Thanks to a deal that was reached late last month, the Federal Government’s shutdown has temporarily ended. President Donald Trump has signed a resolution to reopen the government for three weeks. Thousands of federal workers will now receive back pay for the pay checks that they missed due to the shutdown. The president and congress will now have until February 15th to arrive at a more permanent budget.
One of the concerns during the shutdown was the effect it would have on the February 3rd Super Bowl in Atlanta. Had the three week deal not been reached, many would be wondering about the shutdown’s influence on both security and efficiency of that event. After all, many TSA agents weren’t showing up for work as a result of not being able to get paid. In addition, many government agencies collaborate with both the stadium authorities and local law enforcement during Super Bowl weekend.
But how much of a crisis would this have been had the government shutdown remained through this past weekend? Why does a huge event like the Super Bowl require such involvement by the feds in the first place? Is there another way to have security that is not dependent upon the government’s ability to have a current budget? If so, what would that kind of security even look like?
One of the most significant situations facing the huge influx of people into the Atlanta area was the issue of the TSA at Atlanta’s major airport. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International is statistically the busiest airport in the world by measure of passenger traffic. Had the government remained shut down, Super Bowl weekend may have turned into a disaster due to a shortage of TSA agents. However, things didn’t have to be this way. Over 20 airports throughout the United States have switched to private security. Not only are these employees getting paid regardless of governmental situations, but they are often better at ensuring safety and quicker at processing passengers. Unfortunately, Atlanta was not one of the cities that switched to private airport security.
Another potential problem that was thought to impact The Big Game was the collaboration between federal authorities and local or private security. Considering that the Secret Service, FBI, TSA, ICE and Customs and Border Protection all play a role in stadium security and some haven’t been getting paid, concerns over personnel appear to have been warranted. Though it’s not clear why the NFL should be so reliant on the Federal Government for the security of their biggest game in the first place. Shouldn’t a billion dollar organization like the NFL be able to provide for its own security independent of government agents?
In addition, if some sort of attack did happen during the Super Bowl (God forbid) with the government still in shutdown mode, the politicians and most of the media would be the first to blame it on the lack of a fully functional government. However, if the same attack happened in the absence of a shutdown, how much blame would the government really shoulder for it? Sure, they would have to answer some difficult questions. But the likely culprit would be the alleged “underfunding” of the failed government agencies that we trusted to protect us. Thus the state is always covered either way.
As is often the case, government will take credit for when a potentially bad situation doesn’t end in the disaster that many feared it would. But it would be wise to remember why the situation existed in the first place. If events like the Super Bowl weren’t so reliant on government for basic security, then a government shutdown wouldn’t be the crisis that many allege that it is. Hopefully this will be something to keep in mind when government manufactures their next self-imposed catastrophe.