Interactions between venue security guards and team personnel or media members have seen some discussion lately, particularly around the 2019 NBA Finals case of Toronto Raptors’ team president Masai Ujiri and the sheriff’s deputy who claimed Ujiri “pushed and struck” him, something that eventually led to the deputy suing Ujiri, Ujiri filing a countersuit that exposed a bodycam video that rebutted the deputy’s claims, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently apologizing for early comments suggesting Ujiri did anything wrong and stating that the league would hire their own security for key events going forward. After that, there was the case of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing not being recognized by Madison Square Garden security. And the latest case along those lines comes from the widely-discussed case during the Atlantic-10 tournament championshuip game Sunday, where University of Dayton student photographer Griffin Quinn captured images of a security guard placing a videographer in a chokehold after St. Bonaventure’s win over VCU:
This is a video showing the events that led up to the photo that I captured.
Again, I do not know the videographer shown and I do not know for certain where he was/wasn’t allowed to film.
The incident is being looked into. https://t.co/kFPyzUoXup
— Griffin Quinn (@griffinpquinn) March 15, 2021
Quinn’s photo here went viral, and got a lot of attention. And the whole situation, as shown in that video and two other ones, is even more significant, with the security guard repeatedly chasing the videographer, eventually restraining him, and leading him off down a tunnel. As per Mollie Sutter of The New York Post (and other reports), the videographer in question was Nathan DeSutter, the digital media director for the St. Bonaventure athletic department. And as per Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports, DeSutter was absolutely allowed to be on that court capturing video of the team’s celebration:
Sources within the Atlantic 10 told Yahoo Sports on Monday that the incident arose from a misunderstanding. Security had been instructed to be extra vigilant about keeping fans and media off the court while the winning team celebrated to prevent potential COVID-19 issues.
Media members covering the game were warned to stay in their seats, but the videographer was a full-time St. Bonaventure employee and a member of the team’s traveling party. He had been regularly tested for COVID-19 alongside the players and coaches. He wore a Tier 1 credential granting him permission to be on the court.
“It was a misunderstanding of access between security and the Bonnies videographer,” a source within the Atlantic 10 told Yahoo Sports. “Security guards, especially in COVID times, are trained to keep media off the court, but this guy was allowed to be out there.”
And this wound up being a horrible look for the conference. In fact, the players even stopped their celebration while players and coaches went and talked to the security guard to convince him to return DeSutter’s camera and let DeSutter onto the floor:
Watch the players!!!
They stopped celebrating because they were confused why THEIR OWN videographer was getting restrained from covering them. pic.twitter.com/r7j0oZ0pVO
— Billy Quach (@billyquachfilms) March 14, 2021
As Quinn, the photographer who took the initial shot here, told Eisenberg, it made for quite an odd post-championship moment:
“I did a double take,” Quinn told Yahoo Sports. “It was just such a weird occurrence to happen in what was a celebratory moment.”
…“The players on the team were like, ‘Yo, what’s going on? He works with us,’ Quinn said. “They were celebrating, but they noticed something was up. Members of the coaching staff went over and talked to the security guard and then ultimately the videographer was allowed back on the court.”
“I was kind of shocked,” he said. “It was just such a heightened reaction to a miscommunication.”
Indeed it was. But it also seems to show a larger issue with employing security personnel who a. try to stop permitted people from getting onto the court and b. do so with significant physical violence. Even if this had been a regular member of the media who wasn’t supposed to be out there rather than a regularly-COVID-tested team employee, or even if it had been a fan, a chokehold seems awfully excessive. And it would seem to be better to err on the side of one possibly-unauthorized person getting through briefly rather than applying unnecessary violence and creating a giant negative national story as a result.