Major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and the Winter or Summer Olympics tend to be bolstered by high levels of security and integration between various levels of law enforcement as well as state and federal government. While high profile sporting events are extremely well defended, it is softer targets that are most vulnerable, as proven by the bombings at the last Boston marathon. These latter events tend to draw as many people, but seldom have extremely high levels of security.
There is an old adage in the security business that says Fort Knox is unlikely to be targeted for robbery, but liquor stores are routinely held up. Security executives struggle with how much security can be provided at soft target sporting events without destroying the communal experience these events represent. The public attending sporting events are seeking to get out of themselves by enjoying a sporting event. If going through a turnstile is a harrowing experience, events will see downward trends of attendance.
Security at events has to be well calibrated so that ordinary people don’t get intimidated or overwhelmed. Security services seek to make themselves seamless so as not to become the entire focus of the event. The realization that people attending sporting events are there for fun rather than undergoing stringent security regimes has to be prominent. Sports events tend to build community spirit. Hometown teams are revered and adulated. This spirit of community and bonhomie is what makes sporting events so vulnerable. Attacks can come from not just transnational groups, but also people that are home grown but who nurse grievances.
To recap, while prominent sporting events tend to be designated as National Security Special Events involving high level Secret Service involvement, smaller regional events tend to have less stringent security regimes. These smaller events nonetheless also require good security measures. Keeping security seamless and innocuous is important.