“The Super Bowl is one of the largest human trafficking events in the United States.” — Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General
The wildly popular Super Bowl, with its revelry of sex, drugs and alcohol, invariably imparts a Bacchanalian aura to whatever city plays host to it, and Super Bowl XLV, which will take place in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday will be no exception. With greater numbers of Americans reportedly planning to celebrate the showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Greenbay Packers by throwing a party, attending a party or watching at a bar or restaurant, consumer spending is expected to reach $10.1 billion.
Of course, that doesn’t include the money that will be raked in by sex traffickers in the lucrative trade that surrounds the Super Bowl which, according to the Miami Herald, “is expected to generate as much traffic for prostitutes as it does for bartenders and bookies.” In fact, the scale of prostitution at the last few Super Bowls was described by government agents as “incredible,” according to Joseph Ullmann, an FBI special agent who handles cases involving crimes against children.
The Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking estimated that “tens of thousands of women and minors were trafficked in the Miami area during the last Super Bowl.” One such trafficker, Manuel A. Walcott, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for offering a 14-year-old girl as a “Super Bowl Special” during the 2009 game in Tampa. When undercover investigators inquired about the special, they were quoted a price of $300 for two girls — a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old who had been a prostitute for two years.
In anticipation of this year’s Big Game, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced his intention to have two dozen state officials help local law enforcement combat sex trafficking. But even with the support of the FBI and the help of volunteer organizations, it’s unlikely Abbott will be able to do much.
While most Americans don’t hear much about domestic sex trafficking from the media or government officials, it is without a doubt America’s dirtiest secret, infecting suburbs, cities and towns across the nation. Indeed, with the majority of its clients in the U.S. being married men, sex trafficking — especially the trafficking of young girls — has become a lucrative business, raking in $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone, and $32 billion worldwide. It is also a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked women constantly being moved from city to city, state to state, and country to country in order to avoid detection by police and cater to male buyers’ demand for sex with different women.
It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged sex workers in the U.S. (the average age of girls who enter into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, with some as young as 9 years old), not including those who entered the “trade” as minors and have since come of age. Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many started out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or larger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.
So before you lose yourself in Super Bowl mayhem and madness, just remember that for those victims of the sex trade, there can be only one outcome to this year’s big game: they will lose and lose badly, while the men who pay for their services will return to their families and jobs and never look back.
Given the moral depravity surrounding the Super Bowl, for any American to lend their support to this event, whether it’s from the safety of their living rooms or at a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house, bar or worse, at church, makes each viewer complicit in the horrors being perpetrated on these young girls. You can be sure that the Super Bowl will not be playing at my house this year.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at http://www.rutherford.org.