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Homeland Security Secretary Thinks No Food At Ballparks Is A Good Idea

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Yes, he really did say that, according to one report.

David Sameshima

Major League Baseball owners and team executives met for two days this week in Coral Gables, Florida.

Among the topics discussed was the possibility of increased security at ballparks, partly because of the terrorist attack in Paris, France last November and the one in California in December.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson was invited to address the meeting. Here's one thing he told the assembled executives, according to Marlins president David Samson:

According to Samson, Johnson told the group a stadium could be 100 percent secure if additional steps were taken, such as prohibiting fans from bringing any bags and eliminating food and food-services workers. Checking the trunks and bottoms of cars entering parking lots outside ballparks could be another step discussed at some point.

Uh... really? "Eliminating food and food-services workers"?

Going to a baseball game, or any sports event, is a human social activity. Many people in recent years have gone to fewer games, not because of security concerns, but due to the cost and the arrival of large HDTVs, which make it easier and more comfortable in some cases to sit at home and watch instead of going to the stadium.

But if you do go, you are making a conscious choice to share the event with thousands of other fans in what should be a pleasant social setting. And when people get together for social activity, food and drink are generally consumed. It's just kind of what we do as humans.

Eliminate that and you've eliminated one of the biggest reasons for people to gather at a ballpark.

Beyond that, food and drink are perhaps one of the biggest profit centers for sports teams, particularly beer, which is usually sold at much higher prices inside the ballpark. You know, captive audience and all. I can't see the Cubs nor any other team wanting to give up these sorts of profits.

Let's make it clear. I understand the general tone of what some owners said about security and safety. Samson, for example:

"He pointed out some very interesting things that we all need to pay attention to, because we are part of maintaining public safety," Miami Marlins president David Samson said. "What we try to do is walk the line between safety and enjoyment. ... The balance is really hard to walk, and what Secretary Johnson pointed out is that our most important job is to walk that balance and to be very aware when you're getting too far one way or the other."

There's no doubt that we live in a different world than existed a few years ago. All ballparks have magnetometers and/or wand scanners; Wrigley Field, exempted in 2015 because of the ongoing construction project, will add them in 2016. Beyond the equipment, stadium employees will have to be better-trained for security scans.

But if you are going to take away the "enjoyment," as Samson called it, you are going to take away much of the reason for going in the first place. More care and caution? Sure. More bans? Pointless, in my view.