When was the last time you really paid attention to your surroundings at a sporting event? You are at a Knicks vs. Lakers game at Madison Square Garden with your wife and two children. You see the glare of the big stage that the Garden affords you. The game begins with Kobe Bryant blocking Carmelo Anthony’s baseline jumper, the crowd begins a series of boos, and you and your family just absolutely love the action. But again, I will pose the following question: when was the last time you truly paid attention to your surroundings?
Having spent 21 years in law enforcement, I used to get paid a decent salary to pay attention to what was going on around me. And yes, now that I have completed my post graduate education in Sport Management, when I go to sporting events, I make every effort to see not only the action on the floor, ice, or playing field, but also to what’s happening around me.
Security personnel, especially those employed at sporting venues, receive training, and have skills necessary to protect you and your family at a particular event. I recently worked as an AEG Supervisor at the home of the Brooklyn Nets, a billion dollars sports and entertainment venue, known as the Barclays Center. I saw firsthand the security training and inner workers of this world-class arena.
We all live in a very complicated, sophisticated, technologically fast paced world. Security and effective security policies, procedures, and training are key components of providing a safe environment for the sports fan. Let’s face it; unless your company is providing you complimentary tickets to a sporting event, you will be shelling out a great deal of disposable dollars to take you and your family to the game. You are also paying to be protected by highly skilled, trained, security personnel, who have one thing in mind – your safety.
When spectators enter a sporting venue they should receive the same screening procedures a TSA agent would ask you to go through at JFK or La Guardia airport. Yes, you may consider this to be somewhat of a hassle. But really, what’s the alternative? To allow someone into an arena who wants to be there for all the wrong reasons? We live in a totally different world today. Security is of the utmost importance not only to the fans, but to the staff, athletes, and all the individuals who access the venue. Why take the chance for an incident to happen? Team leaders from security often meet prior to events to go over their game plans to effectively carry out security measures for the event. A great deal of time, energy and efforts go into these briefings. I know, I sat in on many of them. The ways in which you handle one event, let’s say a Nets basketball game, may be a totally different approach than a Justin Bieber concert.
The need for constant security training is an ongoing process. Leadership and a highly motivated security staff, protect the fans and ownership form liability issues.
Recently the NFL has been taking a serious look at alcohol consumption at their games. What’s been your experience with intoxicated fans when you last went to a Mets, Jets, Giants or pre-lockout Islanders game? Fans, if they choose to drink, should do so responsibly. But what happens when they go overboard? Have you ever experienced sitting next to a fan that appears to be highly intoxicated and using foul and abusive language? Oh, yeah, remember, your wife and two kids were also present.
Certain NFL teams are now requiring fans to take an online course when ejected from games due to heavy drinking. Do you think this is an effective prevention policy? Sports security personnel have a duty to ensure the safety and welfare of the patron.
So remember, the next time you go to a sporting event, take a few minutes and really take a look a what’s going on behind the scenes. Believe me, it’s more than just a 3-point basket by the Knicks Steve Novak.
The author of this post, James A. DeMeo, is a long time Port Washington resident. He is a retired Detective with the Nassau County Police Department. He earned his MS in Physical Education-Specialization in Sport Management from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. During his police career, DeMeo was a guest lecturer at the Nassau County Police Dedpartmen Police Academy and trained recruits up to Inspectors. He has recently been a guest speaker at the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Sport Management. He has spoken with college students about the importance of attaining your education and never giving up on your dreams. He has inspired students to ask questions and constantly learn in order to be relevant in today’s job market. DeMeo's current interests are adjunct teaching and pursuing a PhD. Learn more by visiting his LinkedIn profile.