Safety Concerns at Sporting Events
Are you ready for some……..VIOLENCE?!?!
Football season is officially upon us and Philadelphia Eagles fans do not disappoint! The first game wasn’t even in the books yet, and we made major headlines. Granted, we have had a long-standing tradition, or embarrassment, depending on where you align yourself, of being rough on outside fans. Who can forget the “battery” incident or throwing snowballs at Santa Claus?? Eager to outdo themselves, at the home opener, a group of tailgaters tried to beat the lights out of an individual wearing a Washington Redskins jersey…..someone that just happened to be Mike Scott, a professional basketball athlete for…..wait for it….the PHILADELPHIA 76ers!
Now, I will pause to let the irony -or stupidity- sink in for a second, that a Philadelphia Sports fan could have sidelined a professional athlete from Philadelphia…
So, this got me to thinking, how can you protect yourself if you happen to be wearing the wrong jersey in the wrong sporting venue. What if violence finds you, even when you aren’t looking for it. What if you have your wife and/or children with you? Here are some tips to help, should something like this happen to you.
1: Keep situationally aware and avoid it. Don’t focus on anything but where you’re walking, and how you’ll get there. Keep an eye out for pre-incident indicators. In this case, the [insert appropriate expletive] drunken fan with a microphone that is instigating the crowd. If you can see it ahead, you can avoid it and walk away before it comes to you. If it is in your face, it is too late.
2: If it happens near you or to you, and you can’t avoid it. If you happen to be the unlucky individual that gets surrounded because of a jersey, there are a couple things you can do.
There are two basic scenarios here….
Scenario 1: The crowd is taunting and jeering, but not physical- simply surrounding you:
If the crowd is only hurling insults your way or “talking smack”- do not feed into it. Attempt to find way through the crowd. Hands up, open, palms out and near your chin…envision a cop drama where they are pleading with the guy that has the gun. This is a position that can provide you with some defense if a punch is thrown but is less provoking than balled up fists. Continue to politely move through the crowd in this fashion until you make it through. Also, sometimes going back the way you came is much easier. You’ll be insulted further, but who cares?
Scenario 2: The crowd becomes physically violent:
Let me be clear, this is a horrible situation and everything at this point is up in the air. There is no way to predict the outcome of a physical altercation, and it becomes exponentially more dangerous and unpredictable when you offer more than one attacker. However, there some basics you can follow:
- Control the position. This is something that can be done during the “talking” phase. Position yourself to one of the extreme edges of the group, never in the center. As the chatter becomes more intense, make sure you keep this in mind and maneuver so that you are on the right or left flank at all times. If you can, check out the people in the group, and find the one that seems to be the weakest link, and align yourself next to that individual.
- Control the movement. If things go South, do your best to keep things linear, not circular. If you keep the group in a line, you create distance between you and the other attackers. Move to one side or the other to keep from getting surrounded.
- Control the “scary”. Basically, hit first, hit fast, and hit hard. Psychology can be an ally here. If you crumble one of them with a well-placed kick to a kneecap, drop them with an elbow or knee to the nose or throat, or in some other way incapacitate one of the attackers, chances are you will take the fight out of the others. You will at least get a window of opportunity to flee while they are second guessing their approach. Remember as always, time and distance equal safety.
Hopefully this event has caused some tailgaters and fans to reassess how they choose to interact with fans from the opposing team, but just in case you find yourself in the same situation that Mike Scott did this past Sunday, these tips will help keep you safe.
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