On Sunday, Super Bowl 56 took place in Los Angeles, an upwards of 150,000 fans flooded the city, the game took place at the sold-out SoFi Stadium with 70,240 fans in attendance.
While it’s a day of camaraderie, sports, and celebration there is also darker side to the Super Bowl.
The student loan company, SoFi, spent $625 million to put the LA Rams stadium in their name. This amount of money seems ludicrous to some seeing that 45 million Americans are in $1.8 trillion of student debt, something that Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted his disappointment with weekend. This begs the question, why did they spend the money on that rather than providing student loan assistance.
The Super Bowl is also marred by an increase in sex trafficking and human trafficking the day of the event, as well as the days leading up to it and after.
This year, the Association of Flight Attendants put out a warning preparing all flight attendants working out of Los Angeles to look for human trafficking victims.
“As Flight Attendants, we are uniquely positioned to identify human traffickers and assist their victims. Flight crews are skilled observers, and with the appropriate training, we can be the front line against the horrific crime of human trafficking,” the Association of Flight Attendants website said.
The Association of Flight attendants also provided more background on human trafficking, explaining that approximately 12.3 million individuals are enslaved around the world, 56% being women and girls.
“Mega events like the Super Bowl are a magnet for human traffickers,” the Association of Flight Attendants website said.
Every year headlines break claiming that there is an increase in sex trafficking while others claim that this is a myth.
Collective Liberty compiled evidence and facts from previous Super Bowls and other major events to get a clearer picture on human trafficking that occurs at the Super Bowl.
Collective Liberty reported that there was an increase in demand was measured and confirmed during the 2014 and 2015 Super Bowls demand, corroborating trafficker testimonials.
They further added that increased tourism at large events have the right conditions for an increase in sex and labor trafficking.
“Nationwide, there’s consistently a spike of reported incidents around January and February (when the Super Bowl takes place). In January 2019, there were ~450 reported incidents, with a jump to ~540 in February. It dropped to 140 incidents in March 2019,” Collective Liberty reported.
A study also found that, “Around big sporting events, [demand] increased 100 percent. In D.C. around election time, [demand increased] around 50 percent.”
Collective Liberty said that to measure and assess demand for commercial sex leading up to the 2015 Super Bowl, researchers at the university of Arizona posted decoy commercial sex ads and compared the response to the same ad posted at the same time a year before the Super Bowl. The two decoy ads were posted twice a day for 11 days and response from buyers wishing to purchase sex was measured. The results found that there was a 22.1% demand in commercial sex surrounding the Super Bowl.
More recently in 2018, 94 buyers were arrested during week of the Super Bowl and 28 victims were identified. Ads that were posted in Minneapolis in Jan/Feb decreased by 17.3% from 2017-2018 and increased 69.5% from 2018-2019.
The evidence shows that surrounding the Super Bowl there is an uptick in demand for commercial sex as well as arrests of buyers and traffickers, and an increase in victims recovered.
While it’s a day to enjoy sports and fun it’s important to understand that the event is the perfect setting for human trafficking, and it’s important to take precautions to protect the most vulnerable.
Human trafficking is a very real problem in today’s society and at the Super Bowl and other large events it’s even more important to be vigilant and aware of surroundings during these times.
The FBI also recommends looking for signs that human trafficking may be occurring including individuals without contact to friends or family, people who have moved through multiple placing through a short period of time, and workers who have unusual work restrictions.