Risk Management |
Article by Steve Mandell, Big Back Pack
In the South, football season has started in earnest; other parts of the country are weeks away from the season’s first kickoff. Either way, athletic events provide a huge and immediate opportunity to examine safety and security procedures at independent schools. I believe it is in our collective best interest to reassess the security focus we place on these events. Safety and security at athletic events have a life of their own, quite different than the regular class day.
More tips and insights from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.
Consider developing a working group of administrators and personnel to review the weekly athletic schedule and ensure that a broad plan is in place. Establish an Event Day Plan to guide the actions of the event; facilitate planning; guide supervisors, staff and volunteers; and inform public safety partners. And designate an administrator in charge, such as the athletic director or assistant head of school. This individual should ensure that policies and a written plan clarify how staff will handle all disturbances in conjunction with participating law enforcement agencies, event operations and venue operations for the following crowd control issues:
Unlike the regular school day, there may be a large group of visitors on campus who do not necessarily share your school's culture or philosophy about sportsmanship or crowd behavior. Some of your own fans, too, may develop a counter persona when the team hits the field. In my years as head of school, I was forced to speak with our own parents and even have some removed from game venues.
Establish a written policy for permitted and prohibited items on or in venues, and for underage drinking and referral to law enforcement. Alcohol, even at the high school level, seems to be a growing issue as tailgating becomes more of a high school experience. Establish and enforce a “no smoking” policy that is typically the same as during the regular school day. Consult your state and local law for prescribed guidelines.
It is also important to be a good host, especially when visiting teams and fans may be prospective families. Think of your home game as an opportunity to broaden your school's fan base. Many schools have been hit by online reviews by visiting parents or athletes who observed poor home-team behavior or felt an event was poorly managed. Be sure the concession stand is well-stocked, the bathrooms are clean and there are plenty of trash and recycling containers. Make sure the lights in the parking areas are operational and the signage is clear as it relates to parking. Likewise, share relevant specific emergency planning information with visiting teams and their fans.
Additional safety and security considerations for athletic events:
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