Super Bowls (and Other Major Sporting Events) Are Terrible for Homeless People

Posted by Cord Jefferson

homelessman
As Mother Jones notes, the Green Bay Packers' wide receiver James Jones became a Super Bowl champion yesterday just 12 years after getting out of homelessness. Sadly, Jones' triumphant story didn't prevent Super Bowl planners from treating the homeless of Dallas, where the big game was held yesterday, like second-class citizens.

In December the Dallas City Council outlawed panhandling in the city's toniest tourist areas, which included several places where Super Bowl events were to be held. The city also picked up and moved homeless people from certain sections of town outright.

It turns out this sort of thing happens all the time in the name of sports. Last August low-income residents in a Vancouver building were illegally evicted because its owner "hoped to rent the building to Olympics workers." In 2000 the Sydney City Council ordered police to use the "Bail Act" to rid the streets of homeless prior to the Olympics: "The Act allows police to set conditional bail for people charged with minor street offences such as causing a 'social nuisance.' The result is that people are temporarily removed from an area." Atlanta did something similar to the Bail Act in preparation for its Olympic Games in 1996.

It seems profoundly wrong to kick a city's most needy residents out to make way for a bunch of people who don't even live there, but there's something especially cruel about doing so to accommodate a game. One wonders if, as a child, Jones was ever shuffled into the dark corridors of his hometown, an embarrassment before he was a national champion.

photo (cc) via Flickr user Ed Yourdon