After the recent incident involving some of my fellow fans in Orlando and Los Angeles which I typed about here. I thought I would write an opinion piece on the mask policy that has cropped up at some of the stadiums the NFL is renting out this year.
The NFL, and every major sporting event in the world is on a high alert as far as safety for the fan is concerned. Implementing policies to try to make a visit to their stadiums as safe as humanly possible.
Given the recent decline in people attending live sporting events, and incidents around the world in the last decade this is understandable. They want their stadium to be as family friendly, and safe as possible. They have beefed up security, the things you have to go through to even enter the stadium, and police around the stadium.
Not counting the endless array of security camera’s located around, and in the stadium. Now why most of these policies are very reasonable towards the costumed fan, and fan safety. Such as denying sharp objects, large objects that obstruct your view, or any costume accessory (such as plastic hammers or fake guns) that can be used as a weapon.
I have to say the mask policy some of these stadiums the NFL is renting is one of the only one’s I strongly disagree with, and feel it is an unnecessary rule to put in place in any stadium. As a mask wearing costumed fan that attends games in my outfit this is my personal opinion on the policy.
The policy is likely in place to identify an individual in case an incident occurs in the stadium, or to prevent an individual from entering the stadium, and committing a crime (robbery, something that would cause harm, or etc.) in the stadium.
While there is the slimmest of chances that could possibly happen given the amount of security let’s look at the likelihood of this happening, and the individual actually getting away with it because their identity is hidden under a mask at a major sporting event. Since that is the threat stadium security is likely to try to say is the reason for their policy.
If an individual comes to the stadium with a mask usually there is a vetting process at the main gates immediately. Now some stadium securities will differ from others mattering on the size of the stadium, and crowds. To humor me let’s use the NFL which I am use to attending events at.
At an NFL event the stadium is usually surrounded by police with dogs on the street around every corner of the stadium as you approach it. The second you get near an entrance to the stadium they have a multilayered security set up in place to even get your ticket scanned.
First you go through a barrier with security, and police which reaches out a ways from the metal detector part of the vetting which will check to see if you have anything visibly dangerous. Usually they will ask you to remove the mask before going to the line to get scanned (normal procedure).
Next after you have removed the mask in an area where there is sure to be security camera’s lined up. You are forced to empty anything in your pockets, and walk through a metal detector. Which is followed up by a wand scan, and possible pat down.
Once your in the stadium there is security, and staff everywhere. From the exit’s, concessions, to every corner you turn to go somewhere in the stadium. Once in your seat there are ushers/security sitting around every section of the stadium. All equipped with communication devices. Plus police stationed throughout the stadium as well.
On top of the vetting process you are forced to go through which requires you to remove your mask before entering, and allow them to check it. Some people don’t realize that you have basically made yourself easy to find, and track by purchasing your ticket to begin with.
While some individuals would be harder to track than others if you bought your ticket through a scalper on some random street corner. A lot of times 90% of the purchasing customers will be traceable by the purchase of their ticket. All a team would need to do to find a individual in the small chance they managed to escape the stadium is trace their ticket back to the individual.
No matter if it was bought through the team or a third party ticket sale site. Each purchase has a original name attached to the seat. Then it’s simply just checking the name of the person from the third party site that they mailed, and sold it to, or finding the person who owned the seat for the season.
Now while I can understand maybe not feeling comfortable with a masked fan walking up to a concession stand (where you need to give ID for alcohol) or a bathroom with their mask still on in the concourse of the stadium. The chances of a fan actually holding up or robbing a concession stand, and getting away with it are as unlikely as someone without a mask.
In fact removing the masked fan, or adding masks to the prohibited items policy barely decreases any security threats that would come along with it. Given what the individual has to do to get in the stadium through security to begin with.
Your as likely to have a regular fan with no outfit/mask/costume create an incident than a masked fan. In fact when is the last time you heard of a masked fan in a stadium causing a problem or committing a crime?
Using the current L.A. Chargers rules as an example saying the masked fan can not wear his/her mask until your in your seat in the bowl of the stadium. That is just as ridiculous due to what I just outlined above about the security, staff, and police presence in the concourse of a stadium, and your vetting process to get into the stadium.
As one of those masked fans I can tell you that your disrupting the fan experience more than helping it. The walk to my seat from the entrance gate of the stadium is a lot like my pre-game walk around it at the tailgates.
From personal experience a lot of fans, and kids alike entering the stadium enjoy catching the costumed/masked fans at the games to get a picture with them. Usually those opportunities happen in the concourse of the stadium which is much more convenient for the costumed fan, and those around them because it’s not disturbing the individuals in their seats in the stadium watching the game.
By removing the concourse from the equation. You’re not only ruining part of the game day experience for us who enjoy taking the time out of our game day to put a smile on a kids face, or a fan who maybe excited for their first chance to attend a live game.
You’re also ruining it for that fan who we then have to deny that solitary moment to, and forcing us to be the jerks who tell them we can’t, and if they want one they have to catch us afterwards, or come to our seat in the stadium.
While I understand the small possible security threats that could come with a masked individual in a stadium. Removing the masks from the stadium is in fact doing little in decreasing the chances a crime/incident happens.
You’re as likely to have, or actually even more likely to have someone walk into a stadium without a mask, and cause a problem than with it.
If you’re doing that much vetting, security, and have that many avenues of security to catch an individual or prevent an incident at your event then there needs to be some leniency towards the fan to be able to express themselves if they want at it. As long as they follow those listed security procedures upon entering the stadium.
Such as how security is for comic book conventions, or other events that happen across the world that fans dress up, and attend with masks at the arena’s. I’ve always compared the sporting event costumed fan to those who attend Comic-Con, or other conventions like it.
In the end that is my view of the situation and the policy. While I’m sure those who don’t understand the costumed fandom, or the reason to be bothered by this policy. I think that it’s important for this to be out there for those individuals who do this as a hobby on gameday’s.
The one’s who spend their hard earned money to show their team pride, express themselves in their own way, escape their everyday mundane lives for a few short hours, and want to put a smile on any fans face who attends the event that they run across.