Are Sports Dangerous?
Paul Aitken provides an overview of surprisingly dangerous sports and not so hazardous sports.
Sport is a great way to keep fit, and if you are a dab hand at your chosen discipline, it is also a great way to make money. But while it is usually a healthy activity, it can also be a deadly one. Here is a shortlist of the sports that are much deadlier than you thought, as well as the ones that are safer than you might have given them credit for.
Safer — UFC
You probably do not need me to tell you that boxing is a dangerous sport. The list of boxers to have died in the ring—or from injuries sustained in it—is quite an extensive one, and that is not even including the many fighters who have sustained life-changing injuries from boxing and sparring. But what about MMA, surely that is more dangerous? After all, they do not stop and step aside when their opponent goes down, they jump on top of them and beat them senseless.
Well, it turns out that the whole "beating them senseless on the ground" thing might be better than what goes on in boxing. You see, if a fighter takes a beating in boxing, they are given time to recover, to stand up, and to fight again. If they sustained life-threatening injuries in that initial beating, those injuries would only worsen when they get back to their feet.
That 10-second timeframe, while short, could be enough to shake off the initial impact and go straight into another. In MMA, when that initial impact occurs, it is usually followed by a stoppage, which in turn is followed by weeks of rest to allow their brain to return to normal. It drastically reduces the threat of second-impact syndrome, and it is one of the main reasons why there have been no deaths in the UFC to date. The closest incident is a UFC fighter who died when he agreed to a boxing fight,
Of course, UFC fights are not as frequent as boxing, and it has not been going as long, but it is a surpassing statistic considering the layman would think UFC to be incredibly more dangerous than boxing.
More Dangerous — Cricket
Cricket players get a lot of stick from the rest of the sporting world. "They wear too much padding", "They cannot handle a bit of rain". But that padding is there for a reason because the cricket ball is one of the deadliest weapons in any sport.
In 2014 the sporting world was reminded of this when Australian intentional Phillip Hughes died after being stuck on the head. It was an incredibly unfortunate bounce, one that resulted in almost immediate unconsciousness. But many freak accidents like this have occurred over the years.
Players have been hit in the head and chest, suffering quick and even instant death as a result. If you discount cardiac events and focus purely on impact, cricket is one of the most dangerous ball sports of all. How is that for a shocker?
More Dangerous — Gymnastics
The gravity-defying stunts that these supple, strong athletes perform put their bodies under great stress. They regularly experience broken bones and damage to muscle and cartilage, much more so than many other athletic events.
These injuries can be life-changing and even life-ending. They can result in gymnasts losing their ability to compete and as with the case with Julissa Gomez losing the ability to move arms and legs.
More Dangerous — Soccer
Countless soccer players have suffered career-ending injuries on the field of play. Studs and elbows are raised, shins clash, and muscles tear. It is the most dangerous sport where injuries are concerned as it causes more of them than any other.
But there is also something much more worrying at play here. It is now believed that heading the ball can lead to brain damage. It has been linked with many cases of dementia and other neurological problems.
Then you have the issue with the plastic pitches being used all over the world, especially in the United States. The most common form of this pitch uses ground-up, recycled tyres to act as fillers. There has been no definitive proof that these pitches cause cancer. Still, many connections have been made between the rising diagnoses of young cancers in male and female players and the use of these pitches. The most worrying correlation being that goalkeepers are the ones who are the most at risk of breathing these fibres in and are also the ones with the highest cancer rates.
Safer — Fencing
This is more ironic than anything else, as the only sport that makes use of a murder weapon as an essential tool also happens to be one of the safest. When you put it like that, it sounds odd, but if you know anything about this sport you will understand why that is the case.
The swords are not as deadly or even as sharp as you might think, and the equipment used to keep the athletes safe is state-of-the-art. The movements are quick and explosive, as opposed to long and tiresome, so a well-conditioned athlete can drastically reduce the chance of injury as well as harm.
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About the Author
Paul Aitken is a freelance writer and the author of The Online Writer's Companion. He writes under several different pseudonyms, and his work has featured on many of the web's most prominent sites, including many major print publications in the UK and US