Most likely you’ve seen many online pleas for money. Support this, support that. My favorite is the college kid who held up a “Send Beer Money” sign behind the ESPN College Game Day hosts. And, the crazy thing is that it worked! This guy actually got total strangers to send him money. Crazy, but ingenious.
And, of course, I’ve seen many pleas for support to handball causes, particularly national team travel. While my love for the sport of handball and Team USA is pretty high I’ve always been reluctant to contribute to to these campaigns for a number of reasons. Those reasons:
1) Rewarding the Budget Shell Game. Back in 2011 USA Team Handball found itself short of cash for upcoming national team trips. In this commentary, I highlighted what can be called a “Budget Shell Game.” Essentially, this trick involves first spending all or most of your money on several items that might not be very popular and then playing the pauper, holding your hand out for critical needs that now can’t be paid. Our Congress uses this trick all the time. I was a party to it during my Air Force days arguing for budget support. “Cut something the Fighter Pilots really want and then we will get more money.” And, USA Team Handball, intentionally or not, sure was guilty of it back in 2011. The U.S. is really strapped for money now, so if similar machinations are going on now they are on a far smaller scale. Still, there’s a budget. Could more money have been found to support National Team travel? Could something else had been sacrificed? There’s no way of really knowing for sure and the details behind such decisions, but make no mistake, such decisions are made. And, I don’t care how tight money is, it just doesn’t seem right that travel can’t be funded by the federation and that pleas have to be made by the players. It’s annoying, but it can be effective. I complained back in 2011, but I still made a contribution for travel support.
2) Setting a Continuous Expectation? Further complicating things are the moral questions that play out when you help the homeless guy on the street. If you give him a buck once, why don’t you give him a buck every time you see him? Are you helping that guy out or enabling and encouraging him to ask for even more handouts? And, what about the other guy down the street? Shouldn’t he get a buck, too? And, why just 1 buck? Why not a 20 spot? All of these questions apply with handball fundraisers. The U.S. has multiple teams and those teams make multiple trips. Should one contribute to these equally and will these requests ever stop? As someone who never had to pay for his national team travel I feel a bit conflicted. On one hand, shouldn’t I help out those making similar sacrifices who are less fortunate than I was? But, on the other hand am I setting a precedent here? That this is the new way of doing business and I should just get used to it?
3) Other Handball Needs are More Deserving. Another conflict I often have is a reflection as to what our sport really needs if it’s ever going to succeed in this country. As much as I love cheering on Team USA it’s pretty clear to me that youth development, college development and other efforts to broaden our player and fan base are more important in the long term. In the big scheme of things near term National Team performance won’t make much of a dent, especially with the ultimate goal of Olympic qualification being a real longshot. Hence annual contributions to Air Force handball and youth programs have gotten priority.
4) Other Non-Handball Related Charities are Altruistically More Deserving. It goes without saying that the world has a lot of needs. Yeah, it’s hard to rationalize that flying some athlete to Montreal for a handball match is more important than say giving to a wounded warrior fund or helping starving kids somewhere. And, 100% selfishly, my daughters’ college funds.
I’m not sure I’ve resolved my feelings regarding these internal conflicts, but I’ve made a donation to the men’s and women’s online campaign for the upcoming PANAM Games qualifiers. Why these campaigns and not others? I guess I personally really put a premium on matches that are part of Olympic Qualification. Plus, I’m attending them, so that’s a further point suggesting a contribution. I am being entertained. I really am getting something transactional.
And, I would suggest that if you’re planning on spending about 8 hours watching the online streams for those 4 matches then maybe that ought to tip the scales for your contribution as well. How much do you pay for Netflix or Hulu or to go to a movie?
Just saying… I really hate people bugging me for money. (And, wow, I just became one of those people.)
You can contribute at the following websites:
USA Men: Link
USA Women: Link