Feature Article - August 2010
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Risky Business

The Ins and Outs of Risk Management

By Dawn Klingensmith

The Roar of the Crowd

At any sporting event, players and organizers like to see the crowd fired up. But all it takes is a bad call or a winning goal, and a fired-up crowd can become a five-alarm catastrophe for which a facility or an organization can be held responsible.

"If they are aware of the potential problem and they have not taken reasonable actions to prevent the problem, they may be found liable," Nohr said.

For example, in a college football championship game, it's a safe bet that students will try to tear down the goalposts as a show of victory. But this can be discouraged and perhaps prevented.

Precautions include investing in goalposts designed to withstand abuse, increasing security, limiting the amount of alcohol sold to one person, ejecting intoxicated spectators, and cutting off alcohol sales some time before the completion of the event to allow time to pass before spectators drive home, Nohr said.

"One example that comes to mind is when the Universityof Hawaii was enjoying an undefeated season, and fans hadstarted acting rowdy," Nohr said.

In response, the coach made television public service announcements and ads ran in electronic and print media to curb fans boorishness and potential violence.

"His good-sportsmanship message urged the fans to show their 'aloha spirit' and specifically asked, 'For the safety of players, please refrain from throwing paper or other objects on the field,'" Nohr said.

Security was significantly beefed up for subsequent games, she added, and there was no repeat of the previous problems.

In other words, everyone from the players and spectators to the school's administrators came out as winners.