Commercials, Hot Wings, and the Underbelly of the Super Bowl

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010
Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow night many North Americans will gather around large television sets with nachos, Doritos, hot wings, special vegetable platters ala Pinterest, and beer, watching the sporting event that draws in arguably the largest audience of the year, both in person and through network television. It’s the Super Bowl. Some will watch for the football, others (like me) will watch for the commercials and to be with friends.

And every year I have to go ruining it for readers. 

Because every year I post about human trafficking on the weekend of the Super Bowl. And I’ll never stop. Not until the problem stops. 

Sex trafficking and prostitution at the Super Bowl is the underbelly of the event. It can’t be ignored. 

It is hypothesized that the Super Bowl is the number one event in the United States that caters to men and their sexual appetites, bringing in young girls trafficked for the occasion. Many of these girls are between the ages of 12-14, lured into sex trafficking through devious methods, robbed of family and childhood and at the mercy of men and women with evil intent. While in recent years this has been debated, the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking acknowledges this debate about the issue and posted a statement on its website geared toward those who downplay the issue.

“Currently, there are very few ways of collecting statistics on human trafficking,” it said, adding that governments believe there is a “potential increase and have tackled the issue for the last three years of the Super Bowl.”* They are careful to add this: 

“The problem of human trafficking in New Jersey will not end with the Super Bowl.”—New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking

“The Super Bowl is also an opportunity to educate the community. People will stop and listen if you mention Super Bowl but not necessarily if you just talk about human trafficking,” the group said. In other words – let’s use this event to bring up the issue and then continue the conversation after it is over.

It’s a blight on an evening that brings people together for commercials, hot wings, and maybe a little football. 

The game will take place at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and features the Seattle Seahawks playing against the Denver Broncos. The Attorney General’s office of New Jersey has taken this problem seriously and responded by training almost 3000 people to recognize the signs of sex trafficking. Just this week law enforcement broke up a major prostitution and drug ring based out of Manhattan and under investigation for almost a year, arresting and indicting many.

I’d rather ignore this and eat my hot wings. Not because I don’t care – I do care – but it’s not comfortable to be challenged with information when you feel helpless to make any changes. But ignoring this fact doesn’t make it go away, it doesn’t make it okay for the girls. It just might make the nachos, wings, and commercials go down a little easier.

But they’re not supposed to go down easy. We are supposed to care about these things, we are supposed to know about them. And if we can’t do anything physically we can give money and pray for those who do.

To that end, here are two organizations that work to end human trafficking that are reputable and doing excellent work:


*”The Exodus Road exists to empower the rescue of victims of sexual slavery. Operating primarily in Southeast Asia and India, we believe that a major component of fighting human trafficking and child slavery lies in working with local law enforcement to find situations of trafficking and to then assist in the rescue of victims and the prosecution of criminals. By decreasing the profitability of the trafficking industry for the criminal, we will eventually slow the mechanisms that make the exploitation of women and children so lucrative” I met Laura Parker, one of the founders of The Exodus Road, this year through blogging. I guarantee this is an organization worth looking into, worth praying for, worth supporting.

Take 3 minutes to watch this short film that gives a glimpse into lives changed through rescue.

*”Shared Hope International strives to prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, restore victims of sex slavery, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children. We envision a world passionately opposed to sex trafficking and a committed community restoring survivors to lives of purpose, value and choice – one life at a time.”


Some would say it is wrong to use the Super Bowl to draw attention to this issue, some would say “We don’t really know whether these statistics are true.” I would say, let’s use this event as a time to draw attention to an issue that struggles to even gather data to support it, so devious are those who participate in the activity. 

A couple of years ago when I first found out about this problem I wrote this and I stand by it today:

“If there is one thing I know about you who read Communicating Across Boundaries – you are pro-women. From Blue Bras to Arranged Marriages to Mothering to Feminism – you are about women and who we are, who we can be.  So take a stand this Superbowl and let people know about sex trafficking. Introduce them to The Exodus Road and Shared Hope International. Let’s all find out more and see what we can collectively do to make a difference. There’s a lot of stuff, good and bad that comes out every week about women, and much of it polarizes women instead of bringing us together. Let’s join forces by focusing on an issue I’d like to think everyone could agree on.”

If even one person is helped or made aware of this issue through this blog post than it is worth it. Let us not lose our souls in false innocence — this exists and we are the better for knowing and learning how to pray, learning where to give.

*Information comes directly from websites of these organizations

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Spice Your Monday With All the Wrinkled Ladies

I’m breaking away from my usual Monday morning contemplation and bringing you something with a bit more holiday spirit. In the United States today is a Federal Holiday – evidently we have a few dead presidents that had birthdays during these months and this is our way to celebrate them. I’m all for it if it means a 3-day weekend.

And in the spirit of the holiday I wanted to post a response to Beyoncé’s Super Bowl appearance. I’d venture very few women can relate to her super sexy over the top show – and I won’t even get into how oblivious the Super Bowl planners are to kids in the audience and parents who want their kids to have  a little G rated fun.

But the video below? I’m pretty sure you’ll love this parody of “All the Single Ladies” from Anita Renfroe. Take a look at “All the Wrinkled Ladies” and see what you think.

Re-Post: Beyond the Nachos – The Underbelly of the Super Bowl

A human trafficking awareness poster from the ...
Image via Wikipedia

New Orleans is the place – Football is the Game. 

I wrote this last year but am compelled to re-post. Let us not let our appetite for entertainment allow us to forget the wrong that surrounds that entertainment.

I am not a football fan but this weekend I will excitedly forgo a Sunday afternoon nap and head to our friends’ to enjoy great company, good food, interesting advertisements, and … oh yeah – I think there’s a football game as well. I love the Super Bowl for all the reasons beyond football.

Much as I want this to be a light post there’s a troubling underbelly to the Super Bowl and it demands my attention. Earlier this week my nephew alerted me to the problem of sex trafficking at this event – an event that has people tuned in across the nation, riveted to their seats to watch that missed field goal….!

Thousands of women and girls are brought to large sporting events and they aren’t  brought  to watch the games. They are brought  to satisfy the sexual appetites of Super Bowl fans who came from around the nation. In the 2010 Super Bowl an estimated 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami, many unwillingly. Football, Nachos, beer and top it all off with a dessert of sex from what are often trafficked women and underage girls.

My stomach is turning and the nausea is inescapable – Could it be God uses these physical symptoms to get my attention.

Last year Indiana  passed a human trafficking law that is much tougher and “extends the definition of sex trafficking and increases penalties” This is largely because of the work of Shared Hope International, an organization with a mission to “rescue and restore women and children in crisis. We are leaders in a worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery through education and public awareness.”  Leaders in the organization were thrilled that the law was passed in time for the Super Bowl, sending a message to customers that they will be watched. There is still little awareness on the topic in the United States, perhaps because it’s often seen as an overseas problem, but that is far from the truth. I was happy to find the poster featured above –  but where are the posters in the United States? They should be present in every metropolitan area.

If there is one thing I know about you who read my blog – you are pro-women. From Blue Bras to Arranged Marriages to Mothering to Feminism – you are about women and who we are, who we can be.  So take a stand this Super Bowl and let people know about this underbelly. Introduce them to Shared Hope International. Let’s all find out more and see what we can collectively do to make a difference. All the fuss this week about women? Let’s make it matter by focusing on an issue I’d like to think everyone could agree on.

Most of all, if you are a woman, know who you are before God so you can let others know who they are before God. Just as Jesus relentlessly pursued the woman who reached out to touch his clothes in the book of Matthew, so he is in a relentless pursuit of you. Just as he cried with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus, so he weeps with you. Just as he said “Your sins are forgiven!” to the woman caught in adultery, so does he the same for you.

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Sports and the Narrative of Life

For those of you who do not live in the United States, last night the annual Superbowl was held pitting two top American football (many of us know that the real ‘football’ is what Americans term as ‘soccer’!) teams against each other for a showdown of skill, strength, and sometimes, just brute force. With players weighing in the upper 200 pound range just ask a physics major what that weight can do when used in full force. And we saw it in full force.

While not a football fan it seemed a good game; well-played and evenly matched – but someone always has to come out as the winner. It’s a given. That’s what this type of sports is – one team is the winner, surrounded by cameras and hordes of people, and the others? I’m never sure where the others go. Do they head back to the locker room for lecture or consolation from the coach? All I know is that they are absent – at that moment not even tabloid news cares about what they have to say. Their interviews take place after the team who has won has had their moment to shine. There will be no parade in their home cities or states. There will be no trophy. They are, for the time being, irrelevant.

I was discussing this with some friends recently and the conversation turned to how the sports field in many ways plays out the narrative of the human story. Over and over in the sports arena we see people falling; getting back up; scoring a point; getting ahead; falling behind; disciplining themselves to keep going. We watch team mates console and communicate; walk beside and go ahead; encourage and rebuke; but all for a single purpose – to play the game. Does not this beautifully reflect life? Life where we stumble and fall; we get ahead and then fall behind; we go through loss and we go through gain; we have moments when we shine and those when we are the ones in the locker room.

Just as theatre brings us along to watch the human story, so does sports work out the details of that story every time there is a game being played. Even as they are working this story out on the field, fans are in the stands fully emoting throughout the narrative. Watch the faces of the crowd and you know what’s going on in the field. It is the narrative of life and the team is bringing us along as bystanders and cheerleaders. With this in mind it’s no wonder that sports all over the world are so popular.

It’s a Monday morning and we are living out our narrative, our story of life. At any given moment we may feel as though we are winning or losing; falling behind or running ahead; encouraging or motivating someone who is walking life with us. Most of us will not be on the front page of newspapers as either winners or losers, but I am convinced that how we play the game matters far more than becoming a news story. Wherever you are in the narrative, whether shining or just plain tired, take heart that there’s a Coach for the game and an Author to the story who’s right there with you.