Jeremy Olshan and Rebecca Rosenberg, two of the New York Post’s more reliable reporters, penned an interesting story on Yankee Stadium security that showed up in Alexander Hamilton’s former newspaper this morning. The Yankees, in light of the recent heat wave and sun advisories, have taken to confiscating sunscreen containers from fans claiming these bottles pose a terrorist threat to Yankee Stadium.
Guards had advised patrons to apply sunscreen outside and then hand over the bottles. Inside the stadium, fans can get a one-ounce bottle of SPF 15 sunscreen for a whopping $5. With dermatologists calling out the Yankees and the Post noting the hypocrisy of the team in light of MLB’s Play Sun Smart anti-skin cancer initiative, the team has since caved to common sense and will now allow sunscreen into the stadium.
In light of the inherent absurdity of the situation — Sunscreen as a terrorist weapon? Really? — and the obvious commercial benefit that the Yankees enjoy by forcing their fans to buy sunscreen at a mark-up of nearly 100 percent, the Yankees come out of this dust-up looking pretty chintzy. They were confiscating sunblock at a time when people need the most and providing an inferior product at a higher price inside. While scientists made be debating the effectiveness of these sunblocks, we still the skin protection.
Never before had sunblock been an issue, and it just shouldn’t have happened at Yankee Stadium. We can take in water; we can take in sunblock. We’re baseball fans, not prisoners, and whichever official signed off on this decision should bear the brunt this bad publicity.
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In a similar vein, today’s story reminded me of something that happened to me recently at Yankee Stadium. Last week at the Home Run Derby, I picked up a few clear plastic bags for my stuff. I always double-bag them at Yankee Stadium because the free bags they hand out are rather cheap and flimsy.
When I returned to the Stadium the next night for the All Star Game, the security guard looked at my bag — my supposedly clear plastic bags from the night before — and told me I had to take my stuff out of those bags and put it into clear plastic bags. These bags, sort of gray and not very transparent, weren’t clear enough for her. I told her, “These are your clear plastic bags I got here last night.” Her reply: “Oh. That’s not so good.”
I had a second bag with me that had some water in it. That bag was a perfectly transparent bag from the Fan Fest – the DHL All Star Fan Fest. The security guards made me take my stuff out of that bag and put it into some of the less clear plastic bags. Lesson: Plastic bags distributed by Yankee Stadium security are not clear enough for those very same security guards one night later.
Trust me: I understand that we live an age in which we have to be careful. I’ve lived in New York City my entire life, and I, like everyone else, has felt the emotional impact of a terrorist attack. But at some point, we have to draw the line between absurd security measures and practical responses to real threats.
It’s bad enough that the Yanks don’t allow fans to bring in tote bags or small backpacks, but when security guards start questioning the validity of the clear plastic bags, perhaps it’s time to start rethinking the security measures. When tubes of sunblock on overwhelmingly sunny days become security threats (or is that a business threat?), perhaps a level head should step in and assess the situation. Are the Yankees really this absurd?