Here’s a touchy subject and a story you probably haven’t heard.
In getting to the heart of the story I first must profess my profound respect for the security people who work sports events all over the country, and I’ve had an opportunity to deal with them from border to border and coast to coast. I, of course, have a particular fondness for those who work at the venues in Connecticut, most of whom I at least know by sight, many of them by name. They are always friendly and courteous, but always serious in their approach to their job. The security companies that employ them can take pride in their professionalism. Their job comes with certain guidelines that call that professionalism into play.
That brings us to the situation that occurred last week in Houston, where a security guard who was working the NFL game between the Patriots and Texans was fired for posing for a picture with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as Brady was leaving the facility after the game. At first glance it seems like a harmless incident and the story put the security company in a bad light. But I thought of my own situation, as a sports reporter, granted privileged access. Sometimes we take it for granted. Among the conditions printed on the back of a press pass is, “No autographs”. Try to use that access to get autographs and they’ll pull your ticket. Autographs are a valuable commodity and that’s not the business we’re there for. Most of us take a serious approach to our jobs.
So it is with security people. The rules of access are no different for them. The security company in Houston says company policy clearly states that interaction with any celebrities, sports or otherwise, while in the performance of their job is not permitted and such interaction is grounds for firing. “When you’re at your post and you’re doing your job”, said a company spokesman, “You’re not supposed to take pictures with anyone because your job is to secure that area.”
In other words, it’s the company’s reputation that is at stake, not the reputation of the individual security guard. Companies take their responsibility at least as seriously as most security guards I’ve dealt with take it. The employee is a reflection of that company.
Particularly in today’s environment there can be no room for a lapse in that security. If something should happen while a guard responsible for securing an area is posing for a picture with a celebrity they have unique access to there would be hell to pay. If the company rules prohibit such behavior and one employee is allowed to get away with it, others will feel they have the right to the same bite of the apple.
The guard, it turns out, initiated the interaction with Brady, complimenting him on his game as he was leaving the building. Saying that Brady was very polite and thanked him for the compliment, while most other celebrities just keep walking, the guard took advantage of the moment and asked if Brady would pose for a picture. Immediately after the incident he was fired. The company had no choice.
I love security people. Their job is to diligently protect everyone in the building. I always feel like they’re protecting me personally. While access comes with the territory, it’s just part of the job. It’s to be taken seriously, not to be taken advantage of.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.