After last weekend’s shooting that disrupted a high school football game at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington, the Palm Beach County School District is taking new safety precautions for football games for the rest of the season.
These steps include requiring nearly all bags to be clear, banning entry after the start of the third quarter, eliminating re-entry at any point during the games, prohibiting loitering in the parking lots before, during or after the games, and starting games earlier in the evening so that more of the games will be played in daylight.
These are good first steps, but they don’t go far enough. I have 10 additional safety precautions that would take security at high school football games to the next level :
1. Changing the names of the teams
In an effort to dissuade conflict and inappropriate behavior, the nicknames of the following schools would be changed:
The Wellington High team will go from the Wolverines to the Nectarines. The Suncoast Chargers will become The Suncoast Retreaters, and the Lake Worth Trojans will be called The Lake Worth Virgins.
2. Displays of bravado while entering the field
Teams will not be permitted to use any device that employs smoke, fog or loud sounds to usher in the arrival of the charging, chest-thumping, testosterone-dripping football players to the field.
Instead, teams will be encouraged to replace these dangerous displays of belligerence with the use of their school’s glee club.
3. Increased marching band security
Full-cavity searches of the sousaphones. Rubber tips required on the polelike maces carried by drum majors. Poison-dart checks for the flute section.
4. Sideline cheerleader training
Cheerleaders will be required to learn new cheer in the event they are needed to help evacuate the stadium during an incident.
As in, “Gimme an ‘E’ … Gimme an ‘X’ … Gimme an ‘I’ … Gimme a ‘T’.” “What’s the spell? Exit! When are you going to do it? Now!”
5. No playing of the national anthem
In an effort not to stoke political passions in the stands and to mellow out the crowd, the playing of the national anthem before the game will be replaced by the playing of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
6. Penalties for players who taunt opposing players
Any player cited by a referee for taunting will be ejected for the remainder of the game and his team will be required to replace him for the next game with a member of the school’s chess team.
7. Scoreboard during lopsided games
If one team goes ahead by more than four touchdowns in the first half, the scoreboard will stop displaying the score of the game and start being used to show cat videos.
8. Box lunches
In order to avoid “stand your ground” confrontations at the concession stand during the game, the concession stand will be closed for the entire game. Instead, the home team will be required to provide box lunches with unsweetened chamomile tea for all arriving fans.
9. Rivalry games
Games between schools with a history of being rivals, such as Glades Central vs. Pahokee or Dwyer vs. Palm Beach Gardens, will be scheduled on a Tuesday at 8 a.m., pending availability of the Trauma Hawk helicopter.
10. Armed teachers
In an effort to provide extra security, the home team will be allowed to designate one of its teachers to carry a concealed firearm during the game.
The teacher must never have been 1. convicted of a felony; 2. worked cafeteria duty; or 3. ever volunteered to “fix the parent-pickup-line situation.”