The Hardest Sport?

Though each sport is difficult in it’s own specific way, the question of which sport is the hardest still stands. An athlete that participates in a sport is naturally going to have bias towards his own, but through recent studies and careful consideration, experts at ESPN have been able to rank the top 60 hardest sports.

Primarily, a sport in itself must be defined. According to a sport is defined as, “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of competitive nature” ( This can include an extremely wide array of activities from football and baseball, to finishing and bowling. Though it may seem obvious whether football is harder than fishing, it is very hard to determine where football lies on a fitness scale next to boxing.

Experts at ESPN took different aspects of each sport into consideration when doing the rankings. They gave a quantitative value to different aspects including endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, nerve, durability, hand-eye coordination, and analytic aptitude. These are the categories that 60 sports were ranked upon. After doing specific studies on each of the sports being tallied the scientists were able to give a score in each category, quantify the scores and determine who’s sport was the highest (Boxings Knockout Punch, ESPN). The results are as follows:

Hardest Sports (Top 5) – 1. Boxing 2. Ice Hockey 3. Football 4. Basketball 5. Wresting

Easiest Sports (Lowest 5) – 60. Fishing 59. Billards 58. Shooting 57. Bowling 56. Curling

Though many people may disagree with these studies, it is clear that there may be some room for error in the rankings. However, with these numerical standings and the categories that were carefully considered, this is one study that can show just who holds the title for hardest sport.


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4 thoughts on “The Hardest Sport?

  1. Adam Patrick Evans

    Always in for a good sports debate so your blog topic caught my eye. The bottom 5 are not surprising at all as they seem very low activity level sports. On the other hand I was surprised by the top 5. Boxing and Wrestling are not the most main stream sports but there is no doubt they both are very difficult. As a wrestler myself in high school I can fully agree with that. I was happily surprised the two sports got the recognition they deserved. Even though both top 5 and bottom 5 seem accurate I would like to see more of the science that went into deciding these rankings. There is a lot more than those categories that go into the toughness of a sport such as the whole mental aspect that isn’t even brought up.

  2. Eric Choi

    I found some surprises to this list of hardest sports when I read them. I didn’t know ice hockey could be a harder sport than football. Even though both sports are physical contact sports, football beats out hockey in terms of aggressive physicality. Former football players have died due to the injuries they sustained in the NFL. To answer Brenden Feifer’s question, I believe that the study is based on the complexity of the sport. However, I am still sort of skeptical about this study. I know they are capable scientists who know what they are doing, but unless they actually tried each and every sport listed, how can they know for sure? How did they acquire these results? If they went around polling athletes from each sport, they are naturally going to have bias towards his own which is something that I completely agree with. I believe the best way to go about getting accurate studies is to have subjects try every sport and rate each skill category for themselves. 60 is a lot, but It would be a hell of a lot fun to try some new sports. People would definitely volunteer to participate in a study like that. Speaking of physicality check out Will Smith’s new movie when it comes out. Another blog post you can do is to explore the effects of how dangerous football really is, since you are a sports fan.

  3. kbd5161

    I loved your post because I am also very interested in sports. I found your post interesting but I also agree that ESPN needs to do more scientific study to truly determine the hardest sports. By using their categories of, as you said, “quantitative value to different aspects including endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, nerve, durability, hand-eye coordination, and analytic aptitude” they attempted to determine the results, but I would argue that they probably encouraged a little bias in their studies to specific sports that are the most popular and well liked by viewers. I also don’t think that all sports should be looked at for the same criteria, because football and bowling are completely different in multiple ways, but bowling will always be seen by the public as an easy sport. I would argue that they don’t know how competitive and strategic bowling can be. An interesting route to this would be to scientifically look at why society is more likely to watch some sports on television like football and hockey, than they are to watch other sports like bowling and wrestling, because I think it has a lot more to do with how “sporty” each sport is considered rather than it’s qualifications.

  4. Brendan Feifer

    As an avid sports fan myself, your post came across as interesting and quickly grabbed my attention. Although ESPN is an accredited industry, their needs to be more scientific evidence in their findings. The hardest/easiest sport is such a broad category that it is impossible to not consider variables that interfere with the study. Was ESPN’s study based on the complexity of the sport, or how hard it is to get into each league? Their list of hardest sports is prevalent around the world, but if you take a look at hockey, it is only dominant in certain regions. Yes the NHL is an American based league, but most players hail from overseas. he hockey talent in America is minimal, but why is that? Why are some sports utilized in certain regions and demographics? I liked your post, but it left me searching for more answers.

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