Slavery at the Super Bowl? 5 Helpful Facts for Fans

Footballs selected as actual official game balls for the NFL football Super Bowl XLVII await to be shipped to New Orleans at
Footballs selected as actual official game balls for the NFL football Super Bowl XLVII await to be shipped to New Orleans at Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

This Sunday, near 100 million Americans and others around the world will gather to watch Super Bowl XLVII. Human trafficking public awareness campaigns are in full swing, targeting the host city and event attendees, making the link between sporting events and human trafficking. These campaigns have provided many fans with a critical introduction to human trafficking, or modern slavery. Here are five facts that you probably aren't hearing about in Super Bowl awareness campaigns.

1. Slavery involves both labor and sex trafficking.

There are up to 27 million people enslaved worldwide. Of those enslaved, 78 percent are in labor trafficking and 22 percent are in sex trafficking. However, anti-trafficking awareness campaigns around the Super Bowl and other sporting events typically focus only on sex trafficking despite unrealized predictions of increased sex trafficking at the 2012 Olympics and at several other large sporting events. This narrow focus excludes 78 percent of all trafficking and we need to be looking for both.

2. Human trafficking is not like Liam Neeson's movie Taken.

Some victims are kidnapped and abducted, but the vast majority is looking for work and is then forced, defrauded, coerced and unable to leave. Whether for labor or sex trafficking, traffickers exploit people seeking better economic opportunities. Yet we are more often exposed to stories of girls who are abducted and kept under lock and key. Relying on a more rare and sensationalized depiction means we're only looking for the daughter in Taken and missing everyone else. Trafficked people need meaningful alternatives to the trafficking and opportunities to rebuild their lives, often before they will trust the police. In fact, trafficked persons are more likely to seek help others outside of law enforcement. With this information, you could be in the position to identify trafficked persons within the restaurants, local businesses, homes and other places in your community.

3. Women and men are enslaved.

Contrary to popular belief, human trafficking is not just an issue affecting women and girls. In fact, 45 percent of all those enslaved are men and boys. Again, if you think it's just women and girls, then you only look for women and girls. Men and boys have been found in sex trafficking and labor trafficking within agriculture, hospitality, restaurants, manufacturing, mining and more.

4. Temporary workers are at risk of trafficking.

Sporting events in general require an increase in labor throughout the host city. Hotels and sporting venues have an increased need for maids and custodial services, food servers, and transportation and delivery. Restaurants require more wait and kitchen staff. Parallel events require a range of additional staffing. This labor increase is typically accomplished with low-wage temporary and contract workers who are largely outside of the protection of labor laws. These workers -- men and women -- are more easily exploited and forced to work.

5. Fans at home -- this affects you too.

Even if you're watching the game at home or the neighborhood bar, slavery touches you too. Slavery is found is many of the goods we purchase and consume on Super Bowl Sunday. Are you planning to wear a team jersey? Commemorative and other team apparel could include cotton harvested by forced labor or sewn in factories by forced labor. Did you buy a new flat-screen television for your Super Bowl party? It may have been assembled with forced labor. Are you watching just for the commercials? That smartphone in your favorite commercial may contain coltan mined with forced labor. Have you planned your menu? The highest number of trafficking victims identified in the United States has been within agriculture. We purchase and use these items almost every day, but the Super Bowl presents them all in one setting.

Since human trafficking is also 78 percent labor trafficking and 45 percent men and boys, that points to different solutions including corporate supply chain policies, factory and farm inspections, and you. Be an informed consumer and community member. Look into the slavery supply chain policies of your favorite brands. Be on the lookout for trafficked persons at the restaurants, local businesses, homes and other places in your community.

Everyone can take action to address human trafficking. In fact, without your participation, we will never effectively shrink the gap between the 42,000 identified last year and the 27 million enslaved today.

The Global Freedom Center offers human trafficking training and consulting to corporations, municipalities, and professionals to improve identification and prevention of human trafficking. Download a free ebook to learn the signs and what you can do about human trafficking. To schedule a consultation or training, contact