The NFL season officially kicked off last week and a new league-wide policy went into effect that has interesting implications for all sports, including endurance events. Per NFL.com, the 2013 Stadium Bag Policy reads:
“To provide a safer environment for the public and significantly expedite fan entry into stadiums, NFL teams will implement an NFL policy this year that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into stadiums.”
The only bags allowed in stadiums are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12” or a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc). So fans have to ditch the purses, backpacks, seat cushions, and more…which has potential to significantly change the culture of football games. (We’ll leave the intense fan reaction for another post!)
Why did they do it? Posted on NFL.com/AllClear is the overarching reason. “This is about both safety and improving the overall fan experience.”
Sound familiar? We have heard that exact statement over and over from endurance event directors. Just like you, the NFL management is focusing on the safety and experience of their customers. But as so many of you have told us, balancing those two things can be tough. And with Boston Marathon fresh in everyone’s mind, safety is carrying a heavy weight.
If this mandate does ripple out to other large sporting events, think about how it might impact endurance races. What would happen if participants and spectators were only allowed a small, clear bag? Endurance events are obviously much more spread out than an NFL game, so is it even possible to enforce a policy like this at start and finish lines? How many more law enforcement officers and volunteers would be needed? And is it even necessary, or are we just sensitive due to the recent tragedies in our community?
We don’t know the answers, and time will tell how this new rule will impact the NFL, but we should all keep watch. The NFL is running an experiment that we can learn from and hopefully it will reveal ways we can increase safety, without sacrificing the participant experience.
What do you think about the NFL’s rule and its potential effect on the endurance world? Leave a comment!