Sunday, October 10, 2010

Game Day Experience In Athens


Athletic Director Greg McGarity mentioned last week that he was eager to begin taking a serious look at improving the game day experience in Sanford Stadium.

I fully support his effort to reduce the number of times we play “canned” music and some badly produced announcements on a very loud jumbotron. The clips from past games narrated by Larry Munson are well done and do a great job of getting the crowd ready just before kickoff. It’s the music selection that at times gets downright obnoxious and way too loud. I agree that if the Red Coat Band is in the stadium, they should provide the music.

It’s a college football game, it should feel like one.

What it should not feel like is that you are entering a zone that appears to be number one on Homeland Security’s terrorist hit list. I have attended games in every other SEC venue and in over 40 other locations but I have never encountered the number of law enforcement personnel that I have to get through to reach my seats in Sanford Stadium. I don’t mind having them present and I understand that they are needed. It’s the in your face attitude of having them form a wall that you must pass through as soon as you enter that leaves me wondering if our opponent is from the SEC or Iran.














The above picture has nine officers from different agencies positioned at the top of the steps. The picture below is at the bottom of the steps and there are nine more.













This is just one gate, if you enter through the gate near the bookstore (2 & 2A) you will find as many or more standing in formation.

Is it that dangerous to attend a game in the middle of the day?

I can’t remember what year it was the last time I saw a fight but it was before the east end of the stadium was enclosed.

I sat by some out of town fans recently and couldn’t help but overhear them discussing how different it felt entering the stadium. One older gentleman said that he expected to look up and see a guard tower, another felt they were about to pose for a mug shot and be finger printed.

Even the coaches meeting at midfield after the game looks like a scene from NYPD Blue. There are two coaches and seven officers protecting them from some type of perceived threat. Are these officers on state time or are they paid by the university to provide security? Either way it seems a little too much.













Maybe the purpose is to make everyone aware that they are present but the show of force level seems more in line with riot control than fan awareness.

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