One of the most often seen quotes on cross country team shirts from when I was in cross country probably before and well after I’ll be dead is “My Sport is Your Sports Punishment” which is really our just way of saying more sports stuff than yours it is just how it is. But I’m also a mathematician 00:19 so today on this episode of Runner’s High I wanna figure out “Is cross country harder than football”?
If you do not spend in time with me on this channel then you probably don’t yet know this is a show about running so let me give my bias out front. I’ve been a runner for almost twenty years, so you know I’m gonna skew00:48 probably towards the running side but I’m gonna try my best not to because as mentioned I’m also a mathematician with my 00:56 degrees is to be believed. So what it kinda look at the numbers and figure out “Is there any way to compare these two different sports” They’re really to very different things so it’s kinda hard to compare but I’ve got some numbers and we’re gonna dive in and see which ones harder and why?
Let’s go to first kind of no simple 01:16 differences out of the way. All of the cross country is technically team sport and it still buying large in individual effort. Football obviously we’re talking about American football here sorry to my worldwide friends you know we refer to football and soccer we’re talking about American football.
So football is clearly a team sport and really even in a three-team sport for 01:40 offense-defense and special team so those are part of what makes it so difficult to compare the two. But we can actually look at one component that should be a relatively even between them see which is harder and that is calorie count ” How many calories are we burning for giving activity”
I”ve clearly probably talking about highschools here we were talking about football. More really cross country in this case, so if we have a 150 lbs athlete and there playing for contact football for a half hour they’re gonna burn roughly 350 calories. Now if we take that same athlete 150 lbs there running will say 7-minute miles just to say “They’ve got a little bit speed on but they are not a speed demon might any structured imagination or 02:31 a highschool runners doing that. 70 miles for half-hour is 390 calories.
Now we have to keep mind that obviously there are football players that are much larger than a hundred a 150 lbs there’s also runners that are much faster than 7-minute miles so we’re trying to compare apples to apples we tryna keep things as even as possible, is my seven-minute mile thing is a little bit arbitrary but tryna pick a kind of moderate-intensity. So, in this case, 350 versus 390 one point goes to the runners in terms of being harder. haven’t you spend more calories when you’re doing your sport?
But what about training, “Which sport has a harder training regimen” One of the things I notice wether it highschool or college is that often we had one a half to 2-hour practices max. Now the football team especially early season are gonna have longer practices on that and in that early season often we’re doing two days granted that the football players are not in motion in the entire time but even for a two-hour workout for runners were on motion in the entire time either you’re gonna be doing 03:47 track that kind of thing.
So we already know that football players are spending more time training for this sport that’s gonna be more difficult but not just because of the time spent is because of the energy to stay mentally focused and the consequences of losing focus are greater in football than a running. Now, I talk a lot about how important it is to keep your mind sharp to be a best runner you can be but let’s think about this for just one second if I’m out say trying to run a 25k or in training wherever it is. I momentarily lose focus, I can refocus, get back up my pace and you know make up a little bit time in my interval.
But if you’re training in football, you’re doing scrimmage or whatever it is you lose your focus you’re going to you know missed 04:38 that tackle, you missed that catch wherever it is you can you know cause the other team to add the ability to get a gap, score points. The effects of losing focus are going to be more devastating or more consequential have bigger effects in football and it is in running. So, I may have to get more points to football in this case in terms of training than running because of that mental aspect.
Now if that wasn’t enough to convince you the football players get a hell of a time. When they’re training one thing that always done after me regardless in a matter of time or energy that was spent during training is that there’s one big difference between us and that’s equipment. Footballer were football players I guess footballers are soccer players.
Football players have to wear pads and I saw them out in ridiculous hit still wearing pads swore their but pads off. Whereas we can wear a t-shirt or tank tops or sometimes if the coach allowed depending on the culture no issues all 05:46 So we get the benefit of staying cooler not, not having works the extra gear 05:50 so points you know points definitely to football players hats off to them. Training I would say it probably much more difficult for football players and it is for runners.
So our last component here “Which is tougher in the competition?” This is were kinda miss the road, right? 06:10 We get down to it who has a harder on competition day. So if you’re running keep in mind cross country is a team sport so if you don’t know you score five runners based on their place. So a perfect score in cross country is 15. If your team placed one, two, three. four, five it adds up to 15 that’s the only possible perfect score in a cross country race. Your sixth and seventh runners are tiebreakers and so you can fill a team of seven.
Now a football team obviously many more players of 11 players for each pace of the game plus you’ve got player on the sidelines for different place you can switch them out so I would say because both there are multiple ways to score in football and because you can substitute players out give them a break whereas in a race there are no breaks it is start to finish you gotta go hard the whole time there is an edge here for runners in the competition.
Not only that but we’re talking about the feel of competition football players generally know what their gonna have right? You’ve got a hundred field you’ve got ten yards in both end zone. The field goals were set up in the same position the very slightly I think depending on the field set up but pretty much the same across the board you kinda know what’s your working with.
Whereas cross country it’s just gonna be what’s it gonna be when you show up could be a flat fast scores it could be 07:43 score or it could be a long turn it could be no turns you could have start uphills start downhill to have a really sharp contraction of runners from the beginning. There’s a lot of unknowns when it comes to cross country in getting to a course which is why you have to go out to the course warm-up, check it out
trying kind of figure out where you gonna pace yourself throughout the course and just deal with it on race day. There’s a lot of unknowns again because of these unknowns I’m weighing more heavily towards runners having the tougher job here not knowing exactly what to expect.
Now what you think I’ve forgotten. Injury rate is a very important part of the competition how often we’re injured. It’s something I talk about on this channel a lot if you don’t know that hit the subscribe button stick around with me I’ve got videos on dealing with injuries as a runner. Is it right you know take a solid 08:35 competition it’s it makes things tough mentally both because were heart with socks but also because there’s kind of process you have to go through to rehab to get back in things all that kind of stuff.
Now I’m gonna use numbers for the NCAA because the NCAA tracks injury rate across all sports and they do this by tracking injury rate per amount of exposures. So if I already explain when the exposure is it’s basically anytime somebody is involved in a practice or a competition that means if I show up to practice 5 days a week and also compete on Saturday that’s the sixth day I count for six exposures even though I’m one person.
So we’ve looking for the NCAA’s data we look at men’s cross country in particular women’s cross country actually has a higher incidents rate but because we wanna compare men to men and there are no currently no women’s football programs we’re gonna use the men’s data. So the NCAA says that men’s cross country has an incident rate of 4.7 injuries per 1000 exposures so that is, you know, gonna be our can’t baseline here right? But what we look at the football players a little bit as expected it’s almost twice as high at 9.2 per 1000 exposures.
On top of that, if we take into account the severity of the injury that you can get from football, football’s definitely gonna be pull out here hard in competition and the ability to be tough the need to be tough in competition. You know those kinds of injuries you don’t get from football, can be potentially life-altering in some severe cases whereas those things gonna be much much more rare in cross countries, it’s gonna be like sprained ankles, stress fractures on 10:26 that coming bad in, those kinds of things.
So, really when I get down to it, I have to 10:32 can almost say, we’re really this, you know, a thigh or standstill between the two sports because they’re so different. Yeah, in cross country you’ve gotta go hard from start to finish there are no brakes, there’s no time outs, there’s no stopping. In football, you do have brakes, you do have those time outs but, you know you gotta stay focused you can’t slip off at all.
There’s no time for that. That’s gonna, you know, the consequences are higher both in terms of injury and in terms of keeping your team together to, you know, reach your goal, to win, right? So I’m gonna go with the kind of almost cap out here and say we’re relatively at high for competition with protest at a tie overall.
I know that’s a little unsatisfying but again these sports are so different, it’s really hard to compare them. You know we views the numbers the best that we can, let me know, what am I missing? Can you make an argument for cross country? Or can you make an argument for football? Leave them down in the comments below. Let me know what I’ve missed in the video, what do you want to share, make a case for your sport. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.