Archive for the ‘safety and security’ Category

Rules of Engagement

September 17, 2015

It’s happened again.

In the span of just over a week, another high school referee has been assaulted during a football game, and again it happened in Texas.

This time the incident involved a player from San Antonio’s St. Anthony High School who, video shows, shoved a referee following an altercation on the field during the game.

Here’s the setup: The player had been penalized for being involved in a scuffle on the field during play, but after the flag was thrown the player pushed the referee who called the penalty by the shoulders before his teammates pulled him away.

No surprise, the player was tossed from the game after that.

Of course, all this comes on the heels of the incident at John Jay High School the week before, where video shows two John Jay players targeting a backfield judge, one knocking the referee down, the second one spearing him as he was on the ground.

What is precipitating these acts? Maybe there is no correlation between the two. In the case of the John Jay incident, the players now are claiming the targeted referee used racial slurs against them. For his part, the umpire is considering criminal charges.

But now we have video of the incidents, and we can see how disturbing the acts are. And perhaps it all has to do with the pressure of winning, especially in football-mad Texas. For his part, the top athletic official in John Jay’s school district, said, “This is the first time I’ve ever witnessed and experienced (anything like this) in the realm of athletics.”

While coaches have the responsibility to teach their players the lessons of sportsmanship and fair play, event organizers now have the responsibility of what to do when the rules aren’t followed. In Indiana, for example, referees suspended a season-opening football game after players got into a shoving match, which seems pretty tame after the referee-assault incidents we’ve now seen.

Schools and athletic conferences as well as event rights holders who produce out-of-school events now have to worry about not just the safety of players, but the safety of the referees, umpires and others paid to keep order at the games. The bottom line is, this has to stop to keep organized sports alive. Today, the issue is football. Tomorrow, it just might be basketball.

Photo courtesy of MaxPreps.

Photo courtesy of MaxPreps.

Keeping Spectators Safe

September 2, 2015

Anyone in the events business knows that one big concern is keeping spectators safe. Often the emphasis is at the point of entry: Checking bags and ‘wanding’ spectators is now the norm at professional sporting events, and is happening more and more at the amateur level.

But now, safety issues are shifting to venues themselves. The issue has turned tragic this past week, with the death of a spectator at Turner Field, who fell over the railing of an upper deck. It’s the third fatal fall at Turner Field since 2008. Earlier this month, Justin Verlander and other Detroit Tigers called for baseball to extend netting to protect fans after a fan was struck in the seats at Comerica Park, and that comes after a spectator was seriously hurt at a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway.

We know that attending a sporting event carries its own level of risk, as is spelled out on the backs of most of our event tickets. But railing height has been almost as much of an issue as extending the nets down the base lines to protect fans. Atlanta Braves’ officials say the new Braves stadium is designed to have higher railings, even though the present railings meet safety standards. The International Building Code mandates that venues like Turner Field and the Rangers’ ballpark, where, four years ago, a fan reached over the outfield wall to retrieve a tossed baseball and fell 20 feet to his death, have rail heights of 33 inches, increasing to 42 inches at the base of aisles. Those guidelines still have not prevented fan-falling incidents at those parks as well as the Georgia Dome and St. Louis’ Busch Stadium in recent years.

And here are some sobering stats: There are 53,000 foul balls that enter the seats every year, according to Edwin Comber, creator of foulballz.com. And 1,750 spectators are injured every season by batted balls at major league games, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg News.

It will be costly for stadiums to upgrade their facilities, and they’re reluctant to obstruct lines of sight because they don’t want to encourage fans to stay at home where they can get an even clearer, closer view of the game from their HD television. But if it continues to become a major safety issue, something will need to be done, and soon. Don’t wait for someone else to die.

Photo courtesy pa baseball netting.

Photo courtesy pa baseball netting.

Security Rules Affect All Levels of Sport

September 22, 2014

We’re now entering our second year of the NFL’s “new” bag policy, and after the expected initial hue and cry over the rule change, fans seem to have settled into the new normal.

For those not initiated, the policy bans anything other than bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12,” or one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).

Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bag options.

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: Purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, seat cushions, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.

Now, Major League Baseball is also testing a tighter security entrance at the end of this season, setting up airport-like checkpoints at the entry. That will be the norm for all clubs in 2015.

College football stadiums also are beginning to follow the NFL model banning bags and oversized purses and backpacks of any kind and making sure everyone has a ticket.  And frankly, in this age of incidents at sports venues, very few people complain about the changes.

How does this impact your own event or venue? When you’re dealing with youth sports in particular, you can’t be too careful. But there’s a fine line between security and annoyance. The good news is, most everyone who attends some game, knows the drill and is familiar with purse checks, etc. It’s not like you have to reinvent the wheel.

As the NASC CSEE module this week drills down on security issues and crisis planning, it’s a good reminder to look at your own plans. Talk with your staff, with local security and others to get a sense on how to handle a crisis and how to plan to minimize the chance something can go wrong.

You can’t be too prepared for something you hope will never happen.

 

NFL bag policy

Security Now A Priority for Events

April 14, 2014

No surprise here, the Boston Marathon, more than a month before its 2014 running, announced a number of security changes from the 2013 event that saw the tragic bombing at its finish line.

The Marathon has banned several items from its event, including bags, backpacks, handbags, suitcases and similar items. Not so different from what other events have implemented in the almost year since the Boston bombing, but the severity of the limitations may take some getting used to, since runners often carry their change of clothes in bags that they can check. Many events have gone to clear plastic check bags, and Boston will allow runners to use those clear bags that the Marathon itself gives out.

Boston also is going a step further and prohibiting containers with more than a liter of liquid, costumes covering the face and bulky clothes-vests with pockets, for example.

Here’s what runners can do—they can run with small fanny packs or fuel belts that can carry medication and cell phones, along with a small water bottle.

It’s not just the participants affected by these new restrictions—large flags or signs bigger than 11 x 17 inches are banned from any marathon venue, described as the start and finish areas, the course itself, the athletes’ village and areas where official events are held such as the pasta parties, etc. Signage, for anyone who’s done one of these events, is a big part of the festival atmosphere along the marathon (or half marathon) routes. And don’t count on your son or daughter or Team In Training ‘hero’ to jump in during the last 50 yards to finish the race with you—they’ll be prohibited from doing that as well.

Too much? Too prohibitive? Or a sign of the times. Perhaps a little of all three. Let’s face it, ever since 9/11, security has been on the minds of any event rights holder or venue. The Boston bombing just brought it closer to home and reached out to spectators who were just there to cheer on friends and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere.

I remember my first trip to London, I had a candy wrapper I wanted to throw away and I got agitated when I couldn’t find a trash can to deposit it. It was a few minutes before I realized that getting rid of trash cans was their own security measure. It is a way of life in many European cities, and now it’s becoming a way of life for us here in the states, especially at events that draw thousands of people.

It means extra costs for those putting on the event, but the cost of not increasing security can be hundreds of times more expensive.

Boston Marathon lead pack

NASC Playbook – Summer 2013 is now available

July 23, 2013

We are pleased to release our third edition of the NASC Playbook, our quarterly digital publication. was designed to keep our members up-to-date on the latest happenings with your association as well as to share best practices and industry trends that will help you get your share of the sports event industry.

NASC Playbook Summer 2013

Inside this Issue:

– Beth’s Top Ten Tips for Responding to the NASC Symposium RFP
– National Association of Sports Commissions annual symposium celebrates record growth in 2013
– Sports Tourism: A State of the Industry Report
– NASC helps members prepare for the NCAA Championship Bid Process
– NASC Unveils Enhancements to Economic Impact Calculator

View the Summer 2013 NASC Playbook. 

 

If you have stories you’d like to have us feature in a future edition, contact Elizabeth Chaney, Director of Membership and Marketing, at Elizabeth@SportsCommissions.org.