An Open Letter on Metal Detectors

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

To Whom it May Concern,

I write this letter in response to the recently announced initiative to begin using metal detectors on fans entering the stadium prior to Sounders' matches. The obvious first question to ask is why this change would be initiated. There is no doubt that it will result in more costly and less efficient operations.

Let's look at the only reasoning that was provided:

This proactive measure will improve safety inside and outside the stadium without detracting from the world-class fan experience you create every match day.

"Proactive" seems to be a key word in this reasoning. Describing this as proactive, rather than reactive is a tacit admission that there is in fact no legitimate reason for this change. Being proactive can be a good thing, but it assumes that the safety of the stadium will be in question if this action is not taken. This is an assumption for which there is not even preliminary evidence.

Today's announcement goes no to reassure us that this will be a painless process:

This is the same program that was implemented at Seahawks games in 2012 and the process moved quickly and smoothly.

With this statement, the only possible conclusion is that the author of this letter has never actually attended a Seahawks game. I would challenge you to find a single attendee to these events that would describe the entry process as either quick or smooth without a significant dose of sarcasm or irony in their tone of voice.

No, it is unreasonable to describe this as if it will be a quick smooth process. This becomes even more obvious as you go on to detail the process:

Fans will be asked to remove all metal from their pockets and hold the items in their hands as the screening is conducted. This includes coins, keys and cell phones.

While at heart this seems simple enough, it is inconvenient in the best of scenarios, but quite often difficult or invasive. Take a moment to think about how free your hands are as you enter into the stadium. Perhaps you picked up food on the way in, in order to avoid the outrageous concessions fees. Maybe you have a $1 bottle of water, or kettle corn. All of which had to be purchased with cash which resulted in a pocket full of change. Now, without dropping your scarf or any of your possessions, imagine filling one hand with this change, your other hand with your phone and keys. Lastly, do this without slowing down the line behind you.

If fans have any concerns about the use of a metal detector due to medical reasons, the enhanced pat-down screening procedure can be substituted.

It's unclear to me if this line is intended as a reassurance or a threat. I will address it as both.

In reassuring those with medical conditions, you have promised to inflict up on them what is charmingly called an "enhanced pat-down". Of course, in the real world this is generally referred to as to groping or molesting. Not exactly a thrilling promise for those that must avoid the metal detectors.

As a threat to those that would object to metal detectors, it is tasteless and disappointing. Boiling down to a promise of subjecting yourself to some form of invasive search if you want to see your soccer team.

I would humbly suggest that if your security agents are looking to get to second base, they can go across the street to Safeco Field.

Fans are encouraged to give themselves enough time to pass through security.

Given your promises on how quick and smooth this process will be, it seems this advice would surely be unnecessary.

In summary, a new, invasive and slow process is being implemented with absolutely no reason being presented. A true example of Security Theater at it's finest, with the only measurable benefit being that it will be harder for some to sneak in drinks from outside of the stadium.

The easy of entry has been a tangible benefit when attending a soccer game vs. a football game. I have long questioned why it is that 40,000+ soccer fans can consistently come to the stadium without these processes and without incident, yet the theater is deemed necessary for football fans. An honest answer would be that it is necessary for neither, but instead we will avoid the question by applying the same theater to both.

Sounders FC announcement

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