Take Me Out To the Ball Game... Are We Safe?

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September 27, 2018 by Mike Haberman

3 Bases Covered with Background Checks

​​My favorite baseball team is headed to post-season play for the first time since 2013. My wife and I are partial season ticket holders. The reason we have these tickets is that the team built a new baseball park closer to our house and we wanted to be a part of that excitement. It has been fun so far, but every time I go to the ballpark it makes me wonder about the logistics of hiring new employees, in order to ensure the safety and well-being of 30,000-40,000 fans on 62 days out of the season.

​From the employer’s standpoint that involves a lot of work, including the process of background checking all those workers. It is worth it, however. In early 2017, the company in charge of security for Minnesota Vikings’ US Bank Stadium and other major venues failed to conduct adequate background checks and hired people with felony convictions without getting the proper clearances.


Why background check?

 That may seem like an obvious question to some, but many of the employees at a sporting venue are part-time workers. Many companies may feel that it’s not necessary to background check part-timers. As a Human Resources professional, I feel that notion is completely wrong.  In an alarming case in 2016 at Nashville Predators Bridgestone Arena, a temporary laborer was accused of raping another employee while on the job. The accused was on the state’s sex offender registry following a 2008 conviction for assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse. Many things could go wrong in a ballpark, or any sporting venue for that matter. I think it’s important that each management team responsible for guest well-being should take the subject of visitor safety and well-being very seriously.

3 Bases Covered

The variety of workers responsible for guest well-being run a long gamut of people. These include:

  1. Security people responsible for checking people coming into the ballpark. In this era
    of hyper-awareness, people still bring weapons to the ballpark, either intentionally
    or unintentionally.
  2. Ushers are responsible for guiding guests around the park and making sure they’re finding the correct seats and not blocking the view of other guests. In the section we sit in, that can be a full-time job. The visitors’ bullpen is right in front of us and the visiting team’s fans want to get a closer view. The ushers in our section are constantly having to move fans. Some do it well and keep the goodwill of the visiting fans, others not so well and they leave fans with a sour experience.
  3. The vendors that walk the stands hawking beer, ice cream, and more deal with a great deal of cash. Employers certainly don’t want them skimming money. I’m pretty sure there’s a method to prevent that, but it helps to have avoided hiring people that have a history of theft.

What about volunteers?

Many sport venues also allow volunteer groups to staff food stands as a fundraising opportunity. Should these volunteers be background checked as well? I believe that should be a requirement of the agreement with the venue authority. Just because the worker is a volunteer does not lessen the potential impact of any wrongdoing they may engage in. Volunteers can steal and assault just as an employee might. Why take the risk?

If you hire volunteers, whether for sporting events, schools, or other, check with your background checking provider and see what’s available, in order to easily check the backgrounds of volunteers.

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About Mike Haberman
I have been in human resources for over 30 years, both as a practitioner and consultant. I am known as "The HR Compliance Guy" and as an HR Futurist. I was named an "Influencer" to IBM's New Way to Work panel. I am also an instructor at the University of Georgia School for Professional Education teaching human resources management. Additionally, I present numerous webinars on a monthly basis. I have been a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) for over 20 years and I have been certified as SHRM-SCP from day one.

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