SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2017

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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Page 19 of 75

March 2017 20 ONE- on- ONE t One-on-One features an interview with an influential member of the sports community concerning a specific topic. This month Dr. Louis Marciani, Director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi, discusses security for running events. Each April, tens of thousands of partici- pants and hundreds of thousands of spec- tators descend upon the streets of Boston for the mecca of marathons, most fulfilling a lifelong dream of running in or simply watching this annual spectacle. Nearly four years have passed since the Boston Marathon gained headlines around the world for the terrorist bombing that killed three and injured several hundred. Of those injured,16 lost limbs. While planners of open outdoor events such as marathons always have prepared for security and safety measures, the Boston Marathon bombing made those concerns all too real. A heightened focus prompted the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi to create a committee of experts to address the need for height- ened security. The National Marathon and Running Events Safety and Security Summit is an annual meeting of individuals from sport and athletic associations, event operations teams, public safety agencies, USA Track Field, Running USA and the Ironman World Championships. They identify current safety and security issues, discuss solutions and create future strategies. The result is the Marathon and Running Events Safety and Security Best Practices Guide, which is available free to anyone. According to Dr. Louis Marciani, director of the NCS4, detailed planning should be a critical part of every race. "If you're going to have an event, you have to plan for safety and security," Marciani said. "It takes several people in the community to be involved — the race orga- nizers, local law enforcement, emergency management, fire department, city planners — all sitting down and creating an opera- tions plan for the event, which ties in with the emergency plan as well, so that every- thing is thought through. The resources are there, the training is there and the people are there so you have an event that is safe for the community." Although that might sound like a heavy workload, lives are at stake. "It starts off with planning and organizing a committee," Marciani said. "It's a year- round process and it comes down to peo- ple, processes and technology to make that event wholesome." The NCS4 is preparing its third Best Practices Guide, which is the result of the top race organizers in the United States sharing their experiences. "The trigger was the Boston Marathon," Marciani said. "Things changed imme- diately after the Boston Marathon in our country. People became very concerned about their events. There are a thousand marathons alone, besides regular track and field events. We were very fortunate to be working with a great bunch of people who are in charge of the major marathons in this country. "We formed a committee and then the committee decided we would meet once a year to study the issues in the sport and to continue to enhance that process. We just finished our third session. Three years in a row we've met in December with the top 25 thought leaders to look at issues and the practices." Marciani said that meeting regularly is key to staying on top of the latest threats. Planners should consider security plans as living documents so planners can respond to emerging challenges. "It's always the issue of looking at what's going on in the world," Marciani said. "You are looking at things that could impede an event. Look at what happened in Nice, France, in regard to trucks maybe com- ing onto the course to disrupt an event. So barriers are a new concern to protect the course from a truck. You are always concerned about explosives and how you manage those incidents as well as prepare for them." Marciani stressed that the size of an event doesn't matter. Security is imperative for every open outdoor venue. The thought that terrible things won't happen based on the size of the event or the city where it is held is dangerous. "I think all of us have to be conscious today about our surroundings and be vigi- lant," Marciani said. "Being vigilant means you have to be proactive in your strate- gies when organizing an event. Maybe you attract 500 to 1,000 but those are still human beings who could be affected. As a true leader, you have to go through the same principles that people would be doing with other races that are larger and higher magnitude." There are best practices that you should engage regardless of the size of the race. ► BY JOHN REZELL One- on- One Heightened Focus On Security Marciani

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