As Americans prepare to watch the 55th Super Bowl this Sunday, many are unaware that large sporting events tend to promote criminal activities like human trafficking and sex trafficking.
That’s why Minnesota Vikings star quarterback Kirk Cousins is trying to raise awareness and end human trafficking by encouraging everyone to join the International Justice Mission (IJM) – a global organization that works to end violence against people living in poverty.
In an Instagram video, Cousins asked people to join “Team Freedom” and do their part to stop human trafficking. Cousins, along with other NFL players such as New England Patriots’ Jason and Devin McCourtys and Philadelphia Eagles’ Zack Ertz, are collecting pledges from people who want to see human traffickers locked up and off the streets.
“I think about how fragile my boys are…and to think that anybody would take advantage of them or harm them, it makes my blood boil to think that does happen to young people all over the world in the tens of millions,” Cousins told CBS News on Monday. “It’s disturbing.”
“And (human traffickers are) able to do this, they’re able to get away with it because it operates in the shadows,” he added.
The Institute for Sport and Social Justice’s “Shut Out Trafficking” program reports that there’s an increase of reported trafficking incidents in the U.S. around January and February, which is when the Super Bowl takes place.
And entertainment and sporting events generate an increase in labor opportunities, including an influx of human trafficking.
According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Florida ranks third in the nation for human trafficking cases. This year’s Super Bowl is set to be played at the Raymond James Stadium located in Tampa.
“At this point, you know what’s truth and you know what’s not,” Cousins explained. “And so for me, I’ve been around IJM long enough to know that some things come and go, but the work that IJM is doing, the difference they’re making, that goes way before any theories and it will be here long after.”
“The only reason that it wouldn’t be is if the work is finished, which is certainly a dream,” he said.
Criminals who organize sex rings move from one location to another to satisfy demands at large sporting events.
“If it truly is brought to the light and identified for the horrible evil that it is, people will band together to put an end to it,” Cousins concluded.