Definitions, Scope and Purpose

​Sports and athletic events are major industries around the globe.  In a world of sporting mega-events, such as the Olympic Games, World Cups, and Super Bowls, we also find a host of behind-the-scenes and supporting activities.  Because competitions occur not only in the athletes’ local communities but also at other, often distant locales, travel can be an integral part of the athletic experience. In fact, the field of travel for sport is highly diverse and must be approached from various perspectives. There is no one accepted definition or scope for sports team travel security. Different authors have unique opinions on defining terms such as security, safety, travel, problems in travel, and risks. 

Consequently, the STTS community does not have a wealth of literature that addresses questions of sports travel according to such criteria as age groups, type of sport and location, gender, and media coverage.

Sports Team Travel Security Defined

Frosdick (2009) differentiates between security as the measures we take to protect from intentional criminal attack or terrorism; and safety as the activities that consider the overall well-being of the people within a public space, such as a sports arena, where thought is given to such issues as public ingress and egress, the structural integrity of the construction, capacity, fire procedures, and issues of health. In this report, we consider both security and safety issues, and we use the two terms synonymously. As such, we focus on the total safety and security needs of traveling sports teams. A more succinct definition follows:

Sports team travel security includes standards, tools, and best practices to protect adult amateur, collegiate, and professional team athletes during travels to and from sports venues and while lodging away from their home base, by identifying, mitigating, or managing potential threats or actual incidents of harassment, demonstrations, criminal assaults, theft or robbery, sabotage, terrorism, natural disasters, health hazards, and other safety issues.

For purposes of brevity, the authors also use the STTS acronym to refer to a traveling sports team or its various members (athletes, coaches and support staff) under a security program as an “STTS group” or “STTS member.” And we refer to STTS security professionals, whether traveling with an STTS group or not, as STTS practitioners, managers or consultants.

Limited Scope

Some STTS topics, like travel health and medicine, are well-covered in the literature but other topics such as the security needs of female athletes or the actual practices of sports teams traveling to less than complex activities or mega events, to name just two, remain largely unaddressed. This affects our scope and limits the suggested approaches later in this paper to those in the existing literature, but for three exceptions that are based on the authors’ own experiences or extrapolations from the literature: our suggested STTS Group in Normal Mode of Operation model (Figure 3) that is conceived as a variation of Connors’ (2007) major special events model (Figure 1), a risk-based planning methodology adapted to STTS (Figure 2), and STTS checklists that are provided to jumpstart the planning of STTS activities.

STTS as a Discipline

Security at an athlete’s home turf differs from security on the road in that travel is typically to less familiar or unfamiliar places. When traveling to another locale, the athlete is both a sports figure and also a visitor to this new location. As such, others must provide for the athlete’s on-the-road needs. As in the case of all travel, STTS requires flexibility, diplomacy, and ingenuity to create a secure environment at an on-the-road location.

The STTS function may be added to an already existing sports team security position or department, it may be an interaction between the team’s security or risk management department, or it may be treated as an independent entity. For example, teams that are too small to maintain a dedicated security position may outsource this function to STTS consultants on an as-needed basis. From time to time, outsourcing may be appropriate for all sports teams and athletic departments in order to introduce new or evolving methods to the existing sports security complement.

Next: Summation of Valid Literature