Most Dangerous Sport

2014-0330 Boxing
When you prioritize a list of the most dangerous sports in terms of most likely to cause a brain injury, what sports would you include on the list, and how would you prioritize the list from most likely to cause a brain injury to least likely to cause a brain injury?  My prioritized list includes the following sports:


  1. Boxing
  2. Rugby
  3. Football
  4. Hockey
  5. Freestyle Skiing
  6. Surfing
  7. Motocross
  8. Auto racing

I did not include sports that are likely to cause many injuries (such a riding bucking broncos) or sports that are more likely to cause injuries worse than brain injury (such as base jumping, rock climbing, wingsuit gliding, bungee jumping, or kayaking over waterfalls).

According to the University of Toronto study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, University of Toronto researchers examined records and videos from 844 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bouts and determined MMA fights are more likely to cause brain injury than either football or hockey. An Associated Press article about the subject indicates New York is the “last remaining state to prohibit professional MMA bouts.”

Why do any places allow MMA bouts when research has proven the bouts are likely to result in a brain injury?

Call to Action

If you have any thoughts about how we should respond to information about the most dangerous sport, please leave you comment in the text box below this post.


Thanks to Google for locating information about the study; University of Toronto for conducting the study; American Journal of Sports Medicine for publishing the study; Associated Press for writing about the study; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to use the picture or text I used in this post.


  1. anyone can make a list based on opinion and the UT/AJSM “study” is obviously a case of circular logic, as they only looked at the records and videos of one sport in order to come to a conclusion relative to all other sports without any scientific methodolgy whatsoever. double blind, for example, means one party collects data in a uniform way, and another party who knows nothing about the data source analyses the data to determine a predictable pattern. peer review is what keeps data collection and data analysis honest. i could peanuckle at the top of my list. so what?

    1. Sucra,

      I understand what you are saying, and I agree the study is not perfect and the results may not be statistically significant or applicable to everything under the sun. However, circular logic does not refer to a small sample size or a narrow field of study. Although your description of a double blind study is close to the definition commonly used, it is not exactly correct. Most importantly, the study is a statement of opinion not proof that a sport should be banned. The study is a comparison of several sports, so I am not quite sure how you concluded it was about only one. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. ~ Scott

  2. MMA is very dangerous and it is imperative to be properly trained before participating in any type of mixed martial arts events.

  3. Our son joined a boxing club and trained as a boxer. We were not happy, thinking he would get hurt. He did very well. He came in second in the British Columbia amateur boxing competition and after that, he gradually lost interest in boxing. His arguments in favour of boxing training was it taught him skills. He was never seriously injured. I am not sure if it was because he was good at it or what.

    1. Marilyn, there are many good skills people can learn from boxing such as confidence, balance, awareness, interpretation of body language, speed, agility, strength, fitness, nutrition, memory, history, etc. My goal was not to bash boxing, but to simply mention it can be a very dangerous sport. The fact is people can receive a brain injury from so many things other than dangerous sports such as cancer, illness, falling, motor vehicle accident, etc. It is difficult to say “don’t do XYZ” because it is impossible to completely escape all causes of brain injury. However, choosing to participate in a sport where your opponent’s goal is to knock you out seems rather risky to me. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. I’m glad to hear your son escaped unscathed.

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