Ranking Sports from Least to Most Dangerous: Includes NFL, NBA, NHL and Soccer

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2011

Ranking Sports from Least to Most Dangerous: Includes NFL, NBA, NHL and Soccer

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    Anyone who watches sports, or participates in any, knows one undeniable fact—there is danger involved. Every sport can have its athletes suffer anything from a scraped elbow to life threatening injuries, which may even include death.

    Each sport has its own risks and rewards. Most athletes do not care about this, though, as they are attracted to the glory, fame, pride and money that comes along with being a professional athlete.

    So what I decided to do was take the ten sports that are the most dangerous and rank them. 

    The reason for this is to bring attention to something very few people think about until it happens, which is sports injuries.

    I have had a few people question why Soccer is on the list, let me give you a quick fact. In the last 12 years Hockey has had exactly 2 deaths on the ice worlds wide, soccer has had over 70 deaths on the field in that time. If you have to wonder after that then I don't know what to tell you.

10: Basketball

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    This one may actually surprise some people, because major injuries are more scarce in basketball than most other sports due to the low amount of contact involved.

    But it is a dangerous game.

    Let me outline why it is not the safest sport in the world. You play on hardwood floors with guys who all make average people look small in a fast paced game which involves people scrambling to get the ball in a small area.

    A game of basketball will maybe have one injury, if that, but every once in awhile you will hear about someone who falls and hits their head on the court, or in the case of Dennis Rodman, a camera man getting kicked in the groin.

    Still doubt me? Watch the video.

9: X-Games

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    I felt like I had to include these sports, because it is well documented how dangerous they are, but I am not making a slideshow featuring every sport in existence so I decided to group these together.

    Skateboarding, trick bicycle riding and pretty much any other sport involving standing on a set of wheels is included here.

    These sports may not have had as many notable deaths as some of the bigger sports, but that does not mean it is not dangerous. Skateboarders in particular break many bones in the course of a professional career, and it is something they understand and accept.

    These athletes get very little credit in terms of being held in the same regard as guys like Walter Payton and Michael Jordan, but their skills are no less impressive.

    I am of the belief that anyone with some coordination could shoot a basketball, but that does not mean they will be a professional, but with skateboarding you may have great balance and still never get the hang of it.

    These kinds of sports are generally associated with youth due to their short lifespan in the public eye compared to, say, baseball, which has been around in one form or another for nearly 200 years.

    These men and women put themselves in danger every time they practice and perform. Not many athletes can say the same for their profession.

    Don't agree with me? Ask Tony Hawk how easy it is.

8: Skiing, Snowboarding and Surfing

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    Grouping these sports was another decision based on size of the article and similarity. They all require you to strap into, or stand on top of, a board and use it to balance as you traverse snow or float along the water while riding waves.

    Skiing is probably the most dangerous of the three sports listed as I am betting most people can name at least one person who has died skiing.

    This sport is intense, and this is coming from someone who was born in a set of K2s. Going down the hill at break neck speed is a rush for sure, but it is also extremely dangerous. Sure the snow can cushion your fall, but it can also turn to ice and become more dangerous than dry ground.

    I have been skiing for over 20 years, and I have had my fair share of spills resulting in sore limbs and bloody face injuries. It's almost a right of passage to take a nasty spill on a slope.

    When you begin one of these sports, the first thing they teach you is how to stop, because the most important thing you must know is that you are doing something that could potentially kill you in the blink of an eye.

    And anyone who saw the end of Point Break knows how dangerous surfing can be.

7: NASCAR and Motocross

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    Anything which involves going in excess of 150 miles per hour is dangerous no matter how many safety precautions you put in place.

    I am not a fan of either of these sports, but I did see Dale Earnhardt die the day it happened on live television, and that will always stick with me.

    I was with a family who enjoyed NASCAR and we had turned on the TV five minutes before the crash that took his life occurred.

    It was a sad scene, indeed, as no replay meant someone was injured or dead. The race continued, but the people watching no longer cared about the outcome.

    A hero to all fans of the sport had died in what can only be described as a disaster.

    Do not watch the video if you have a weak stomach.

6. Soccer

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    A sport known for its riots more than its players, soccer is a dangerous sport for many reasons.

    Soccer may not be a contact sport, per se, but it has plenty of contact resulting in bodily harm, especially when you take into account the fact players are wearing shoes with spikes that look more like weapons than sporting equipment.

    The players take this sport very seriously, because it is a low scoring sport where every point counts, as well as the fact it is the most popular sport worldwide.

    Many people have had their careers ended on the soccer field, and yet it is not viewed as one of the tougher sports in the US for some reason.

    Perhaps it is America's desire for a high score that keeps them away from soccer, but the same can be said for hockey, which is relatively popular in the United States.

5: Hockey

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    What can you say about the game of hockey that hasn't already been said about Joan Rivers—it's icy, cold, sometimes fun to watch and something people in the south could care less about.

    This might be the only non-fighting sport where you are always in danger of being punched out. In a sport characterized by the toothless grins of its top players and the hourly fights that seem to break out for almost no reason, hockey has become one of our more dangerous past-times.

    Despite the large amount of padding worn by players, they still manage to mangle their faces and break their bones in every game, and then smile about it to the press afterward as their bloody faces fill the sports pages.

    And do I even need to mention the pair of blades attached to each player's feet? I don't know how much more I can say about hockey other than it is a sport with known risks that may outweigh the possible rewards.

4: Rugby

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    This is a sport with virtually no coverage in the United Sates, and yet it has all the elements that should make it popular.

    It combines the general rules of both football and soccer with some polo thrown in as well. Rugby is much bigger in Europe than it is here, and it is viewed as a much tougher version of American football.

    The players make just as much contact as football players so but wear a fraction of the protective gear. There have been deaths in rugby due to the dangerous nature of the game.

    This is yet another video that should not be watched by people with weak stomachs.

    These guys use their whole bodies to play the game, and you can see the cost of that style of play in the video.

3: Football

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    Even though I just got done saying rugby is more dangerous than football, I am in the US and I have witnessed way more football-related injuries than rugby, so that is where the ranking comes from.

    Football is the ultimate manly sport in the United States. It combines speed, strength, planning and teamwork.

    The best example most people know is Joe Theismann. One of the best players in the NFL at the time, Theismann seemed poised to take his team to the Super Bowl when the unthinkable happened.

    Lawrence Taylor, one of the most feared men in the NFL, was the man who would unfortunately be the one to end Theismann's career.

    It was an accident which is evident by Taylor's reaction after the injury occurs, but it still outlines the dangers of full contact sports like football.

    Steroids is the hot button topic these days, but the fact remains that the players are in  more danger from each other than any other factor.

2: MMA

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    Dana White can talk about how there has been no deaths in MMA and how safe the environment is all he wants, but any sport where the main goal is to beat your opponent into submission or knock them out is very dangerous.

    What Dana seems to forget when he makes these arguments is UFC and MMA have been around in the US for a fraction of the time that all the other contact sports have been.

    I have seen guys get choked out, bloodied, and broken all for the chance to get a title match. I understand the glory involved with such a macho sport, but the dangers may outweigh the possible rewards.

    People who get into MMA have to train by fighting, and you don't get paid to train. Some guys don't know what they are getting into and their careers are over before they even start because they get injured or can't take the toll on their bodies.

    Guys like Brock Lesnar and Tito Ortiz have made MMA more mainstream, but when it comes down to it, MMA is the definition of a bloodsport, the closest thing we have to the old death matches from the ancient Romans and Greeks.

    I am not in any way trashing MMA. I actually enjoy it, but it is dangerous and no one should have any misconceptions about what they are watching.

    This video is somewhat graphic, so be prepared.

1: Boxing

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    No one can make a reasonable argument as to boxing not being the most dangerous sport. There have been numerous deaths in the history of the sport, and injuries occur in pretty much every match.

    Most boxers leave the sport with some kind of lasting injury whether it's vision problems, coordination problems, speech impediments or even brain damage.

    And that is not even mentioning the people who have been left crippled in wheelchairs.

    Boxing is all about violence, and no one can argue that. Call it the sweet science all you want—the entire point of the sport is to hit the other guy until he can't hit you anymore.

    Look at guys like Ali, Holyfield and Tyson. They fought most of their lives and each one has paid a physical price for those years of abuse to their bodies.

    I am not saying they should disband the sport, I am simply stating the facts.

    Boxing is the most dangerous sport out there today, and until MMA catches up it probably won't change anytime soon.

Honorable Mention: Pro Wrestling

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    I did not rank pro wrestling, because it is not really classified as a sport by the people running it. It is classified as entertainment, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous.

    Wrestling has been one of the most controversial sports of all time, and that's just from the last ten years. Between the accusations of steroids and drugs and all the news surrounding the deaths of Owen Hart and Chris Benoit, wrestling has been in the spotlight for a long time for reasons I am sure make Vince McMahon smash things regularly.

    Despite their deaths not being due to wrestling in the ring, they garnered national attention and brought focus to the conditions wrestlers perform in.

    No matter how much they try and take care of each other in the ring, accidents happen and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent them.

    None of this even matches the fact that some of these guys cut themselves willingly.

    I can't even list all the real injuries I have seen in wrestling, because the list would be as long as a book, so I will let the video do the talking for me.