What is the hardest sport?

Dan Cole, sports talk show personality on the Minneapolis based KFAN radio station, often reminds his listeners that he has “not only 4 years of college eligibility left, but 2 of high school as well.” Considering his own admission of a lack of intellectual prowess, I should not be bothered by some of his opinions. Nor should I be surprised when they lack a reasonable, logical defense. Recently, he stated his belief that golf is the hardest sport in the world. Part of his reasoning was in regards to golf being the toughest sport from a mental aspect.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe golf is extremely difficult and requires high levels of skill and mental strength. I’m awful at it. It’s hard. 

So, I’m not totally against the argument that it could be the most difficult sport of all, but, not only do I think I could convince 99% of the world (including the best golfers in the world) otherwise, I think it is the duty of someone who makes a claim like that to have laid down some sort of a rubric by which they come to this conclusion. 

Here at Seder-skier.com, we have exhausted our high school and college eligibility, and with diplomas in hand, we would like to offer our most important intellectual contribution (to date) to society by settling once and for all, in the most objective, scientific way possible, what the ‘hardest sport in the world’ is. Obviously, and this will come as no surprise to those of you with PhD’s, the clear way of settling this debate is by utilizing a 64 team bracket. … and we’ll get there. 

First, let’s talk about how we ought to rank and compare sports in terms of being “hard.”


Sports are hard in many ways

To start this discussion, we need to create the different categories that fall under the term “hard.” Sports are difficult in three different areas: physiologically, technically, and mentally. However, we can’t stop there. Each of these categories also contains several subcategories. Some might cry fowl as we differentiate the many aspects of, for example, “Technical” difficulties. But, we did the best we could to broadly include all of the main sports. 

Here we go: 


Aerobic (think: the stress put on your aerobic energy system i.e. running a marathon) 

1 = Putting a golf ball, 10 = Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Anaerobic (think: the stress put on your anaerobic energy system i.e. the 800 meters in track)

1 = listening to our podcast, 10 = the 2012 800 meter men’s final

ATP Creatine phosphate (think: the stress put on your ATP-CP energy system, i.e. sprinting and power lifting.)

1 = walking a round of golf, 10 = Working out at Cormax on the bench press

Flexibility (think: can you do the splits?)

1 = listening to our podcast (we aren’t talking about mental flexibility…) 10 = Shawn Johnson on the beam

Body awareness and Balance (think: doing a backflip on a wakeboard)

1 = putting in golf, 10 = Doing a McTwist off of Courbet’s Colouir



Skill (think: the ability to properly execute a motion i.e. shooting form in basketball or doing a kick-flip in skateboarding)

1 = Running, 10 = not sure..

Coordination (think: hand/eye or foot/eye i.e. dribbling with your nondominant hand)

1 = walking, 10 = Steph Curry’s pregame routines 

Precision/accuracy (think: hitting a golf ball, shooting a free throw; quarterback accuracy)

1 = distance running, 10 = Tiger’s chip in at Augusta; Curry from 25 feet; Archery



Toughness (Pain) (think: fighting through physical pain; i.e. last lap of a 5k when someone ‘goes.’)

1 = Golf, the whole sport, 10 = Steve Prefontaine

Toughness (Composure/focus) (think: staying calm under high pressure situations; 18th hole at Augusta, last two minutes of the Superbowl; Freethrow with game on the line)

1 = the middle of stage 4 at the Tour de France, 10 = Brady in 01 at the Super Bowl

Strategy (think: gamesmanship in sports; race strategy; head to head strategy; complexity – Peyton Manning’s knowledge of football vs. Spurgeon Wynn)

1 = being a placekicker, 10 = Herb Brooks/Ice Hockey

6th sense/Spatial (think: Magic Johnson seeing the floor; Tom Brady finding the open guy)

1 = Distance running, 10 = Pete Maravich playing basketball


Intangible cateogories (what makes something hard?)

Takes a long time to learn

1 = sprinting, 10 = figure skating 

Fear factor – is it scary; could you die?

1 = Golf, 10 = extreme backcountry skiing


Alright, we’ve established 14 different elements by which we can now grade a sport in its difficulty. In the process, you probably can see how I feel about golf, too. To be fair, I ripped my own sport, distance running, quite a bit as well.

Now it’s time to nominate our sports….Not everything can be in the Big Dance, but hey, there is the NIT for those amateur sports bloggers out there.

The four majors





The sport the whole world cares about


The sports the whole world cares about … every four years




Pole Vault




Figure skating


Alpine Skiing

Nordic Skiing







Speed Skating

The sports we think about when someone says, “EPO”

Road cycling

The sports we cared about in high school



The sports we cared about in college

Table Tennis

The sports we did if we weren’t in college



The sport that always makes me think of St. Johns University in MN

Cross country running

The sport that always makes me think of Hawaii


The sports we all wish we had done 

Extreme backcountry skiing




Professional eating

The sports no one wishes they had done

Ultra endurance running

Ultra endurance cycling

Ultra endurance swimming


The sports the whole world cared about … in 1974



Horse Racing

The sport that wishes it belonged in the last category


The sports we care about in Minnesota

Bocce ball



Horse riding (equestrian)

Cow tipping





The sports we care about in Australia




Field Hockey

The sports that prove Darwin’s theory of evolution



Ice Fishing

Synchronized swimming

Sumo Wrestling

Nascar/Auto racing


Free climbing

The sports that disprove Darwin’s theory of evolution


Rock climbing

The sports we need to survive





Sports that are trying too hard to be other sports

Skibobbing .. look it up


Disc Golf

Ultimate Frisbee


Stay tuned for our selection show. 

Get ready to place your bets.

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