters would jump in beside these bulls to show off their bravado. Over the years it developed into a festival marked by music, dancing and markets. The run starts off after the first two rockets and comes to an end with the third and fourth rockets signaling that the bulls have entered the bull-ring. The dangers of running with bulls are imaginably immense. Every year on an average 50-100 people get injured due to goring, asphyxiations, piling up of people leading to suffocation and even getting crushed by the bulls.
Jallikattu also known as bull-taming is another sport that involves bulls though it occurs on a different continent with a different set of rules. Taking place in villages across Tamil Nadu during the Pongal (thanksgiving for plentiful harvests) festival, this is a sport in which only one emerges the winner – man or bull. In one form of this sport a person has to hold on to the bull for a specified time or distance to win while a variant to this game involves releasing the bull into an open field with the participants trying to subdue the bull. The dangers as can be anticipated are many and as many as 200 have died in this sport over the last two decades. Also due to protests by animal activists against the cruelty meted out to the beasts the sport has been banned in the country.
5. Bull riding
This is a rodeo sport that involves staying mounted on a bull for as long as possible while the bull tries to buck off the rider. The very mention of mounting a 1000kg bull invokes jitters amongst us; so I guess much needn’t be said about the perils entailed in the actual sport. It has been considered as one of the most dangerous sports in the world with damage to the neck, head and face besides concussions accounting for most of the injuries. In 1989 after a bull gored and punctured the heart of cowboy Lane Frost it was made compulsory to wear protective vests made of ballistic material. This and a slew of other protective measures have brought down the accidents in the sport but despite this it still continues to be the “most dangerous 8 seconds in sports”.
Gymnastics is a sport that tests balance, strength, flexibility and control. Though originally devised to test soldiers for war in the military it now is an Olympic sport contested by many. This sport which invokes an image of graceful women and men in leotards has an ugly face to it too. Yes, I’m referring to the risks involved. Wrist fractures, spinal fractures, ankle sprains, cartilage damage are some among the various injuries involved. Julissa Gomez was a victim of one the worst accidents in gymnastics history. In May 1988 months before the Olympics during a warm up she slipped and slammed her head resulting in a neck-down paralysis that lasted until her death in 1991.
A contact sport where the participant’s sole goal is to punch his opponent it doesn’t come as a surprise that this isn’t an injury free sport. Statistics reveal that 90% of boxers suffer brain damage during the course of their career. They could even be prone to diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s later in their lives. Sounds scary doesn’t it? But with proper protective gear the risk of sustaining injuries can be minimized.
Football is ranked second on this list probably due to the frequency of injuries in this sport. This could simply be ascribed to the vast number of players playing football but it still deserves a mention due to the frightening statistics of injuries and death in this sport. Statistics claim there’s a 75% chance of getting a concussion in this game as opposed to 5% in other games. Every footballer is conscious of the risk to his body and brain throughout his career but the sheer love for the sport and massive fan following keeps the fire alive in them.
Biking also called cycling is sported first on this list due to the high number of casualties involved. Many might immediately jump to the conclusion that the injuries can be ascribed to extreme mountain biking while in reality the major cause of injury is, wait for it, ‘other vehicles’. This has been documented vividly in the film Premium Rush. Every second of the film will keep you on the edge of your seat, such is the risk involved. The streets could prove to be an extremely dangerous place to frequent on your cycle and possibly a gateway to the hospital.
Ranking sports on the basis of the dangers involved isn’t exactly that easy. There are many sports that haven’t made this list but that doesn’t necessarily make them any less dangerous. But one thing that can be remembered is that being prepared and taking the necessary protective measures could go a long way, possibly even save your lives!