NCS⁴ Gameday Security Magazine - Summer 2022

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Addressing Emerging Threats


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NCS4 is the nation’s only academic center devoted to the study and practice of spectator sports safety and security.



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A Note From the Executive Director, Dr. Stacey A. Hall


VISION🔗 We will be a leading partner with government, private sector, and sports and entertainment organizations to create and deliver critical resources for enhancing safety and security.

Labor Shortages, Inexperienced Staff Members and Enthusiastic Post-Pandemic Crowds Make Safety Planning Critical

MISSION🔗 We will support the sports and entertainment industries through innovative research, training and outreach programs. Our mission is realized by working closely with a diverse group of organizations and subject matter experts to better understand the threat environment, identify vulnerabilities, communicate risk-mitigation techniques, and close capability gaps.

The NCS4 collaborates with professional sports leagues, intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics, marathon and endurance events, entertainment facilities, as well as professional associations, private sector firms, and government agencies. It is a critical resource for sport venue managers, event managers, first responders, and other key stakeholders.




Legalized Sports Betting Has Gone Mainstream – and Created New Security Threats


Marathon and Endurance Events Forum on Mississippi‘s Gulf Coast and Intercollegiate Athletics Forum at College Station, Texas

26 National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security 118 College Drive #5193 | Hattiesburg, MS 601-266-6183 | NCS4.USM.EDU


Operators Implement Lessons Learned With Regard to Hiring, Training and Retaining Staff


14th Annual National Sports Safety and Security Conference Coming to San Antonio in Summer 2023


A NOTE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dr. Stacey A. Hall GREETINGS, FELLOW SAFETY AND SECURITY PROFESSIONALS! We are excited to present our summer edition of the Gameday Security magazine. This issue covers topics at the forefront of our industry, including crowd management challenges and planning strategies, staff recruitment, training and retention, and the impact of legalized sports gambling on safety and security. In light of the Astroworld tragedy, venue and event managers are reminded of the importance of adequately planning for large gatherings, particularly considering crowd dynamics and intervention strategies. The industry continues to feel the effects of COVID-19 on staffing levels forcing management to seek creative ways to attract new talent to their organizations. Besides recruitment, practical training, upskilling and retention are key factors to consider. In addition, legalized sports gambling issues are highlighted for consideration by governing bodies, leagues, teams, participants and spectators. The Center supports the sports and entertainment industries through innovative research, training and outreach programs. I want to take this opportunity to share our progress on a few items since last fall: • Conducted virtual forums for the following industries: intercollegiate, interscholastic, marathon and endurance events, and professional sports and entertainment facilities • Launched a new eLearning platform, NCS4 Learn, offering three courses: Certified Sports Venue Security Training, Crowd Manager Fundamentals, and a Senior Leader Course for Sport and Entertainment Security • Conducted three pilots for a new DHS/FEMA-funded Crowd Management course that will be available in September • Conducted virtual INTERPOL-Project Stadia training programs in late 2021 and the beginning of 2022. The remaining training will be delivered in person in Lyon, France, and Doha, Qatar. • Partnered with the DHS Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop a Connected Devices and Integrated Security Considerations Guide for Stadiums • Produced a research seminar on railing safety • Developed a Venue Managers Guide for Evaluating Patron Screening Solutions in collaboration with our Technology Alliance and National Advisory Board • Technology Alliance members for 2022 include Axis Communications, Esri, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Patriot One Technologies and S2 Global. • Administered the first annual survey on venue security director challenges, security practices and technology utilization • Completed patron screening technology operational exercises and product review reports • NCS4 staff conducted presentations locally, nationally and internationally. • Annual Conference 2022 had the highest number of exhibitors and sponsorships in 13 years. The NCS4 team thanks our corporate, government agency and professional association partners, as well as our extensive membership base. Furthermore, the National Advisory Board and Advisory Committees are a valuable asset to the Center, helping shape our strategic priorities to meet the needs of our industry. At the timing of this magazine print, we will be hosting our 13th Annual Conference at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in conjunction with title sponsor, inOrbit. The conference theme is Game-changers: Lead, Discover, Innovate, and we look forward to connecting with the game-changers of this industry. l Kind Regards,

Stacey A. Hall, Ph.D. Executive Director of NCS4 and Professor of Sport Management





EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM Dr. Stacey A. Hall Executive Director and Professor of Sport Management Lauren Cranford Director of Operations Daniel Ward Director of Training and Exercise


Senior Vice President, Safety and Security, Major League Soccer


Brooke Graves Senior Training Manager Traci Johnson Instructional Design Specialist Sara Priebe Event and Membership Manager Jonathan Ruffin Training Manager Tymika Rushing Business Affairs Manager Dr. Joslyn Zale Senior Research Associate and CSSP Manager

STUDENT ASSOCIATES Grace Gremillion Graduate Assistant Andrew Hood Web Developer Ryan Kavanaugh Graduate Assistant Jonathan Stanford Graduate Assistant

Peter Kranske, CSSP

President and Chief Operating Officer, Landmark Event Staffing Services, Inc. Sponsored by:

Meridian Rapid Defense Group

Richard Fenton, CSSP

Vice President and Chief Security Officer, Ilitch Holdings, Inc.



President/Founder, Buckingham Event Productions

Dr. Dustin Smith

Director of Athletic Operations and Student Activities, Greenwood Public Schools

MANAGEMENT TEAM Michael Finley Curriculum Manager


Leigh Ann Moffett


CEO, Denver Colfax Marathon

André D. Walker

Director of Athletics and UIL Activities, Houston Independent School District

Robert Weiseman

Associate Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, Southern Methodist University

Michelle Durgin

Project Manager, Ballpark Operations, San Francisco Giants

Zacharia Litzelswope

Director, Events and Guest Experience, Minnesota United FC

Senior Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Facilities, Game Operations, Events and Championships, Duke University

Amy Finnegan

Carlos Campos

Lauren Gress

Senior Manager, Stadium Operations, Los Angeles, Angels

Mike Purdy

Regional Soccer Security Agent, Major League Soccer

Darren F. Johnson

Director of Stadium Safety and Security, Detroit Lions

Jennifer Pfeister

Director of Safety and Security, Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse

John Graeber

Executive Director, Safety and Security, Navy Pier


Senior Director, Security, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment Senior Manager, Event Operations, Philadelphia Eagles

Lonnie Allen

Senior Manager, Event Security, Mercedes-Benz Stadium

FRIENDS OF NCS4 David S. Corderman

Senior Partner, The Nicholson Group, LLC

Scott Meyers

Founder and Executive Vice President, 24/7 Software

Steve Miller

Associate Athletic Director for Game Management, Texas A&M University Athletics

Dondi Pogue

William Ball Stadium – Eustis Field

Lieutenant-Special Events Division, CharlotteMecklenburg Police Department

Kyle Field – Texas A&M University

Barry Stanford, CSSP

MLB at Field of Dreams Ballpark M&T Bank Stadium Madison Square Garden

Vice President, Safety and Security, AEG Worldwide

Rob Turner, CSSP

Major, Administration, University of Kentucky Police Department


Presenting Sponsor Dataminr


Reception Sponsors Ameristar Perimeter Security Ardian Technologies CSA360 Software Technology Showcase Axis Communications IronYun Patriot One Technologies Wicket Awards Luncheon Sponsor Evolv Technology Platinum Sponsor Landmark Event Staffing Services


Meridian Rapid Defense Group Johnson Controls


Andy Frain Services Petrone Risk Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP Prevent Advisors SymbolArts TyTek Medical


Athletic Business SDM and Security SportsField Magazine Security Today Magazine Stadium Tech Report

EXHIBITORS 24/7 Software 911 Security Accredit Solutions AC Radiocom LLC ADT Commercial Advanced Security Technologies LLC Aerial Armor AeroDefense Airship AI Allied Universal All Traffic Solutions Aluma AmberBox Gunshot Detection Ameristar Perimeter Security Ardian Technologies Astrophysics, Inc. Asylon Autoclear Axis Communications Bad Day Fabrication and Security BEST Crowd Management Blueforce Development Corp. BriefCam Building Intelligence CEIA USA

ChemImage ColorID Compliant Technologies Concentric Security Continuum Preparedness CrowdRx CSA360 Software Dataminr Deep Attic Delta Scientific Corp. Digital Ally, Inc. Esri Evolv Technology Executive Protection Institute Eyemetric Security Systems Fellowes, Inc. Fisher Labs Garrett Metal Detectors Genetec Golden Bay Fence Plus Iron Works, Inc. Guardian Zone, LLC Hanwha Techwin America imageOne Uniforms inOrbit IronYun

Johnson Controls Security Products Kontek Industries Liberty Defense LiveView Technologies Meridian Rapid Defense Group Morse Watchmans, Inc. Motorola Solutions Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) Office of SAFETY Act Patriot One Technologies Rapiscan Systems, Inc. Rave Mobile Safety REDTAIL Security & Screening Program Rhombus Systems SAGE Integration Secure Technology Value Solutions Share911 SymbolArts The Digital Decision Thomas Barriers, LLC WBE/DBE Tusco Perimeter Security Solutions Wallace Perimeter Security Walter P. Moore Wicket


Labor shortages, inexperienced staff members and enthusiastic post-pandemic crowds have made safety planning more critical than ever. Three experts weigh in on what’s next. By Michael Popke THE DEATHS OF 10 FANS from compression asphyxia at November’s Astroworld music festival in Houston sparked questions that — almost six months later — had yet to be answered. “Compressive asphyxia in a crowd is something that has happened before; that is a hazard of certain general admission events,” says Steven A. Adelman of Adelman Law Group, a sports and entertainment legal firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Why did it happen at Astroworld? We just don’t know yet. The evidence is not available. But hopefully, industry professionals are asking themselves a series of sophisticated questions that really drill down to this: What does Astroworld tell me about my events?” Adelman, who also is vice president of the Event Safety Alliance and deputy chair of the Global Crowd Management Alliance, points to a pair of crowd-related tragedies in Yaoundé, Cameroon, both of which happened on back-to-back days in January 2022, as more immediate “teachable moments.” At Liv’s Nightclub in the Central African country’s capital city, at least 17 people were killed Jan. 23 when fireworks launched inside the venue reportedly ignited the ceiling and caused a stampede as patrons panicked. The next day, Jan. 24, at least eight people were killed and 38 injured in another stampede — this one outside of Yaoundé’s Olembé Stadium, which was hosting an Africa Cup of Nations soccer match. According to news reports, adults and children were trampled as fans squeezed through a narrow entrance gate. Adelman compares the soccer stadium stampede to the one outside Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum in 1979, triggered when a rush of concert-goers eager to see The Who pushed toward the arena’s only unlocked pair of doors. “Communication within the venue is vital,” he says. “In both instances, the mass of people outside the gates earlier than anticipated should have led operations staff to open at least some gates or doors early to relieve the pressure upon ingress. Also, communication from the venue to attendees [is vital], so there is less urgency to race in all at once.”

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CROWD CONTROL Meanwhile, the Liv’s Nightclub tragedy is eerily similar to the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Warwick, R.I., when flames from pyrotechnics set off at the beginning of a rock concert ignited acoustic foam in the walls and ceiling. Terror ensued as fans struggled to escape and bottlenecked at the club’s main entrance; 100 people died and more than 200 were injured. “The lessons here are: Don’t light pyrotechnics indoors in a low-ceiling building with lousy fire suppression,” Adelman says. “Make sure that the space has good exit signage and open means of egress. Make sure that security doesn’t block certain exits because they’re reserved for VIPs or band members. Those lessons need to keep being learned.”

EVERY DAY A TRAINING DAY Crowd safety planning is at a critical juncture right now. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many challenges that previously existed, with staffing issues looming largest. “The biggest threat that event operators are facing right now is the labor shortage — having enough people to safely protect these events and having a workforce that is trained to do what’s needed to safely manage the events,” says Steve Georgas, chief security officer for the Chicago-based restaurant and hospitality company Levy and retired deputy chief of the Chicago Police Department. “There’s always been a somewhat transitional workforce in the security space, but that labor is gone right now, and everyone is struggling to find it. It’s not uncommon for events to be working well short of normal on the security and ushering sides.”

“The biggest threat that event operators are facing right now is the labor shortage.” STEVE GEORGAS Many of those staff members have less training and experience, which means they also have less judgment in unfamiliar situations, while even veteran crowd safety personnel could still be rusty if they haven’t worked many events since early 2020. “Good operators are going to admit they have a problem and then ask themselves what they can do to mitigate their risk,” Georgas says. He suggests greater collaboration with state and local authorities who are assisting with public safety at specific events or permitting those events. Together, critical staffing decisions can be made. “You might say, ‘Hey, normally we have eight gates so we’re making sure we get people from all directions. But we’re going to have to narrow that down to only four gates, because we can’t safely staff eight gates,’” Georgas says. “To make the same crowd flow work on four gates instead of eight, you might need to open gates earlier to get people inside earlier, which helps with the gate crush from crowds coming at the last minute.”




“You could have a very secure environment, with no external threat, but you can still have serious crowd problems within your site.” DR. G. KEITH STILL

NCS4 ANNUAL CONFERENCE ALERT! The conference includes several sessions on crowd control, including a case study, challenges, strategies and more.

Other options include installing more portable cameras at gates, on walkways, and in parking lots, which would allow officials to properly gauge the crowd and be nimble with moving staff around to help manage that crowd. “You also might have to adjust attendance expectations,” Georgas adds. “If you are projecting 40,000 people but from a staffing perspective are not going to be able to manage that crowd, only sell 30,000 tickets. These are the kinds of discussions I’m assuming most operators are having while they’re trying to figure out the labor market.” Additionally, Georgas suggests utilizing supervisory staff members from other departments, if necessary. “Can you tap into your concessions service supervisors and make them evacuation captains to fill the void?” he asked. “They should be part of your ongoing emergency action plan, anyway. But if you’re going to do that, make sure you’re providing the training that’s necessary so they can be successful. Explain their duties and responsibilities, and make sure those people are comfortable. In the end, everybody plays a role in safety and security.” Indeed, training should remain a top priority — and not just via such organizations as the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). Consider daily interactions with crowd safety employees an opportunity for a quick pop quiz. “It takes me 30 seconds to ask a simple question: ‘If we need to evacuate, what are you supposed to do?’” Georgas says. “If that person knows the answer, great. Reinforce that positive behavior. If they don’t know, you’ve found a hole in your plan, and you can take another couple minutes to fix it. We’ve got to go to the next level every day. Every day is a training day, and every conversation can be a training conversation.”

AN EYE-OPENING MOMENT Crowd-management issues often can get slotted under the umbrella term “security,” but that’s not accurate, points out Dr. G. Keith Still, a visiting professor of crowd science at England’s University of Suffolk, who has written two textbooks on crowd safety (including Applied Crowd Science, published earlier this year by Routledge). He also teaches the NCS4 Fundamentals of Crowd Safety Level 3 qualification course and other online courses. Security refers to hardening access to prevent malicious intent, while safety involves protecting people against negligence or unsafe practices, such as allowing too many people into a confined space, not regulating or monitoring crowds, or failing to identify such obstacles as trip hazards. “You could have a very secure environment, with no external threat, but you can still have serious crowd problems within your site,” Still says, adding that individuals in his classes are both traditional students interested in crowd management as a career, as well as professionals already in the field — from venue operators to first responders. “When I define the differences between security and safety in one of the modules, it’s usually an eye-opening moment.”



CROWD CONTROL Still, who this year plans to add more course offerings to the crowd risk analysis programs he hosts on his website, claims that even well-trained professionals can become complacent. “We find people that run events and have not had an incident or a fatality, or they’ve had a close call or a near-miss, but they think, ‘We’re good.’ That’s fundamentally the underlying risk attitude that we’re trying to address,” Still says. “It’s called conditional bias. It’s like these event operators are driving while using their mobile phones. They feel reasonably confident because they’ve never had an accident.” Still likes to tell the story of a senior police official who joined the control team at the original Wembley Stadium, where Still worked at the time. “He had a tactic that had worked well at another stadium and said, ‘I know what I’m doing, because I’ve used this particular tactic for years,’” Still remembers. “He tried that tactic at Wembley, and everybody in the control room suddenly realized thousands of lives were at risk. So that’s where experience in one environment does not map onto another, and that’s what we teach. I can’t give you the experience of standing in a control room making decisions, but I can give you the knowledge and the theory so you can make the right decisions when you’re in that position.” Another factor that should be top of mind in planning discussions is the return of large crowds for everything from marathons to concerts and sporting events after two years of smaller (or even no) gatherings. Still warns that during the re-normalization phase, some attendees no doubt will over-zealously celebrate the lifting of facemask restrictions, while others might become contentious with added-safety protocols still in place, such as cashless transactions. “With budget constraints, coupled with inexperience, coupled with events restarting and enthusiastic crowds — you can see that there are challenges ahead,” Still says. “And you need to factor that environment into your overall safety planning. I’m excited that things are starting again, but I’m also very cautious. We don’t want to rush into an event that isn’t appropriately staffed or hasn’t got the right professionalism behind the planning.” l

CROWD MANAGEMENT COURSES AVAILABLE THROUGH NCS4 • Online Crowd Safety Course with Dr. G. Keith Still • eLearning Course: Crowd Manager Fundamentals • DHS-FEMA Course: Crowd Management for Sport and Special Events MGT-475 VISIT NCS4.USM.EDU/TRAINING FOR DETAILS OR TO REGISTER. G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | S UMME R 2 0 22



How Incentives to Change Crowd Behavior Have Often Failed When It Comes to Fans Rushing the Field of Play BY GIL FRIED Professor, University of West Florida WAY BACK IN 2004, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) passed rules fining teams when their fans stormed the field. It was hoped that these fines would change fan behavior. It was assumed that schools would try to prevent or minimize the likelihood of fan crowd rushes to avoid having to pay a fine. Crowds rushing the field were a concern not just for fans possibly injuring themselves, but also for players, coaches, officials and others who could be injured. As would be expected, the fines did not work as they were hoped. When crowds rushed the field, instead of the schools paying their own money, crowd funding was used to raise money so the universities would not need to pay out of their own pockets. As is normally seen with crowds, other conferences joined the bandwagon, and then various conferences adopted similar rules and penalties. These penalties were increased by the SEC during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings and are supposed to be imposed for violations in all sports sponsored by the Conference. Institutional penalties range from $50,000 for a first offense to fines of up to $100,000 for a second offense and up to $250,000 for third and subsequent offenses. Recently, both the Big 12 Conference and the Southeastern Conference fined member institutions for failing to control crowds at basketball games. The University of Texas was fined by the Big 12 Conference this season after fans stormed the court after a victory against the University of Kansas. The conference specifically examined the university’s court storming plan and how it did not provide adequate protections to safeguard visiting team personnel. Similarly, the SEC announced a fine against the University of Arkansas for a violation of the league’s “access to competition



area” policy when Arkansas fans stormed the court after an early February win against Auburn University. This was not Arkansas’ first brush with the conference and violating this rule. The university was fined $250,000 for a third offense, as Arkansas was fined earlier this past academic year for a violation following its football game against Texas. These fines, and how frequently they occur and how frequently fans (primarily students) rush fields and courts, clearly show that these penalties do not work. That led me to explore what might motivate people to change their behavior. This is important because over the last 20 years we have seen an uptick in strategies such as fan codes of conduct, banning fans from venues, increased security presence, increased use of technology, and other strategies to improve crowd behavior. Thus, what works? An article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives titled, “When and Why Incentives (Don’t) Work to Modify Behavior” (Uri Gneezy, Stephan Meier, and Pedro Rey-Biel) published in 2011 (doi=10.1257/jep.25.4.191) examined whether incentives to pay students to receive better grades or encourage them to read actually worked. Sometimes incentives will do their job and encourage students to improve their performance. Other times the incentive will do the exact opposite and discourage strong performance. As an example, offering incentives for improved academic performance may signal that achieving a specific goal is difficult, that the task is not attractive, or the student is not a strong student, and they need a reward to do well. Furthermore, once the motivation is removed, will there be interest in continuing to do well academically? Sometimes there was short-term success from incentives, and at other times, the long-term change was not seen for years. This is where intrinsic and extrinsic motivation both need to be

The article appeared in Sports Facilities and the Law (SFL). Subscriptions to SFL are free at explored to help determine what might motivate someone. The same holds true for punishment and what might motivate someone to stop a certain behavior.

are numerous studies that people know the harm caused by smoking (or alcohol or other possible vices), yet people often continue and justify their behavior for various reasons.

Red light cameras are a good example. These cameras often provide for significant fines if a driver runs through a red light. Instead of slowing down traffic and reducing the number of injuries, these cameras often caused more speeding and more accidents with people trying to get through a light as fast as possible or to slam on breaks to avoid a fine, thus resulting in an accident. This is an example of the law of unintended consequences.

So, what does this mean to fines for crowd rushes? The first thing to realize is that there is a tangible benefit for a behaved crowd, and that is a safer environment. Many fans do not think anything will happen to them. Thus, public service announcements (PSAs) from fans who have been seriously injured could be a benefit. Furthermore, PSAs played throughout the game on scoreboards can be effective if the message is from peers, star athletes and head coaches. Students especially might change their behavior if they realize that they will be prosecuted or subject to prosecution under a school’s codes of conduct – which could include being expelled from a university.

One interesting study highlighted the potential backfiring of penalties. In one experiment, an Israeli daycare began charging parents a small fine for arriving late. The result was an increase in the number of late pick-ups even in the short run. The parents did not initially know how important it was to arrive on time. When the parents registered for the daycare, they did not have a penalty for arriving late. The relatively small fine signaled that arriving late was not very important. Thus, parents took to arriving later and paying the fine. The question is does a fine work to change behavior? There are numerous studies that examined the benefits of exercise, yet many people do not get enough exercise. Similarly, there

The reason why one rarely sees professional sport field/court incursions is that the penalty would be significant and harsh. When schools are fined, the students do not see the harm to themselves. If students were to be personally fined or otherwise punished, they might change their behavior. I am not trying to be a stick in the mud, and as the saying goes, it is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Well people have been hurt, and there will be more harm in the future until rules/policies are changed.

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The pandemic changed the event management landscape, and now operators are implementing lessons learned when it comes to hiring, training and retaining staff. By Michael Popke THE CHALLENGES OF THE PAST TWO YEARS — developing new strategies to attract employees from a shallow labor pool, enforcing mask mandates, implementing vaccine-verification practices — have tested the fortitude of event management professionals and their teams. And while the worst might be over, the lessons learned during this unprecedented period are just starting to pave the way for better operations. “Everybody’s looking for new ways to improve,” says Jessica Reid-Bateman, director of guest experience for the SAP Center at San Jose, home of the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks. “The pandemic taught us that we have to be more resilient.” Resiliency can take numerous forms. The SAP Center at San Jose, for example, shifted its hiring emphasis from job fairs to advertising for ushers and other event staff via social media, in-game announcements, electronic signage, and good old-fashioned word of mouth from existing employees. Applicants are asked to participate in a video screening process during which they answer five questions. Those making it past that round are quickly scheduled for an in-person interview. “We can’t wait weeks to respond to a job candidate now,” Reid-Bateman says. “The days of having a hiring fair and seeing 500 people show up aren’t here anymore. The workforce today is much more diverse in how they look for jobs — and what they look for in jobs.” Indeed, engagement is critical to employee satisfaction, according to Drew Pittman, associate athletics director for event management and facilities at Baylor University. Most of Baylor’s event workers are managed by a third party, but that doesn’t mean they’re not part of the university’s staffing family. “When we do a promotion where we put T-shirts on all the seats, we set aside an appropriate number of those shirts for the staff working that game,” Pittman says. “We also were able to bring employee parking closer to the stadium for football games, so they don’t have to get on a shuttle G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | S UMME R 2 0 22



NCS4 ANNUAL CONFERENCE ALERT! The conference includes several sessions on staffing, including building an effective team, staff training and communication.

bus anymore. Parking can set the stage for how your day is going to go. It’s the first impression we make with our guests, and it’s the first impression we make with our staff.” Pre-pandemic, event management officials at Duke University would host a “supervisors’ night” prior to the first home football game to review responsibilities and gameday protocol. That preseason gathering is now more vital than ever. “This past year, we extended invites to more entities than before in order to get everybody in the same room,” says Becca Wilusz, assistant director of athletics for game operations, championships and events for Duke Athletics, who estimates 80 in-house and third-party supervisors from entities as diverse as disability management and parking attended. “We did tabletop exercises so they could meet each other, talk and learn from each other. One of the big things the pandemic robbed from everyone was the ability to not only sustain relationships but to also create new relationships. And when you’re talking about all these new staff members — and potentially lots of new supervisors — creating opportunities to build relationships is so important. If we could build those, then we could be successful and get better and better each week.”

WORKING WITH THIRD PARTIES Unlike some other colleges and universities, Baylor uses a single third-party company for event management staff rather than multiple companies. But Pittman, who oversees a staff of 11 in-house employees, explains that the university takes a hands-on role in training individuals brought onboard by Rhino Sports & Entertainment Services, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company with an office in Waco, Texas, where Baylor is located. “We’re not the ones doing the recruiting and interviewing and hiring, but we’re an active participant with them in trying to strategize about the type of employees we’re looking to hire, the type of training we want them to have, and the goals we want our employees to accomplish,” he says. Baylor also works with Rhino to set pay rates, which in turn allows the university to be flexible based on what the market dictates. The university also covers training costs for outsourced third-party employees, something Pittman says is more common now than it was, say, five years ago. “We have some fairly high expectations for both the guest experience aspect and the safety aspect,” he says, citing the importance of consistency in training to ensure all event staff members are on the same page. “We attend Rhino training sessions, and we try to get to know everybody and put a name with a face,” he says. “With 11 staff members and upwards of 400 employees at a football game, sometimes that’s tough. But I guarantee our staff working basketball games can identify every one of the 80 or 100 employees, because they spend time around them and ask them questions. Hey, how are your kids doing? How’s Grandma and Grandpa? That seems to be what people appreciate the most.”



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Prepares participants to identify and navigate the sport and special event communication landscape before, during and after an incident. This interdisciplinary course brings planners, operators, communication, government, public safety, marketing and public relations professionals together to prepare and/or enhance venue and event communication programs.


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STAFF SUPPORT All that effort is paying off. Several Rhino employees who work Baylor football games traveled from Waco to New Orleans for the 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Caesars Superdome, where the Bears defeated Ole Miss, 21-7. “It’s definitely a situation where you’re going to get out what you put into it,” Pittman says about establishing strong employee engagement. “The more you invest with [your events team] — even if it’s just as simple as learning and remembering their names — the more dividends you’re going to reap.”

NHL’s St. Louis Blues in 1998 at what was then the Kiel Center (now the Enterprise Center).

“I jokingly tell people that I’m always amazed I made it past the third event, because I felt woefully unprepared,” she says. “So when I became a manager, In the wake of the pandemic, investing with staff members and making them feel comfortable in their positions was a top priority one of my responsibilities was new-hire training, and I said I was never going to let what happened to when venues began welcoming back guests. The SAP Center at me happen to somebody else. We’re not expecting San Jose uses a combination of in-house employees and thirdanybody to come in the door and have 10 years of party partners to staff events, and all of them were forced to ushering experience, but we are expecting folks to adapt to a changed world. have an understanding of how to solve a problem — even if the answer is just getting help from somebody “Normally, we’re dealing with a guest concern because else. As long as somebody is understanding the somebody might be sitting in their seat, or they accidentally concepts of what our positions hold, we can teach spilled their soda,” Reid-Bateman says, noting that such them the skills of how to de-escalate. We can teach COVID-19 protocols as facemask requirements and proof of them how to read a ticket and how to do a seat vaccination were in place at the arena from September 2020 relocation.”


“I truly believe that if people know what’s expected of them, they can exceed those expectations.” JESSICA REID-BATEMAN to April 2021. “Having to explain to a guest that they’re not fully vaccinated was a new challenge, and I think the team really stepped up in amazing ways, considering that we — like everybody else — lost a lot of our institutional knowledge.” While fans who responded negatively to COVID-19-related safety measures were referred to team leaders when a situation escalated, Reid-Bateman says frontline employees had to learn a new set of skills that three years ago were unimaginable. “We’re working very hard now to make sure that, if something else were to occur in the future, we don’t have that institutional knowledge gap,” she says. “We’re diversifying our training and making sure that we have multiple team members who are versed in different parts of our operation.” Reid-Bateman especially enjoys hiring high school students as ushers. Usually, it’s their first paid position, and they’re enthusiastic learners. Her first job also was as an usher, for the



Reid-Bateman also hopes to roll out a career mapping strategy this fall that will help new and existing team members better understand not only their current position, but also give them a sense of belonging and provide a transparent view of the skills and attributes required to advance within the organization. “I truly believe that if people know what’s expected of them, they can exceed those expectations,” she says.

RE-EVALUATING “ESSENTIAL” The event management staff at Duke University struggled with pandemic-related challenges, too, which were complicated by the fact that five of the seven in-house team members were new hires for the 2021-22 academic year. Their baptism by fire included Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 42nd and final season coaching in the cozy confines of 82-yearold Cameron Indoor Stadium, where Wilusz says the strictest of COVID-19 protocols were in place. Her team implemented on-site testing for fans who either didn’t provide proof of vaccination or didn’t get tested prior to arrival. With fans paying tens of thousands of dollars for regular-season tickets, “we had to give people every possible option to get into

STAFF SUPPORT the stadium,” she says, adding that despite the university’s proactive approach to mitigation, her team experienced staff shortages. “Even veteran staff members weren’t comfortable yet coming back and being around large crowds, or they couldn’t risk potential exposure to COVID-19 because they had higher risk individuals at home,” she says. “Plus, we were still masking [at outdoor events] during the fall 2021 semester, and there were staff who didn’t agree with masking. So they did not come back to work.” Wilusz and her event management team took the term “essential employees” to heart and considered ways to adjust staffing numbers while still maintaining safety and security standards. “For us, operating for an entire year without fans and just essential personnel in the venue was a true lesson in what ‘essential’ really is,” she says. “Can we run a soccer game with seven people instead of 14? There are lots of lessons from the pandemic, and one of them is that we can eliminate some of the fluff that has been built in over time and ask ourselves what we truly need. How do we more appropriately scale staffing based on attendance in our venues?” That doesn’t mean Duke’s staffing shortage has been completely eradicated. Even with thirdparty partners, finding the staff to work football games became a headache last fall, especially considering teams from three major Atlantic Coast Conference schools (Duke, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina) are located within a 30-mile radius of each other. Some Saturdays, all three universities hosted home football games. Wilusz also continually makes working Duke Athletics events an even more desirable gig. Recognition and rewards programs, frequent personal interactions, and creating a sense of


The NCS4 has launched a new eLearning platform, NCS4 LEARN, which provides opportunities for individuals and organizations to access asynchronous professional development opportunities. Current offerings include: • Certified Sports Venue Staff (CSVS) Training • Crowd Manager Fundamentals • Senior Leader Course: Sports and Entertainment Security Please visit the website or contact us at if you have any questions or would like to inquire about bulk registration. NCS4.USM.EDU/TRAINING

STAFF SUPPORT belonging go a long way toward accomplishing that mission. But she and her management team recently took things a step further and requested feedback from supervisors and staff about what else they need to be successful on gamedays.

“Operating for an entire year without fans and just essential personnel in the venue was a true lesson in what ‘essential’ really is.” BECCA WILUSZ

“We provide all of these resources, like a staff information book, but when we asked if it was useful to them, they told us it’s too big and clunky; it’s too hard to find information quickly,” Wilusz says. “So we completely redid a lot of our staff resources and highlighted the most important five to seven things they need to know.” The goal was to help make a job that can leave some employees feeling anxious a little less overwhelming. “We know the most common questions they get: Where are the nearest restrooms? Which way do I go if there’s a stadium evacuation? Where do I catch the gameday shuttles? Rather than have all that information buried in a big book, it’s on the back of a card attached to a lanyard around their neck so they can easily read it. We’re trying to make life easier for them by improving their experience, so that their interactions can be as positive as possible.” l



Legalized sports betting has gone mainstream — and created new security threats. By Michael Popke THE MENACING DIRECT MESSAGES SENT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA in 2019 targeted Major League Baseball players. One graphically promised to “behead” a player and “gas your daughters and then sever their throats open with a dull knife.” Another threatened to “behead” a player’s family. Some professional athletes, especially high-profile ones, have grown accustomed to fan threats, but these were more sinister. They were sent by sports bettor Ben Patz from various Instagram and Twitter accounts to players who’d cost him money. But those players fought back, taking their concerns to Major League Baseball, which in turn contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Before long, the FBI learned about similar messages Patz had sent to other professional athletes that boldly announced intentions to “brutally rape and murder your family.” Patz also threatened to “burn alive” the relatives of a college baseball player, and he even bragged to the girlfriend of another MLB player that he would “enter your home while you sleep and end both of you.” Better known as “Parlay Patz,” the then 24-year-old was sentenced to 36 months of probation in June 2021 after pleading guilty to transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce. He also is banned from any future gambling or betting activities. According to The Action Network, a leading source for betting sports fans, Patz had previously been on a hot streak, pocketing more than $1.1 million in gross winnings via parlays in 50 days during 2019. “This was a benchmark case,” says Beto Quiroga, supervisory special agent who is part of the FBI’s Integrity in Sport and Gaming (ISG) Program, established in 2018. “It shows people they’re not going to get away with this kind of behavior.” “The fact that the federal government is willing to prosecute somebody over threats related to betting sends a warning, and it is precedent-setting,” agrees Jason Van’t Hof, intelligence analyst for National Football League Security-Game Integrity. “Sports betting has been an aspect of our culture for a long time, but now you’re going to see it become more of a mainstream industry — and more commonplace in our society.” G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | S UMME R 2 0 22



“The fact that the federal government is willing to prosecute somebody over threats related to betting sends a warning, and it is precedent-setting.” JASON VAN’T HOF

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Indeed, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) in 2018 — clearing the way for legalized sports betting in all 50 states — online betting commercials have become as familiar as ads for beer and automobiles on professional sports telecasts.


Not long after the repeal of PASPA, the FBI introduced its Integrity in Sport and Gaming Program, developed to protect athletes and sports institutions in the United States from criminal threats and influences. While it focuses on illegal gambling and illegal sports betting operations, match-fixing, bribery, and corruption, the program also works to identify doping, fraud and extortion. The FBI program partners include sports leagues and governing bodies, international law enforcement organizations, and independent watchdog groups. Additionally, FBI agents and analysts regularly meet with athletes and team personnel to help them understand ways in which they might be approached or affected by criminal actors and how to protect themselves. Word is spreading about the program as it evolves organically, says Erin Omahen, management and program analyst in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Omahen and Quiroga are part of the ISG Program, which also includes intelligence personnel and ISG coordinators within FBI field offices around the country.) “I encourage venue operators to contact their FBI points of contact about suspicious or illegal activity,” Omahen says. “We want to help them combat security concerns related to sports betting.”

WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING According to, a sports gaming information website, 19 states offered legal online sports betting as of May 2; additional states allow only in-person betting. That said, a variety of bills have been introduced in several states where sports betting is not yet legal, and industry observers expect the total number of states allowing some form of legalized sports wagering to increase this year and into 2023. While the legalization of sports betting likely is deterring some people from utilizing offshore sports books or meeting up with the stereotypical bookie in the basement, the reality is that a lack of regulatory consistency from state to state, as well as confusion about which betting platforms are legal and regulated in specific states, presents challenges for both bettors and law enforcement.




Thursday, June 30 8:30-9:30 a.m. National Ballroom The FBI notes that there are two schools of thought when it comes to the legalization of sports betting. The first is that while some believe legalized sports betting reduces the allure of illegal gambling, others believe that illegal gambling will still occur regardless of its legality in various jurisdictions. Opportunities still exist for corruption in both legal and illegal betting markets. Plus, as the Patz case illustrates, bettors can easily threaten physical harm to players they blame for losing a big payday. “From a security perspective, with the increased prevalence of sports wagering and related advertising, there does appear to be a quicker leap by both general fans and the gambling community to allege that a game is rigged, or someone is trying to shave points than there was before,” Van’t Hof says. “But you know, mistakes happen in games. Calls are missed, catches are not caught, and there are plays that just don’t work out the way they’re supposed to.”

HIGH STAKES Most people, he acknowledges, let things like that go and move on. Then there are people like Patz, whom Van’t Hof also says attempted to contact players prior to games he was betting on to intimidate them. Last fall, the NFL launched a comprehensive responsible betting education and awareness initiative. This was the key message: Play responsibly by sticking to a game plan, which includes setting a budget, using licensed and regulated operators, and asking for help if needed. As part of the initiative, the league made a multimilliondollar, multi-year commitment to significantly expand its long-standing partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) — a leading advocacy group that addresses problem gambling through public education programs and help services. The NFL’s funding assists NCPG with its national grant program to fund enhanced services offered by local and state providers, as well as innovative prevention programs that include expansion of youth-facing curricula. The partnership also resulted in the creation of, which offers tips for safe betting and support resources for those who need them. Additionally, the NFL has a “robust” policy that defines what is and is not allowed when it comes to players,

staff and front office personnel betting on sports, Van’t Hof notes. The league monitors all aspects related to betting odds on its games, and it regularly participates in integrity-related information-sharing with law enforcement, regulators, other sports leagues and legal sports betting operators — including the NFL’s official betting partners (Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel). Many allegations of illegal sports betting, threats and other violations stem from social media, while others come from intelligence-gathering and information-sharing with liaisons. “We all want the same thing,” Van’t Hof says, “and that’s a fair game that people can enjoy and trust, knowing that the integrity of the game is sound.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Combating illegal activity surrounding legalized sports betting can begin at the local level by contacting statewide regulatory entities in charge of establishing boundaries for betting operators. Van’t Hof also suggests connecting with the state-level law enforcement agency tasked with investigating gambling cases and sports betting-related matters.


“I encourage venue operators to contact their FBI points of contact about suspicious or illegal activity. We want to help them combat security concerns related to sports betting.” EDITORIAL CREDIT: SERGEI BACHLAKOV | SHUTTERSTOCK.COM


“Many stadium security people have law enforcement backgrounds,” he says. “Using those familiar networks and sharing information between law enforcement agencies and sports security can be a great start to gaining an increased overall understanding of the trends and what is occurring in sports betting. This is a hot topic, and there seems to be a lot of buy-in from people who want to find out more. Outside of Nevada, the most mature sports betting market just reached its fourth birthday. So we do not have a very mature market nationally, but there is still great work being done.” Four years after the overturning of PASPA, this much is clear: Vigilance is imperative, as sports book operators find new ways to better engage with fans. This includes accelerating the prevalence of in-game betting, during which individuals can wager what type of play the offense will run next, or what the outcome of that play will be. “As betting opportunities continue to grow, the potential threats and impacts increase,” Omahen says, adding that lesser-known athletes, game officials, and even sports reporters increasingly could be at risk from revengeseeking bettors. “The possibilities are endless.” Quiroga says some bad actors now are targeting lower-profile athletes in sports such as tennis, where betting occurs on a point-by-point basis, often referred to as “spot betting.” Those players might be more willing to throw a point here and there than higher profile ones, he notes. The NCAA’s rule changes last fall regarding name, image and likeness (NIL) rights for college athletes also likely will impact sports betting and game integrity, although it remains to be seen how, according to Omahen. Might, for example, some players with smaller NIL deals be more vulnerable to engage in potential corruption to pad their earnings? Ultimately, an entity such as the NFL views the emergence of legalized sports betting as a positive development — especially when compared to the alternative. “Are there still challenges? Yes. Is it going to completely eradicate any illegal sports betting? No,” Van’t Hof says. “But this is something we need to focus on and be aware of what’s going on.” l



National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security




Please mark your calendar and make plans to join us! Details coming this fall.


The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus | Long Beach, MS


Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center College Station, TX

TARGET AUDIENCE Security directors and operators, facility and stadium managers, event planners/operators, law enforcement personnel, emergency managers, fire/HAZMAT, emergency medical/health services, athletic administrators and governmental representatives These are individuals representing or supporting: marathon and endurance events or intercollegiate athletics. G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | S UMME R 2 0 22



The 14th annual National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition will take place June 27-29, 2023, at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The gathering of top safety and security professionals across multiple disciplines provides a versatile and intimate environment dedicated to innovative technologies, products, services and educational programming. Please mark your calendar and make plans to join us! Full conference details will be released later this year.

TARGET AUDIENCE Security directors and operators, facility and stadium managers, event planners/operators, law enforcement personnel, emergency managers, fire/HAZMAT, emergency medical/health services, athletic administrators and governmental representatives These are individuals representing or supporting: professional sports leagues, intercollegiate athletics, interscholastic athletics, marathon and endurance events, and sport and entertainment facilities (concerts, festivals, e-sports, convention centers, etc.).



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