Most Dangerous Contests
cliff diving

Contests don't have to be dangerous. Some, like the 2009 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Cape Sounion, Greece, can be a lot of fun.

Dean Treml/Red Bull Photofiles via Getty Images

Danger is all around you. The street that runs in front of your house can be dangerous. Water can pose a threat. Extreme heat and cold can put your health in jeopardy. Thing is, most people know how to manage and avoid those dangers each day. But a small-but-committed group embraces risk and potential peril, welcoming it into their lives in the form of a game.

What seems ludicrous to the outsider makes complete sense to the participants. The winners are sometimes rewarded with a tangible, valuable item -- anything from cash to a trophy they can put on a shelf. For other players, the reward is in the thrill of the experience itself. But there is a very real downside.

The risk of participating in any of these five contests ranges from being burned, battered, drown or rushed to an emergency room with ruptured internal organs. Good times, huh? You'd think someone -- a person, government or organization -- would step in and say "enough is enough!" Sometimes they do. Two of the five highlighted events have recently been banned. But just as soon as one adrenaline-inducing contest is shut down another emerges to take its place. Adults have free will, and where there's a will ... well, you know how the story goes.

You can view this list as a warning, an invitation or a vicarious and scary thrill. But make no mistake: None of these "sports" will keep you healthy. Quite the opposite -- doctor's visits are quite likely in your future. And that's in a best-case scenario.