The Most Demanding Sports

Here are the results of a detailed analysis to decide once-and-for-all determine which of the world's sports is the most demanding. The folks at 'Page 2' on the ESPN site did the analysis in 2004 - it was not just based on personal opinion, they got together a bunch of experts and ranked a range of attributes (endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, nerve, durability and analytic aptitude). See more about these ten skills that go into athleticism.

Boxing Rules

The top ranked sport as determined by ESPN was boxing (and the sport they rated as the least demanding was fishing!). There may have been a biased view of the US sports in this study, which is understandable if the voters were more familiar with them, and only 60 of the world's sports were voted on (I have listed 750+ sports). I know of at least one sport that would have to rank very high but is not there at all - the Irish game of Hurling. Look it up - it's fast, skillful and you need to be very tough. Australian Rules Football is also a noticeable omission. Don't agree with this list? See our analysis of sports which has come up with our own list of the World's Fittest Sport. You can add your comment below.

stopwatchRanking List

Once the 10 attributes of athleticism were identified, they then asked a group of experts made up of sports scientists, kinesiology academics and sporting journalists to assign a number from 1 to 10 to each of these skills. This analysis was applied to 60 sports from around the world, and the final results are shown in the table here. See also the sports lists for each of the components of athleticism.

Ranking Sport
1 Boxing
2 Ice Hockey
3 American Football
4 Basketball
5 Wrestling
6 Martial Arts
7 Tennis
8 Gymnastics
9 Baseball/Softball
10 Soccer
11 Skiing: Alpine
11 Water Polo
13 Rugby
14 Lacrosse
15 Rodeo: Steer Wrestling
16 Track and Field: Pole Vault
17 Field Hockey
17 Speed Skating
19 Figure Skating
20 Cycling: Distance
20 Volleyball
22 Racquetball/Squash
23 Surfing
24 Fencing
25 Skiing: Freestyle
26 Team Handball
27 Cycling: Sprints
28 Bobsledding/Luge
29 Ski Jumping
30 Badminton
30 Skiing: Nordic
32 Auto Racing
33 Track and Field: High Jump
34 Track and Field: Long, Triple jumps
35 Diving
36 Swimming (all strokes): Distance
37 Skateboarding
38 Track and Field: Sprints
39 Rowing
40 Rodeo: Calf Roping
40 Track and Field: Distance
42 Rodeo: Bull/Bareback/Bronc Riding
43 Track and Field: Middle Distance
44 Weight-Lifting
45 Swimming (all strokes): Sprints
46 Water Skiing
47 Table Tennis
48 Track and Field: Weights
49 Canoe/Kayak
50 Horse Racing
51 Golf
52 Cheerleading
52 Roller Skating
54 Equestrian
55 Archery
56 Curling
57 Bowling
58 Shooting
59 Billiards
60 Fishing

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