Are You Ready for Some…Pat-Downs?

Remember the outrage a few months back when TSA initiated pat-downs for travelers who didn’t want to go through revealing backscatter screenings? Well, get ready for another pat-down outcry: The NFL is instituting them for all fans who enter its teams’ stadiums. Such pat-down screenings were previously reserved for those suspected of bringing in alcohol or weapons.

Thankfully, the pat-downs are not as thorough as those TSA implemented. Security officials search from ankles to knees and from the waist up, so there will be no awkward complaints about “meeting resistance” as we had with the TSA outcry.

Frankly, I’m a little disheartened by this news. The NFL already prohibits so many items at its stadiums that your body is pretty much the only thing you can bring—and now they’re going to search that, too. I doubt that this will deter people from attending games–very little could come between American and football – but I bet NFL fans are going to find a game to be a grouchier experience, especially while they’re standing in the interminably long entry lines that will result from the policy.

But more deflating is the possibility that this could just be the very beginning of a trend of deploying pat-downs wherever we want to reduce the ever-present risk our lives confront. I have (lukewarmly) defended the TSA’s measures in the past, but such strict security measures are warranted based on the history and probability of terrorist attacks on the aviation system. While security remains a concern anytime you have a crowd, in the absence of a specific threat, NFL games are no less safe today than they were ten years ago. While implementing pat-downs will make the games safer (because no activity is risk-free), there is no indication that they were unsafe to begin with.

I worry that this move will set a pat-down precedent: Worried about something unsafe happening at your facility? Search everyone who enters the building! It’s that easy to make your life safer! This would make pat-downs a normal part of life. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where I get frisked every time I enter a building.

What do you think? Are the pat-downs necessary or are they overkill?

Posted by Laura Williams on Sep 19, 2011

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