The park is funded by some tax dollars and the Lions Club and local Boy Scouts do a fair amount of labor raising money and completing projects to improve the park on a regular basis. But most of the money is raised via the Happyland Athletic Association (HAA). Their job, as I understand it, is to coordinate park activities (like leagues and tournaments), manage field and diamond maintenance, manage concession stands and designate funds. Everyone who plays pays--an average of $45 per player. The coaches volunteer, which means all of that money raised through player fees goes towards uniforms, umpires and park maintenance. Ditto for the money raised at the concession stands.
A few years ago, the HAA decided to raise some more money to install a concessions stand with bathrooms by the soccer fields. A noble goal with which I took no umbrage. They decided to raise the money through one of those rip-off pizza/cookie dough fundraisers. The first year I obliged and bought the required amount of pizzas to fill my family's assessment of $120 in sales.
The second year I thought Wait a minute. This is a bullshit enterprise. I have strong opinions about fundraisers, why am I participating in this one? I'll just cut the HAA a check so they can keep ALL the money and I'm not stuck with crappy pizzas. I was discouraged from doing so (I wouldn't win any of the crappy prizes offered by the fundraising company!), but I ignored the HAA's directive and "bought out" my share. And then I realized how few players actually turned in any money--from the fundraiser or buying out. I knew who turned in and who didn't because Mr. D coaches and I keep track of all the paperwork for him. Asking around, I discovered that the few people actually participating in this fundraiser were also the people coaching and volunteering their time. In other words, people already doing more than their share were paying more than their share while other people were off the hook without any consequence.
What a rip off! In my view, if you want everyone to shoulder the financial burden for the park, you need to do it across the board--like raise participation fees or concession stand prices.
Then this week I received the directives for the latest HAA fundraiser. Here's an excerpt:
Each family will have to sell 4-5 tickets ($5 each ticket) regardless as to how many sports or kids you have playing this summer. Number of tickets is based on your first letter in your last name. All this is explained in a letter. I need all money back again by May 28th. Remember this is not optional. You will need to collect the money from everyone on your team. It should be noted that if a family has say three kids playing multiple leagues, you may or may not get fundraiser info for them to handout. Everyone that you get fundraiser info for you need to collect, this is not an optional program. Thanks for your support.
So I asked around--is the men's softball league participating in this fundraiser? Nope. Is the legion baseball team? Nope. How about the men's baseball team? Nope. So, essentially only families with kids playing are funding the park--in other words, only some of the teams playing on these fields, not all of them.
And then I learned that the HAA pays bartenders for the men's softball league nights. They pay bartenders to work in the concessions stand. While during every other event volunteers handle the concessions stand. Volunteers that the team's coaches have to beg to fill their assigned time slots.
And while working my kid's softball tournament last weekend I noted that they were charging $2 for a can of beer in the concessions stand. Never mind that you cannot buy a beer for less than $2.50 at any tavern in town. Or that the HAA pays the same amount of money for a liquor license as any other establishment. Nope, charge next to nothing in the concessions stand, but ask the families with kids playing little league or soccer to sell raffle tickets and crappy pizzas.
Am I the only one seeing a huge discrepancy? Apparently so because no one else is complaining. Mind you, I'm all for park improvements and I'm happy to pay my share--but I'd rather see the money come out of raised fees and raised concessions prices so everyone's shouldering a fair share of the burden. There's no reason why all teams shouldn't be treated the same, and by raising all the prices across the board, they would be. Raise fees by $10 a person, raise the price of beer by $1 a can and there's be absolutely no reason to discuss fundraising.
I'm not buying any raffle tickets. I'm turning in our unsold packet without apology and I double-dog-dare the HAA to try and squeeze more than my fair share out of me. It's not going to happen. It sticks in my craw that the fundraising falls on kids while the beer league gets to drink beer at discount prices.
Spill it, reader. Would you buy the raffle tickets or tell the HAA to stuff them?