The 2011 Super Bowl has come and gone, and with it the Gatorade dumping, cute animal commercials, and grown men crying like babies that usually go along with the big game. What also passed was the NFL and 2011 Super Bowl Host Committee’s opportunity to address sex trafficking during the Super Bowl. Fortunately, activists, reporters, students, faith-based groups, bikers, and other are picking up their slack. Thanks to some amazing organizers and the over 76,000 Change.org members who asked the Super Bowl Host Committee to fight sex trafficking by endorsing the “I’m Not Buying It” campaign, this year has seen more action and publicity for the problem of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl than ever before.
Led by anti-trafficking organization Traffick911, hundreds of people gathered in Dallas this weekend to stand together against child sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. The group included students from the University of North Texas, faith-based organizations and churches, and even members of a North Texas motorcycle club, all of whom spent a Saturday doing what the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee have failed to — educating the pubic about how to reduce child sex trafficking in Dallas and during the big game.
The issue of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl also got unprecedented media coverage, as stories about the campaign and sex trafficking at the Super Bowl were picked up by Time, Reuters, USA Today, Inter Press Service, and affiliates of all the major television news networks — though just a few years ago advocates had yet to even begin to understand the connection between major events and trafficking. That broad media coverage is partially a testament to the tens of thousands of Change.org members who supported this campaign by promoting it on social and traditional media platforms, as well as the NGOs who worked tirelessly to garner national attention.
Of course, the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee didn’t join them. Honestly, that’s not very surprising considering their general disinterest in addressing violence against women; they went out of their way during the game to avoid saying why Steeler’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended from the league for several games. The suspension occurred after he was accused of raping a young woman in a bar bathroom in Georgia, the third time he’s been accused of sexual assault. The NFL didn’t exactly cover up the accusation, but they’ve kept pretty quiet about it. So is their reluctance to address child sex trafficking a continuation of their “sweep-it-under-the-rug” mentality towards sexual violence? Or can the NFL just not be bothered to step up on this critical human rights issue?
While the NFL and Host Committee have missed the opportunity to educate Super Bowl attendees about the problem, they can still proactively help out in the aftermath by supporting victims in the Dallas area. Will you help make it an even 100,000 people who have asked the NFL to stand against sex trafficking?
Photo credit: F_shields