The last time I paid to watch a sporting event was last summer to watch the Brewers play. One of the best things about Miller Park, despite the inflated prices, is the stadium always allowed fans to carry in whatever snacks they might have brought from home to enhance the experience. Fans' bags were inspected on arrival, and upon entrance attendants observing that Mr. and Mrs. Baseball-Fan had nothing more than peanuts and sunflower seeds in their bags, they were allowed in.
Last week I read that all carry-ins had been barred from Camp Randall football games. I was a little upset by this, and not just because I would not be able to bring my favorite pretzels to the game.
The carry-in ban became official for the Sept. 26 game against Michigan State and will be enforced for the remainder of the home games. Fans are being encouraged to leave all accessories at home, including large purses, backpacks and umbrellas (which were not allowed before the new carry-in ban). The reason? The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security suggested that the Madison Police Department tighten restrictions because of new intelligence about terrorists potentially targeting sporting arenas and hotels.
In keeping national security a top priority, the American people have had to make sacrifices in both comfort and pleasure to accommodate the demands of security officials. One only needs to step into an airport to witness the transformation: increased baggage screenings, increases in the number of personnel, increases in the number of uncomfortable pat-downs. We as Americans have learned to accept the cost of our security and for the most part have become accustomed to these changes in policy. Safety in airports is a legitimate concern, as seen from the 9/11 attacks. But such actions raise relevant and important questions and implications that the average person should think about.
Where is the line? When does fear become the fuel for unnecessary protocol? Where is this intelligence coming from? And finally, why now?
I cannot deny that the world and how people view their world changed after the attacks of 9/11. That is an indisputable claim. But it is also indisputable that the world has changed more since then as well. To allow 9/11 fears to dictate policy decisions is to give in to terror rather than confront it. What's next? The banning of large coats and sweatshirts? There must be a line drawn somewhere on what is right and wrong in the battle for the safety of citizens.
Banning people from taking items like bags and backpacks to a football game is both unnecessary and ridiculous. It is not only inconvenient to fans in their attempt to have an enjoyable experience, but impractical. People simply do not carry everything they need with them in their clothes. Simple bag screenings have proven to be a safe and effective method for numerous years in the reduction of any sort of attack.
Also, we are changing the carry-in policy because of terrorism-rooted paranoia. The United States has not been attacked by any terrorists for almost a decade. Some would say this is because of the large number of prevention methods put in place by DHS, while others might say there was never a legitimate threat in the first place.
Finally, why is all this happening now? Neither the FBI nor the DHS have stated their source for this new terrorist interest in hotels and sporting arenas, so this leaves open the possibility of speculation, which leads to the possibility of doubt. And when there is reasonable doubt, an action should not take place that affects the lives of so many people.
So the next time you travel to the game, look down at your backapck or shiny new camera and frown, for it will not be allowed into the stadium with you. And remember, no umbrellas either, as the risk of it being an ingeniously constructed bomb of metal and plastic outweighs the factor of you being soaking wet and miserable at an event you paid for.
Now, I could be blowing up this entire issue. Maybe we should leave everything at home before we travel to the game next time, and maybe we should listen and follow everything the government tells us because we believe it to be true and in our best interest. As for me, I think I'll be staying home for the next home game, surrounded by some salty snacks and unanswered questions.
Collin Wisniewski is a sophomore intending to major in journalism. Please send feedback to email@example.com.