Top 15 Sports With the Highest Body Counts

Part of the undeniable appeal of sports is the simple fact that we normal people watching from our couches could never hope to compete at such a level. For some sports, like basketball, baseball, or tennis, we can still get out there and play even though we’re not necessarily experts. But there are other sports that non-experts should stay away from at all costs—the only safe way to enjoy them is from that couch.

Athletes die in every sport, from cardiac arrests during marathons to heat exhaustion during football practice to every manner of accident or medical condition, but some sports seem to carry most of their appeal simply in the brazen and interesting ways they find to stare death in the face—daring it to take them without ceremony on a city street or in a lonely cave. Those who make their livings playing these sports are a very special kind of crazy, from the first person to ever tow out to a giant wave in the middle of a storm to the first person to realize how incredible it would be to drop onto a mountain from a chopper and ski down it. They need speed, danger and adrenaline, and TV loves all three. Modern gladiators often facing no one but themselves and the elements, these death defiers are constantly pushing the limits of what humans can do, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few who lost their lives in the search for the ultimate thrills.

Whether it’s flinging a limestone ball 200 miles an hour at someone’s head, attempting to subdue a massive, deadly beast or just jumping out of a plane, these sports represent the very pinnacle of human courage. And hey, you could get hit by a bus at any time, right? May as well live it up: work hard and play deadly.

15 Street Luge 

14 Cheerleading 

13 Heliskiing 

12 Scuba Diving 

11 Boxing 

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

10 Bull Fighting 

9 Bull Riding

8 Jai Alai 

7 Auto Racing 

6 Motorcycle Racing 

5 Skydiving 

4 Big Wave Surfing 

3 Swimming 

2 Cave Diving 

1 BASE Jumping 

Skydiving without the benefit of air travel, base jumping narrows the margin of error by bringing the sport closer to the ground. Carrying just one parachute and aided by a flight suit that allows them to glide like flying squirrels, jumpers have made everything from the Grand Canyon to the world’s tallest buildings a forum for their adrenaline fix. 264 people have died base jumping, which when compared to the relatively small sample size of total jumpers, makes for an incredibly high death rate. And just like other sports on this list, it doesn’t matter how good you get at base jumping—one errant gust of wind could mean your life.

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Top 15 Sports With the Highest Body Counts