Sport and violence, for better or worse, transcend borders and language. You don’t have to speak Portuguese to understand what’s going on in a Brazlian LiveLeak video; a referee getting murdered on a soccer pitch looks the same whether you’re watching from America, Japan, or Senegal.
Geopolitics play a big part in how safe a country is. Culture, and by extension, sports, factor into a country’s geopolitical identity, and murder rate is a derivative thereof.
What are the most dangerous countries on earth, and what sports are they playing there?
Honduras – Soccer
Soccer-loving Honduras tops the list, as always. With over 90 murders per year per 100,000 people, you’re almost twice as likely to get killed in Honduras than anywhere else on earth. A huge number of these murders are drug-related.
Honduras is a major thoroughfare for South American drugs headed for the United States, and the country’s two main gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, are constantly engaged in violent campaigns against each other, the police, and the public at large.
With only 4% of the country’s homicides resulting in conviction, you can literally get away with murder.
Venezuela – Baseball
Venezuela, a country currently in danger of sliding into civil war, has the world’s second highest murder rate with X murders per 100,000 people. It is the only country on the list whose favorite sport is baseball, which can be directly traced to the influence of American oil companies in the early 20th century. The country’s two main domestic baseball leagues were founded in 1917 and 1945, and there are more Venezuelan players in MLB than any other foreign country. But Venezuelan MLB players have to tread lightly when they come home; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in Venezuela in 2011 during winter league play, though he was rescued unharmed a few days later after police commandos conducted a a raid in the mountains of Carabobo state.
Jamaica – Cricket
Jamaica is one of the most dangerous countries on earth, with its two main political parties having de facto gang-based counterparts, called posses. These gangs are heavily involved in drug and arms trafficking, and murder is part of life for drug dealers. Though the country gained independence in 1962, the effects of colonialism are writ large throughout the Caribbean island nation, right down to their love of cricket.
Jamaica’s cricket team first competed back in 1895, but its remote location prevented it from regularly competing in first-class cricket until 1964. The island has produced some of the world’s most famous cricketers, including George Headley, Courtney Walsh, and Michael Holding.
The Bahamas – Basketball
The Bahamas are equal parts deadly and beautiful. The only country on our list whose national past-time is basketball, The Bahamas’ unusually high murder rate is not a product of drug trafficking, but lack of opportunity, angry people with bad tempers and weapons, and a broken court system that can’t properly process or hold people. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
The country’s obsession with basketball is due to its proximity to the United States. Oklahoma Sooner alumni and Bahamian Buddy Heid was drafted sixth overall in the 2016; he’s averaging 15 points a game for the Sacramento Kings this year.