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Bigger Than the Score

Safety at Sporting Events

Photo by Nathan Shively on Unsplash

Sporting games should be fun and exhilarating; however, recent instances of gun and other forms of violence has made them dangerous. Metal detectors and security checkpoints are being used throughout sporting events to ensure the safety of fans. In spite of that, recent events have shown these measures to be lacking.  Last Friday, two fans were wounded after a gun went off during the White Sox game. However, these safety measures are not available at elementary and high school events. One would think little league or high school level sporting events would be devoid of this magnitude of violence, but much like the increase of gun violence during school hours, so too has there been an increase in firearm violence at these non-professional games.

On Aug. 18, the Leon Lions faced the Rickards Raiders during a preseason football game. What began as a light-hearted welcome back ended in pure chaos, endangering fans, after an altercation broke out between two students. The panic escalated when rumors spread that a fan was armed, inducing a mass exodus from Gene Cox Stadium. Two arrests were made: an 18 year-old Leon High student and 15-year-old Success Academy student for their involvement in the altercation and after one was spotted with the gun.

During the 2022 school year there were 41 shootings at K-12 sporting events. Sports in lower grades should be primarily a way for children to bond with each other. The rise of gun violence has turned pastimes into terror and pandemonium. Little league games are cut short because of gun violence that leaves kids scarred for the rest of their life.

“You have to trust, especially at a little league game where you can’t set up a safety checkpoint, that people will be respectful,” The voice of Maclay, FSU PA announcer and junior John Fletcher said. 

Friday Night Lights can be some of the best nights during high school. The games are electrifying and intense. However, too often these games have turned into nights of terror. Just last Friday, another high school football game was cut short because of a shooting. The game between Choctaw and Del City High School in Spencer, Oklahoma ended with a 16-year-old boy murdered and two others wounded.

“I think we could add more security to the entrances of the field,” another Maclay student, Junior Ryder Marks, has a suggestion to improve the safety at sporting events. “Not only the front entrance but all the other ways people can get close to the field.”

One way to combat gun violence is to use security guards at the stadiums of major events. They promptly report any suspicious activity to other law enforcement. Also, the armed presence of security guards is a deterrent for any potential threat.

“Things like security checkpoints are going to become more and more prominent,” Fletcher said. “You see them now at FSU and coming around at every stadium.”

Evolv Technology has created a new use of computer vision sensors that scans the shape, size and density of items as fans walk through the system. Moreover, these computer vision sensors detect threats such as firearms or bombs. The detection system in 2022 stopped over 100,000 weapons from entering venues.

“For the five to ten percent  of people that do set off the system, at that point a picture is taken of that individual and the person doing the secondary screening can see there's a highlighted box around this person's left pocket or their right ankle, so it's also a very specific area,” Sales Director for Barclays Center John Baier said. “It makes the secondary process much easier for the staff, it's not wanding your entire body.”

Fans are also able to keep personal items in their pockets while walking through these detectors, instead of placing them in bins. The detection system combines data such as thermal imaging, millimeter-wave technology and artificial intelligence-enabled video analysis. These factors combine to create a comprehensive picture.

“The safety of fans is crucial especially with big sporting events to make sure everyone is okay and so more people can attend,” junior Kayla Iarossi said.

Sporting events have become popular in America over the past century. More than 150 million people go to a sports game every year. Fan safety needs to be the top priority or else fans will not attend. No safety for fans means no attendance.

“Nobody is going to want to go if it is not safe,” Fletcher said. “ If you are trying to go to a high school football game and you are worried, you’re not going to go. So if you want fans at the game, you gotta keep them safe.”


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