Shutdown Corner - NFL

NFL wants teams to give full pat-downs to fans attending games

In an attempt to improve safety at games, the NFL wants teams to give full pat-downs to all fans entering stadiums during the 2011 season.

USA Today reports that the league issued a memo to teams before the season requesting that pat-downs from the ankles up be administered to the 17 million fans who are expected to attend games this season. Previously, pat-downs from the waist up were suggested.

An NFL spokesman told the newspaper that fans should expect longer waits to enter the stadiums but asked for patience for both the delays and the more-invasive process.

If these measures would do anything to improve fan safety, patience and understanding could be expected. All it will do is create the illusion that things are safer. This isn't an airport. There are no metal detectors or body scanners to serve as deterrents. Security is a guy in a yellow jacket doing a perfunctory, three-second pat-down. If you want to sneak something in, it's not hard to do it.

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I've been to a handful of NFL stadiums in the past few years and have had the opportunity to see the "enhanced" post-9/11 screening techniques in action. As far as I can tell, the only purpose gate security has is to create a mass of humanity at the entrances and comb through women's purses. The pat downs are jokes. Security personnel only checked from the waist up. If they felt anything in your pocket, their most likely recourse was to ask, "what's that?" A halfway-decent answer got you a pass. In the winter months, it's even worse. People go to games wearing five layers of clothes plus a winter jacket. There's no chance of patting down and feeling anything but insulation.

In the past, if you've ever wanted to bring any banned item into an NFL game you'd be fine so long as you're not holding it in your hands, having it stick out of your pocket or carrying it in a bag. There will be equally easy ways to get around these new rules. I don't want to sound macabre, but if somebody wanted to do something awful at an NFL game, an ankle up pat-down isn't going to stop them. Nor will these prevent drunk idiots in the stands from getting in fights. How about more policing of belligerent fans rather than subjecting the masses to meaningless pat-downs?

The main effect of this whole thing will be delays. At an NFL stadium, there can be 70,000 people trying to enter eight gates in a 45-minute span. Logistically, it's impossible to give full pat-downs to everyone with current procedures in place and have people get to the game on time. Isn't the NFL supposed to be making the gameday experience better for fans? Waiting in line an extra 30 minutes so the NFL can make the phony claim that games are safe isn't the way to do that.

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