NCS4 hosts industry forums to aid in professional development

The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) recently completed its 2022 Forum Series, reaching more than 250 sports safety and security stakeholders.

The industry-specific forums were held in a one-day live virtual format between January and March 2022, attracting professionals working with marathon and endurance events, intercollegiate athletics, professional sports and entertainment venues, and interscholastic athletics and after-school activities.

“We worked closely with our advisory committees to identify relevant programming and speakers. The forums were designed to account for each industry’s unique safety, security, and business challenges and provided a platform for information sharing and peer-to-peer learning,” said Dr. Stacey A. Hall, NCS4 executive director and professor of sport management.

The forums focused on interactive sessions with industry experts on crowd management, cybersecurity, and de-escalation strategies.

“It is always nice to discuss and hear best practices from industry experts, but it is critical how pertinent these topics are to our events and the current climate we are in,” said Kathryn Benda, director of football gameday operations, The Pennsylvania State University.

“One of the outcomes of the COVID-19 era is a prevailing anger within the country; that ire frequently can be directed towards authority figures such as high school athletics leaders,” said Gary Stevens, athletic administrator, Thornton Academy, when asked why de-escalation was an important topic for the Interscholastic Forum. “Understanding the psyche of the fan, as well as how to employ critical communication skills such as active listening can help defuse potentially volatile situations and contribute to a more positive sporting environment.”

Recordings from the general sessions of each forum are available to NCS4 Connect members and are posted on the NCS4 Connect membership website. Visit for more information on how to become a member and access the content.