What is the Toughest Sport?

#What-is-the-Toughest-Sport?

ESPN identified 10 categories, or skills, that go into athleticism, and then asked eight panelists to assign a number from 1 to 10 to the demands each sport makes of each of those 10 skills. By totalling and averaging their responses, we arrived at a degree-of-difficulty number for each sport on a 1 to 100 scale. That number places the difficulty of performing each sport in context with the other sports we rated.

Data Dictionary

#Data-Dictionary
  • Endurance = The ability to continue to perform a skill or action for long periods of time. Example: Lance Armstrong.

  • Strength = The ability to produce force. Example: NFL linebackers.

  • Power = The ability to produce strength in the shortest possible time.

  • Speed = The ability to move quickly.

  • Agility = The ability to change direction quickly.

  • Flexibility = The ability to stretch the joints across a large range of motion.

  • Nerve = The ability to overcome fear. Example: High for board divers, race-car drivers, ski jumpers.

  • Durability = The ability to withstand physical punishment over a long period of time.

  • Hand-eye coordination = The ability to react quickly to sensory perception.

  • Analytic aptitude = The ability to evaluate and react appropriately to strategic situations.

  • Total = total accumulation of skill scores.

  • Rank = rank based on total.

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Toughest Sport Ranking

#Toughest-Sport-Ranking
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So Boxing is the toughest sport when all variables are considered - don't think anyone is going to argue much with that!!

Ranking by Different Skills

#Ranking-by-Different-Skills

Ok, so now let's rank the top 10 sports according to each individual skill.

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Boxing comes out on top for multiple different skills:

  • Durability
  • Nerve
  • Power
  • Endurance
  • Strength

I'm actually surprised that Basketball is so high on the Hand-Eye Coordination ranking, relative to other sports such as Tennis, Squash and Table Tennis. An interesting one for me is that both Wrestling and MMA are considered higher on the rankings than Gymnastics.

One-on-One Analysis

#One-on-One-Analysis

Ok, now let's map out the sports against each other. I went with a few combinations that I felt were similar enough to be more interesting. Feel free to add more!!!

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The Complete List

#The-Complete-List
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