(The AEGIS Alliance) – Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay kicks off on Sunday and local officials have already been warning of concerns regarding the rise in human trafficking that usually surrounds the biggest football event of the year. For Minnesota Vikings quarterback and father Kirk Cousins, combating human trafficking is a cause that’s personal to him.
“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,” Kirk Cousins said 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,” Cousins mentioned.
This year, the International Justice Mission (IJM), which is a Christian organization that works to protect individuals in poverty from human trafficking, slavery, and different types of violence – partnered with the Hillsborough County Commission on Human Trafficking to assist their anti-trafficking work around the Super Bowl. High-profile occasions just like the Super Bowl are often targeted by traffickers.
Cousins is a part of the IJM’s professional athlete group, Team Freedom, which incorporates other NFL players such as the New England Patriots’ Jason and Devin McCourtys and Philadelphia Eagles’ Zack Ertz. Like the rest of the players, Cousins desires to bring extra awareness to the cause.
Nearly 25 million individuals are trafficked around the globe, primarily based on a U.S. State Department report. According to the Human Trafficking Hotline‘s newest information, Florida had the third most reported cases of human trafficking within the U.S. in 2019. During the last 12 months’ political cycle, supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory co-opted anti-human trafficking efforts on social media and peddled disinformation about those responsible for it. While Cousins agreed that he is frustrated to see it play out, he said he recognized the difference.
“At this point, you know what’s true and you know what’s not,” Cousins stated. “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 added.
When he was only 16 years old, Cousins heard a speech by IJM founder Gary Haugen. Almost 10 years later, when he played in Washington, Cousins was invited by a teammate to attend a benefit dinner and from there, he decided to be a part of the cause.
“By that point, playing professional football, I did have the resources to help and get involved not only financially, but with the platform that that pro football provides us,” Cousins said.
With just days prior to Super Bowl 55’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cousins and other athletes backing IJM have stayed busy this offseason gathering pledges to battle against human trafficking.
“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.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.