Top 10 Most Dangerous Sports in the World

Playing sports is beneficial for the mind and body. Over time, it helps keep you fit and fight diseases.

The adrenaline rush, the discipline you learn, and the fulfillment you feel also make playing sports more fun to do.

However, playing sports isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Apparently, all sports also have their risks.

Unfortunately, some of them involve more risks than others, which makes them more life-threatening – just one mistake and you can get injured that would greatly impact your life.

Not everyone knows which sports are the most treacherous, though, as some of them may seem a bit harmless at first glance.

But, to give you some idea, here are some of the most dangerous sports in the world around the globe.

1 – American Football

American football is one of the most well-loved sports all over the world. In fact, it is estimated that American Football has about 400 million fans in America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. However, it is also one of the most dangerous sports.

American Football Infographic about danger and injuries of American football.

Unlike other well-known extreme sports, American football seems a bit harmless at first.

But, it involves numerous risks. While playing this sport, many players usually suffer traumatic injuries and concussions.

In fact, NFL says that from 2015 to 2020 alone, more than 1,400 football players in total suffered from concussions in the preseason and regular season.

Meanwhile, about 1,115 players suffered from traumatic injuries, such as medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

All of these injuries can greatly affect every footballer’s performance in the long run and could even turn their life around – just as how Darryl Floyd Stingley, a professional football player, was injured that eventually made him a quadriplegic.

While the NFL’s rules have changed since then, the risks involved in the said sports are still there.

2 – Freediving

Freediving is also one of the amazing sports out there as it gives the ultimate feeling of freedom, allows them to master their bodies, and even find peace and tranquility. But, will you still have some peace of mind after knowing the dangers of this recreational sport?


True enough, freediving is a fascinating recreational sport, especially as it makes everyone’s dreams come true.

But contrary to what people think, this activity is considered one of the dangerous sports as the death rate in recreational freediving is approximately 1 in every 500 and 1 in every 50,000 in competitive dives.

As its name suggests, freediving doesn’t use any breathing equipment like a tank that scuba divers use. Basically, you’ll only rely on your lung capacity.

If your oxygen level drops below a certain level, though, your brain won’t be able to maintain its consciousness. Therefore, you’re at risk of a blackout, which is the biggest danger in the said sport.

3 – Bull Riding

Bull riding in cartoons, like Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes, sure seems fun and funny. But, it’s actually dangerous in real life.

Bull riding injuries and statistic infographic

In bull riding, riders are more prone to injuries. It’s 10 times more dangerous than playing football.

In this sport, fractures are the most common severe injury, as well as concussions. Aside from that, you may also suffer from injuries on the neck, head, knee, and shoulders.

While rare, (as only at least 21 riders have died since the 1980s) bull riding could also cause death, especially when a  nearly 2,000-pound bull, with zero interest in safety precautions, stomps on you or throws you up.

4 – Big Wave Surfing

Surfing is yet another amazing sport but is perilous. True enough, it looks cool that it can make anyone want to give it a try. But, it’s not actually for everyone. With all the dangers that it involves, only the brave-hearted will last long in this sport.

Big wave surfing infographic about risk

Apparently, big wave surfing has already claimed several lives over the past several years. Some of them are notable surfers like Mark Foo (1994), Donnie Solomon (1995), Todd Chesser (1997), Peter Davi (2007), Sion Milosky (2011), and Kirk Passmore (2013).

Big wave surfing deaths and injuries are caused by different reasons. One of the obvious reasons is the big waves. Humongous waves carry tons of energy that can break bones or keep you underwater for a long period, which can eventually drown you.

Your surfboard, leash, and fins can also cause you harm. They can cut your skin, cause fractures, and even get tangled around your neck or hit you in the eye due to a wipeout, closeout, or poorly performed dive.

Additionally, marine creatures can increase your risks of accidents and deaths. Remember, it is their habitat. If they’re disturbed, some creatures, like sharks, might attack you, particularly in the deeper parts of the ocean.

Even the shallow parts of water aren’t always safe as you might encounter venomous creatures such as stonefish, stingrays, sea urchins, and jellyfish.

5 – Downhill Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a fun recreational or competitive sport as it gives the feeling of fulfillment after every wins and an adrenaline rush like no other.

Downhill Mountain Biking Infographic about risk of this sport

Unfortunately, though, it’s also one of the most dangerous sports as it has a high risk of severe injuries.

In this sport, you are at risk of bone fractures, as well as injuries to the skin, soft tissues, chest, abdomen, joints, and head if you’re not careful enough.

Your equipment can also increase your chances of getting caught in an accident while biking downhill.

6 – Water Polo

Among the sports around the world, water polo is one of the cool ones to play too as you won’t always have to deal with the scorching heat of the sun and you can enjoy the waters.

water polo infographic risk and danger.

Sad to say, it’s also a perilous sport to play.

One of the dangers of this sport is the possibility of drowning. Yes, no matter how much of a good swimmer you are, there are still risks of drowning when you’re playing in a body of water because of the physical nature of water polo.

You’ll be really forced to push your swimming skills to its limits.

While there are rules, in most cases, players are prone to kicking or hitting each other beneath the surface of the water. And with all the grabbing and clutching, the risk of injuries is high.

While playing, you’ll not only get scratches or bruises. Some players suffer from broken bones and head injuries too. 

7 – Base Jumping

Just by looking at it, BASE jumping is a really scary sport to try. It turns out, it really is.

base jumping infographic about danger, death and injuries.

Compared to skydiving, swimming, and cycling, reports say that Base jumping is one of the deadliest with a 43.17 death rate per 100,000 population.

In this sport, you’ll probably suffer from all the injuries you can ever think of. And because of the dangers that it involves, you will need to have paramedics ready when you try it.

8 – Scuba Diving

It’s not easy to think of scuba diving as a dangerous recreational sport when nearly every popular vacation spots offer this kind of activity to tourists.

Scubadiving infographic danger risks and statistics.

Yet, contrary to what many people think, it’s as precarious as other extreme sports you know too.

During your dive, you are at risk of barotrauma (severe pain or injury to the middle ear), decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, or pulmonary embolism (swilling of the lungs that could make it pop due to rapid ascend).

Sea creatures may also attack you as you’re invading their habitat.

9 – Skiing

Like scuba diving, skiing is also commonly offered to both locals and tourists as a recreational sport.

But, whether it’s a recreational activity or a competitive one, it’s still one of the most dangerous sports that many people often overlook.

In recreational skiing, you’re at risk of ligament tears and knee sprains, Dislocations can also occur while you’re skiing.

These likely happen when you get hit by another skier or when you kit rocks or trees in the area. Falling over could also cause these injuries.

As for extreme skiing, you’re also at risk of these injuries. But, your chances of getting caught up in accidents are higher. Plus, you should be worried about avalanches and other natural disasters.

10 – Mixed Martial Arts

Watching mixed martial arts (MMA) is exciting. Playing it is even more fun, especially when you’ve mastered the techniques. Even so, as what you often see on TV, it’s dangerous too.

But, it’s not only cuts and bruises that you’re at risk of. Even if you wear your helmet, gloves, and shin guards, you’re still prone to sprain, strains, muscle injury, broken bones, and even concussions.

Over time, they could also cost you your health, especially your brain’s health. In fact, research shows that there is a connection between the brain’s degradation and an MMA fighter’s career. The longer you endure the traumas inflicted on your body, especially on the head, the higher your chances of developing brain damage in the future.

What is the number 1 most dangerous sport in the world?

All sports are not safe. All of them involve dangers. Some of them, on the other hand, are more life-threatening than others. And the number 1 most dangerous sport in the world is BASE jumping.

Basically, it’s like skydiving. The difference, though, is you glide through the air like a sugar glider and you only have one parachute.

Plus, you’ll be jumping in mountainous terrain, which is more dangerous as you have less space to move around.

It’s so deadly that in 2016 alone, it has claimed the lives of 37 BASE jumpers.

Risks, however, are part of any sports – and life in general, actually.

But, if you won’t take risks and forever dwell in your fears, you won’t enjoy life at all.

While there are dangers involved in sports, you can always lessen your risks by taking precautions and ensuring proper training.

As the saying goes, you only live once, so why not face your fears?

About David Miller

Passionnate about extreme sports since a young age, I started my journey with brazilian Jiu Jitsu and skydiving. After 2000 jumps, I’m now a professionnel skydiver focus on wingsuit flying. I’m writing about all kind of extreme sports, trying to find the best spots in the world to do it.

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