Levi's Stadium is the most technologically advanced stadium in the U.S., so why have people only been talking about what's happened in its bathrooms? The reason is a sickening video that shows a fan apparently telling another fan that a stall is open for him to use. The fan responds with three fast punches that knock that fan unconscious, rendering him partially paralyzed.
And earlier in the week at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, three men brutally beat a man in the parking lot after the Angels lost to the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. As of this writing, there was no reason given for the attack. It may seem that fan violence in California receives the most national media attention (why are you so angry California sports fans?), but the reality is that fan violence is everywhere.
My eight-year-old daughter has asked me multiple times when I'm finally going to take her to her first Chicago Bears game. I tell her when the Bears have a defense, but the truth is that I don't want to expose her or her six-year-old sister to that environment. The cursing and obnoxious behavior, sadly they have seen that with Daddy when he watches the aforementioned Bears defense. But the fan violence, that is the real reason that keeps my family away from professional sporting events these days.
Fan violence isn't increasing and it's not a new phenomenon at sporting events; we just have the technology (camera phones) to document each and every incident. NFL attendance will always remain strong. After all, it's still the most popular sport in this country and most teams only have eight home game opportunities, so the people will always be there, along with the temptation to apparently punch those people. So what can we do to turn left hooks into fist bumps?
In the October issue of Athletic Business, crowd-control expert Dr. Tamara Madensen examines crowd dynamics, and why event and security managers tasked with protecting its spectators must thoroughly understand these types of situations if they are truly committed to curbing fan violence. There are a variety of other tactics venues can employ, as AB senior editor Paul Steinbach learned in his great One on One with Fans Against Violence founder Kathy Samoun. FAV is a fan-based organization committed to "taking back the stands." Check out FAV's website, well worth the time.
I've been fortunate to have become more and more immersed in sports security through my close work with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4), and I can assure all families and fans that ensuring a safe environment for all spectators is a topic constantly being addressed by those responsible for securing those events and venues. Because this is the fight that's not only worth fighting, but a fight we must win.