Walton Payton
Super Bowl fever has come and gone, and while Patriots fans can rejoice in their victory, the season is not quite over yet for players on the remaining teams. On Feb. 4, the NFL Honors ceremony awarded many athletes who demonstrated sportsmanship throughout the season. A highlight of this event is always the announcement of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to one football star who takes success outside the stadium to charities most in need.

The Man of the Year Award has been given out since 1970 but was renamed in 1999 to honor Walter Payton, one of the NFL’s most charitable players. In light of his off-field contributions, each team continues to nominate one player demonstrating a significant impact on the global community, and a winner is chosen on the eve of the big game. This year, notables included many causes devoted to global poverty.

Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon was nominated for his commitment to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Garçon originally started the Helping Hands Foundation to provide disaster assistance such as building shelters, establishing education systems and coordinating fundraising. Since then, he has returned every year to continue the work of the organization and hopes to create partnerships with other organizations investing in long-term sustainable ideas for Haitian communities.

Another nominee was Sam Acho, a linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Acho has been dedicated to the construction of a hospital in Nigeria that would serve more than 30,000 residents in remote rural villages. He has hosted an annual fashion show and celebrity auction since 2012 with all proceeds going to the initiative. He also travels to the affected area frequently to volunteer his efforts physically and financially. Plans show an expected completion date within the next few months.

Lastly, Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Cliff Avril volunteered in Haiti because of his family heritage. Throughout the season, he promised to build a house for every sack he recorded. He also worked extensively on a project to build two elementary new schools opening September 2016 and April 2017. As part of this project, Avril funded six classrooms, laid the foundation of the building, erected fence posts for a community garden, hosted a sports camp and donated backpacks, cooking utensils, clothing and even a year’s supply of water. Finally, after Hurricane Matthew, he launched an online campaign to provide food and medical supplies for damaged locations.

While only one of the 32 nominees won the Man of the Year award and the accompanying $500,000 donation to a charity of his choice, all nominees were guaranteed $50,000 to their charity as well. Therefore, regardless of the outcome, the reception of this award closed out the season with a nod to developing communities.

Zack Machuga

Photo: Flickr

The amount spent on Super Bowl Ads is enough to give 10.5 million people access to clean water.

Some people only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, making a point to vote for the funniest, most compelling and most risqué. A 30 second spot during the prime-time event cost $4 million. Last year, companies shelled out over $220 million to advertise everything from chips to domain name services. Though Super Bowl commercials only last 30 seconds, the impact this money could have on an impoverished community is considerable.

It costs $125,000 to construct a deep bore hole well with a submersible electric pump and diesel-powered generator. This sort of well could serve 6,000 people. With $220 million, NGOs could build 1,760 of these wells. These wells would provide clean drinking water and improve sanitation for over 10.5 million people.

This money could also go towards ending world hunger. In many impoverished areas, about $50 will pay for food for a child for a year. With $220 million, 4.4 million children could be fed for a year.

At $100 per month per child, $220 million could provide a year’s worth of orphanage care for over 183,000 children. This includes education, food, housing, and other services.

A year’s worth of primary school tuition is about $40 to $50 in most impoverished rural areas. The $220 million spent on Super Bowl commercials could send around 4.4 million children to school. The money could also fund the operating costs of 275,000 local schools for a year.

A month worth of baby formula costs $112. In many rural areas, baby formula is hard to find, but crucial to an infant’s health and well-being. In other areas, baby formula is an expense most families cannot afford.  The money from Super Bowl commercials could provide a month’s worth of formula for almost 2 million infants.

It is time for the country to rethink its priorities.  It becomes difficult to justify spending $220 million on a short blip of an advertisement when the same amount of money could pull an entire community out of poverty.

Stephanie Lamm

Sources: Feed the Children, Global Giving, African Orphanage, African Well Fund, Forbes
Digital Trends

Super Bowl Sex Trafficking_opt
Human trafficking is one of the most prevalent, discerning issues of our time. The fact of the matter, which has been professed by organization after organization for years now, is that there are more slaves now than there have ever been in the history of mankind. In the US alone, The Huffington Post has estimated that the industry brings in over $9.5 billion annually.

While this truth is distressing, there is a silver lining. At no point in mankind has there ever been so much support against human trafficking, nor the technology or infrastructural support to combat it, as there is now.

Human trafficking generally implies either forced labor or sex trafficking, the latter occurring in higher frequency around large gatherings of people, where there may be a larger pool of potential clients. An example of such a situation was the Super Bowl XLVII, which passed on February 3rd.

Fionna Agomuoh of The International Business Times writes that there was an “estimated 10,000 women and minors that were trafficked in the Miami area during the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., according to the Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking.” One can only assume that the issue of trafficking around this annual event has only increased in the four years since then.

In anticipation for sex trafficking at Super Bowl XLVII, local businesses, advocacy groups, and law enforcement agencies joined together in a public campaign to support victims and make themselves available to individuals looking to escape the sex work industry by raising awareness in the form of “handing out pamphlets to local clubs and bars detailing how to spot and what to do if sex trafficking is suspected, as well as distributing bars of soap to hotels with hotline numbers etched on them to aid victims looking to escape.”

USA Today also posted a full-page ad against human trafficking prior to the Super Bowl and the “A 21 Campaign, established in 2008, released several Super Bowl-related info-graphics about human trafficking this year.”

Awareness will breed more advocacy on the issue, of course, so while sex trafficking is one of the largest understated issues of American life, much like poverty, arming ourselves and our communities with knowledge and facts about the issue is definitely a step in the right direction.

– Nina Narang

Source: International Business Times
Photo: ChicagoNow

Super Bowl Blackout

About 108 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl. That means that about 108 million people got to enjoy the half hour blackout of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. For more than thirty minutes, a viewing public that was greater than the population of Rhode Island was focusing on the lack of power in the stadium. In case you’ve missed it, the Super Bowl blackout was a big deal.

While those in the stadium panicked at not having power for a half hour, much of the world, as of 2003 an estimated 1.6 billion people, live without access to electricity in their daily lives. In the United States, we use electricity for so many things in our day-to-day life, phones, lighting, charging products, cooking and more, to live without it seems unimaginable. Thankfully, the world has changed a lot since 2003, with more and more people gaining access to electricity in their homes or in community centers and clinics around the world. This shift has increased standards of living, production, and education everywhere.

As of 2009, roughly 1.3 billion people still lived without access to electricity according to the group World Energy Outlook. As that number slowly gets smaller, we have to keep in mind that it is an issue, something that is often difficult to remember when the only time we really worry about power in our lives is when we need to charge our phones or pay the bills.

Hopefully, those thirty minutes of Super Bowl chaos will have made people think a little more carefully about the lack of energy access around the world, and inspire them take action on this cause.

– Kevin Sullivan

Sources:PolicyMic,Global Issues,World Energy Outlook
Photo:Digital Trends