2. Sports fans like to speculate about how they would perform at the highest level of their favorite sports. Could they be even marginally successful pro athletes for a short period of time?
4. Could they score a single point against LeBron? Block DeMarcus Ware for a two-count? Win a point off Venus?
6. Here’s a better version of that question: could you make it through a single game/race/match of your favorite sport, played at a professional level? With no cheating, like walking up the basketball court, or doing the backstroke instead of the butterfly?
7. The answer to all of these questions is: No. You Would Die. And here’s how.
Football, also known as America’s bloodsport, is a gladiatorial contest in which preposterously muscled men, some of whom are as fast as Olympic sprinters and roiling with ‘roid rage, hurl themselves at each other as hard as they can a hundred times in a row. Into this mix of Adrian Peterson and Patrick Willis, enter you, weakling. Even if you were playing, say, receiver, there is no way you wouldn’t at some point be caught in the way of one actual football player chasing another actual football player. (Remember, in this hypothetical exercise you’re required to play as much like a normal player would as physically possible. No running out of bounds after every snap.) In the course of the first player getting through you in order to reach the second player, you would die.
Odds of Death: 1:1.
Most Likely Causes of Death: Decapitation; internal hemorrhage; catastrophic heart attack brought on by fear; the fact that you are a skinny-fat white-collar grub who sneaks cigarettes, lies about reading The New Yorker, and likes “smokier bourbons”, while everyone else on the field is a rock-hard monstrosity who has been training for decades to annihilate everything.
On the surface, basketball may seem “safer” than football, which is kind of like saying that trench warfare is “safer” than nuclear obliteration. Imagine standing next to the seven feet and 270 pounds of Marc Gasol as he uses the entire force and stature of his freakish body to box you out (which he could realistically do with a single breath), and then imagine him landing on top of you after he gets knocked off balance while coming down with a rebound. You would die.
Odds of Death: 1:2
Most Likely Causes of Death: Stampede; trampling; Detroit fans.
Hockey is the sport that the descendants of Vikings and bloodthirsty Cossacks “play” when they aren’t fighting wars. Fittingly, it features razor-sharp blades and everyone wields a long instrument of death. Alex Ovechkin going at 20% speed down the ice and trying his hardest not to kill you would still kill you.
Odds of Death: 1:2
Most Likely Causes of Death: Calamitous slicings; puck-to-the-anything; stick-to-the-anything; crumpling-in-on-onself-like-a-Camry-hood-itis; Zamboni mishap; you can’t really skate; Detroit fans.
Have you ever noticed when someone really gets hit with a baseball, and not just nicked, they usually have a horrible, life-changing injury that leads to a heartrending ESPN 30 for 30 documentary? That’s because getting hit with a lightspeed death orb fucking sucks. The first time a Strasburg fastball grazed your ankle, my friend, you would explode and die.
Odds of Death: 1:3
Most Likely Cause of Death: Explosive hernia brought on by swinging hard; what happened to this bird but worse; aneurysm brought on by nostalgia over single instance of baseball-related fatherly approval from your youth; you’ve never dealt well with pressure; Detroit fans.
Swimming, as in the act of conveying your weird body through water without drowning, is hard enough when it’s not a race against athletes with the most perfect physiques on the planet. If you were lucky enough not to be killed by the starting gun, you would be immediately sucked into a vortex of Phelpsian backwash and forgotten.
Odds of Death: 1:2
Most Likely Cause of Death: Drowning.
“Oh, it’s just soccer”, you say, “just a bunch of normal-sized guys running around and kicking a ball.” That’s sort of true. What it fails to account for is that you are likely an asthmatic slob on the diabetes borderline to whom the task of running like 1,000 miles per game, as these stallions do, is as realistic as flying.
Odds of Death: 1:3
Most Likely Cause of Death: Lung rupture caused by not having run more than 200 feet in 10 years; attempt at header in which soccer ball pushes your nose cartilage up into your brain; cleats-to-the-anything; a resurgence of hooliganism caused by the singular hatefulness of your face; Didier Drogba; Detroit fans on vacation.
If you go on YouTube, you can find videos of people who are merely “good” at tennis dropping microscopically-precise neutron bombs on every inch of a court while drinking a Bud with the other hand. Against even better players, you, ridiculous in your mismatched whites, would be stoned to death by hundreds of rocket-speed shots directly into your soft and unloved torso.
Odds of death: 1:4
Most Likely Causes of Death: Repeated and unmerciful 120 mph serves directly into your gonads; repeated and unmerciful 120 mph serves into your brain when you start covering your gonads; standing too close to Rafa Nadal’s exploding biceps; garroting-by-net; sinking in clay.
Odds of death: 0
- The CIA has officially — but very quietly — admitted that some allegations about its torture program were true.
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