What Is The Most Dangerous Sport In The World?
Humans have been playing sports for thousands of years, with injuries and sometimes even death being expected.
But when we look at the physical consequences modern athletes endure, what is the most dangerous sport in the world?
If we simply look at who gets injured the most often, US hospital data - collected by the CPSC in 2016 - found that for males, football and soccer cause a significant proportion of injuries, while for women, soccer and baseball almost top the list.
But the number one sport for both sexes was basketball, with 190,453 injuries for men and 34,707 for women.
A study of injuries among NBA athletes over a 17 year period found that lateral ankle sprains were the most common, while a separate study found that those who wore shoes with air cells in the heel were 4.3 times more likely to injure their ankle - so you might want to ditch your Nike airs.
But minor injuries can happen for any sport and hardly deserve the title of most dangerous; take curling for example, which has a higher injury rate then speed skating and luge.⏩
Or snowboarding, where 8% of injuries take place when loading or unloading off the ski lift - as the lifts are actually designed
Luge, which involves riding a sled laying on your back at speeds up to 150 km/h will put you at a 40% risk of injury, however only 4% of those injuries result in missing more than one day of practice.
So what about...death?
In terms of fatalities, a report by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research found that between 1982 and 2016, the most fatalities in high school sports came from football, with 133 deaths.
However, that rate is 0.39 per every 100,000 individuals, given that football is the most popular American sport.
Regardless, sports like football and hockey often rank as some of the most dangerous sports because of the constant collisions and hits at top speeds, leading to a variety of injuries including concussions.
In fact, autopsies of many former athletes have revealed that they had chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE; a disease that people with multiple head injuries can get.
It leads to weakness in the lower limbs, hesitancy of speech, unsteadiness, mood problems and difficulty thinking.
These are the result of brain atrophy and deposits of protein in the brain. And brain injuries are actually the leading cause of death from sports.
This leads us to the actual most dangerous sport, which when considering all factors, turns out to be a combat sport. And while you might be thinking of Mixed Martial Arts or MMA, it turns out that boxing is actually the most dangerous.
The University of Alberta, using medical data after matches, found that although 60% of MMA fighters sustained injuries vs 50% of boxers, MMA injuries were less severe. 7% of boxers had either loss of consciousness
or suffered serious eye injury during fights, compared to only 4% of MMA fighters.
The study attributes this to MMA style fighting which involves hitting various areas of the body whereas boxing focuses on the head. And boxers seem to present worse symptoms of CTE than even athletes in football.
This is likely because of the rotational force of hook punches, compared to the linear force in football, which may make the brain trauma worse.
At the end of the day, a punch to the head during a boxing match can range anywhere from 650-1100 pounds of force making boxing arguably the most dangerous sport in the world.
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