There is a lot of attention recently surrounding the NFL’s new security requirements that only allow clear handbags and totes of a certain size be allowed into stadiums on game day. There has been a lot of grumbling about ‘security theater’ and complaints that the clear handbags and totes mandate creates a false sense of security. Some say they are doing little to actually improve security. A local television news show in Denver, for example, has managed to smuggle various objects including guns into Mile high Stadium on Game Days. They felt the need to test the new clear handbags and totes mandate and the handheld metal detector over everyone who enters. The conclusion they came to is that security still needs improvement. They state that required bags like those sold at The Clear Bag Store would be allowed into stadiums are simply ‘security placebos.’ This is actually half right.
The fact is, ‘security theater’ does exist. You see it in fine form on Game Day at stadiums around the country. The idea that a few poorly-trained and low-paid security professionals can handle the influx of tens of thousands of people dressed in bulky clothing is ludicrous. Of course the news show was able to smuggle a gun into the stadium. If you were to impose effective security procedures on a crowd of that size, it would take days for everyone to enter the stadium. Or, ticket prices would balloon overnight to cover the cost of high-tech security equipment installation.
There is always a price to be paid for being able to enjoy something. To ensure that absolutely nothing could ever go wrong at a football game would require the imposition of truly untenable security policies. That the NFL opts for a bit of theater instead is understandable.
The Triumph of Clear Handbags and Totes
That does not, however, mean that the NFL All Clear policy is useless as a security tool. In fact, it’s one of the few security policies that does actually increase security to a great extent, for a variety of reasons:
- The clear handbags and totes policy cuts down on the amount of alcohol brought surreptitiously into stadiums, as the bags are too small and bottles too obvious in them. Alcohol-related incidents of fighting and abuse at NFL games – sadly common – have dropped as a result.
- Clear handbags and totes also make any other sort of bag, like a duffel bag or a drawstring backpack, stand out. When no one else has a backpack or other bag, a single person carrying one becomes immediately obvious. The stringent requirements of the policy also reduces the number of bags overall, making it easier to spot and intercept violators.
- Objects can still be hidden in clothing, especially in inclement weather. The lack of a bag reduces the scale and number of objects that can be effectively hidden.
No security policy will be 100% effective, and its doubtless news shows will be smuggling objects into Mile High Stadium for some time. But that’s not because clear handbags and totes are security theater – they’re one of the few things that aren’t.