Sen. Klobuchar asks NFL to make battling trafficking of minors a part of criteria for choosing cities for title game.
WASHINGTON – When the National Football League decides where to have the Super Bowl, it weighs everything from stadium seats to hotel rooms to transportation to security systems.
Now, just as Minnesota is making its own bid for a Super Bowl, Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants the NFL to consider another selection element: local efforts to thwart the sex trafficking of minors that often accompany such major events.
Making the fight against sex trafficking a specific consideration, if not a criterion, for picking a Super Bowl site is no modest proposal. In a recent meeting with senior NFL officials, Klobuchar, a Democrat, was joined by Cindy McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate.
“We just told them we thought that would be a good idea [to ask about sex trafficking enforcement],” Klobuchar said in an interview. “There are other major events as well that can bring out sex trafficking. But this is the one that we’re focused on because of the fact that we’ve seen these increases before with the event.”
It is difficult to quantify how much sex trafficking the Super Bowl attracts. Klobuchar points to a 2011 study in Dallas that showed a 272 percent increase in “escort” ads in the weeks leading up to the game, as well as ads at the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa that marketed 14- and 18-year-old girls for “Super Bowl Specials.” Others have said that prostitution arrests surrounding the weeklong celebration and game have been relatively modest, numbering in the low hundreds and certainly no more than other major events, including political conventions.
The NFL has been polite but noncommittal about making sex trafficking enforcement a separate part of its Super Bowl selection process.
The league supports strong laws against sex trafficking and more enforcement resources, said its vice president of public relations, Brian McCarthy. In September, it hosted a meeting with an FBI unit charged with fighting violent crimes against children. But the league has not decided whether to add a distinct sex trafficking criteria to the Super Bowl selection process.
“We were presented with that request recently and will review it as part of an overall assessment of law enforcement readiness in potential cities.” McCarthy said in an e-mail.
Klobuchar has a bill in the Senate modeled after Minnesota’s state law, which treats minors involved in sex trafficking as victims instead of criminals and which gives prosecutors more power to charge those who exploit them. Klobuchar sees NFL involvement in the overall fight against trafficking as delicate but doable.
“This is different than them coming out and saying they want to fight breast cancer,” she acknowledged, “because it is about law enforcement.”
“It is true that it’s not their players that are doing it,” she said. “That’s really important to get out there. But it is something that is associated with big events, the Super Bowl being the biggest of all big events.”
The senator said she requested the meeting with NFL Senior Vice President Adolpho Birch and Amy Jorgensen, the league’s manager of government relations and public policy, “because Cindy McCain was having trouble getting a meeting with them.”
Cindy McCain, who co-chairs the Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, hopes to raise awareness about child sex trafficking and pass a state law ahead of the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix. She thinks the NFL should make strong anti-trafficking laws a criterion for any city getting the Super Bowl.
“I think [the NFL] had not come to terms with how to handle this,” she said of her initial trouble in getting a meeting with the league. “Events like the Super Bowl cause human trafficking to ping up. It becomes part of the fiber of the event. We’re not accusing players, but we need their help. People look up to them.”
The acceptance of prostitution is somewhat ingrained in the United States, said Lauren Martin, who directs research at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center. Martin has interviewed dozens of women and children involved in the sex trade.
“We have hundreds of years of cultural experience that this is a victimless crime between two consenting adults,” Martin said.
Trying to distinguish sex trafficking of minors from prostitution in general can be difficult, she said, noting that people believe women are either physically forced into prostitution or willingly choose to sell their bodies.
“Kidnappings happen,” Martin said. “But there are gray areas where kids are lured with false promises.”
Said McCain: “Calling children prostitutes grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard.”
A brand challenge
Even when a business is on the right side of the issue, associating your brand with the term sex trafficking is disconcerting, said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former CEO of the Minneapolis-based Carlson hotel chain.
“I think there is a reluctance when people are unaware of the scale of the problem,” she said.
The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million children are involved in the global sex trade. The average age of a sex trafficked child in the United States is 13 to 14 years old according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The U.S. Justice Department looked at human trafficking incidents in the U.S. from 2008 to 2010 and found that 40 percent involved child prostitution or child sexual exploitation.
Carlson took her company out on a professional limb in 2004, when she signed a pledge with an international group aimed at ending child prostitution, pornography and trafficking of children, and began educating Carlson employees to recognize and report suspected sex trafficking.
The travel industry considers itself “in the happiness business,” Nelson said. “Stepping out on this was not comfortable.”
Nelson initially could not find others in the travel industry to sign on to the effort. Nor could her employees get law enforcement to respond with urgency.
One of McCain’s emphases in Arizona is educating first responders, as well as the public.
She and Klobuchar think they have made a good case to the NFL that it eventually needs to take action. Nelson said time will help. After years of effort, she said, she finally enlisted Hilton, Hyatt and Delta Air Lines in the sex trafficking fight.
The NFL “could be leaders” in that fight and realize a “kind of halo effect,” Nelson said. “People in the sporting industry are heroes to young people.”
Klobuchar has not yet asked the NFL to do public service announcements to discourage sex trafficking.
“One thing at a time,” she said. “We had a positive first meeting. We are going to talk again after the Super Bowl and give them an update on what we’re doing with our legislation and go from there.”
|Miami||6||Bottom 9th Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||5||Top 5th Inning|
|Los Angeles||2||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Cleveland||3||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Kansas City||3||Bottom 4th Inning|
|Seattle||9||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Arizona||5||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Arizona||4||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Oakland||3||Bottom 5th Inning|
|New York||6:30 PM|
|Ottawa||5||2nd Prd 3:53|
|St. Louis||1||3rd Prd|
|Mount St Marys||77||FINAL|
|Northeastern||84||2nd Half 0:53|
|San Diego||57||2nd Half 1:09|
|Seattle||36||2nd Half 10:53|
|Army||46||2nd Half 13:47|
|Nicholls||20||2nd Half 11:21|
|Arkansas||16||1st Half 0:08|
|South Carolina||36||2nd Half|
|Oral Roberts||41||2nd Half|
|Arizona||28||1st Half 4:24|
|Missouri||19||1st Half 0:43|
|Colorado State||17||1st Half 5:55|
|Seton Hall||13||1st Half 10:12|
|George Washington||14||1st Half 11:34|
|Ball State||13||1st Half 11:07|
|Arizona State||10||1st Half 12:41|
|USC||12||1st Half 13:29|
|Incarnate Word||16||1st Half 10:34|
|New Orleans||3:45 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Weber State||4:05 PM|
|Southern Ill||4:05 PM|
|Holy Cross||4:30 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||4:30 PM|
|Jackson State||5:00 PM|
|Ga Southern||5:00 PM|
|James Madison||5:00 PM|
|Saint Peters||5:30 PM|
|Texas Southern||5:30 PM|
|Grambling St||6:00 PM|
|Eastern Ky||6:00 PM|
|Wright State||6:00 PM|
|SE Louisiana||6:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||6:00 PM|
|Long Beach State|
|Northern Colorado||6:00 PM|
|St Bonaventure||6:00 PM|
|UC Davis||6:30 PM|
|Central Arkansas||6:30 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Grand Canyon||7:00 PM|
|Prairie View||7:30 PM|
|Miss Valley St||7:30 PM|
|Texas State||7:30 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||7:30 PM|
|William & Mary|
|McNeese State||7:30 PM|
|North Carolina||8:00 PM|
|Santa Clara||8:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||9:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Idaho State||9:05 PM|
|Montana State||9:05 PM|
|New Mexico||9:05 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Cal State Fullerton||10:59 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City||0||2nd Half 20:00|
|Red Bull New York||6:30 PM|
|New England||7:30 PM|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|(5) South Carolina||58|
|(18) Oklahoma St||67|
|East Tenn St||50||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||74||FINAL|
|(15) Texas A&M||77||FINAL|
|New Orleans||56||2nd Half 0:26|
|Sam Houston St||87|
|No Dakota State||59||2nd Half 0:45|
|Southern Ill||64||2nd Half 2:17|
|Evansville||71||2nd Half 3:09|
|Indiana State||76||2nd Half 3:56|
|Oakland||72||2nd Half 5:18|
|Ohio State||50||2nd Half 15:39|
|Eastern Washington||34||2nd Half|
|Portland State||33||2nd Half|
|Northern Ariz||34||2nd Half|
|Sacramento St||25||2nd Half|
|Utah Valley U||26||1st Half 0:27|
|TX-Pan American||28||1st Half 2:22|
|McNeese State||35||2nd Half|
|Jackson State||31||2nd Half|
|Prairie View||18||2nd Half|
|Texas Southern||31||1st Half 3:11|
|Western Carolina||14||1st Half 8:58|
|(14) NC State||4:00 PM|
|(2) Notre Dame|
|Central Arkansas||4:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|SE Louisiana||4:00 PM|
|Cal Poly||4:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|
|(16) Nebraska||4:55 PM|
|(19) Michigan State|
|Miss Valley St||5:00 PM|
|Texas State||5:15 PM|
|Chicago State||6:00 PM|
|(7) West Virginia|
|(13) North Carolina||6:30 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Northern Colorado||8:30 PM|
|Long Beach St||9:00 PM|
|Washington St||10:30 PM|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon||X||29-26|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon||X||48-30|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon||X||42-14|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||14-13|
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