What is the TOUGHEST job in sports?

A coach?

A general manager who has to negotiate all of the player contracts, spends most days dealing with inane paperwork?

The athlete?

The guy who has to collect and wash all those jock straps. :frowning: :face_vomiting:

I’d imagine coaching is considerably harder than being a GM. You need charisma, which a GM doesn’t. You need to know offense, defense, every aspect of the game.

If you categorise thoroughbred racing as sport, then the toughest and least rewarding job in sport goes to the teaser stallions.

Googling “teaser stallions” is likely to get NSFW hits. :slight_smile:

Don’t know about toughest but being a hockey referee is a pretty physically strenuous job. Besides trying to keep up with the high speed skating action they end up in the middle of a lot checking.

QB in the NFL.

Field goal kicker in the NFL or major college team. Everyone makes fun of you because you are not a real football player. Everyone is always rushing you and getting right up to your face (or knocking you down from a very vulnerable position). You are the subject of scorn and ridicule when you miss an “easy” field goal or extra point and lose the game. Everyone thinks they can do your job.

Physical risk is maybe 10% of what makes it tough, but the mental risk is 90%.

The more I think about it, the more I think that, if this isn’t the answer, it’s really high on the list (at least, for a starting QB).

It’s a mentally demanding position, requiring the player to not only know his team’s offensive playbook, but what the defense is doing, and how it’s likely to react, on a split-second basis. It’s physically demanding, as well – you have to be a strong, accurate passer, of course, but you also get the living hell beaten out of you in every game, often getting hit while you’re in a defenseless position.

And, even more than kickers (sorry, @Si_Amigo), a team’s starting QB is intensely scrutinized by the team’s fans, moreso probably than any position in any North American sport. Unless you’re one of the handful of the best QBs in the league, your team’s fan base is likely campaigning for you to be replaced by your backup.

I think anyone opening the batting against the West Indies in the 1970’s deserves a medal.
When the genial, smiling strike bowler is nicknamed “whispering death” you know you are in for an interesting afternoon.

Brian Close was legendarily tough in a time of little padding, no helmets and virtually unlimited 90+ mph lifters aimed at your head. The videos don’t do it justice, but the aftermath does.

MLB catcher has got to be up there. Squatting like that, with all that extra gear. Potential for high-speed collisions (much much less potential these days) Ugh.

Mentally, the toughest job in sport is fielding in slips in Test cricket.
You might go the entire match without a single opportunity coming within reach. But if the edge comes low and hard or wide and high or even straight to you at 5:30pm on the second day, having stood there concentrating for 15 hours and over a thousand deliveries and you drop the bloody thing along with your teams chances you are a goose and a disgrace to the country on national TV.

Tennis net judge.


Test cricket must easily be the most mentally demanding sport which is why it can be so brilliant. For batsmen trying to get a big score the bowlers have hour upon hour to try out every way possible to get you out. I’ve seen battles between bowlers and batsmen which play out over the course of their careers with the bowler finally working out how to regularly get a batsman out after years of trying and failing.

For a long time I’ve been thinking that Roger Goodell has the strangest, if not the toughest job in the Sports world. His job is to be hated by everyone. His job is to take the Flack from everyone. The Media, Fans, Players, and owners individually, so that the owners can play that they care only about their team and their fans base. All the owners hate the fact that he, the hired help, has the authority to spank any one of them. But manages to be very secure in his very well payed job because they know if he left they would have a very good chance of just ending up with someone else who is a puppet mouthpiece for Jerry Jones.

Is it really hard, though? All Goodell does is make a few decisions, suspend a few players as need be, give a few speeches, and earn a cool $38 million (or however much) per year. Never get tackled or hit, never break a sweat, no worries about losing a game or anything (since he’s not a coach or GM and has nothing to compete over.) In fact, it sounds like the best job in the league.

How about baseball’s home plate umpire? He has a fraction of a second to decide if a close pitch is a ball or a strike. Allegedly - today with accurate video - MLB umpires err on 10-20% of all (ball/strike) calls.

Every now and again - an umpire has a “perfect game”.

This isn’t really accurate, IMO. Kickers are often among the most respected and desirable players in the NFL. Look up who has the most points scored: it’s a kicker. Look up who won more games in the last minute of play: it’s a kicker. The cliched stereotype of an often-mocked not-really-an-athlete player just doesn’t comport with reality.

Neither of those things make a kicker respected at all. Kicker isn’t at the absolute bottom of the respect pile, that’d be long snapper or punter, but they’re way down the list.

At least in US sports, I think it’s football QB. What’s amazing to me is that with all the incredible incentive for excellence, at any given time there are probably only about 20 people in the entire country capable of playing QB in the NFL at a high level. Maybe not even 20. That’s just an incredibly rare set of skills.