Helping People Stay Safe at Sports Events - Work in Sports Podcast E013

By Brian Clapp | November 01, 2017

James DeMeo, Sports Security Expert and Author of "What's Your Plan"

Hi I’m Brian Clapp, Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

When 9/11 happened I was working at CNN Headline News producing the sports reports. It was a time frame I’ll never forget. Rumors flew, panic roamed the halls, we were all confused and disillusioned… it was as if we had been living in an impenetrable fortress which we just realized was penetrable.helping people stay safe at sports events

I remember during that time frame, all of us sports folks would say things like …imagine if this happened at the Big House on a college football Saturday – near 110,000 people in a confined space. Or what about  The Super Bowl, or the World Series, with everyone watching.

9/11 was tragic enough, but immediately you begin to consider your own vulnerabilities.

Pre-9/11 I could walk into a game without bag checks or metal detectors and stroll to my seat. Of course the worst we would smuggle in was Gatorade and French fries, but others could have done worse.

Fast forward to current times and despite our diligence, there are still tragedies. Las Vegas was horrific. Manchester bombing at an Arianna Grande concert was stunning.

What protects sports events?

I told you all early on we will have entertaining podcasts, but we also weren’t going to shy away from real issues, things that need our attention. This is one of those conversations.

Today’s guest on the podcast is security expert and author of the upcoming book “What’s Your Plan” James DeMeo – James was named among Security Magazine’s Most Influential People in Security in 2017, he is the Founder, President, and CEO of Unified Sports & Entertainment Security Consulting (USESC), based in Raleigh, North Carolina and helped open the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn as a security supervisor.

We will be talking about how to stay safe at sports events… but I’ll also tell you the most enlightening part for me, the amount of jobs connected to security in the sports industry. If you are interested in facility or event management – you better listen in. If you are looking for a way to break into team operations – you better listen in. If you are looking for entry level work that has a high career ceiling – again, you better listen in.

There are opportunities connected to security – and just to drill that point home – when I search on for the keyword security – 402 jobs come up including a Manager, Major Events for the USTA. Which drives home my point – if you want to work in events, better know security.

We’re switching up the format a bit now that we have gone to two podcasts a week and eventually three…we’re going to do fan mail questions on Mondays podcast and then stick to the deep dive interview on Wednesday…so if you have a question for Monday’s podcast – email me bclapp at!

But now let’s jump into my interview with sports security expert and author of “What’s Your Plan” James DeMeo:

Questions for James DeMeo, Sports Security Expert

  • James let’s jump right into this – we’re going to talk a lot about recent security events like the Las Vegas shooting, but first I want to talk about jobs in sports security - with security issues at the forefront of society in many forms, there has to be a high demand for these types of jobs – if someone listening wanted to be a part of the safety and security of the sports world, how can they become involved – what type of training would they need and what kind of opportunities are there?

  • The Las Vegas shooting opened so many of our eyes to the security challenges that large congregated groups present – while this was a music festival, there is noting that says something like this couldn’t happen at a College Football game, a baseball game, inside a basketball arena – we’ll dig into specifics next, but on a more high-level assessment, how concerned are you about the safety of sporting events?

  • You wrote an article recently on LinkedIn on confined space challenges in security – like you see at sports stadiums for example – you call it “Duty of Care” can you explain the approach of security staffs in these confined spaces?

  • I don’t want listeners to think sports events are somewhere to be afraid, it’s entertainment and we want the experience to be fun, but with that said, are there things fans should do to help themselves stay safe at sports events?

  • As a father, I find myself when I go to any event making mental notes of areas I would take my kids should something bad start to happen. Am I just being paranoid, or is this a smart idea?

  • Growing up I remember going to my first baseball game at Fenway park – there was no metal detector, no bag check — and now those things are standard operating procedure. Are there new technologies that help security staffs stay ahead of the proverbial bad guys or are we still in a bag check world?

  • You recently wrote an article on confined space challenges in security, something we often talk about in the sports world as it pertains to arenas with a large numbers of people in one spot – in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting what concerns you the most, what keeps you up at night, regarding sports security?

No lightning round today, it didn’t feel like the right idea to ask James what his favorite ballpark food was. Executive decision on my part. I’m amazed by many parts of the interview, most importantly is how important security is for many opportunities in sports – I like the way he framed it, you don’t want to be the team who has a security breach and be known for that.

That’s brand protection.

I also appreciated his passion for safety and security, it was clear he was no nonsense, which at times made it difficult for my juvenile approach to most things, but his attention to detail and desire to help people stay vigilant was greatly appreciated.

Thanks again to james DeMeo and buy his book – What’s Your plan, we’ll link to it in the show notes, james sent me an advance copy and I found it extremely informational and a powerful read.

We have two podcast interviews that I am very excited about coming up - #1 I’m interviewing Jesse Cole the owner of the Savannah Bananas amateur baseball team in the Coastal Plain League collegiate summer baseball league --- this guy is all energy, has some really exciting ideas about marketing, culture, sports business and entertainment – you guys will really enjoy this interview.

And we also have Josh Rawitch Sr. Vice President of Content and Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks coming up – this is right in my alley so I’m excited to talk to Josh about sports journalism, dealing with the media and team communications – very exciting.

Until then – don’t wait for a sports career to come to you… go get it. Check out Work in Sports dot com and start going after your dream job in sports.

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