Attending the San Francisco Super Bowl Celebrations? Have the Terrorists Won?

I don't have tickets to the Super Bowl game but I live in Silicon Valley and have the opportunity to participate in public Super Bowl celebrations.

Therein lies the dilemma: Whether to join the throngs of people in the middle of San Francisco for pregame festivities.

I mention this dilemma because of all the security issues that abound here, it is a major target. I'm a little closer to the discussion as I volunteer for my local city emergency response team. Security planning began over a year ago.

More likely to be crushed by furniture

Terrorism is working when it inspires profound fear. In a Washington Post article, the research showed that I, my family and friends are more at risk for injury or even death from driving, running or falling furniture than from terrorism. It pointed out that while the Paris attacks killed 130 people, about three times that number of French citizens died on that same day from cancer.

That is probably all true, but it doesn't help my concern when story after story in the San Francisco Chronicle talk about the potential threats and concern as the game draws closer. Each one highlights the hazard of "soft targets" and possible terrorist activity law enforcement is concerned about.

Levi Stadium is located 40 miles south of San Francisco in Santa Clara. Federal agencies said they will create a bunker environment for the game. However, other venues in San Francisco, such as the Super Bowl City fan village in the middle of the city, are free and anyone can attend and be a part of the festivities. As wonderful as this is, it will be more porous as people can come and go.

Super Bowl Security

Efforts to reduce potential harm include no bags over 18-by-18 inches, bicycles, hover boards, flags and banners, folding chairs, e- and regular cigarettes, radios and pets, and even baby food will be restricted to 1 liter.

Yet, Jeffrey Harp, retired FBI assistant special agent in charge of the San Francisco office, said in a Chronicle interview that there is no way to completely safeguard the Feb. 7 game. He said more than 1 million people are expected to come to the Bay Area for the event.

While Levi Stadium was built with the latest in security technology, would-be terrorists don't have to attack the stadium to attack the Super Bowl. Securing the throngs in the middle of the city will be a daunting task. While I have a lot of confidence in our law enforcement and security agencies. I also know, as Harp said, if someone wants to commit an act of violence, they will find a way.

You don't have to be in the stadium to cause a lot of damage. The big concern is trying to secure the open areas, such as anywhere the celebrating public gathers.

Have the terrorists won?

I can't pretend to ignore the terrorist attacks of the past year. The danger is random, but the Super Bowl event in the middle of Silicon Valley feels particularly vulnerable to me.

I am adventurous and love to participate in activities that border on risk, yet I'm not one to test the opportunity for peril.

Now it is up to me to decide if I want to be part of the throng and not let the terrorists win.

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