The media hype and attention in the weeks leading up to the 2013 Super bowl in New Orleans has ignored a growing problem surrounding the largest sporting event in American culture — sex trafficking. Super Bowls have unfortunately become the bedrock to this inhumane underground market, trafficking in thousands of men, women, and children from around the world. The silence around this issue continues to foster the nature of sex trafficking in our society, especially among minors.
As described by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot in USA Today, “The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly. It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.”
Major sporting events are a huge draw for sex traffickers. While cities hope to bring in tourist revenue, they inadvertently foster a thriving market for traffickers. Arrests of traffickers have already been made at the Super Bowl, but it’s not just the Super Bowl that fosters opportunities for traffickers; it’s a problem at sporting events all over the world, including the World Cup and the Olympics.
According to the US Department of State, over 50,000 men, women, and children are trafficked into the US every year. In 2010, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) testified that, “It is estimated that over 100,000 American children become sex trafficking victims each year.” These startling numbers are in stark contrast to all of the frivolous energy put into Super Bowl celebrations that divert attention from dire issues such as trafficking. It’s not that we can’t enjoy our wings and sport our team jersey come Super Bowl season, but we should also start a dialogue about the men, women, and children affected by trafficking worldwide.
If you’d like to read more about sex trafficking and the Super Bowl, check out this post by blogger Soraya Chemaly, which lists ways you can help end sex trafficking.