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20 Most Tragic Accidents in Sports History

We love and cherish many aspects of sports. We love arguing with friends about why our favorite team is superior to their favorite team. We love coming up with trade proposals that we think will enhance our team's chances of success and debating the merits of past transactions. We love looking at statistics that allow us to separate the good players from the bad. We love coming up with new statistics to prove the old ones wrong. We love the goals, the hits, the home runs, the strikeouts, the slam dunks, buzzer beaters, touchdowns, interceptions, and some of us even love the shootout.

Perhaps more than anything else, what we love about sports is that it provides us with an escape. Sports allow us to take time out of our busy everyday lives, forget all of our troubles, forget about all of the bad in the world, and momentarily get lost in the joy of a wonderful game. When you feel like everything else in your life is going wrong, you can turn to sports to help you feel right. Unfortunately, every now and then the sports we love the most and the problems of the real world collide head on.

When tragedy strikes the sports world we're often left with the reminder that at the end of the day it is just a game. We're reminded that the athletes we cheer for so strongly on the field are not just assets to be traded or a statistic in the game's history. Above all else, they're people. They're human beings who have worked their entire lives in the hopes of one day realizing their dreams. Yet at any given moment, that dream can be taken away. All within the blink of an eye.

Here are 20 tragic sports accidents than remind us just how precious life can be:

The list is in no particular order, as one cannot measure how tragic an event is.

20 Soccer Team Killed by Lightning

via BigStockPhoto.com

In October 1998 it was reported that a match played in the Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of Congo between Bena Tshadi and Basanga was interrupted by a strike of lightning. Reportedly 11 players on Bena Tshadi between the ages of 20 and 35 were killed while 30 others were burned by the lightning. Miraciously, the entire Basanga team was left unharmed by the incident.

19 2010 Olympic Luge Accident

via desmoinesregister.com

18 Nick Adenhart Killed by a Drunk Driver

via baltimoresun.com

17 Don Sanderson Dies from a Hockey Fight

via georgianaice.com

16 Raymond Chapman Killed by a Pitch

via kentuckysportsradio.com

Ray Chapman was a fan favorite and among the speediest players in the game throughout his career with the Cleveland Indians. In 1920, the 29 year-old shortstop was planning to retire from the game to spend more time with his wife if the team won the World Series. In the fifth inning of an August 20, 1920 game against the New York Yankees, Chapman took a pitch to the head from Yankees pitcher Carl Mays that knocked him unconscious.

15 Dan Snyder Killed in a Car Accident

via cbc.ca

Dan Snyder was a Canadian hockey player who played 49 games for the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. In 2003, Snyder was a passenger in a Ferrari driven by friend and teammate Dany Heatley. Driving at roughly 80 miles per hour, Heatley lost control of the car and crashed into a brick and iron fence. Snyder fell into a coma and six days later, on October 5, 2003, he passed away at the age of 25.

14 Payne Stewart's Plane Accident

via golfweek.com

Known for his flashy attire, Payne Stewart picked up 11 PGA Tour victories, including three Major Championships during his career. At the 1999 U.S. Open, Stewart trained the longest U.S. Open winning putt in history to par the 18th and pick up the victory over Phil Mickelson.

13 Bill Barilko's Disappearance

via thesportgallery.com

12 Sarah Burke's Training Accident

via worldnow.com

11 Len Bias' Overdose

via bet.com

Len Bias' play at the University of Maryland garnered him praise as the best basketball player in the school's history and is said to have rivaled the talent of Michael Jordan. Bias was taken second overall by the defending champion Boston Celtics at the 1986 NBA Draft. Less than 48 hours after the draft, Bias died in his dorm room from a cocaine overdose.

10 Roberto Clemente's Plane Crash

via biography.com

Roberto Clemente played 18 big league seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the NL batting title four times, picking up the NL MVP award in 1966, and taking home 12 straight Gold Gloves along with two World Series titles. As much as Clemente was admired on the field, he was equally revered off it for his charity work as well as his desire to pave the way to a better life for all Latin American people.

9 Owen Hart's Fall

via imgur.com

Born in Calgary, Alberta, Owen Hart was the youngest of 12 children in the legendary Hart family. The Hart family is considered Canada's first family of wrestling with six brothers and four brother-in-laws among the many who have trained in The Dungeon of father Stu Hart's basement. Owen Hart joined the WWE in 1988 where he wrestled under several gimmicks, including teaming with his brother Bret "The Hitman" Hart as part of the Hart Foundation.

On May 23, 1999 as part of a publicity stunt at the Over the Edge pay-per-view, Owen Hart, wrestling as his Blue Blazer character, was to be lowered to the ring from the ceiling via a harness. The quick release mechanism on Hart's harness disengaged early and Hart fell 90 feet to his death.

8 Bill Masterton Dies from Hockey Injury

via imgarcade.com

7 The Munich Air Disaster

via wikimedia.org

6 Dale Earnhardt's Death

via dallasnews.com

5 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Air Disaster

via cbc.ca

4 Marshall University Air Disaster

via check-six.com

3 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster

via ibtimes.co.uk

The 1989 FA Cup sem-final was to feature a matchup between Liverpool and Nottingham Forrest in a rematch from the previous year's semi-final. Thousands of spectators packed Hillsborough Stadium with more than 3,000 people being admitted into the central pens - nearly double the amount safely allowed.

2 1955 Le Mans disaster

via silodrome.com

1 1972 Andes Flight Disaster

via wikimedia.org

A plane carrying the Old Christians rugby team was on its way from Santiago to Montevideo when it crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. Twelve of the flight's passengers were killed on impact with five more dying several hours after the crash and one more succumbing to his injuries a week later. Seventeen days after the crash, another eight people were killed by an avalanche.

Dealing with the harsh conditions and no food source and amid radio reports that the search for them had been called off, the remaining survivors had to turn to cannibalism, feeding on the flesh of their fallen comrades, to stay alive. Two of the survivors, Dr. Roberto Canessa and Nando Parrado, journeyed for 10 days through ice and snow before finally finding help, 72 days after the crash.

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20 Most Tragic Accidents in Sports History