Skip to site content

Super Bowl Encourages Sex Trafficking, NFL’s Response Questionable

The Super Bowl is a significant event for the sex trafficking industry, a global, year-round problem that numerous organizations seek to address.

“There are no firm statistics on how much the forced sex and labor trade expands during the annual National Football League [NFL] championship, but New Jersey law enforcement officials and advocate groups are raising awareness ahead of the event,” according to a Reuters report.

“Human trafficking is not limited to the sex trade,” the story added, “and they urge people to be alert to the possibility workers in local motels, restaurants or even domestic workers could be working against their will.”

A recent USA Today article headline read, “Super Bowl on guard against human trafficking.”

“Criminals, as with past Super Bowls, hope to use the large crowds to sell people forced into prostitution. Their hope is that they will find illicit clients who may be more willing to engage in reckless behavior,” the story said.

Law enforcement, public officials and advocacy groups were cited as those “on guard.” The NFL’s role was not mentioned.

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) shared that a group of Roman Catholic institutions in the New York metro area were working to raise awareness by enlisting volunteers to speak with hotel management about training their staff to more readily recognize signs of trafficking.

In response to an email from NCR, the NFL said, “We share their concerns and support strong human trafficking laws.”

The NFL added, “We work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement to ensure that the Super Bowl is a safe environment for the host community and the fans who enjoy the game and the celebration.”

The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking posted a summary of their efforts to address human trafficking at this year’s Super Bowl.

These include outreach efforts to hotels, hotline support for victims of trafficking as well as rallies and advertising to raise awareness. No mention of an NFL partnership was noted.

The NFL’s homepage currently has a countdown timer to the Super Bowl, along with links to a site dedicated to the Super Bowl.

When conducting a search of the NFL’s website, EthicsDaily.com staff was not able to find anything related to the league’s efforts to raise awareness of or to prevent human trafficking around the Super Bowl.

One article did celebrate “more than 35 charitable activities and community outreach events [that] will enliven and enrich the community and provide lasting legacies” that the NFL would sponsor prior to the game.

None of the activities or events mentioned human trafficking.

There is a guide on the Super Bowl page for fans attending the game with information about clothing, transportation, stadium diagrams and hospitality packages.

Another page assists fans with booking hotel reservations.

No page provided information about how fans can be on the lookout for signs of human trafficking.

With no published information available, it is unclear what portion of the league office’s annual revenue, estimated to be around $250 million, is used to help address human trafficking around its high profile event.

Citing a New York Times report, Zach Dawes Jr., managing editor at EthicsDaily.com, tweeted: “NFL increasing security for Super Bowl; Will they address human trafficking around this event?”

Editor’s note: The United Nations has published a list of human trafficking indicators, which is available here.