Super Bowl 50 Raises Social Justice Issues

Amber Mallett
Staff Writer

Bay Area football fans and residents welcomed the Super Bowl’s 50th “golden” anniversary celebration this past weekend. The Denver Broncos faced off against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 7. The Broncos were titled 2016 Super Bowl Champions, after winning 24-10. Although the game was played in Santa Clara, events and ceremonies have been held in downtown San Francisco at Market & Embarcadero St. in the Super Bowl fan village, “Super Bowl City.”

Spectators flocked to San Francisco for pre- Super Bowl events, causing residents to face Muni schedule transfers from Jan. 23 to Feb. 12. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) created a special Super Bowl Muni Map to help passengers reach their destinations despite the traffic congestion and street closures. One of the biggest closures was at Market and Spear St., closing down the Embarcadero Muni and BART stops for the security zone for Super Bowl City.

The fan village, Super Bowl City, attracted thousands of people since its opening on Jan. 30. Aside from the free music and fun attractions, an event of this size also brought the city’s attention to various social justice issues. Beyoncé used her halftime performance to make a political statement in reference to the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter movement. Local homelessness advocates brought attention to the city’s need for action. And anti-human trafficking advocate, expert, and author, Nita Belles, addressed the safety concern of trafficking related to the Super Bowl and how spectators should not turn a blind eye to the issue at hand.

“There is an absolute increase in human trafficking during the Super Bowl,” states Belles. Similar to most large-scale sporting events, “The Super Bowl is an event where there is a lot of money coming in, there are a lot of male attendees, there is a party-like atmosphere and traffickers recognize it as a place to exploit their victims,” Belles affirms.

The relationship between a surge in human trafficking and the Super Bowl has been debated due to the underlying fact that it is difficult to find reliable, quantitative evidence.

Bridgette Carr, a law professor at the University of Michigan and human trafficking specialist, reported to The Huffington Post in the article, ‘Sex Trafficking Hype Surrounding The Super Bowl Does More Harm Than Good’, “It’s a myth that human trafficking spikes during Super Bowl week, and that myth allows people to compartmentalize the problem.”

In recent news, Bronco’s rookie safety, Ryan Murphy, was questioned by law enforcement in a prostitution sting operation in north San Jose on Feb. 2. Murphy and his brother were questioned by police after an alleged prostitute was identified walking towards Murphy’s car outside a Motel 6 in San Jose, stating that she needed to “retrieve property” from the vehicle. No charges were cited against Murphy and he was released. Denver Broncos Head Coach, Gary Kubiak responded to the situation, stating, “although practice squad safety Ryan Murphy was not cited by police, we decided it was best for the team if we continued our preparations for Super Bowl 50 without him.”

Aside from the safety concerns, addressed by Belles, and the Muni schedule transfers, San Francisco has also financially benefited from the Super Bowl related events. Hosting events gives San Francisco the opportunity to increase tax revenue. In an interview with CBS, Kevin Carroll, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Hotel Council, stated, “it brings more people here that are going to spend money in our small businesses.” Whether fans traveled across the country or an hour south to Santa Clara, The San Francisco Bay Area entertained a successful Super Bowl 50.


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