Here are the factors that put gymnasts and gymnastics at the top of the sports hierarchy difficulty in:
Nine times Body Weight Strength
Proprioception and Kinesthetic Awareness
Skill and Routine Timing to Six Thousandths of a Second
Short Distance Sprint Speed of 16+ (20+ for men) Miles per Hour
Tumbling and Vault Heights of 13+ (16+ for men) Feet High
900 Degrees of Rotation and 360 Degrees (1080 Degrees now being done) of Twisting in Less Than One Second
There are numerous other areas where gymnasts exceed all other athletes:
Strength to Body Weight Ratio
Leg, Back and Shoulder Flexibility
Female Upper Body Strength
Kinesthetic Air Sense and Awareness
After a day of football, a gymnast would be bruised. After a day of gymnastics, a football player would be dead.
NFL Football players do practice 6 days a week, 3 hours a day.
Olympic gymnasts do practice 6 days a week, over 6 hours a day. Gymnasts do over double the time of conditioning and practice as NFL football players do.
Aly Raisman, a 6-time Olympic Medalist, trains from 8:30am to 12:15pm, chugging water as she goes to keep hydrated. She told ESPN last year: 'It's a lot of punching on the floor, getting the rebound in your feet, calves and ankles - a lot of toe rises, a lot of conditioning on the bar, a lot of rope climbs. I do rope climbs without using my legs, only using my arms.’
At 3pm she downs a snack, like Greek yogurt with cereal and banana, before heading to her second workout of the day, from 5pm to 7:30pm.
Top ten most dangerous sports:
#4- Gymnastics, #5- Football
Top ten hardest overall sports:
#1- Gymnastics, #26- Football
I think they're so different and require such a different skill sets it really is impossible to compare the two. Anyone who reaches the top in either is a special athlete in some sense. Physically I don't think there is any doubt gymnastics is harder but I'd argue the mental ability top footballers have to process so much information and act accordingly with perfect technique in a split second is a rarer and more impressive feat