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New MLS bag policy is awful, but also follows trend

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

MLS is standardizing its security theater policy in both Canada and the United States. These changes will be for all MLS or SUM matches conducted in stadia that host MLS teams. That means the new policy will be enforced for US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, Canadian Championship games, friendlies and even non-soccer fan events. The new policy prohibits certain styles of bags, as well as bags larger than 14x14x6.

No longer will the following types of bags be allowed in CenturyLink Field or any other MLS stadium;

  • Large purses
  • Coolers
  • Briefcases
  • Backpacks
  • Luggage of any kind
  • Computer bags
  • Camera bags

If you are trying to go to a match straight from work or school, be certain to leave your bags behind or rent a storage locker. If you bicycle to/from matches make certain you have lockable saddle bags, as most of your gear will not fit in a bag of the listed dimensions that also isn't one of the styles mentioned in the MLS list.

The rules, as announced by MLS, are vague, subject to arbitrary enforcement and give no specific guidance when it comes to medical needs or exceptions for parents with children. This is the entire line for those exceptions:

**Special considerations will be made for guests with special medical needs and parents caring for infants.

It's an absurd situation, and comically common in a nation that is more concerned with security as theater than security in practice.

"The safety of our fans, players and staff is paramount," said Ray Whitworth, Senior VP of Security and Operations. "The updated security measures bring us in line with professional sports leagues around the United States and Canada while maintaining the unique sports experience that is MLS."

Left unsaid in the MLS release is that this is probably the result of risk-averse insurance companies pushing a policy rather than any kind of specific threat or research, which makes it all the more annoying.

The wanding and pat-down methods aren't new for Seattle Sounders fans, but the new policy shrinks the allowable bag size (allowed bags are about a third smaller by volume) and specifies certain kinds of bags that aren't allowed. The decision to implement this policy was unanimously passed by the MLS Board of Governors. It is a policy that effects bicyclists, people who work, parents, students and those who have medical needs.

The new policy did not go in place when the league season started, so notification of fans starts after 2016 gameday routines already started, rather than early enough for new patterns to have been established.

The Sounders sell three bags. Not a single one of them meets the new policy.