Institute for the Study of Sports Incidents (ISSI)


The Institute for the Study of Sports Incidents (ISSI) is the research and analysis unit of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi. ISSI’s mission is to build the most comprehensive worldwide database of sport incidents involving spectators, while ensuring the appropriate protection, privacy, and security of incident information.


Ongoing Research


Sochi Winter Olympics


Read below about research done on preparations for the Sochi Winter Games and security concerns by Institute researcher Erik Rodrigues with contributions by Institute director Alana Penza. The complete research piece can be viewed by clicking on the pdf below the abstract.



The Olympic Games are meant to be a time when countries from all over the world come together and share an experience unlike any other that extends past the sporting fields. However, since Sochi, Russia was selected to host the event there has been backlash and questioning of the decision.

The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi will and has experienced events and obstacles that no other Olympic Games have endured in the past. The world will watch and see whether Russia's "ring of steel" - referring to the 1,500-square-mile security zone that includes more than 40,000 police officers, special forces, ultra-sensitive sonar, monitoring drones, and patrol boats - can keep the athletes, coaches, spectators, and everyday citizens safe while preserving the sense of friendly competition and camaraderie that the Olympic Games embody.

Preparing for Sochi (pdf)


Incident Classification System

The Institute’s Incident Classification System (ICS) defines and describes 15 incident types affecting sporting events. Under the classification system, both violent and non-violent incidents are classified. Non-violent incidents include Accidents, such as when a fan falls over the railings trying to catch a baseball, or Trespassing instances in which a spectator runs across the field. Violent incidents include Assaults, such as a fan getting into a fight with another fan, or Rioting that is not as prevalent in the United States, but a more common occurrence in countries where football (soccer) is very popular.


Incident Types in Incident Classification System

• Accident: An unintentional, unforeseen, and unplanned event or circumstance

• Anti-Counterfeiting Operation: Operation carried out by authorities to stop the counterfeiting of goods

• Arson: The willful or malicious burning of property

• Assault: A physical and/or sexual attack carried out by one or more individuals

• Bombing: The detonation, or attempted detonation, of explosives

• Communication: The act of conveying a message, in a verbal or nonverbal manner, which is or is suspected of being maliciously motivated

• Disorderly Conduct: Unruly behavior, which causes annoyance to nearby patrons, constitutes a minor offense

• Illness-Related Medical Emergency: An illness that is severe and poses an immediate risk to a person’s health

• Kidnapping: To seize and detain by unlawful force

• Riot: Public violence, tumult, or disorder; disturbance of the public peace by a group of individuals acting with a common intent

• Security Operation: Operation carried out by authorities such as an arrest, investigation, or search and seizure – does not include anti-counterfeiting operation

• Stampede: A mass movement of people at a common impulse/reaction

• Theft: The unlawful taking of property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it permanently

• Trespassing/Field Rushing: To make an unwarranted or uninvited intrusion

• Vandalism: Willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property


For the complete document click: Incident Classification System


Student Involvement

The Institute at NCS4 is located on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi and is a place where upper-level students at the university can come to enhance their research skills, and younger students can gain essential experience in sports safety and security. It helps students prepare to transition from the world of academia to what will be expected of them when they complete their studies.


 “Being an intern at NCS4 gave me good experience of transferring myself from a student to a working professional. The work here is interesting and challenging.”  - Wuyang Wang

“The Institute has been great to me both educationally and in providing me with valuable work experience. The Institute helped strengthened my communication, interpersonal, research, and organizational skills.”  - Justin Barnes


For students who want to become involved in the Institute, please contact Alana Penza at University of Southern Mississippi student looking for practicum hours should click the link below for more information.

ISSI Practicum PDF


Institute Research

Researching Open Access Sporting Events, for 2013 National Conference, July 2013

Researching Spectator Violence at the Institute, for 2012 National Conference, July 2012

Egypt Soccer Riots, February 2012


For more information, please contact Elli Voorhees at or 601.266.4862


ISSI is proud to work in concert with the University of New Haven’s Institute for the Study of Violent Groups.

 This project Funded in Part by the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security