Some things in life are just great. For diehard sports fans, there are few better feelings than when your favorite team wins a championship, for example. There are any number of things in which we indulge to enrich our lives for the better.
Frequently enough, we turn to these elements because we are looking to escape the horrors of our own lives and of the world around thus. There is no shortage of horrible things that we hear about in a daily basis going on all around the world, and even in our own cities.
One of them is child sex trafficking.
One would think that this is a pretty clear-cut issue. Who the hell isn’t against child sex trafficking? Of course, if you find one who isn’t, then you might have an arrest on your hands ready to be made. The fact that it is a growing—and very illegal, to state the obvious—industry suggests that it’s not as universal a view as it needs to be.
Part of the problem with the issue is that it’s just such an abhorrent thing to even think about that, well, we don’t think about it. And we don’t talk about it. And so we don’t know how to identify it when we see the signs, at times. We are all powerless to stop the evils we can’t see.
The reason I’m writing about this is because the Pittsburgh Steelers and Head Coach Mike Tomlin have recently partnered with an organization called Operation Underground Railroad, or O.U.R., which consists of “former law enforcement and Navy Seals who exist plain and simple to rescue children from the horror that is sex trafficking”, Teresa Varley wrote in an article on the team’s website announcing the union.
“It really captured our attention. We got behind”, Tomlin said after originally meeting the group earlier this year, then again in training camp, and now during their bye week. “This is something that is easy to get behind”.
“As a football group we are uniquely aligned. We get an opportunity to use our platform and get aligned behind this”, he said of the platform of professional athletes. “This is something that everybody within our group, every man, to a man, got behind. I look forward to further involvement moving forward”.
Tim Ballard, the founder of the organization, said that it is “one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises on the planet”, and that “there are millions of children forced into the commercial sex trade here in the U.S. and outside. We utilize every mechanism possible to infiltrate these places where children are being sold”.
He didn’t mince his words, either. “The United States is the highest consumer of child pornography”, he pointed out. “We are the problem. We are the demand”.
I know that many take the view that “sports and politics shouldn’t mix”, and that’s fair. But I would like to think that this is a pretty non-controversial stance the Steelers are taking here on this issue.