By Jonathan Lewis | 20th APR 2020
Which sport is the hardest? It is a question that causes lots of debate around the world and generally leads to plenty of disagreements amongst sports fans.
While combat sports are obviously the ‘hardest’ sport from a brutality perspective, they are perhaps not as difficult to master as other sports.
Fans of rugby, ice hockey, basketball and other popular sports will argue that their sport is hard and there are likely to be merits in the points they make.
However, in terms of its multi-disciplinary requirements, football has a strong case to be classed as the hardest sport. Read on as we explain why.
Football is now almost a 12-month sport, with players rarely getting much of a break during the summer months.
Pre-season tours, regular season matches, cup competitions, play-offs and international commitments place huge demands on players.
The days where the sport shut down in early May and resurfaced in the autumn are long gone, meaning players must maintain their fitness levels all-year round.
The heavy workload undoubtedly increases the risk of injuries, particularly for footballers who play in the majority of games.
Modern football has become a highly pressurised environment and that can take its toll on a player’s mental wellbeing.
For instance, online sports betting on the Premier League is hugely popular, but it adds to the pressure that players feel when they are out on the pitch.
Mistakes by players could cost punters big sums of money and also have a massive financial impact on the clubs themselves.
The pressure to keep performing is a major factor in football, further adding to the difficulty levels required to master the sport.
Players generally cover between seven to ten miles every game, meaning they must possess extremely high levels of endurance.
Games last 90 minutes and many professional teams will play two or three times a week during the course of the season.
By contrast, an NFL player is physically moving for only about 11 minutes per game and will cover around a mile and a quarter at most.
Climate also plays a part in football, with players expected to play in vast extremes of weather including heatwaves and freezing conditions.
Whereas some sports simply require their athletes to be able to run fast and maybe catch or throw a ball every now and then, football players have to be multi-skilled.
Football requires players to possess numerous skills including foot-eye coordination, speed, power, strength, balance, reflexes, shooting ability and teamwork.
While the gameplay in other sports can be structured and governed by coaching instructions, football is more freeform which means the players have to be able to think on their feet.
Communication skills are also important in the modern game, with players required to undertake far more media duties than was once the case.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF Sports Writer