Civil Liberties

NFL Bans Purses and Backpacks, Limits Fans to One Gallon-Sized Baggie


What? I wasn't trying to sneak any food in. I swear.
Credit: White House

With one month until the kickoff of the 2013 season, the NFL may be turning into the new TSA.

The National Football League's heightened security measures, announced this week, have similarities to the methods implemented in airports and elsewhere by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In fact, DHS gave the NFL its stamp of approval for the new strictures.

From plastic baggies to metal detectors, the NFL's precautions will make football fans feel like harassed airline travelers. Those measures, explains security expert Bruce Schneier, are "often are nothing more than security theater, making people feel safer without actually increasing their protection."

"To provide a safer environment" in light of tragedies like 9/11 and the Boston Bombing, the NFL now prohibits ticket holders from setting foot in the games while carrying backpacks, purses, fanny packs, seat cushions, and many other items.

Although "the NFL strongly encourages fans to not bring any type of bags," the league concedes that each fan will be permitted to carry a single transparent bag that does not exceed 12"x6"x12". The new measures were tested this Sunday at the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.

"I had to hide my purse under a concrete barrier," said fan Brooke Cantu.

"Public safety is our top priority," insists Jeffrey Miller, NFL vice president and chief security officer in an official announcement. "This will make the job of checking items much more efficient and effective," he adds. In addition to bag checks, a secondary perimeter will be set up around stadiums so that security can make preemptive moves to stop contraband items from entering the premises.

"Will teams be making money from selling team identified bags to fans?" asks the NFL's FAQ. Yes. Fans can purchase "an inexpensive Ziploc bag," a gallon bag with "no commercial identification," or ones with the team logos. Although no price is stated there, the NFL's online store lists a variety transparent bags ranging from $9.95 to $12.95.

Although some teams allow small amounts of food or bottled water, there is no league-wide policy. Nevertheless, throughout the NFL, fans pay an average of over $7 for beer and nearly $5 a piece for soft drinks and hot dogs, after spending nearly $80 on tickets, according to a study by CNBC.

Citing poor "in-stadium experience," a similar study by NBC finds that attendance has dropped at NFL games by 4.5 percent since 2007.

Since 2001, the NFL has progressively beefed up security measures. The league claims has moved from visual inspections to item bans, increasingly thorough pat-downs and metal detector screenings. "This security posture has been certified by the Department of Homeland Security," boasts NFL security representative and former FBI agent Vince delaMontaigne "it's the only league that has this."

Security is both a feeling and a reality, and the two are different things. People can feel secure when they're actually not, and they can be secure even when they believe otherwise. 

This discord explains much of what passes for our national discourse on security policy. Security measures often are nothing more than security theater, making people feel safer without actually increasing their protection.

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  1. "In light of tragedies like 9/11 and the Boston Bombing."

    Never let a good crisis go to waste. All in the name of public safety of course. Seriously, this just gives me more incentive to just stay at home and watch on the big screen.


      *cowers in corner

  2. Yes another reason to watch from home. As if there weren't already plenty.

  3. What Muy and Adam said.

    Fuck you, NFL.

    Although, perversely, I'd really love to see Black Sunday played out in real life.

  4. Great. Now I'm stuck with just a single gallon of vodka stuffed down my shorts. Thanks, terrorists.

    1. Just put it in a bladder and tell them it's a colostomy bag.

      1. Your genius meter is PEGGED today, HazelMeade!


      2. Of course, with 1Buck's luck, he'll get the one security guard who's a scat-porn freak...

        1. The one who's a scat-porn freak?

  5. Um, yeah, cause this is for "safety" and not so people will be forced to buy snacks and drinks from the vendors inside the stadium.

    1. ^^^^This.

      Soon they'll be patting us down at movie theaters - for SAFETY.

    2. It's (ostensibly) private property. The NFL is free to be dicks with their customers. The NFL makes it easier since the nationalism aspect of it is as absurd as pro-wrestling is real. I for one, am liberated by a lack of fuck giving. Freedom baby!

      1. I won't be happy until the NFL starts killing its customers.

        Seriously, supply and demand is what creates this shit. And I can guarantee that these rules will not apply to the people entering at the luxury suite gates.

      2. If the public is going to be compelled to pay for the stadium, the public should have the right to bring whatever snacks and drinks they damn well please into said stadium.

  6. "Public safety is our top priority," insists Jeffrey Miller, NFL vice president and chief security officer in an official announcement. "This will make the job of checking items much more efficient and effective," he adds. In addition to bag checks, a secondary perimeter will be set up around stadiums so that security can make preemptive moves to stop contraband items from entering the premises.

    I'm sure attendance will not suffer in the slightest from this humiliating exercise in kabuki theater. After all, what paying fan doesn't enjoy being treated like a criminal?

    1. I'll bet money attendance doesn't suffer. Cause people are fucking sheep and I WANNA BE PART OF THE EXCITEMENTS!!1!

    2. They kinda gave the game away with the reference to "contraband."

      Guns and bombs aren't really what most people think of as contraband.

      1. "We have unlicensed merchandise in Section 26, Row E! I repeat unlicensed merchandise in Section 26, Row E! Take'em down hard!"

    3. This is exactly why I stopped going to Best Buy.

      1. I pissed off the greeter in a Best Buy a few years back. Walked out of the store and refused to let him check my receipt. He threatened to call the cops, I said 'OK - I'll be down the street at the trolley station'.

        1. Yes Best Buy and Rooms To Go are two retailers I no longer patronize due to their assumption that every customer is criminal who must first prove his/her innocence. Everyone's guilty and let's hire our friends and neighbors to rummage through our stuff and our bodies at the airport, spy on us via see something say something, and shake us down as we try to leave a store. This isn't too far from how it went down in Germany 70 years ago. Very sad.

  7. "Certified by the Department of Homeland Security": Kinda sound like the NFL has found away to get at some DHS grant money?

    1. That's kind of the opposite of a UL Listing

  8. No skin off my nose. Seahawks games are too fucking loud and too fucking expensive anyway.

    1. They came for the football stadia, and I didn't protest because I didn't attend Seahawks games. Then they came for the baseball stadia, and I etc.

  9. Wow. Well, I guess they figure they've already got the season tickets sold for this year and by next year everyone will be used to it.

    1. There are tens of thousands of people on season ticket waiting lists, so it's not like there is any chance of demand declining.

      1. This is true, and confusing. Because basically the owners are responding to surplus demand for tickets by exacting a higher cost for attendance. But why wouldn't they just charge a higher cash price for the tickets? Do they prefer to be paid in human misery?

        I think the "certification" by DHS has to come with some $$$ as well, it's kind of the only way this makes sense. Unless I'm vastly underestimating the value to the owners of preventing people from bringing their own snacks and drinks to the game.

  10. Pretty soon the terrorists won't hate us anymore because we won't have any freedom left for them to hate. Who says government can't solve everything?

  11. What about people in Green Bay and other frozen tundras that want to take a down sleeping bag inside to stay warm?

    1. NFL: Nipple Freezing League

  12. New ways for the Cleveland Browns, and others to find ways to let their fans down at least . . . . wait for it . . . .


  13. this is why i don't go anywhere

  14. You could not pay me any sum of money to publicly display the contents of my purse in a dehumanizing '1-gallon clear plastic bag' at a social event.

    Is the NFL nuts? The business model now is - let's charge hundreds of dollars, while also gouging on water, Gatorade, parking and hot dogs, and while we're at it, treat our customers like inmates?

    Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see this full-of-itself organization deal with a sea of empty stadiums this season. This is a mortifying, abusive 'rule,' that not only unfairly penalizes women, it also targets those with medical issues they'd prefer not to share with others. #DISGUSTING #SICKENING

    1. Yeah, its doesn't unfairly penalize women. There's nothing in carrying a lot of stuff in a bag that is inherently female, so stop with the victimization talk.

      #And this ain't Twitter.

      1. When men start using tampons, make up, etc I'll let you know how equally offensive to both sexes I think this is. Until then, let's just say it's a disgraceful useless edict.

    2. If you were concerned about, perhaps other people reading the labels on your prescription bottles, you can always place the pills in an unmarked bottle, or tear the labels off.

      1. How about Diabetic supplies, Ostomy supplies, maxi pads for heavy flow - anything a young lady might not want the World, or even friends, knowing about?The people who support these trespasses upon dignity are puzzling.

        1. I agree 0. And also, DO NOT REMOVE PRESCRIPTION LABELS or store your meds in unmarked bottles. I was kidding. Because from what I've seen on Cops, it's a felony.

        2. And you could always dump your birth control pills out of the handy little dispenser (easily recognizable from at least 30 yards away) into an unmarked bottle. Actually, come to think of it, putting prescription drugs into an unmarked bottle is most likely probable cause for a cavity search....

          1. A family friend with Chron's Disease has given me some perspective on the challenges some people face. This lady, though she suffers from incontinence and other difficult issues, looks completely normal and does not let much of anything stop her. She just loads up her bag each day with everything needed for emergencies - change of clothing, food, water, pads, wipes etc - but as we limit what people can carry into more and more places, and/or demand to search them, pat them down, thereby embarrassing some ppl etc, we create a hostile vibe. And so unnecessarily. For what? Security Theater? This is not only discriminatory to many, it's just plain unhealthy for us as a community of citizens.

  15. You know, I'm really glad I don't like football.

    And I don't think we can complain too much about this. This is the *NFL* doing it on their own, not the government *requiring* it.

    1. They do it b/c not only does the NFL work lockstep with Feds, the NFL has also seen just how much the Sheeple will tolerate via the useless crap doled out at airports etc. People have proven they'll give up their 4th Amendment very willingly for the illusion of 'security.' Give up your rights once, in one place, you have lost them everywhere.

      1. And it goes to show that, even if we privatized airport security today, we'd still get the same stuff going on.

        This NFL does this out of liability fears and pressure from the federal government.

  16. I like how people that wait around all week to watch 7 hours of shitty ford truck and budweiser commercials are angry at this. It's like getting mad at a rapist because he pulls your hair.

  17. lol, Big Middle Finger Salute to the NFL!

    1. Well played Anonbot. Well played.

  18. Nation of giant pussies. Disgusting.

    1. Boston strong!!!!

  19. Good, one more reason not to either subsidize via apparel / ticket purchases, or watch that stupid horseshit.

  20. Luck for us the terrorists are too stupid to realize that a huge mob waiting in line to go through security is also a tempting a target.
    Oh, wait...the Boston azzholes did figure it out.

  21. As ticket holders and patrons, we have the power to vote with our wallets. We cancel our season tickets, stop buying merchandise and just watch the games on TV at home. If there is a blackout, you simply find something else to do. There is more to life than football after all.

  22. My response? Keep my $80 in my pocket, work hard to convince family and friends to follow suit, and leave these idiots with empty stadiums. That's the only thing that will change their policies, because their TRUE bottom line priority guessed it: $$$$.

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