When security and commerce collide

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08/18/2008
I'm almost completely enraptured by the Olympics so forgive me if that's where I'm pulling all my source material lately. I just think it's an event of unparalleled world interest (maybe the World Cup rivals it, but I don't think there's nearly the universal interest coming from the U.S., particularly, and from women the world over), and as such fascinating, as much for the sporting achievements as for the human drama. Did anyone else see Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei just completely choke and still manage to beat out Alicia Sacramone on the women's vault last night? The woman was so nerved up she actually let out a loud scream before she started her second vault (something commentator Tim Daggett said he'd never seen a gymnast do before), then totally shanked her vault, landing on her knees. But by the vagaries of gymnastic scoring, the difficulty of the vault she attempted made up for the suck of her performance. That, plus the fact that a 33-year-old woman who moved from Russia to Germany to get better health care for her cancer-stricken son won the silver medal, made for some serious human drama. How can you not get into something like that? And what is security if not the attempt to avoid human drama at all costs, I suppose. It's always interesting to see just how highly people value security (or not). Check out this story about about the Olympic sponsors being peeved that security is keeping people from seeing their ads. I guess I don't blame them. If you're paying $67 million to be a sponsor, I guess you might want people to see your ads. But when does that become just a little selfish? How much sponsorship money is worth how much increased threat and risk? And how's this for objectivity: The excessive security, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had boasted about being its top priority, has made access to the advertising pavilions in the Olympic Green almost completely closed off to the public. So it's excessive, is it? Says who? Being in this industry, I've grown to have a real appreciation for security practitioners. If something bad happens, the security wasn't good enough. If nothing happens, the security was excessive. There's no way to win there.