Did you know there is a National Chicken Council? I didn't. They say we will eat 1.25 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl weekend, enough to stretch from Seattle to the New Jersey stadium where the game will be played—30 times. We will consume 80 million avocados, enough to fill a football field 12 feet deep. We will eat 11 million pounds of chips, the equivalent of more than 12 million footballs. And Dominos will deliver 11 million pizza slices, the length of 21,388 football fields.

Some facts related to the game are more troubling. Authorities have already seized $20 million in unlicensed Super Bowl paraphernalia. A mass transit attack is seen as the greatest security risk associated with the game. Here's the most disturbing Super Bowl fact: the game is one of the largest venues for human trafficking in the world. According to the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, "The Super Bowl attracts tens of thousands of fans to the host city . . . But it also attracts a sector of violence, organized criminal activity that operates in plain sight without notice including human trafficking in both the sex and labor industries." 

A filmmaker who produced a documentary on the topic explains: "There is corporate entertaining, parties, alcohol, corporate-sponsored parties, people away from their families, anonymity. It's kind of like a perfect storm." The documentary "Tricked" set out to expose the irony that "Americansare trafficked by Americans to serviceAmericans at the quintessentialAmerican event."

According to the FBI, the average entry age of girls into sex trafficking in America is 12 to 14. Their average life expectancy after being trafficked is seven years. As many as 2.4 million children run away from home each year; one out of three will be trapped into sex trafficking within 48 hours. There are 1.5 million victims of human trafficking in the U.S., a business that generates $87 million a day in America.
What can we do? If we see evidence of sex trafficking, we are urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. We can volunteer at a service organization in our community that helps trafficking victims rebuild their lives. We can join a political advocacy group working to change laws and elevate awareness of this tragic issue. And we can pray daily for victims to be freed and perpetrators to be caught.

The Super Bowl will feature the best and worst of our culture. Well-paid athletes will perform at their game's highest level through hard work and determination—quintessential American success stories. But the hidden narrative of crime, prostitution and sex trafficking associated with the game is just as real. On Sunday I will thank God for the privilege of living in a land of opportunity, but I will also pray for a nation in desperate need of moral and spiritual awakening. Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). When he sees what the cameras won't show this weekend, does he weep over us?

Publication date: January 31, 2014