Dear Athletic Support: I received an email from one of my grandchildren’s coaches recently. It was for a fundraiser. It even had a cute little video, showing highlights from their last season. Now, I’m always willing to help out, but what struck me as odd about this fundraiser, was that the coach was the one sending it out. Back when my kids were little, the players had to go out and knock on doors. They were the ones that raised the money. This email even had a button I could click and donate electronically. What sort of message are we sending to our kids if we’re doing all the work for them? — Griping Grandma
Dear Griping: Back when I was coaching, my go-to fundraiser was selling coupon cards. They were stuffed full of cool pictures and had great deals for a bunch of local businesses. One reason I really liked them was because they were easy.
I’ve been at other programs where we hosted big fundraising events or sold jugs of cookie dough. The problem with a big event is that it takes a ton of planning and volunteers. The problem with cookie dough — it has to be refrigerated, picked up on time, and Lord help the coach who gives chocolate chunk to the grandma who ordered macadamia nut.
The beauty of the cards was that the kids sold them, door to door, and then brought back Ziploc bags full of cash. At that time, it was the most streamlined thing going.
But after reading your question, it sounds like things have gotten even easier. I’m guessing all the kids are required to do is bring email addresses of friends and family to their coach; he plugs them in the system, and voilà — instant money!
This cuts out the late-night tabulations we used to have to do when the kids brought in all those plastic baggies stuffed full of cash. It also reduces the worry of having to tote around and deposit the twenty grand afterwards.
But your question remains: Once fundraising is reduced to an email — the single click of an electric button — what message are we sending to our kids?
Maybe we’re making them softer by doing this. Less responsible. Maybe there are lessons to be learned by walking the streets, going door to door, and selling coupon cards. Maybe kids don’t know the true meaning of hard work anymore. Maybe they never will.
Or maybe it wasn’t all that safe for kids go door to door in the first place. Maybe the coaches are using the extra time to push their players harder in the weight room or the gym. Maybe they’re pushing them too hard, and the kids are burning out, quitting sports all together and playing videogames as a result.
The answers to almost all of life’s questions are different depending on perspective. Or as Einstein said, “Everything is relative.” If you’re pleased with your grandson’s coach, if you think he’s a good man who does right by the boys and the team, then cut him a little slack and let him raise money in whatever way works best for his program.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit elicranor.com.