10 of the Meanest Sports with the Most Fatalities

Written by Amanda Evans 0 minute read

All over the world, people love sports. The mere mention of sports has the uncanny ability to bring people together, even those who do not share the same values or speak the same language. Sports are more than just mainstream forms of entertainment; they excite, inspire, and amaze. Pro sports leagues are also the reason sports betting casinos are thriving nowadays. Yet as much as people enjoy rooting for their favorite teams, there is a dark side to sports that professional athletes are all too familiar with: injuries. Occasionally, those injuries can become fatal. As tough as it is to admit, here are 10 particularly dangerous sports that have caused the most fatalities.




Fatalities and Heavy Contact Sports

When most think of this sport, most real money casino bets would go to the 'All Blacks' as the sport's most illustrious and successful rugby team in the world. Most illustrious, yes. Most successful, agruably that too but any South African bettor would be first to let you know that the Springboks are the latest world champs and have tied New Zealand to win the most Rugby World Cup titles. Its a popular sport enjoyed all over the world and it hardly needs an introduction. Despite this, the rugby world has seen its fair share of ugly fatalities that continue to remind us how dangerous this contact sport can be. Unlike similar forms of the sport such as American football, rugby players typically do not wear helmets, pads, and other protective gear. In fact, many rugby leagues prohibit the use of any hardened protective gear as they might injure an opponent. As a result, while fatal injuries are rare, unexpected tackles or head-first collisions have caused some of the most gnarliest sports injuries.

In the amateur and professional scenes, there have been around 15 instances of sports fatalities as a result of playing rugby. As you might expect, head injuries are one of the most common culprits. Lily Partridge, a founding member of the Exonian Ladies rugby team, was one such victim. During a training session in Devon in 2015, Partridge suffered a blow to the head by an opponent's knee which caused acute bleeding in the brain. Not long after, she collapsed on the side of the field and had a heart attack. Despite urgent medical help and multiple efforts at CPR, she was not able to make it. Hopefully, athletes in any sport who have sustained head injuries will receive more regular brain scans, and that will help prevent such cases from happening again.




A Surprisingly Dangerous Activity

Few other sports in the world would tolerate flinging another human being 25 feet into the air without any protective gear. Yet that's exactly what cheerleaders are asked to do every day! It should come as no surprise, then, that cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports when it comes to injuries and fatalities. One study done in 2012 on athletics in the US found that cheerleading accounts for around two-thirds of all catastrophic injuries in female athletes. These include head, neck, and spine injuries, most commonly as the result of a failed stunt. It's also important to note that it's not just the fliers who are at risk, but the base cheerleaders can suffer significant injuries as well.

Chest injuries are also extremely common. Death by cheerleading certainly wasn't on the mind of Lauren Chang, the 20 year old victim of a gruesome cheerleading incident in 2008. During a basket catch routine at a cheerleading contest, Chang was accidentally kicked in the chest. Clearly dazed, she hobbled off to the side, collapsed, and passed not long after. Later, it was found that both her lungs were swollen from a condition known as bilateral pneumothoraces, hampering her ability to breathe. Normally, you'd only expect this to happen in car accidents, and definitely not during a cheerleading competition.


Motorsports Racing

Motorsports Racing

Sports Fatalities when Pushing the Envelope

Every year, motorsports fans from all around the world pour into the stadiums for events such as the Daytona 500, Formula One races, and Isle of Mann TT. Many sports bettors also place big sports bets at these events as we've seen at the popular USA sportsbook Bovada Casino as well as one of the most prominent bookmakers in the UK, William Hill Casino. While many enjoy the high-speed, high-octane racing, the absence of speed limits can sometimes be fatal to the drivers and bikers. Also consider that drivers are constantly making tight hairpin turns and speeding within inches of each other! The probability of an accident is no doubt extremely high, occuring just about every year. For the Daytona 500, there has been at least one accident every year since 1980, with the worst year being 2019, when 51 cars were involved in crashes (40 cars raced in the event; some cars were involved in multiple crashes).

Nascar is also a popular theme with many online casinos in the USA, and it's with good reason considering the priminence of drivers like Dale Ernhardt Jr. However, tragedy struck when in 2001 his father was in one of the most high-profile accidents in NASCAR history. Racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr, nicknamed 'The Intimidator' and 'Ironhead,' was on the final lap in the 2001 Daytona 500. However, after making contact with two other cars, Earnhardt slid into the wall and suffered a basilar skull fracture. Unfortunately, he was announced dead just a couple hours after the event, putting an abrupt end to his illustrious racing career. Earnhardt's accident garnered significant attention and significant safety improvements were made in stock car racing as a result.




A Different Kind of High-Speed Race

You don't need to be in a motor vehicle to race at lightning-fast speeds. Luge, a popular event at the Winter Olympics, is one such example. In luge, the athlete lays head-up and feet-first onto a sled, and races down a track as quickly as they can. Of course, the sled is not equipped with any braking or steering system. In addition, many tracks feature a total vertical drop of around 30 stories. Adding all this together, it's not uncommon for lugers to reach top speeds of 90 miles per hour.

For 35 years, luge was actually fatality-free. This streak broke in the 2010 Winter Olympics when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was fatally injured in his final training run. Kumaritashvili lost control on the final turn of the course and was thrown off his luge over the side of the track. It was later determined that he collided with a steel beam at a velocity of 143.6 km/h (89.2 mph). Medics rushed to the scene and transported him to the hospital, but Kumaritashvili ultimately succumbed to his injuries. A moment of silence was dedicated to Kumaritashvili during that year's opening ceremonies.


Jai Alai

Jai Alai

The Game of Dodging Death

You know a sport is dangerous when its nickname is 'the game of dodging death.' Jai Alai is a non-contact sport typically involving two teams of singles or doubles, and balls bouncing off walls at extremely high speeds. It is typically played at certain European countries. Players wear a cesta, a curved basket attached to the wrist. They use the cesta to hurl the pelota, the game ball, off a far-side wall. The opposing team must then catch the pelota in their cesta and hurl it back again. You earn a point if the opposing team is unable to catch the pelota after two bounces, and lose a point if the pelota that you threw falls out of bounds. It is similar to squash, but played on a much bigger field.

The cesta is shaped such that a good throw can accelerate the pelota to speeds up to 300 km/h (186.4 mph). For reference, that is faster than than even the fastest tennis serves and baseball pitches. And by the way, the pelota is harder than a golf ball, and players wear nothing but a helmet for protection. There have been a handful of gruesome deaths as a direct result of jai alai injuries where players have been struck in the head, neck, spine, and legs. It certainly does feel that players are trying to dodge death every time the ball is hurled.




Don't Underestimate the Need for Lifeguards

Yes, you read that correctly--despite being a very common hobby for just about everyone, swimming does carry a lot of risks that can sometimes turn fatal. There's a reason why lifeguards are often required whenever swimming is involved, whether that be at beaches or pools. You might think that only beginner and amateur swimmers will fall victim to a swimming-related death. However, this is far from the truth, as there have been multiple cases of professional athletes dying in swimming competitions as well. Most commonly, these are triathlon athletes who don't quite make it out of the open-water segment, often regarded as one of the hardest and scariest parts of the event.

One of the most well-known cases of this was Fran Crippen, a pool swimmer and open water long-distance swimmer later in his career. In 2010, then 26 year old Crippen was on the final race of FINA's 10K series in Abu Dhabi. Before the race, Crippen was reportedly feeling a bit off, but participated in the event anyway. Mysteriously, due to the number of people at the event, nobody noticed Crippen's absence at the finish line until after the race was over. Two hours later, his body was discovered underwater and quickly sent to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. While the exact root case of death is still unknown, doctors mostly agree that one of two explanations is most likely - either a heart attack, or drowning. People also noted the unusually high temperature of the water (in the mid to high 80s Fahrenheit), which may have caused heat stroke.




Beware of Rip Currents

Having just discussed the dangers of swimming, it's unsurprising to see surfing on this list as well. What many people regard as a staple beach activity can be lethal under certain circumstances. While surfing usually isn't that dangerous of an activity, you must know what you're doing before you venture out to the big waves alone. Always check the status of the waves to make sure you aren't surfing near rip currents. Moreover, knowing the water conditions can help you avoid dangerous rocks and coral in case of falls. Of course, if you are from Australia or Brazil, two countries that are always on the leaderboards, you'll likely know a thing or two - not to mention that this is actually a sport you can bet on at the best casino sportsbooks in Australia or Brazil.

Peter Davi was considered a legendary surfer out of his hometown Monterey Bay in California. In 2007, he visited the famous Ghost Tree for a day on the waves. Initially, it appeared he picked a perfect day, as he was greeted with incredible 70' wave faces, every experienced big surfer's dream. However, when a tow team offered him a ride out to the waves, Davi denied and decided to use his arms to paddle himself out. This turned out to be a lethal mistake as his body was later found floating in a kelp patch. Davi was given urgent medical attention, but by the time others discovered his body, it was already too late.




The Most Dangerous 'Popular' Sport of All-Time?

Some sources rank boxing as the second most popular sport in the world, with historical rivalries such as Ali vs. Frazier attracting fans from all over the world. It is undoubtably the most popular sport to bet on in Las Vegas USA casinos. When the very objective of boxing is to legally concuss your opponent, it's easy to see how injuries and accidents can occur. But it may still surprise people that some have died boxing. With constant blows to the head, brain damage, eye damage, and other facial injuries are extremely common. It's easy for an unexpected punch to completely knock a person out and kill them, especially long into a grueling match.

In 2019, Maxim Dadashev and Subriel Matias were up against each other in a light-welterweight title match. From the start, it didn't look like Dadashev was faring too well in the fight. While neither had been knocked out, Dadashev was clearly taking a lot of blows and was trailing significantly in the scorecards. In the 11th round, Dadashev's trainer Buddy McGirt took matters into his own hands and stopped the fight, noting afterwards that he 'pleaded' for multiple rounds for Dadashev to quit. Clearly unwell, Dadashev stumbled and had to be helped to the locker room, losing consciousness on the way there. After being rushed to the hospital, it was determined he suffered a brain bleed, and died following surgery. Sometimes, a boxer can get so competitive that they forget when it's best to stop.




Don't Grab the Bull by the Horns

Bullfighting is one of the most controversial sports in the world. And for good reason: you're pitting a person (the matador) up against an enraged bull. The way the game is set-up is almost lose-lose: there is obvious danger for the matador, who could get gored and killed by the bull. However, the matador often wins the bullfight by killing the bull with a sword. The bull's body is then sent to a slaughterhouse, processed, and sold to local butcher shops. The practice has not only angered animal rights activists, but has led to a number of unfortunate matador accidents as well.

Some statistics estimate that there were about 47 injuries that occurred in 661 bullfights in Spain in 2013, but these numbers may not be accurate as not all bullfights are officially recorded. Because of this, the rate of injury and consequently the percentage of deadly injuries becomes high for bullfighting, even though there aren't that many recorded deaths. One such death happened in 2016, when Spanish bullfighter Victor Barrio was killed during the Feria del Angel festival in Tereul, Spain. During the fight, he was brutally gored in the chest, piercing his lungs and heart. At one point, the bull named Lorenzo hurled him in the air after an attack. Barrio was pronounced dead not long after the event, and it was a lose-lose situation because Lorenzo also died of injuries soon after - though there is something poetic about that.


BASE Jumping

BASE Jumping

One of the Most Dangerous Sports in the World

Talk about going for broke with just a tad more risk than playing at casinos with no deposit bonuses. BASE Jumping was originally a very niche sport that has steadily gained more popularity in recent years. BASE is an acronym that stands for Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), and Earth, the four types of areas where BASE jumpers typically jump from. Essentially, BASE jumping athletes travel these high altitudes, make a literal leap of faith, and parachute to safety. It's grown to become hugely popular, and now we've even seen the rise of India's first civilian BASE jumper Archana Sardana, who quite frankly should be sponsored at all of the best Indian casinos sites. Needless to say, accidents in BASE jumping can easily turn fatal. New BASE jumpers will typically have to spend lots of time with professional instructors and skydivers before they can attempt a jump themselves.

Aussie Roland 'Slim' Simpson was one of the most experienced and accomplished BASE jumpers of all time, completing over 1,000 of them throughout his career. He has jumped from iconic landmarks all over the world including the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia and the Troll Wall in Norway. Despite multiple severe injuries including a punctured lung and broken vertebrae, he always returned to BASE jumping after recovery. However, in 2004, Simpson took to the Jin Mao Building in China, a 420 meter high skyscraper and the tallest building in China at the time. During the jump, his parachute did not open properly and threw off his landing trajectory. He crashed into a nearby building, fracturing his skull and sending him into a coma. Unfortunately, he died a few days later back in a hospital in Canberra.

Injuries are an unfortunate reality of sports. While many amateur and professional leagues go to great lengths to ensure the safety of athletes, no sport is 100% immune from injuries as we'll often see when placing bets on events at sites like Bet365 Casino. In the worst case scenario, severe injuries can lead to death, as we've seen in this list of top 10 dangerous sports with fatalities. If you aspire to become an athlete in any one of these sports, make sure you understand the risks!

 Amanda Evans
Written by
Amanda Evans - Chief Editor

Amanda has been involved with all aspects of the content creation at Top10Casinos.com including research, planning, writing and editing. The dynamic environment has kept her engaged and continually learning which along with +15 years iGaming experience helped propel her into the Chief Editor role.

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