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Saturday, February 04, 2006
Super Bowl XL and Stadium Security

With about 24 hours to go before Super Bowl XL, let's briefly consider a topic that probably won't generate much fanfare: stadium security, and how well American pro sports leagues have ensured fan safety.

This topic comes to mind after reading how earlier this morning, 73 Filipinos were trampled to death in a Manila stadium, as thousands were trying to enter a popular TV show where prizes are awarded to audience members. Most of those trampled were elderly women. It is unclear why the stampede started. One report, now apparently dismissed, is that a person yelled "bomb"; another report, also in doubt, suggests that a railing collapsed, precipitating mass panic. Regardless of cause, there was apparently mass panic in the Manila stadium, prompting a spontaneous stampede, and security was not able to prevent it or suppress it before 73 people died and 353 were injured.

I suspect we should be grateful that these mass tragedies don't happen in our professional sporting or entertainment venues, in spite of the tens of thousands of people typically attending them and the persistent threat of mass panic inducible by so many things. Perhaps we have been more fortunate than good, but I suspect it also reflects how seriously teams and leagues take security. Take the Detroit "melee" last year--and do notice how so many observers described it as a "melee" even though no one died or was seriously hurt: it was clearly terrible, avoidable, and embarrassing and yet there were no deaths, no serious injuries, no stampedes. Really, after seeing what happened in the Phillipines today, we might be able to look at the Detroit "melee" and think: security did a good job.

Let's hope we continue to be so fortunate (or good, or both).

Related Post: Greg, Pat Downs at Sports Arenas: Necessary Precaution or Unconstitutional Search?, 10/26/2006


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