The Most Expensive Sports in the World, Ranked

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Ski Jumping
Image via Porch Drinking

Regardless of the activity, playing a sport on a regular basis often requires its own budget. Whether you’re an avid runner or aspiring baller, you’ve probably dropped a nice chunk of change on your hobby throughout the years. Replacement sneakers and gear, participation fees, gym memberships, and health insurance can become quite costly, which is boosted even further by the competitive nature of sports.

However, you may be surprised to that learn that some sports require even more out-of-pocket expenses. From polo to hot air balloon racing, there’s plenty of ways for the well-off (and in some cases, 1%) to empty their wallets. Check out The Most Expensive Sports in the World, Ranked and be sure to let us know if you’ve been lucky enough to try any of these.

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and a contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things pop culture, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

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Image via The Harry Parker

No. 10 – Wingsuit Flying

Required gear: Wingsuit, goggles
Estimated yearly cost: $20-30k

For real thrill seekers, wingsuiting is one of the most expensive adrenaline rushes around. Unlike many sports on this list, the actual equipment is one of the cheapest things involved: a quality wingsuit can be had for around a stack. You’ll be spending the majority of your coin being flown up for the jumps, and other costs include extensive training, transportation, and of course, a parachute. You’re looking at roughly $20-30k for about a year’s worth of becoming a human bat.

Image via Wordpress

No. 9 – Equestrianism

Required gear: Horse, saddle, boots, helmet, clothing
Estimated yearly cost: $10-50k

Caring for a horse is expensive in its own right; the costs for boarding, food, equipment, and veterinary care are just the beginning of riding. Equestrianism typically refers to the three Olympics events of dressage, show jumping, and eventing. This requires a considerable amount of specialty training, and travel expenses will also begin to rack up. If you’re looking to get seriously involved in equestrianism, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10-50,000 for a year of maintenance and competition.

Image via Sport Polo

No. 8 – Polo

Required gear: At least 4 ponies, saddle, boots, helmet, clothing
Estimated yearly cost: $60-100k

No Ralph jokes here. Polo fees begin to mount up quickly, considering even the lowest level tournaments require at least four ponies. Once you start to factor in saddles, stables, transport, and the other requirements, the sum is looking pretty hefty. A single tournament polo pony will start at $15,000, and that’s just the low end.

Ski Jumping
Image via Porch Drinking

No. 7 – Ski Jumping

Required gear: Skis, boots, helmet, warm clothes
Estimated yearly cost: Starts around $1k, varies greatly depending on liability insurance

The equipment and training required for ski jumping isn’t nearly as expensive as some activities on this list, but it takes a level of fearlessness simply can’t be bought. Overall, insurance is where you’ll be hit hardest, and if you don’t have health care, the medical bills alone could easily push this to the top three.

Hot Air Balloon Racing
Image via Love Being Retired

No. 6 – Hot Air Balloon Racing

Required gear: Specialized hot air balloon
Estimated yearly cost: $75-100k

Hot air ballooning isn’t just for retirees. If you’re looking to competitively race, you’ll need a specialty balloon equipped for high speeds, which will run anywhere from $20-50k. Regular maintenance is a must, as the last thing you’ll want to do is be stuck mid-air in a faulty balloon.  Also, unlike traditional races, hot air balloon races focus more on accuracy than speed, you’ll need extensive practice if you want to leave your mark.

Image via Blogspot

No. 5 – Bobsledding

Required gear: Bobsled, helmet, clothing
Estimated yearly cost: $75-100k

Even if you aren’t going to be bobsledding in the Olympics (the US team’s bobsled was said to run $50k), the expenses can quickly pile up. You’ll need lessons, gear, maintenance/insurance, and a trailer for transportation, none of which are cheap. And considering the fact that the sled’s runners can cost as much as $5,000, there’s nothing Cool Runnings-like about the bill you’ll receive.

Image via PRWeb

No. 4 – Sailing

Required gear: Sailboat
Estimated yearly cost: $90-100k

A decent used sailboat can be obtained for around $30,000, but performance upgrades and equipment, as well as docking and insurance, are where it’s going to get expensive. Assuming you already live near the water, be prepared to drop at least close to six figures during your first year.

Modern Pentathlon
Image via ABC Net

No. 3 – Modern Pentathlon

Required gear: Pistol, fencing weapon and clothing, horse and equestrian-related gear, running sneakers, swim trunks
Estimated yearly cost: $100k-150k

The pentathlon, which encompasses fencing, freestyle swimming, horse jumping, pistol shooting, and running, is one of the most costly sports around. It’s been a core of the Olympics for over a century, and in 1996 it became a single-day event. That means participants must not only procure the needed equipment, but they’ll need to train vigorously for a true test of endurance and versatility, and that doesn’t come cheap.

F1 Racing
Image via Wonderful Engineering

No. 2 – Formula 1 Racing

Required gear: Formula 1 race car
Estimated yearly cost: $1 Million+

F1 racing has sponsors such as Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull, so you already know it’s a big money industry. Getting into Formula 1 isn’t only expensive, it’s impractical: it requires one to be involved from and early age and pay a number of dues before (hopefully) eventually earning a sponsorship and hitting the professional track. In 2012, Netcars reported that a single car will run its owner $7 million over its lifetime, and that’s not even considering the additional expenses involved.

Whitianga Festival
Image via Sail World

No. 1 – New Zealand Motorsport/Helicopter Festivals

Required gear: Helicopter
Estimated yearly cost: $3 Million+

Currently on hiatus, the Whitianga Festival of Speed was a true spectacle. Featuring downright insane events such as helicopters racing rally cars and power boats, the adrenaline-fueled event served as a sampler platter for some of New Zealand’s most daring competitions. While the festival organizers plan their next move, events such as the Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow and Offshore Racing continue on an annual basis. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you can cop this used heli now for a cool 3 mil and take flight over the opposition.

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and a contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things pop culture, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

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