“91,000 people. 33 exit gates. One sniper …” Promo for the 1976 film, “Two-Minute Warning”

Terrorism is not the only threat hovering over American society and sports, both college and professional.

There is also the realistic spectre that arises from the proliferation of guns in society … there are more firearms (about 357 million) in the United States than people (318.9 million). Combine an overly armed society with intoxicants, emotion and rage … to Almost DailyBrett it is only a matter of time before …

Your author doesn’t want to think the unthinkable, let alone give anyone any unpleasant ideas. Having said that, let’s ask the obvious: At some point, will an out-of-control fan be tempted to shoot a player, a coach or an umpire or referee on the field, on the court or on the ice?

To be honest, Almost DailyBrett has thought about this subject too many times, the latest just this past Saturday night during the disgraceful, out-of-control NFL Wild Card game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Six men were arrested for antics ranging from hitting a woman in the face to urinating on another woman. We all know it can be worse … much worse.arrestedcincyfans

The visiting Steelers pulled out a grinding-and-crushing 18-16 playoff win, aided by two horrific, late personal-foul penalties against the hometown Bengals. Would a male fan want to enter the under-the-influence of testosterone men’s room at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, wearing Pittsburgh black-and-yellow following the game?

Maybe, that biological imperative can wait?

Considering that fans indulge a wide variety of libations and substances of varying degrees of intoxicant properties for literally hours before the game (night games have to be the worst), the game end-results may be adverse, and guns are simply too many and too easy to acquire, is an opposing player, coach or fan taking his or her life into their hands by simply participating or attending the game?

And considering that virtually every game, regardless of the sport, is broadcast by some outlet (conventional or digital), the game venue would instantaneously turn into a televised crime scene. Would that instantaneous publicity (e.g., 15-minutes of fame) prompt copycat shootings at other stadiums and arenas?

Never thought it would get to this point, but we as a troubled society may already be there.

Are Metal Detectors Enough?

In the aftermath of September 11, the Paris attacks and the assault on a soft-target in San Bernardino, there will be heightened security for Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California as there should be. The Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement as a whole will be on high alert on February 7.

But let’s not dismiss games without the same stakes.

Consider the Oregon vs. Eastern Washington game this past September. The set up was that Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams was playing against his former team. Even though the outcome of the game was decided in the fourth quarter, Adams was knocked out of the game by EWU linebacker, John Kreifels, with a vicious helmet-first targeting hit. Kreifels was ejected.kreifels

Heading back to the locker room, Kreifels taunted the fans at Autzen Stadium. As a season ticket holder for 26 years, Autzen fans are for the most part passionate, but well-behaved. But what would happen if one person … and it only takes one … out of nearly 60,000 fans takes matters into his own hands? There are no metal detectors at Autzen.  Alas, there was a gun and a shooter at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg about 70 miles away.

Is this concern unreasonable?

Six seasons ago, Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount popped taunting Boise State linebacker Byron Hout. When the Boise fans started to jeer Blount, the 6’0”, 247-lb running back started to charge the stands. Fortunately, Oregon assistant coach Scott Frost pulled Blount away from the fans. What if one of these fans had a firearm, a distinct possibility in Idaho? Almost DailyBrett doesn’t want to think about it, but these thoughts just won’t go away.

Crisis Communications Is More Than Response

Jim Nance of CBS Sports labeled the atmosphere around the Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh game this past weekend as a “disgrace”, including the pelting with garbage of injured Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being carted into the locker room for treatment.

The NFL does have metal detectors at its games, but has the league and its teams (particularly their PR departments) given adequate consideration of the worst case scenario? Certainly, they have simulated terrorist attacks or natural disasters, but what about an inebriated fan with a firearm?

Have our professional leagues (i.e., NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, MLB) and our colleges (e.g., NCAA) ever given any consideration to asking fans … not just in agate print on the back of ticket stubs … but through public service announcements (PSAs) to not bring weapons to a stadium. They have no place in stadiums, arenas and ice rinks, particularly with children going to the games.

Sports public relations departments appear to be doing a decent job in combatting drinking and driving, especially before the trip back home after the game, but what about weapons?twominutewarning

We have seen a San Francisco Giants fan in a life-threatening coma after being attacked in the parking lot following the first-game of the 162-game season at Dodger Stadium. We may recall about a crazed Alabama fan poisoning the oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner. And then there was Ron Artest (a.k.a. Metta World Peace) leading the Indiana Pacers into the stands in Detroit (“The Malice at the Palace”). And then there are the chardonnay-sipping Oakland Raider fans …

Before we can contemplate the terror of 91,000 fans, 33 exits and one sniper or deranged fan with a gun, sports public relations and marketing pros need to think more than just how to respond to this awful scenario, but how to prevent it in the first place.

http://www.wlwt.com/news/At-least-6-fans-arrested-Saturday-at-Paul-Brown-Stadium/37365086

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/14/baseballs-new-metal-detectors-wont-keep-you-safe-theyll-just-make-you-miss-a-few-innings/

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/11/14/nfl-statement-on-stadium-security/

http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/eye-on-college-football/25295913/eastern-washington-suspends-player-for-cheap-shot-on-oregon-qb-vernon-adams

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2014/11/18/ten-years-later-brawl-prompted-change-nba/19256997/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/pacers/2014/11/16/pistons-malice-palace-brawl-commissioner-artest-adam-silver/19138239/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-Minute_Warning

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/05/guns-in-the-united-states-one-for-every-man-woman-and-child-and-then-some/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEu3GzNDs74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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