When you think of dangerous sports, your initial reaction may be to steer clear of adventure sports like skydiving or bungee jumping, but the reality is that the danger is much closer to home.
Do you happen to play football or soccer? Then be careful. You may be surprised to learn that these sports have some of the highest rates of reported injuries per year. Take a look at these other dangerous sports that might surprise you, listed in no particular order.
Research shows that cheerleading is quite possibly the most dangerous sport played among high school and college-age students. You may think that cheerleaders only clap on the sidelines, so what could they possibly be in danger from? A stray football? It’s actually the many stunts they perform that put cheerleaders in danger.
In the world of competitive cheerleading, the sport poses many risks. This includes the risk of concussion and other catastrophic injuries from performing flips and being tossed into the air.
Another risk factor is that many cheerleaders try to progress to new techniques and routines before they’re ready, resulting in injuries. Injuries also occur due to improper training on cheerleading technique, which many cheerleaders don’t learn at a young enough age, or they may not have access to well-trained instructors. Not having enough spotters for complicated stunts can also lead to serious injuries.
From 1982 to 2009, cheerleading accounted for 65 percent of all serious injuries to high school female athletes and 70 percent to college female athletes, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Gymnastics and cheerleading have many similarities, but since gymnastics isn’t a contact sport, you might be surprised to see it on the list. Although there may be fewer injuries reported overall compared to other sports, you likely won’t see as many athletes in a gymnastics training gym as you will on a football or soccer field. However, it’s said that gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates of all sports.
Football and Rugby
If you watch the NFL, then perhaps it doesn’t surprise you that American football is a dangerous sport. However, due to the high number of injuries, we felt it deserved a spot on the list. In 2012 alone, there were 394,350 reported pediatric injuries from football. The sport also had the highest rate of concussions, at 40 per 10,000 athletes. Rugby is a similar sport that carries many similar statistics.
Aside from concussions, players can also experience sprains, fractures, and contusions, but deaths from football are rare.
Basketball injury rates are right up there with the football stats. In 2012, there were 389,610 pediatric injuries reported from the sport. Although football ranks high for concussions, basketball injuries are more likely to occur in the ankle, reports Moms Team, a trusted source for sports parents.
Sprains are the most common type of injury in the sport, but general trauma also happens in the knees, hips, and even the face.
Soccer is another sport that ranks high on the list for injuries. In 2012, there were reportedly 172,470 pediatric injuries during soccer practice and games. Sprains and strains are most common, and most injuries occur in the lower extremities. This can be from twisting the knee or being kicked in the leg. Fractures and contusions from blows to the body can also happen.
Interestingly, studies show that soccer is more risky than surfing, a sport that the public believes to be one of the most dangerous.
Although the public focuses a lot of attention on the dangers of head injuries in football, cycling actually outranks football as the leading sport for head injuries. In 2009, around 86,000 people were treated for cycling-related head injuries, while only 47,000 football players were, says The New York Times.
Part of this is because bicyclists are at high risk of colliding with motor vehicles, and most major injuries—including about 90 percent of cyclists killed in 2009—involve cyclists who were not wearing helmets.
Cycling races can also be dangerous because cyclists ride so close to each other that if one falls, it can create a pileup, causing numerous injuries to many different riders. In the same period that nine deaths occurred in football, 22 deaths occurred in the competitive sport of cycling.
You may not recognize horseback riding as a sport, but those who engage in it certainly see it that way. It’s estimated that 74,499 people were treated in emergency rooms for horseback-related injuries in 2009. Estimates say that horseback riders should expect an injury for every 350 hours spent riding. Compare that to motorcyclists, who should expect an injury for every 7,000 hours spent riding.
Most horseback riding injuries occur when a person falls or is bucked off their horse. Most often, the injury happens when the rider tries to break his or her fall, which results in bruises, sprains, and fractures to the wrists or arms. In some serious cases, damage to the spine and back may occur.
If you were holding out for the numbers on adventure sports, here they are. BASE jumping, which is a sport where you jump off buildings or cliffs in winged suits and have parachutes along with you, is said to have a five- to eightfold increase of injury or death compared to skydiving. Skydiving rates are around one death per 100,000 jumps. BASE jumping, however, results in one death per 60 jumpers!
Research shows that non-fatal accidents occur in one out of every 254 jumps while fatal accidents happen in one out of every 2,317 jumps. Most non-fatal accidents are sprains, fractures, and minor concussions.
There are many other sports out there at high risk of injury and death, but we simply couldn’t list them all. If you play any sport, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent injury. You might also consider purchasing a life insurance policy so you can play with peace of mind.