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Athlete Protection

The recent kidnapping of Wilson Ramos has spawned countless articles, interviews and conjecture about security for professional athletes. The incident has created a feeding frenzy of private security companies and experts surfacing at the chum.

The protection of an athlete would fall under the notable category that Mark Fair coined some years ago. I do not classify all athletes as celebrities although many of them have risen to celebrity status. Although this is not about defining titles it is important to clear that up. Irrespective of the title, the security coverage needs should be defined at the onset. In as much as many have risen to celebrity status, so has much of the hired security quality dropped to that of a mere bodyguard, less proactive approach. We see this alot in the NBA which employs more private security than any other professional sport in the U.S.. But for the sake of this argument ALL athletes do NOT need protection, but they should have a security consultant readily available.

From my perspective I see this in another way. Major league athletics employ and overall security consultant that is responsible for their respective league’s overall security. These security heads are responsible for investigations as well as managing the security policies and procedures for the safe environment of its players and fans.

There are individual players that employ their own personal security as well as others that wrongfully arm themselves and take their security matters in their own hands. The Plaxico Burress incident is an example of this. Another incident of a professional athlete that was targeted and murdered is Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins. These, in my view, were cases where the team security manager or the league’s overall security director should have consulted with players to properly protect themselves.

I have been told that there are players that have full-time security specialists that protect them, however I believe this is an exception to the rule. The cost associated with proper protection does not match up with a new car with rims or a new platinum chain around their necks. Then you have the chosen few that view protection as a need for celebrity bodyguards. In my view, having an untrained bodyguard is just as bad as arming yourself. The possibilities of a situation going wrong by an untrained security person can have the same ramifications publicly. This happened with a very popular NBA player while he was attending a party at a nightclub in Washington, DC whereby his bodyguards brutally wounded a patron of the nightclub because he was standing too close to the private area.

The Ramos situation was a clear indication that the League needs to have a more hands on approach to player security. If there was a policy in place that mandated any player traveling outside the US needs to notify the league, then a quick country assessment could have been done with the Department of State and measures could have been taken. This is not to say that Ramos would have been prohibited from traveling to his home country however, proactive measures could have been made to solidify his overall travel and security.

It is common knowledge that in many of professional athlete’s contracts there are stipulations that prohibit them from participating in extra curricular activities that may injure them and hindering their obligation to play their respective sport. What is the importance here?

The professional leagues and their security directors as well as team security heads need to be proactive with their interests-The Athlete.

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