1The Brazilian football team's fairytale rise that ended in tragedy
The plane carrying the Brazilian team to the biggest game in its history was en route from Bolivia to Colombia when it crashed in Rionegro, near Medellin, killing 71 people. Six survived the accident, according to authorities. Chapecoense defender Alan Luciano Ruschel was among the survivors.
A total of 43 of the 71 killed were part of the Chapeconse delegation (19 players, 17 club staff members, 7 people from the board of directors and 4 Fox Sports Brazil journalists), making it the deadliest disaster for a single team ever recorded. (Source)
2The Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes Mountains and were lost for 72 days
The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 meters (11,800 ft) altitude. Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search had been abandoned, those who lived fed on the dead passengers who had been preserved in the snow.
Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the crash until Nando Parrado and Dr. Canessa set out to find help and stumbled across Chilean Sergio Catalán who gave them food and then alerted authorities. (Source)
3The Zambian national soccer team that lost 17 members and took 20 years to win again
In 2012, Zambia won the Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville, only a few hundred meters from the crash site. The victory was dedicated to the ones who lost their lives in the tragedy. Zambia beat Côte d'Ivoire 8–7 in a penalty shoot-out after the game ended 0–0 after normal and added time. (Source)
4The entire team of Russian ice hockey club Lokomotiv that was killed in plane crash
The Yak-42 passenger jet crashed on September 7, 2011, seconds after taking off from the runway at Tunoshna Airport. It carried a total of 45 people on board: eight crew and 37 passengers — players, coaches, and doctors of the Lokomotiv ice hockey club, who were on the way to a match in the Belarussian capital of Minsk. Everyone on board was killed except for flight engineer Aleksandr Sizov — he was the sole survivor. (Source)
5The entire soccer team that was killed by lightning
6The Torino soccer team that was killed in a 1949 plane crash
Il Grande Torino was by far the strongest football team in Italy (it had won 4 National Championships in a row, from 1945 to 1949) and one of the strongest teams in the world. Of the entire squad, only three players remained: Sauro Tomà, who missed the trip to Portugal due to injury, László Kubala, who missed the fatal trip to stay with his family and Luigi Giuliano, who didn't obtain a passport. (Source)
7The Mexican soccer players who died after their bus fell into a ravine
The bus was transporting a team from Camaron de Tejeda to Cordoba for a match when it plunged off the Atoyac River bridge and into a deep gorge. Yolanda Gutierrez, head of the civil defense office in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, said the crash killed 20 of the 45 passengers on board.
The driver lost control going over a speed bump and the vehicle fell more than 100 feet from the highway. (Source)
8The plane crash that rocked US figure skating
Among those killed in the crash was 16-year-old Laurence Owen, who had won the US Figure Skating Championship the previous month. Bradley Long, the 1961 U.S. men's champion, also perished in the crash, as did Maribel Owen (Laurence's sister) and Dudley Richards, the 1961 pairs champions, and Diane Sherbloom and Larry Pierce, the 1961 ice dancing champions. In addition to the skaters, 16 people accompanying them, including family, friends, coaches and officials, were killed. The other 38 passengers and crew aboard Sabena Flight 548, which left New York on the night of February 14, also died when the plane went down around 10 a.m. in clear weather while attempting to make a scheduled stopover landing at the Belgian National Airport in Brussels.
Prior to the crash, the UShad won the men's gold medal at every Olympics since 1948 (when Dick Button became the first American man to do so), while US women had claimed Olympic gold in 1956 and 1960. After the crash, an American woman (Peggy Fleming) would not capture Olympic gold until 1968, and a US man (Scott Hamilton) would not do so until 1984.
The incident was the worst air disaster involving an American sports team until November 1970, when 37 players on the Marshall University football team were killed in a plane crash in West Virginia. (Source)