Professional hockey has always been associated with injuries. From fractured limbs to missing teeth, ice hockey is not only the fastest game on earth, but also one of the most traumatic sports. According to a recent CBC Sports tally, during the 2011-12 season, 88 NHL players missed 1,697 games because of concussions.
Compared to the other sports on the list, basketball is definitely not that dangerous. However, it’s still the second-most dangerous recreational sport in the U.S., resulting in 528,584 emergency room visits (primarily by teenagers) in 2010 alone. Basketball might not be a deadly sport, but like all other sports it requires alertness.
#3 Free Solo Climbing
For some, climbing up the face of a rock with safety equipment is not dangerous enough. There is always the possibility of taking rock climbing one step further: do it totally free of any harnesses, ropes, and other gear created to keep people from falling out of the sky. Certainly there is a thrill and a freedom in free solo climbing, but if you have at least something to lose and have not yet completely lost common sense, this activity is probably better left unattempted.
#4 Cave Diving
Cave diving provides a unique chance to explore uncharted territories. However, the price for seeing something human eyes have never seen is a high price indeed. Divers put themselves at risk of getting into cramped spaces, suffering from hostile animal attacks or decompression sickness, and freezing to death in icy cold and low-visibility waters.
It may seem quite logical that if you need to use a helicopter to access a portion of a mountain to ski on, you probably should not be skiing there. However, this logic does not apply to heli-skiiers. These adrenaline junkies risk their lives and limbs to hit the most pristine slopes the globe has to offer. Not only is heli-skiing extremely expensive, but it’s also tremendously dangerous.
#6 High-Altitude Climbing
High-altitude climbing, or the act of ascending to high mountains, is known as one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It is said that 1 out of 6 climbers die en route to the paramount of Everest, the highest mountain on Earth. However, Everest is actually not the most dangerous mount to climb. If the trek does not take the climber’s life, he might reach the base camp suffering from pneumonia, frostbite, and hypothermia or hypoxia. Bruises and minor injuries occur so often in this sport that it is pointless to count them.
#7 River Rafting
Like surfing, river rafting is also one of the most dangerous sports in the water. The reality is that a paddler who is trying to get through the raging waters puts his life at risk despite wearing a helmet. If the paddler gets tossed out of the raft, the unpredictable river current and sharp rocks might lead to bruises, injuries, fractures, and even drowning.
The European version of American football is far more dangerous than its U.S. counterpart. The fact of the matter is that rugby players do not wear pads. Just think about it: according to The Telegraph, there are 110 rugby players in Britain alone who have been paralyzed in the course of a game, and 20 percent of all rugby injuries result in concussions. This is definitely not a sport for the weak.
#9 Street Luging
The invention of street luging has taken skateboarding to a whole new level of dangerous. First played professionally in Signal Hill, California, road luging causes numerous injuries to both riders and sightseers. Helmets, gloves, and other safety equipment serve as little protection when the rider sails down hills and around turns at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.
#10 Big Wave Surfing
When you watch surfing competitions, it may seem like surfing is an easy sport, or at least one that does not seem all that dangerous; the worst that can happen is that the surfer may fall into the water. Yet many surfers risk their lives every time they launch themselves into the water. Apart from drowning and obtaining fractures and other crash injuries, surfers are also at risk of becoming tasty bait to bloodthirsty sharks. What’s worse: sharks are not the ocean’s only dangerous inhabitants.
#11 Equestrian Sports
Like cheerleading, equestrian riding does not always look dangerous. However, if you take into consideration that it accounts for more traumatic brain injuries than any other recreational sport and claims approximately 60 deaths per year, your point of view is likely to change. Just think about it: an equestrian averages one serious accident for every 350 hours of riding!
#12 Bull Riding
The primary rule of this sport sounds simple: the rider needs to keep himself mounted on his bull as long as he can. But there is another side to this simple rule; the animal tries with all its might to get rid of its rider, and there is hardly any reasoning that can work with the bull. The risks are really high; the rider might land on solid ground and possibly fracture one or more of his bones, or if he falls and tries to run, there is an even higher risk of getting thrown several feet away into the air. Bull riding, by all means, counts as one of the most dangerous sports.
You can laugh all you want, but cheerleading is actually one of the most dangerous sports in the world. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, cheerleading accounted for more than half of the catastrophic injuries sustained by female high school and college athletes from 1982 to 2005. Furthermore, there have been 26,000 cheerleading injuries in the U.S. annually since 2007. If you think that building a human pyramid is easy and far from dangerous, think again.
#14 Motorcycle Racing
Motorcycle racing is definitely the most dangerous sport on wheels. Obstacles like trees, rocks, and even bugs on helmet windshields are enough to turn the racetrack into a death zone. The Isle of Man TT event alone has claimed a total of 220 deaths during the past century in which it was held.
#15 BASE Jumping
Adrenaline junkies who participate in this sport are only equipped with hand-deployed parachutes and helmets, both of which give very little protection from the trauma associated with the accelerated descent from antennas, buildings, and other tall structures. The number of lives BASE jumping claims on an annual basis might not be all that large (from 5 to 15), but if you think about how many people actually participate in this adrenaline-pumping activity you might find out that the risks are really high. But for some people, the thrill of launching themselves from the highest towers of the Earth is worth risking their lives.