A Systematic, Somewhat Sane Ranking of the World's Most Athletic Sports
In this week's column in the dead tree version of Sportatorium I maintain that NASCAR drivers aren't athletes. Conversely, Texas Motor Speedway grand poobah Eddie Gossage counterpoints that not only are drivers supremely athletic, but more fit than even soccer players.
Got me to thinking: Which sport truly has the world's best athletes? We could peruse this Superstars list or, better yet, come up with our own criteria.
Football requires strength and speed, but minimizes endurance. Basketball requires agility and stamina, but minimizes strength. Hockey requires skating and fighting. And baseball? Basically just the ability to spit or, in some cases, inject.
Which sport's combined athletes would win a Superstars team competition?
Only one way to settle the debate: Let's rank every known sport on an athletic scale of 1-10 ...
SPORT RANK COMMENT
Sportswriting -0.1 Those who can't play, write.
Fishing 0.0 Sitting and drinking.
Quarters 0.1 Sitting and drinking and laughing.
Spelling Bee 0.2 Standing and thinking.
Archery 0.3 One finger.
Poker 0.3 Sunglasses indoors.
Video Gaming 0.4 Several fingers.
Darts 0.5 One hand.
Paper-Rock-Scissors 0.7 Two hands.
Eating 0.8 Two hands, active jaws.
Billiards 0.8 Better when you're drunk.
Bowling 1.0 Much better when you're drunk.
Curling 1.1 Movement via sliding.
Cricket 1.2 Dockers and breaks for tea.
Auto racing 1.2 Sitting in vibrating heat. But still, sitting.
Frisbee Golf 1.3 Movement via walking.
Weightlifting 1.4 Stationary grunting.
Golf 1.5 Movement via longer walking.
Motorcyle Racing 1.5 Passively moved; not actively moving.
Horse Racing 1.6 Movement via horsepower, not manpower.
Skydiving/BASE jumping 1.7 Jumping, landing and courage.
Paintball 1.8 Sporadic running and diving.
Badminton 1.8 Quickness and jumping.
Skateboarding 1.9 Push start.
Bobsledding 2.0 Push start with heavier object.
Sex 2.1 Further research required.
Rowing/Kayaking 2.2 Stamina via monotonous motion.
Swimming 2.3 Stamina via monotonous motion, sans oars.
Ping Pong 2,4 Cardio and creativity.
Softball 2.7 What are the bases, like 18 feet apart?
Rodeo 2.8 Animals do most of the heavy lifting.
Skiiing 3.0 Controlled chaos.
Ice Skating 3.5 Jumping on skates.
Snowboarding 3.7 Uncontrolled chaos, with twice as much balance.
Fencing 4.0 Constant movement and danger.
Surfing 4.6 Paddling. Crouching. Balancing. Fighting.
Cheerleading 4.7 The pyramids, not the the prissing.
Cycling 4.9 Legs n' lungs.
Racquetball 5.0 Hand-eye coordination with quickness.
Wrestling 5.2 Go rassle your brother for two minutes.
Field 5.3 High-jumpers, not shot-putters
Handball 5.4 Raquetball, without the racquet.
Baseball 5.5 Two words: David Wells. Two more: Tony Gwynn.
Ice Hockey 5.7 Still don't get the only 90-second shifts.
Volleyball 5.8 Hitting, while jumping. After running.
Field hockey 6.0 Ice hockey without the skates.
Tennis 6.5 Rafael Nadal.
Boxing 6.8 Pound-for-pound, still incredibly athletic.
Mixed Martial Arts 7.0 Add kicking and it's one pound better.
Good Sex 7.5 Initial research required.
Track 7.9 Strength, channeled into speed and stamina.
Water Polo 8.0 Seriously, how the hell do they do that?
Football 8.3 Too much down time on sidelines and in huddles.
Rugby 8.7 Guy-picking-up-the-other-guy throw-ins?
Gymnastics 8.8 Most underrated athletes on the list.
Soccer 9.0 Just think if they were allowed to use their hands.
Lacrosse 9.4 Ta-da! See above.
Basketball 9.5 Combines broad athleticism with refined skills.
Australian Rules Football 10.0 Football+hockey+basketball+soccer.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.