And you would not be wrong for thinking so. Baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, hockey rinks, and football stadiums are built big these days; they regularly seat crowds of 20,000—50,000 people. Michigan Stadium, located in Ann Arbor, has a seating capacity of over 100,000! That’s a lot of people to keep from behaving badly.
Yet even when these spaces are packed to the rafters, you can usually only spot one security guard for every 50—100 people, and rarely more than two or three at a time. So how does such a small security corps manage to keep the population of a small city in line, especially at sporting events where emotions run as high as they do? The fact is that there is much more going on security-wise than just a handful of guys with batons.
To start, there are some nifty subconscious things going on with security guards. You might not notice many of them, but
you the fact isyou do notice them. Guards are usually spaced out from one another more than 100 ft. apart, meaning that they stand out against the crowd. This is a small but important technique. People instinctively know that more than a couple of security guards standing together in one place usually indicates a problem. Studies have shown that simply a guard’s presence is often enough to deter troublemaking.
Segregation of space is another important aspect of security. Off-limits areas are almost always clearly marked with big, colorful signs. This is crucial because, in the event of a riot or medical emergency, security and medical personnel need to have quick, unimpeded access to their own hallways and elevators. Nearly every major arena these days has an ID card system so that only employees have access to its inner workings. Even smaller venues, like minor league baseball stadiums and recreation centers, can get an ID card printing machine for not much money. Whatever the initial cost, it will be less than rebuilding the venue!
Another security resource arena management often takes advantage of
are the police themselves. Police officers often supplement security staff at large events, such as pro sports and popular concerts. This is because it is fiscally impossible to retain a security staff large enough to keep huge crowds in check. A crowd of 10,000 people is going to need a lot less attention than a crowd of 50,000. And, in the unfortunate and unlikely event of a largescale emergency, local police are always kept notified in case more help is needed.
Then, of course, there is one of the most effective security systems out there: the crowds themselves. Most people are not troublemakers, nor do they show up to sporting events hoping a riot will break out. Ask anyone who’s been in the security game for awhile and they’ll tell you that a lot of the success of these events is dependent upon the fundamental decency of people. Hopefully that makes you feel easier next time a football crowd starts getting rowdy!