The Most Demanding Sports

Here are the results of a detailed analysis to decide once-and-for-all 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 (check out this list 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.

Ranking 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 list below. See also the sports lists for each of the components of athleticism.

  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. Alpine Skiing
  12. Water Polo
  13. Rugby
  14. Lacrosse
  15. Rodeo: Steer Wrestling
  16. Track and Field: Pole Vault
  17. Field Hockey
  18. Speed Skating
  19. Figure Skating
  20. Cycling: Distance
  21. 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
  31. Nordic Skiing
  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
  41. 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
  53. Roller Skating
  54. Equestrian
  55. Archery
  56. Curling
  57. Bowling
  58. Shooting
  59. Billiards
  60. Fishing

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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