I got to thinking about this topic last night when my mom, a hard core equestrian, came home with 4 ribs broken near her spine, a hematoma (huge bruise) the size a half basketball, serious shortness of breath, and blood in her pee (no, she did not go to the hospital). She’s always given me a hard time for being a skier, but it’s her, not me, who comes home broken like this on occasion.  Twelve years ago, when she came home with a broken nose, cracked skull, and broken arm, I decided I’d look up which was more dangerous, horseback riding or skiing.

What did I find?  Nothing great.  There really aren’t any good statistics on which sports are the most injury inducing per capita.

What I did find was some serious hype about what sports are considered dangerous.

I also found some great estimates on how many injuries occur per year within each sport.

most dangerous sports in the world

I love that this “graph” above was put together by Term Life Insurance.org.  Hilarious!

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Sports on Earth are generally listed to be:

– Scuba Diving (especially cave diving)

cave scuba diving

– Horseback Riding (especially racing)

horse racing accident

– High Altitude Mountaineering

high altitude mountaineering

– BASE Jumping

base jumping berlin

– Street Luging

street luge

– Heli Skiing

heli skiing

– Bull Riding

bull riding

– Big Wave Surfing

big wave surfing


cheerleading extreme

– Whitewater Kayaking & Rafting

kayaking extreme whitewater

This is all just peoples perception and has no basis on anything remotely factual.


I did find some real facts, tho, and they are severly interesting:

graph of popular injuries

Estimated Numbers of Injuries and Causes of Injury in 2009 via NEISS:

Bicycles – 544,470

Basketball – 502,251

funny basketball injury

Football – 451,961

gruesome football injury

Exercise Equiptment – 349,543

weight lifting injury

Baseball – 286,708

Skiing/Riding – 100,359

ski accident

Trampolines – 97,908

Horseback riding – 78,499

horse crash

BBQs – 18,358

Blankets – 12,655

The US Customer Product Safety Commission has a system called the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) that collects current injury data related to consumer products from US emergency rooms.  The NEISS uses a national probability sample from hospitals of differing sizes and locations and then provides estimates of the number and types of consumer product related injuries.  The 2009 NEISS estimates have been produced from a sample of 96 hospitals, including children’s hospitals.  All this begs the question:  “how accurate are these ‘estimates?’”  The answer is based on how much faith you have in mathematical theory.

kawasaki ninja dangerous bike

Another very interesting statistic I stumbled upon was supersport motorbikes.  Ya know, like those Kawasaki Ninjas that were rumored to give the owner an average life expectancy of 6 months after purchase.  That “statistic” is clearly bullsh#t, but these ones aren’t:

SuperSport Motorcycle Accident Rates:

– 22.5 Deaths per 10,000 registered supersport motorcycles in 2005

– 7.5 deaths per 10,000 for all types of motorcycles in 2005

– 4,050 motorcycle-related fatalities in 2005.

– These numbers are from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

– Supersport motos have higher horsepower per pound ratios than Nascar vehicles, and can reach speeds of 190 miles per hour.

atv accident

ATVs are bad, too:

– 833 deaths in 2006

– 146,600 emergency room visits in 2006

– Info above from atvsafety.gov

As always there is a ton of differing information out there.  I’m pretty curious what our community thinks.  Which sports do you guys think are the most dangerous and why?

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