Beyond Gates and Metal Detectors

Understanding Security for Professional Sports Facilities


  • Steven Watchers Gonzaga University
  • Brian Fowler University of Idaho
  • Jimmy Smith Gonzaga University



personnel security, cybersecurity, physical security, professional sport


Innovation is of vital importance in professional sport organizations, with various segments and departments catering to diverse managerial functions. While previous research has focused on ticketing, marketing, and event management, the critical aspect of security and intelligence in sports requires further exploration. With the safety of fans, players, coaches, staff, and the local community at stake, security and intelligence play a paramount role. The current research addresses the literature gap pertaining to cybersecurity through in-depth interviews involving 12 participants from major U.S. professional sports leagues and the cybersecurity industry, delving into physical security, personnel security, and cybersecurity domains.
The results of the study highlighted an overall awareness and success in physical and personnel security, but also revealed a concerning deficiency in the understanding of cybersecurity threats. This shortfall emphasizes the pressing need for innovative cybersecurity solutions in the sport industry to ensure the integrity and safety of professional sport organizations in a complex environment. Through such innovative approaches, professional sport organizations can enhance their ability to effectively combat cybersecurity challenges, safeguarding their operations and protecting all stakeholders involved.

Author Biographies

Steven Watchers, Gonzaga University

Steven Watchers, MA, is a graduate from the University of Gonzaga. His research interests include sports, security, safety, cybersecurity, and risk management.

Brian Fowler, University of Idaho

Brian Fowler, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Movement Sciences at the University of Idaho. His research interests include revenue generation and organizational management.

Jimmy Smith, Gonzaga University

Jimmy Smith, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management at Gonzaga University. His research interests include intercollegiate athletics, organizational behavior and sports outreach.



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